I am sure there are other apps out there but I wasn’t able to find exactly what I wanted so I created Vacation Manager. Basically, it puts your house into a vacation mode after you’re away for a certain period of time and then allows a house sitter to come by to do things for you while you are gone. It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it.
The intent was to extend the Away mode to turn off things you might want to only turn off after you’re gone for longer than normal. You could of course just do all this in Away mode but I didn’t want the thrash on my water valves and so on when I am just away for a normal time.
The intent here is to give you more flexibility and extend, but not replace, what ST is already doing for you with your everyday arrival, departure, morning, and night routines. For instance, locking locks or similar.
To go with the app, I created a mode called “Vacation” and a routine called “I’m on Vacation” and I used the normal app presence sensors plus the ST Arrival fob for the house sitter.
It is also suggested to use the app in conjunction with a water or gas valve but that is by no means required.
A few suggestions:
It is highly suggested to create a vacation mode that is different than the default Away mode. Additionally, to avoid an unexpected transition out of the vacation mode, inspect other routines such as Good Morning! and Goodnight! to ensure that they don’t execute mode changes during a vacation (plus they would be largely unnecessary since no one is there anyhow).
It is highly suggested to create a vacation routine such as “I’m on Vacation!”. This will allow you to pick and choose how devices are turned off for vacation (either in the app or via the routine that the app invokes). Duplication isn’t an issue (turning off a light or valve in both places) and it gives you some insurance on the off chance that the device does not receive the command the first time. Another reason is that the app does not implement controls of locks or other things that are well taken care of by a routine or where duplication is unnecessary.
For the House Sitter, it is suggested to use a device like the SmartThings Arrival fob or similar but any presence sensor can be used. It is advisable to have the app execute your “I’m Back!” and “Goodbye!” or similar routines after the House Sitter arrives/leaves so as to ensure that everything is secure.
The code is available on GitHub for anyone interested:
The code seems pretty stable but if anyone finds and issues or bugs, please let me know!
Small update up on GitHub for v1.4. Basically, a fix was made to avoid turning off lights, valves, etc. when a house sitter present when the vacation starts. Previously the assumption was that the sitter would come in but if it is more of a “hot handoff” where the sitter is present then you don’t want to leave them in the dark with no water (I hope). Anyhow, the app now executes the arrival routine to immediately turn on any devices that should be enabled when the sitter is present.
Also added a “vacation is over” notification. Previously this was logged but no alert was sent out.
Another update is up on GitHub to v1.5. A relatively minor change but one that had recently come to light around managing HVAC while on vacation.
Previously, I had suggested that you include the HVAC changes in the vacation routine (aka “I’m on Vacation!”) since ST has built into routines the ability to select a heating and cooling setpoint. That works well but what doesn’t work well is having the thermostat resume its normal program - that just isn’t an option with the ST routine. So, with this release you also can have Vacation Manager set a heating or cooling setpoint and, optionally resume the normal program when you return as well as optionally when your house sitter is present.
While you could have ST manage your HVAC schedule and so on for you, I choose to have independent thermostat control for normal everyday operations. I could build that same logic into ST and/or use one of the thermostat apps but I just like having the UI and so on which means that resuming the normal program is key. While I use a Honeywell, this should work for any thermostat that works with the standard thermostat DTH profile.
Just a small tweak to the HVAC management logic to first check if the thermostat supports resume before issuing the command. It’s probably more of a device not conforming to the standard DTH but unfortunately the result is that it causes a runtime error if the device doesn’t support a command - honestly ST should just issue a warning or simply ignore it. Regardless, now if you have multiple thermostats and some support resume but others do not Vacation Manager will only attempt to resume the ones that do support the command.