Setting up an arrival automation?

Hi All,

OK, totally new to this but can code and have been using Alexa for some time, just got the ST hub.

Managed to add my phone as a location device in the app and I can see it in the web portal.

I have watched lots of videos and read loads but I’m just not able to run a routine when I arrive home, in fact I can’t even figure out where to do it so I have a few questions

Q. I want to turn on lights when I arrive home

Do I do this in the Alexa app or ST app or ST web portal?

When I look in Alexa App I cannot see my phone in the “smart home” section and I have no “location” Icon.

Thanks in advance


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You can use the Alexa app to create Alexa routines (not SmartThings routines) based on when you come and go if you live in the US.

You can use the SmartThings app to create SmartThings automations based on when you come and go, but to be honest that feature has been pretty flaky for a lot of people lately. What’s the brand and model of your phone?

So it all comes down to exactly what you want to do. What’s the brand and model of the lights that you want to control and do they work with Alexa?

The following blog article is a really good detailed look at how you would set this up with Alexa routines:

I’ll leave it to other community members to explain how to do it in smartthings.


The problem is I have no location ickn in alexa :flushed:

I’m probably being an idiot, but do you know why this might be?


Where do you live ?
I haven’t this option as well (in Italy)

edit: 5 min ago Amazon’s support has confirmed to me that this option is not available for Italy

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Yes, apparently neither is the UK (ffs)

So how easy is it to do in smartthings, I’ve added my phone to ST and enabled location services etc.


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Yes, sorry, apparently the Alexa location features are only available in the US at this time. I’ve corrected my post above.

Again, I have to leave it to others to discuss the smartthings options as the app is not voice friendly so it’s quite difficult for me to use.

Hi Steve,

I have been using the location presence sensor for a couple of years with the new Smartthings app and it works pretty well. Once you have enabled location services (all the time) to the app, you can then set up an automation to detect when one (or all) phones arrive at the house or when they leave.

I use a simple automation to set the house to “HOME” or “AWAY” depending on the phone(s) presence. From there, I use separate automations to trigger various things. I use the Smart Lighting SmartApp for my automations since it the logic is easier to use - particularly for sunrise/sunset options.

Here is the code I use to set Home or Away in the Automations section of the Smartthings App (tap on the hamburger menu):

(1) Set location to home when anyone arrives…

[Who?] Bill’s iPhone, Dan’s iPhone (put all your phones here)
[Where?] [Your location]
[When?] Anyone is at [Your Location]
Change this location’s mode

(2) Set your location to Away when everyone is gone

[Who?] Bill’s iPhone, Dan’s iPhone (put all your phones here)
[Where?] [Your location]
[When?] No one is at [Your Location]
Change this location’s mode

From there you can write automations based on the home state changing. For us, we turn off all our lights and lock the door when the home state changes to AWAY. When we arrive, depending on the time of day, we turn various lights on in the house (if it’s after sunset, we light up more rooms).

Hope that helps…

I did similar to what Bill explained. In separate automations, I included a virtual switch for each member of my family to know who was at home or not using the on for home and off for away.

Hi Bill,

I have setup my phone so its in ST and does show present / Away, but monitoring it as I leave and arrive its like it lags quite badly, taking quite a long time to decide I’m back home.


Hi Steve,

We found the same issue depending on cell service. We had two homes and the one in the mountains of Colorado has pretty weak service. So, we ended up expanding our geofence to 1 KM. That gives the the app time to sense us inside the area before we arrive home. To manage the geofence, tap the three dots on the upper right of the main screen, tap “Manage Location”, then select “Geolocation” and expand the circle from there.

Good luck,

Sounds like a good idea - especially with the new app. I used to use the “classic” app to look at the phones under the devices but the new app doesn’t display the phones. Adding a virtual switch solves that issue.

The only problem with that is I wanted my garage door to open using either the phone or other sensor when I’m within a couple of hundred yards.

any suggestions how to achieve this, happy to add an external antenna to the house, zigbee, zwave whatever is best to detect my arrived best.


There are lots of different ways to do presence, depending on the specific range you were trying to trigger from.

With the new V3 app, You would make most of these would work by using a virtual presence sensor which would be triggered by whatever you’re using.

Although the old community FAQ was based on the classic app, most of the methods will still work with that approach.

FAQ: The Many Ways of Detecting Presence (2020)


Regarding antennas to improve your phone’s presence detection, please note that your phone presence sensitivity is not related to the hub (zwave/zigbee). The app in your phone communicates with Smartthings servers in the cloud which then relays your presence to the hub in your home. So, it’ dependent on how strong your mobile service is in your home area. That’s why we had to widen our geofence in the mountains of Colorado.

Again, good luck. JDRoberts has many, many posts on this site including his experience with presence sensors. He has been a great resource for me.

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Yes, think I figured that out, but might have been a better option to detect wifi, as this can be configured/boosted around the house / property. once its lost connection to wifi for x mins, ST app can check gps position. but the initial “away” is done via wifi.

I have a weak gsm signal so getting mixed results.

is there something that I can use, conects to wifi/zigbee/zwave that then signals Alexa I am out of range?


Did you get a chance to read the FAQ linked to above? There are multiple methods detailed there, including discussion of specific Wi-Fi routers that can detect an individual device connecting and disconnecting. And links to threads where people have used that method.

The FAQ also discusses why Z wave would not be used for this.

FAQ: The Many Ways of Detecting Presence (2020)