Need Help With IFTTT and Android SMS To Turn Off Outlet?


(Tony) #1

I live in a condo neighborhood, so the units are pretty close together. One of my neighbors and I recently strung up some outdoor LED lights (“Feit 48ft. LED Outdoor Weatherproof Color Changing String Light Set, Black” only available from Costco). Everyone seems to love them except one of our other neighbors. They went along, but asked that the lights be turned off by 9:30pm, because they do illuminate their bedroom somewhat. I value our relationship with them, so I want to respect their wish, but there are many nights that they are up way past 9:30pm.

I thought I had found the solution in IFTTT and Android SMS. I am thinking that this would allow my neighbors to text me “lightsoff” and it would turn the lights off. The lights are plugged into a “GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Lighting Control Outdoor Module, On/Off, Plug-In, Black.”

I have given IFTTT access to the plug in the SmartThings app. I have created an Android SMS recipe in the IFTTT app that supposedly searches for any received SMS message with “lightsoff” in it, and then turns off the GE plug. Unfortunately, it does not work. I can’t even get the app to run in IFTTT, so it’s not that there is an error, it’s that it just doesn’t run at all. I also tried using the phrase “#lightsoff”, but that didn’t matter.

I have seen a few other threads on here that reference Android SMS looking only for messages from a specific phone number, but in setting the recipe up, it never asks for a phone number. It just asks for the phrase that it should search all incoming messages for.

What am I missing? I do use Signal as my default messaging app, but I tried switching to the delivered messaging app (Galaxy S7) and that made no difference.

I would like to give my neighbors and easy way to turn the lights off, but don’t want to spend much/any money on a solution, and I’m not going to leave a tablet or computer running just for this. I’ve tried to find a reliable, battery-powered z-wave on/off switch (read through the official buttons forum on here), but one does not seem to exist. The Aeon Labs Panic Button seemed like the best bet, but many folks report spotty performance.

Any advice on getting this IFTTT integration working, so my neighbors could just send a text to turn the lights off?


#2

When you set up an IFTTT account, IFTTT gives you a special phone number. It is only used for your IFTTT account to receive calls and texts. So it is calls or texts to that number and only that number which will be searched for the special hashtag. That’s why it’s not asking you what number to use – – it’s going to use the number of your IFTTT account. A special number is limited to 100 incoming texts per month, but it sounds like that should be enough for your situation. If you use the “SMS” channel/service, that’s how this works.

I’m sure there’s some other place to find it, but the only way I know how to find out what my IFTTT number is is to create an applet that is going to use it and then at the very end of that process it will show me the number.

Also note that it seems to work better if the hashtag is all lower case and of course make sure you don’t include the # when you specify the text to search for.

The good news is it will be easy to test this yourself, since you are going to text to your IFTTT account number, not your own phone.

Since you have an android phone, there are also a couple of other ways to do this, but this way should work. :sunglasses:


(Eddy) #3

If you want to go the “paid app” route, i would suggest to use tasker + sharptools to get rid of the delays that happen sometimes with IFTTT


#4

Hi @TonyD,

I agree with @JDRoberts. And would like to add that IFTTT is good, but SMS and other activities can take a while to reach your cell phone. My recommendation is CoRe or WebCoRe as they give you a more robust rules and command abilities.


(Tony) #5

@JDRoberts, I will take this opportunity to thank you for everything you share on these forums. The vast majority of what I have learned about SmartThings has been from your posts. I appreciate you willingness to share so much of what you know. I chose SmartThings because of the community support, and you are a huge part of this. So, thank you!

I was able to get it working using the IFTTT SMS channel. I guess I am still confused on the difference between the “SMS” channel and the “Android SMS” channel. When I read the description for “Android SMS”, it says, “Android SMS is a native service that allows you to receive Short Message Service (SMS) messages on your device and send messages to other phone numbers. Standard carrier rates may apply. This service requires the IFTTT app for Android.” So then is the only purpose of the “Android SMS” channel to allow you to automatically send texts out based on texts you receive, and there is no integration with ST on that channel?

Sounds like the most straightforward solution at this time will be to create a recipe using the IFTTT “SMS” channel for each of my neighbors’ phone numbers and then let them know that they can text my IFTTT number to turn the lights off.


(Tony) #6

@GGexe, I think I may explore the Tasker + Sharptools option. I already have Tasker, though don’t use it anymore. From what I’m reading, if I can get it setup properly then I can allow anyone to turn the lights off by texting “lightsoff” to my number, which would avoid having to setup separate IFTTT recipes for each neighbor and giving them a different phone number to text for the lights.

It sounds like, though, my phone is a necessary part of the process if using Tasker + Sharptools. Meaning, if my phone is off, then the neighbors will not be able to turn off the lights via SMS. Is the same true with the IFTTT “SMS” channel? I will test this, but am curious if anyone knows. If my phone is off and someone texts “lights off” to my IFTTT number, will it still turn the lights off? I guess the technical question is, does the SMS–>IFTTT–>SmartThings processing happen in the cloud, or on my phone?

@lmosenko, I have dipped my toes into CoRe. I’m currently using it with a door sensor to turn a pantry light on/off. I have reviewed the documentation and the community forums but am not seeing anything about CoRe being able to trigger off of incoming text messages. Can you provide a link to some info on this?


(Eddy) #7

Hmm not sure regarding the IFTTT sms part. But yeah i believe you would have more flexibility with tasker. Sometimes IFTTT can lag sometimes so im not sure how critical it is for you.

Exactly, with tasker you could read any type of message containing lightsoff.
You wont have to setup different ifttt recipe for each neighbor.

On a side note, It seems like your light is kinda “inconveniencing” your neighbours. So might as well make it less of a hassle for them.


#8

You can definitely use tasker if you want to, but if you just use IFTTT, you don’t need one applet for each of your neighbors. You just need one applet.

Say the special phone number for your IFTTT account is 999-888-7766.

You set up an applet that says

IF my IFTTT number receives a text with #lightsout

THEN turn off the WeMo switch.

Then can tell all of your neighbors that if they text #lightsout to 999-888-7766 The holiday lights will turn off.

That’s all you need. One IFTTT account, one applet. :sunglasses:

As others have mentioned, there may be a bit of lag between the time the text is sent until the time the lights go out, but it shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes and it will probably be considerably less than that.

As for the two channels, you had it right: the “SMS” channel is for when you want to use your IFTTT account text number receiving a text as the “if.” Or you can use sending a text from your IFTTT account number as the “that.” You are limited to 100 total texts per month.

The “android SMS” is when you want to have your own android phone (Not your IFTTT number) send an SMS text as the “that.” Or you want to search incoming messages to your own android phone. I don’t believe there’s a limit on this.

For your kind of situation, personally I like using the plain SMS channel and having people text to a special number. That way if you happen to be in the middle of things, it doesn’t matter – – your phone is not even going to receive the text. And the only messages your neighbor should be sending to that special number is the lightsout message.

But it’s up to you, as I mentioned, if you have an android phone there are multiple options for how to do this. :sunglasses:

( If you have an iOS phone apple does not allow automated texts to be sent from your phone which is why there’s no equivalent of the “android SMS” service/channel on IFTTT. )


(Tony) #9

@JDRoberts, thanks for clarifying the difference between the channels. I’m glad to have that mystery clarified.

Although I was able to get this working with a “#lightsoff” text from my google voice number to my IFTTT number, the applet will not trigger with a “#lightsoff” text from any other phone number to my IFTTT number. Here’s how I’m setting up the applet:

  1. In IFTTT, create new applet
  2. Click on “+this” then add “SMS” service
  3. Choose trigger, “Send IFTTT an SMS tagged”
  4. Add “lightsoff” as tag for SMS trigger field
  5. Click on “+that” then add "SmartThings service
  6. Choose action: Switch Off
  7. Select plug to switch off and create action
  8. It creates an applet with the title, “If send [my IFTTT phone #] an SMS tagged #lightsoff from [my Google Voice #] (update phone number), then switch off Outdoor Plug North”

When I first connected the SMS service in IFTTT I told it that my Google Voice number was my phone number.

I have tried changing the title of the applet to “If send [my IFTTT phone #] an SMS tagged #lightsoff then switch off Outdoor Plug North”. I also tried changing [my Google Voice #] in the applet title to my wife’s phone number. But the applet would still not trigger. It will only trigger if the text is sent from my Google Voice number.

So, what am I still missing? It sounds like the applet should trigger when “#lightsoff” is received from any number at my IFTTT number. There is no where during the applet creation process or when editing it after creation to specify a “received from” number, but IFTTT automatically seems to add that into the applet.


#10

I’m not sure. They made a number of changes in how SMS works over the last year, maybe they tightened it up for security reasons. If so, you have to have a phone number which can receive the original text and then forward it on So that it looks like it’s coming from the approved phone number. I don’t know if you can do that with Google voice, and I don’t know if IFTTT would except it even if you could. if it does work then you could give all of your neighbors just your Google voice number. If it doesn’t work, then you may have to look at one of the other android options.

Sorry if I led you astray, I haven’t kept up with all the changes on that channel.


(Tony) #11

No apologies needed. I appreciate all the help so far.

I’ll do some more exploring. Seems like Tasker+SharpTools might be the cheapest solution. I just don’t like having to have my phone in the equation, in case it’s off or out of range. It still floors me that no one makes a cheap, reliable, battery-operated z-wave on/off switch.


(Eddy) #12

If you have a android device laying around you could use it.
I personally have a tablet that i use like a dashboard and it also handles all tasker related works


(Tony) #13

I have gone the Tasker+SharpTools route on my phone. I don’t have a reliable enough old android device that I’d be willing to leave running. The use case is limited enough that I think this is the best option for me, unless/until someone releases a cheap, reliable, battery-operated on/off z-wave button that I could give to my neighbors. For now, as long as my phone is on and connected to the internet (which is 99% of the time), my neighbors can just text “Lightsoff” and the lights will turn off. Good enough.