New to HA, is SmartThings right for me?


(Raphael Turnerstone) #1

So am I new to HA in General having messed with X10 quite some time ago. I am wanting to get back in to this but it seems things have come quite a long way for some things, and have stayed static for others. Here are some of the things I am trying to accomplish and I wanted to know if this was possible to do with ST:

(1) I want my Sonos system to be able to play a specific greeting when someone arrives. The greeting would be specific to whoever is arriving. I would want the greeting to occur when the door opened, not when the car pulls up to the drive – and I wouldn’t want the greeting to occur everytime the door opened, just when the person was back after being away.

(2) I saw a video from CES that was pretty interesting and integrated with the Jawbone UP24. Is what was shown in the video available today or is it still in development?

(3) I would like my Sonos to play weather information and switch on a specific station at a certain time of day and only on certain days. Is it possible to configure this?

(4) I have several switches that handle multiple loads. For example, I have a double gang in one room with two switches each (four local loads controlled). To further complicate things, I have another switch that has (3) local loads. One is for light, one is for an exhaust fan, and the other is for a heater/blower. I would like ST to turn on the heater/blower at a certain time in the morning if the outside temperature is below a certain threshold. Can ST do this? Are there even switches available that can control 2-3 local loads? If not, how would I go about this (other than changing a single gang to a triple gang – which is not an option).

(5) I have several Hampton Bay and Hunter remote controlled ceiling fans. Is there any way to get these into SmartThings for control?

(6) Is there a way for SmartThings to turn off certain lights if there is no one home for X period of time?

(7) Is there a way for SmartThings to turn ON certain lights, at random intervals, if no one is home for X period of time (think random vacation light schedule).

(8) I currently have a light switch in the kitchen with a motion detector. It flips on when you walk in a room and turns itself off after X minutes of inactivity. It’s also smart enough to not turn on if there is enough light. Are there any ST-supported switches that have this functionality?

These are just some of the things I would like to accomplish. Any suggestions/input would be greatly appreciated.


(Chrisb) #2

I don’t have Sonos myself, but I believe this is doable. You might need to do some of it via a custom SmartApp rather than a built in function, but I think it could be done without too much work.

I have no experience with this so I’ll defer to someone who does know.

Again, sounds like SmartApp territory, but doable.

There are a couple of ways to tackle this beast. First, I know of at least one “double” switch that controls two loads in the same switch. It is compatible with ST though there is a bit of a setup to it. And it isn’t cheap… like over $100 each. :frowning: But these would work for your double-gang, four load area.

The single gang three loads is a bit more of a problem. If you absolutely need these automated, I’d look at doing some “behind the scenes” work. For example, I’d do something like maybe do the double switch for the fan and light, and then for the heater/blower, install a z-wave relay somewhere inside the wall or next to the unit if you have easy access. This means you won’t have local physical ability to turn on/off the heater/blower (unless you can get to the relay easily), but you can turn it on/off software wise, and perhaps get a remote to turn it on/off with a physical button if needed.

With a setup like this, then yes, you should be able to turn on the heater/blower at a certain time in the am if temp (indoor or outdoor) is below a certain level. Again, probably SmartApp territory, but easy enough.

Ceiling fans are a big pain right now. Again there is one (EXPENSIVE) switch that is supposed to handle this, but I’m not sure it’s even still made. And this would by pass your existing remote. I believe some people are working on making a custom setup, but that would involve a lot of hardware.

Yes, absolutely. Can be based on motion or presence sensors.

Definitely yes.

Yes. You can do this either by local Sunset/Sunrise or by a lumes sensor if you have one.

SmartThings is great, in my opinion, because there are a lot of canned abilities built in. But beyond that even a simple guy who hasn’t done an real serious coding since the late 90s (Pascal and Visual Basic mind you!) was able to pick up on the language without too much difficulty and create some SmartApps to do some specialize, powerful things.

For example:

There is a canned Garage Door app that noticed when you come home: It opens your Garage for you (only if you’ve been gone at least x-number of minutes), and then watches for a door in your house to open/close. When it does it automatically closes the garage. I’ve modified this app to also unlock my z-wave door lock as well. Furthermore I’m running another smartapp that watches for the garage door to open. When it does, it turns on an outdoor light if it’s dark out. Then turns it off 5 minutes later.

Or here’s a smart app I wrote from the ground up: When I say “goodnight” to my Ubi, it runs a SmartApp on ST. This app will turn on certain lights (kitchen, upstairs hallway) to make sure I have light to see by as I head for bed. It also checks if I’ve left any windows or doors open and then Ubi tells me, by name, which doors/windows are left open. Finally, after 5 minutes, a different set of lights will be turned off (all lights on the main floor or basement levels).

These are just two examples of the full stuff you can do with ST.


(Raphael Turnerstone) #3

Thanks very much @chrisb! I’m not quite sure I understand SmartApps – I was thinking this was more of a drag/drop rule-based setup. ie: ST has a list of devices it supports, it searches for then and I can add them. And then I can just create rules like: If this and this or that then do this and that.

Do I need to write code for each specific device I want to add to ST and then more code for each action I want those devices to take? This suddenly seems a lot more complicated than I thought it was going to be. :frowning:

Also, do you have a model number or information on the 2-load switch?


(Chrisb) #4

@bigjay2050

Yes it is darg/drop rule-based setup. And much of what the average joe will want to do can be handled with the built in function very easily. But some of the more complex function with multiple devices/variables can’t be handled with the default setup.

For example (modifying your Sonos idea): My son, when he comes home, usually heads right for the computer room. So I can setup, with built in things, when “Johnny’s” presence sensor comes home, turn on the basement lights in these two rooms. Easy. But this will happen as soon as his tag/phone comes into range.

I can also set it up with the built in functions that as soon as the side door is open, turn on the two basement lights. Again, easy. But this will fire when ANYONE opens the side door.

But to have a function fire when “Johnny’s” presence sensor comes home and then the door is opened within 5 minutes of that sensor coming home… that is a more complex something that generally requires a SmartApp.

You do NOT need to write code for each specific device. Nor do you need to write code for most things. You can even do some relatively advanced things using built in functions. For example, my son usually gets home from school at 3:15. So I can set it up that when the door opens, only between 3 and 3:30pm, it turns on the lights in the basement, but only on weekdays. I can even turn the lights off x-number of minutes later. All this can be done with built in functions… no programming needed.

Again, going back to your question: 6, 7, and 8 can all be done easily with the built in functionality.


(Chrisb) #5

I should also add re: SmartApps… there are a lot of people here, like myself, who dabble in writing these apps and often share them with the community. Even once in a while if the mode strikes someone, they’ll write app for you if you request it. Certainly if you try to write one yourself and run into issues, plenty of people here are very helpful in getting the issue sorted out.

Re: Devices:

The single gang, two switch, two load:

This one needs a custom device type (think of it as a device driver). Someone wrote the device type code and shared it here: Leviton VRCS2

And here is the discussion about how to get it paired properly with SmartThings:

Finally, here’s the amazon product page for the ceiling fan switch:


(Jake) #6

@bigjay2050 #2 definitely works. I use my jawbone up24 to send good night and good morning commands to my house everday. It includes things like making sure all the lights are off, locking the doors, turning the security camera alarm and sensors on, and turning down the temperature on my thermostats. For morning I wake up to my bedroom dimmer lights as they brighten, my thermostat temperature turns back up and my security system is disarmed. I have also seen #3 done in some of ST’s videos, at least the weather part. I don’t have sonos so I’m not sure how the switching to a station part would work.

@chrisb how do you setup a vacation light schedule? That’s something I’d like to do!


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #7

I wrote a really random vacation scheduler some time ago.


(Jake) #8

Thanks @scottinpollock!! I’m going to try that out.


(Chrisb) #9

@bigjay2050

What @scottinpollock posted here is perfect example of what I was referring too earlier when I said there are a lot of people who write apps and share them. Here’s a task that is outside of the normal “ITTTBOW” type rules (If This, Than That But Only When…) and someone from the community has written the app already for it and shared it with the rest.


(Edward Pope) #10

I would think, if the project is interesting enough that the community would work to create the application as well.


(Raphael Turnerstone) #11

Thanks @jdrorrer! Did you have to do anything special to get it to work with the UP24? How do you load these special SmartApps? Also, are the UP24’s uniquely identifiable? So that my UP24 can perform different functions than someone else’s UP24?

If you could share some details on how you made this work, it would be greatly appreciated!


(Raphael Turnerstone) #12

Is there a reference book and/or a list of code examples in a central place to look at? I did some programming in another life (Pascal VB, C/C++, Visual C, etc) and would like to take a look and see if it is something I might be able to learn and handle efficiently.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #13

There are plenty of examples in the IDE, unfortunately practically none of them are commented.

The language is ‘groovy’; a flavor of java.

http://groovy.codehaus.org/Getting+Started+Guide

One issue to beware of is not all of groovy is supported by SmartThings (I assume for security purposes), so test before you depend on something.

You may also run into differences between how things work in the sim and how they work outside of it. It ain’t a perfect IDE (or even a great one), but it works.


(Chrisb) #14

You’ve got more experience coding then I do then! Get into the IDE and start playing around:

graph.api.smartthings.com

Take a look at some of my apps that I super heavily documented:

Wireless 3-way
Hallway Light at Night
Unlock When Garage Door Opens


(Jake) #15

@bigjay2050 I use a smartapp that already exists called button controller for my up24. On iPhones there is also an app called Sleepy Time that serves a similar purpose. Up24’s are uniquely identifiable (I think mine shows up as Jake’s Jawbone UP24 or something like that), and I would imagine you could program multiple UP24’s to complete different functions (I only have one though, but it looks like the functionality is there). Everything I mentioned relating to the up24 is standard with smartthings, so no coding would be required!


(Raphael Turnerstone) #16

Thanks Everyone! I’m going to give this a try and see if I can find some of these SmartApps. Hopefully the initial setup is easy and quick :smile:


#17

@bigjay2050 @jdrorrer @chrisb

Tim just wrote this great Occupancy Light Simulator App: