SHM and Guests - Working out what to do

Hi All,

I’ve been thinking this over and cant work out the best way for this.

Our SHM goes into Armed (Stay) mode overnight using a routine, however if we have a guest stay is there a way to overrule this in some way? Can you maybe disable SHM if there is a virtual presence device present or tie SHM to a virtual switch?

Is there a way to tie a routine to a switch or something?

Open to all suggestions, just dont want alarms/lights coming on at night when we have a guest staying or have to change all my SHM just for them to stay



SHM needs a stay guest mode. Simple.

This was stated several times in the features request threads for SHM but should be said again.

What I have been doing is… stay mode is only setup to monitor perimeter open/close events. And Rule Machine had been monitoring and giving voice alerts to internal sensors such as motion in certain areas of the house without setting off an alarm while in stay mode. I was able to modify this for guests with virtual switches. This should eventually be part of SHM.

SHM should also draw a distinction between alarm action options for away, stay and guest stay so you can fine tune what happens in those modes.

1 Like

I created guest routines to mimic my normal routines, and customized the settings, so that we use those and they are chained together so they only run if we use one of the guest set of routines, either guest morning, guest stay, guest night. Normal routines resume once we set into the normal Arm Away, Home, Morning, Good Night routines.

1 Like

I don’t think there is one best way for this, because it’s going to depend on your own preferences and your household set up. But in most cases there will be two parts: figuring out how to tell your system that you have guests, and then separately deciding what to do with SHM once your system knows the guests are present.

Part 1 : telling your system the guests are present

1a) guest modes

Many people just use an additional set of modes. So if you normally use “home,” “away,” and “night,” for example, you add “home – guest” “away-guest” “night-guest.” And then you can duplicate the necessary routines with one that doesn’t run in “Home – guest” mode and one that does. And the same for smart apps etc. This is what people used to do before SHM ever existed.

This is probably easiest on people mostly use routines. It’s a lot of work to set up the first time, but after that, everything is pretty logical. If you have guests visiting, one set of things happen. If you don’t have guests visiting, a different set of things happen.

1b) virtual presence with a switch option

Another approach, as you mentioned, is to use a virtual presence sensor which has capability.switch so it can be turned on and off. This is also popular for people who have a cleaning service come in.

The virtual presence sensor can be turned on in many different ways. You can do it manually, you can turn it on based on a particular unlock code (although you need a different way to turn it off) you can base it on a particular contact sensor or motion sensor or whatever. It’s up to you.

Once you have the virtual present since her then any code which uses presence can use that.

The problem is the basic way that smartthings uses presence sensors as a group is “everyone away” or " anyone home." It doesn’t really have the concept of “everyone home.” This is really why people went to guest modes to begin with. The “anyone home” may still work just fine for you, it really comes down to the details of the use case.

Anyway, A number of people have created virtual presence sensors with switch capability. The following one is popular:

1c) Key fob

Of course the other option is just to give the guest a smartthings presence sensor, if those are working well for you. Just mentioned for completeness.

Part 2: now the question is what to do with SHM itself?

So you have guest modes or guest presence or both – – but now what do you do with SHM?

2.a) SHM should work just the same way, it just needed to know that guests counted

Again, it comes down to the details of your own use case. If all you wanted was a way to have the guest presence recognized without installing anything on their phone or using an additional device, you’re done. :sunglasses: You may have had to duplicate the number of modes or routines or smart apps, but you can have the house respond to the guest coming and going in the ways that you wanted to.

2b) SHM should use a different set of sensors for alerts when guests are present

But what if what you want is to have a different set of sensors count to for an SHM alert than when you don’t have guests? For example, if you don’t have guests, the window opening in the guestroom might trigger an SHM alarm. But if you do you have guests, you want SHM to ignore that particular sensor.

Unfortunately, SHM doesn’t have this concept, and so there’s no way to store two alternate SHM set ups and switch between them. So many people just manually make the changes every time. If it really is as simple as one or two sensors, then that may be the easiest way to go.

But if your SHM set up is quite complicated then you probably don’t want to do this (twice!) each time you have guests.

There is a way to solve this problem, and you only have to do it once as a set up, but it can get quite complex.

The basic concept is simple. You going to create a virtual device for every physical device that you include in SHM. This virtual Will shadow the real device, but also has a switch capability to be turned off.

Now instead of including the real physical devices in SHM, you include the virtual devices.

And when you’re going to have guests over you set things up so you can use one master switch or one routine to turn off all the virtual devices that you no longer want to register with SHM when you have guests over.

This can definitely be done. This is the way the @bravenel used to set up his motion sensor overrides for things like when the baby was sleeping. It’s also the way that @Mike_Maxwell does his zone detection using multiple motion sensors. I’m sure other community members have also used a similar technique.

So again The concept is simple. Every physical device that you want to control in this way is paired to a virtual device that has a switch capability. In your other logic including SHM you refer to the virtual device rather then the physical. And then you set up some way of turning off the switches for the virtual devices, which might be automated or manual.

Implementing it, though, can be a lot of work and quite complex. It will be worth it if you have guests over often and your SHM set up is extensive. But if it’s just a matter of two or three sensors, you might prefer to just make the SHM changes each time and then change them back.

If you do want to use the shadow devices, you can combine this concept with the options discussed above in part 1 for knowing when you have guests to automate the shadow devices being switched on and off.

We can go into the details of designing and using shadow devices if you think that’s the direction you want to go. :sunglasses:

What if it’s not just the devices tracked that are different?

Of course even the use of shadow devices doesn’t help if you want SHM to notify different people or operate during different hours when you have guests. But you could probably combine guest modes with shadow devices and get that all to work. It’s just going to be pretty complicated to set up and keep track of.

Notifications in particular could end up looking like one of those domino tricks with everything has to fall just the right way – – your notification would go to IFTTT, IFTTT would flip a virtual switch, what happens when you flip that virtual switch would be different depending on your modes.

I think most specific SHM configuration requests could be solved, it’s just that some of the solutions could be very complex depending on the details.

I’m sure there are other methods for approaching all this as well, this is just the first one that occurred to me. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


JD, your thoroughness makes me question my work ethic sometimes… in a very good way. What a great answer!

1 Like

It’s mostly a dictation artifact. Pretty much everybody who uses voice recognition software finds themselves speaking in paragraphs. It’s really a conversational style versus a typing style.

A couple of years after I got sick, my dad started using voice software as well after having seen me use it. His whole email style changed From a sentence or two to several paragraphs each time. :sunglasses:

I’d be a rambling mess if I dictated my responses. It’s more than that. Credit where it’s due. Thanks for helping us all JD.


Thanks JD as ever, need to have a good read through everyone’s suggestions.

Its annoying that you cant temporarily pause routines or something, like when we have a guest stay I want them to be able to wonder about the house without worry or me undoing the SHM every time (especially if you’ve been having a few glasses of wine!)