My Mailbox Routine - Color Lights, Push notifications and Alexa

Thought I’d share how I setup my mailbox routine recently - maybe it’d spawn a few ideas for others.

I recently replaced my entrance lights with Zwave bulbs, so I have four Zigbee bulbs that were freed up that I replaced a few bulbs around the house with (Foyer, Office, Bedroom…) The Zigbee bulbs just didn’t have the distance the Zwave ones do.

I’ve been wanting to setup some sort of mailbox routine as my old mailbox sensor (non ST/Zwave/Zigbee - a standalone product that just made a receiver in the house beep loudly) died not too long ago. Considering my mailbox is 75+ feet (outdoors) and metal, I didn’t think a Zigbee sensor would do the trick either so I bought an Aeon Labs dry contact sensor (Zwave plus) and a microswitch. Since the mailbox has a magnet to keep the door closed, it was a perfect spot to add a microswitch. I used Gorilla Glue to fit the switch on top of the little magnet and made sure the switch worked when the door opened/closed. I drilled a small hole in the backside of the mailbox, taped the wire to the underside of it and ran it out to the sensor. Since my new entrance bulbs are all Zwave plus as well, they easily repeat the signal back to the house with no issues. (I just need to find a weatherproof box for the sensor.)

What I wanted was a routine that would turn my lights blue when the mail came (as I often work from home) and a simple way to reset the lights via Alexa so I didn’t have to fiddle with getting my phone or tablet to do it. I created a “virtual switch” (simulated switch in the API) and when the mailbox is opened - it turns that virtual switch on, as well as turning the selected lights to blue. The second automation triggers off that same virtual switch being turned OFF, and sets the lights back to soft white. I named the virtual switch “Mailbox Light” so when I come back in from getting the mail I just say “Alexa, turn off the mailbox light” and all the blue lights go back to soft white.

I also added a push notification and set the “minimum time between messages” to 600 minutes so I wouldn’t get a notification when I went to get the mail - just when the mail comes.

I was really hoping I could create a routine called “I got the mail” and just yell that at Alexa but you have to tell her “turn on” before a routine and I’m trying to make things more friendly for my wife to use (as it is, she keeps asking for a cheat sheet for all the devices and phrases.) This works pretty well and my wife gets it at least!


I’m interested in what you come up with for weatherproofing, I’ve been trying to find something small enough to be discrete but big enough to fit the sensor…

I think I can fit the sensor in a standard outdoor grey PVC box, but I’ll have to do a little Dremel work on the inside to get it all to fit. Top it off with a gasket and a blank faceplate. I have one but need the faceplate and gasket. I’ll take a few pictures when I get done with it and add to the thread. It’ll be a bit bulky compared to the sensor itself but at least it’ll keep it from getting wet (like it did today.) Stuff a cork up the bottom to keep the critters out.

Well it’s going to be a few before I can report. We had a very rare severe “Microburst” (think tornado in reverse, in one direction) hit our house along with hail. We basically got sandblasted but with nickel sized hail which promptly removed my sensor (yet left my mailbox untouched, figure that one out.)

Thankfully no one was hurt but there’s a ton of damage here and likely will be a while before I get a chance to get everything back together.