The non-ST virtual switch

As you may have guessed, it’s Alexa. For device groups that don’t need to be scheduled, that you just want to switch on/off together conveniently, just group 'em in Alexa and away you go! My Xmas lights, for example, don’t need to be scheduled. So I’m saying “alexa, turn on Christmas” and All the indoor components come on. And when the GE outdoor outlet arrives, the outdoor stuff will also be in that group. And it’s so easy to group things in Alexa… I’d not be shocked if some not-too-distant iteration of Alexa allows scheduling of these things. It’s a no-brainer.

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A switch-state followup: when you program a virtual switch in ST, it remembers its on or off state. This makes sense, as a virtual switch might include turning on switch A, turning off switch B, dimming bulb C, etc. But it can also be cumbersome. Because if you have independently turned on switch A and some other device and want to turn them off with one command, if the virtual switch to which you have assigned that command is already off - you either have to do complex programming, or you have to precede the OFF command with an ON command!

The Alexa group does not function that way. It only knows the group; it does not remember a switch state. So “Alexa, turn Christmas off” ALWAYS turns off every device in the group that was on.

I’m deleting a few of my ‘convenience’ virtual switches right now, and rebuilding them as simple groups in Alexa.

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The Alexa group is a group, for exactly the reason you just said. It’s not a virtual switch as it does not retain its state. These groups are very useful, but they’re just not the same thing as a virtual switch. They’re a group.

Many community members use virtual switches of different types to help address some of the issues you raised. In particular, a virtual momentary switch solves the problem of the switch not being ready for the next command. These are very popular, for example, if you want Alexa to be able to change mode.

A regular switch is a binary on/off, like a toggle light switch. When you turn it on, it stays on until you turn it off again.

A momentary switch is like a traditional doorbell button. It has a resting state, typically off, and when you press it, it turns on just for a moment and then turns itself off again. This means it is always ready for the next on command.

If you can solve your own use cases just with Amazon groups and not need virtual switches at all, that’s great. But for situations where you may need virtual switches, such as when working with IFTTT, it’s helpful to know that these two different kinds of switches exist. Using a momentary switch instead of a binary switch will solve the problem of having to turn the switch off again.

What’s really nice about Alexa? ?

Are the lights in your room dimmable bulbs?

Put them in a group… Bedroom.

Tell Alexa to dim the bedroom… They go down a little bit.
Same for make the bedroom brighter… They get bright.

If they are off, tell her to make the room bright…

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I don’t use “just Amazon groups”. I have a mix… I merely observed that the lack of switch state can simplify many functions. As I’ve stated in the past, I don’t see ST as the be-all, or even the centerpiece, of my smarthome. While it has been functionally the centerpiece until the arrival of Alexa, I see it as but one of many components in a larger conceptualization. And so I am utterly willing to move a function off ST if it works better elsewhere. In this instance, that is the case. I eliminated two virtual switches, and replaced their desired functionality with Alexa groups.

So I’m sharing that concept because others might find it useful. Question: is a momentary ‘on’ always ready for the next ‘off’ command??

There ya go… perfect. Use ST to set original states, and to do so based upon varying conditions. Then for moment-to-moment control, rely on Alexa because in many cases it does that functionality better.

my entire system is based around ST modes and then Voice control. Voice control always trumps mode settings and can override mode settings.

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Yes, a momentary can have either as the resting state.

If you use one that is normally off, then it’s off until you press it to turn on, after which it returns to off.

If you use one that is normally on, then it’s on until you press it to turn off, after which it returns to on.

That’s what the “momentary” means.

Many people use multiple systems for various different reasons, including me. :sunglasses:

But a momentary that is normally ‘on’ can never be ready for the next ‘on’ command. That was the gist of my question… and gets to the root of why the Alexa group, which lacking memory of switch state can function as both momentary ‘on’ AND momentary ‘off’, is quickly showing me its value.

The Alexa groups are useful, groups usually are. But they won’t let you change the mode in smartThings. A virtual momentary button will.

Different constructs. Use whichever is most valuable in each specific situation. :sunglasses: