5 Essential Smart Home Automations

5 Essential Smart Home Automations

A 'Smart Home' is more than controlling the lights from your phone, adjusting the thermostat temperature while away from home, or hanging out on the couch yelling commands to a voice assistant. It's automation that truly makes a 'smart home' smart! Here are 5 essential automation ideas you can use to level up your smart home.

Before We Start

It's important to know some basics about smart home automation:

Smart Home Platforms Connect Devices

A platform, which can be a hub or cloud service, enables devices to communicate and interact with each other. For example, for the automation turn on a light when motion is detected, the platform must be able to receive the motion event from the motion sensor and be able to control the light switch to achieve the goal.

If you haven't connected your smart devices to a platform, or need some guidance for picking a smart home platform, check out the Pick A Platform section of our 5 Things to Consider with Smart Lighting post.

Event Driven or Time Schedule

In order for an automation to run, it needs to get kicked off, or 'triggered' somehow. It could be simple as time schedule, such as turning lights on every morning at 7am. Or it can based on an event, like sending a notification when a motion is detected. Before you start to work on a new automation, it is important to think about how the automation should be triggered.

3rd Party Automation Builders

Many platforms offer built-in automation features, but these can sometimes be limited in functionality or flexibility. Here are some popular 3rd party automation builder integrations that you may consider:

  • webCoRE
    A community developed automation builder for SmartThings. It offers a lot of capabilities and functionality with a coding-like interface which may take a while for the average user to grow accustom to.
    Easy to use with lots of service and device connections, IFTTT allows simple automation creation, but the latency with some integrations might not be ideal for real-time automations. The paid Pro tier is required for creating more than 3 applets (automation rules) and multi-step applets. Ex: Pro tier is required if you want to send a notification and turn on a light in the same time when the motion is detected.
  • SharpTools
    Powerful but easy to use visual flow builder interface. You can create complex automation logic in an easy interface. Unlimited rules included for free โ€“ some advanced features, such as variables, may require a premium license.
SharpTools Premium also enables unlimited dashboards and other premium dashboard features.

Notify When Doors Left Open

Security Enhancement

If you're like me, it isn't uncommon to wake up in the morning and find out the garage door was left open the whole night or to come home and realize someone forgot to close the door. This is one of the most popular security enhancement automation that we have seen. Sending an email, SMS, or other type of notifications when the door or garage door has been left open for 15 minutes surely gives you the piece of mind that you need.

Motion Triggered Lighting During the Night

Security Enhancement ยท Comfort and Convenience

Having a light automatically turn on during the night when motion is detected not only provides safety benefits but can also provide a warm welcome to your guests. This is also a popular automation for stairways, patios, pantries and more. You can optionally change the brightness of the light depending on the time of the day when the motion is detected, for example if you don't want it to fully brighten when waking up in the middle of the night. Another common addition is to automatically turn the lights back off after motion been inactive for 5 minutes to save energy and money.

Interested in learning more about SharpTools Rule Engine? Check out the Rule Engine Overview and create your free automation rules now!

Water Leak Notification

Money Saving

One of the worst things to experience is finding a busted water pipe and the serious damage it can do to a home. Many of us have been there and repairing water damage is never cheap. A water sensor usually cost less than $25 dollars in most countries but can save thousands of $$ if the leakage is detected and handled timely. Water heaters, sinks, washers, and refrigerators are common locations to place water sensors so you can receive an email, SMS or other types of notifications when a leak is detected.

Good Morning Routine Everyday at 7am

Comfort and Convenience

Get woken up by gently increasing light or music and start your day off right! Many smart home enthusiasts take advantage of their Hue bulbs and Sonos or Echo speakers to create automations that gradually set the light or volume level up over 15 minutes (fading) every day for a gentle wake up instead of a harsh abrupt change. 'Wake up' automations can also include changing the light color from a cold to warm color gradually, turning on the TV for morning news, starting the coffee brewing, and more. With a flexible automation builder, you can even have the automation play different music or take other actions conditionally depending on the day of the week.

Welcome Home Routine When Arriving Home

Comfort and Convenience

Many smart home platforms support geolocation from mobile devices which enables many creative automation ideas. Turning lights on, starting your favorite music on Sonos, and adjusting the thermostat temperature based on the geolocation or presence events are all popular automations. Conditions around the time of the day or day of the week can also be helpful additions to arrival and presence automations โ€“ for example triggering different weekday vs weekend actions.


Automation is an essential part of the 'smart home' that will evolve alongside your automation needs and creativity as you continue your smart home journey. It is important to select an automation builder that is flexible and powerful to meet your needs while also being easy to use and manage.

What is your favorite or most creative home automation setup? Leave your comments below and share your creative automation ideas.

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