Enhance Your Smart Home With IFTTT

You probably aren't getting the most out of your home automation

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So you installed a few automation devices around your house and you’re feeling ahead of the curve. After all, now you can control of your thermostat, lights, and entertainment system from the convenience of your smartphone. However, there’s a good chance that even if you’ve smartened up your home, you’re still not getting the most out of your equipment. Check out these useful tips and unique hacks to help you become an authority on automation.

Understanding If This Than That

If This Then That, or IFTTT, is a free online service that allows people to establish conditions among apps and other devices. Put simply, users set up triggers for certain occurrences (say, you liking a picture on Facebook) and corresponding actions for each (like automatically emailing that picture to a friend). These triggers and actions can readily be applied to a selection of home automation devices that offer IFTTT functionality.

Incorporating IFTTT into your home automation helps you customize and take serious ownership over your connected devices. Especially if you live your life by a certain schedule, setting up recurring rules can make fill in for the things you wish your devices did. For instance, you can establish a rule to have your front porch lights to turn on whenever your Ring smart doorbell detects motion.

Samsung’s smart home lineup, SmartThings, offers quite a bit in terms of IFTTT, along with allowing you to connect to other companies’ devices.

Here are some examples:

  • Turn off a SmartThings device at sunrise

  • Lock your Z-Wave door lock at a specific time

  • Log door openings detected by your SmartThings to a Google Drive spreadsheet

  • Strobe your SmartThings siren if category 1 hurricane winds are nearby

Add Additional Sensors to Your Home

Two devices that pair particularly well with IFTTT are window sensors and motion sensors.

Window sensors typically operate as two connected magnets on a window (or door) jamb that trigger when the window is opened. These devices sync up to a security system, which in many cases can be connected with IFTTT, opening up a world of possibilities. You can easily attach a window sensor to your mailbox (as long as it’s within WiFi range) that lets you know when you get mail via text message. If you’re counting calories, you can place a sensor on the fridge door and set up an IFTTT that sounds an alarm any time you open the fridge after a predetermined time. This same basic principle can be applied to just about any drawer or cabinet in your house that you would like to monitor or track.

Motion sensors present similarly creative use cases. Motion sensors are often connected with lighting as an anti-theft deterrent, but you can easily turn this to your own advantage. For example; you often get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom but either fumble around in the dark or need to contend with blindness when the lights come on. With IFTTT, you can set up a rule that if an interior motion sensor is triggered in the wee hours of the night, the lights will only come on at a dimmed setting.

Enhance Sensors With Custom Light Colors

Indeed, lights are probably one of the coolest devices you can take advantage of. Most smart lighting manifests as either a socket or (more commonly) a lightbulb. One such product, the Philips Hue light bulb, offers a slew of functionality. The Hue can change color, making for endless possibilities for IFTTT rules:

  • Change your lights to red if smoke is detected

  • Flash your bedroom light when the alarm goes off

  • Tell Alexa to start the party with a color show

Sensors Can Make Your Home More Comfortable

Along with lighting, thermostats are one of the most common smart home upgrades.

Yet there’s still a good chance you aren’t using your device to its fullest potential. Everyone knows their smart thermostat helps them save money by making more frequent and intentional adjustments to temperature throughout the day. But as with most smart devices, this can be further expanded. Here are a few ways you can use IFTTT to hack your thermostat:

  • Automatically adjust your thermostat down when the temperature outside rises

  • Set the temperature on your thermostat when you are close to home

  • When your home senses that no one is home, set your thermostat to economy mode

While most of these hacks will take some time and patience to get working, they’re all relatively easy to establish, especially if you already have connected devices installed in your home. Check out the If This Then That website, which allows you to search for specific products and devices, along with a huge variety of premade “Applets” or rules that can help you get started. Happy hacking!