Home Automation Scenarios (2010)

(Originally posted in October, 2010)

It’s not easy as you’d expect to think of new scenarios that are genuinely useful. (See this post for some background.)

So I thought I’d create and maintain this page of currently-implemented and planned scenarios, as a convenient reference that will be easier to keep current. I’m also hoping that keeping an organized list of scenarios might stimulate some sharing and brainstorming out there…

Lighting and Energy Conservation

  • Turn off lights if rooms are no longer occupied, after a certain amount of time
  • Turn on landscaping lights at dusk, off and dawn
  • If security system is armed, randomly cycle lights to simulate occupancy
  • PLANNED: If security system is armed, sleep all desktop computers and ensure A/V system isn’t on


  • Turn off bathroom fans and Kitchen exhaust fan after 10 minutes
  • Turn on bathroom fans if someone is taking a shower, run for 10 minutes after shower ends (this one took a while to pull off, but now it seems perfectly commonplace)
  • Turn on Kitchen fan if high temperature  detected over the stovetop
  • Periodically, run fan in the cats’ litter box area


  • Set temperature back in all zones when no one is home (that is, when the security system is armed) and return to normal schedule  when someone comes home (security system is disarmed)
  • Periodically, set correct time on thermostats
  • Periodically, run the hot water recirculation pump
  • PLANNED: Warn if doors are left open when the heat is on or when there’s a significant difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors.


  • Send email notice when security system is armed, disarmed, or when there’s an actually alarm
  • Notify if garage door is left open, provide option for remotely opening/closing it.
  • When someone comes home (and disarms the security system), turn on certain lights for convenience
  • When security system is armed, randomly turn on/off certain lights at night to simulate occupancy
  • PLANNED: If someone walks up onto the front porch, side porch, deck, or basement door during “quiet hours”, warn and take a photo.
  • PLANNED: Archive photos/video footage immediately before and after security system is tripped, or when doorbells are rung.

Weather and Irrigation

  • Run sprinkers on regular schedule
  • PLANNED: don’t run sprinklers if there’s been a recent rainfall, as detected by local weather station
  • PLANNED: If it starts raining and windows are open, warn. Requires window sensors, presumably could be based on security system’s sensors. The weather station already keeps track of local rainfall.
  • Send note if temperate has dropped to near-freezing


  • In main zone (living room): If DVD is turned on/off, also turn on/off receiver and monitor, and set receiver source accordingly, for main and 2nd zones. Ditto Xbox.
  • In main zone (living room): If volume up/down is used on any remote, adjust receiver volume
  • In Kitchen zone: if kitchen radio is turned on/off, also turn on receiver zone #2 and set source. Monitor volume keypad for key presses, and adjust zone volume accordingly.

Reminders, Warnings, and Notices

  • Send email note reminding to take out Trash and Compost bins. Scrape city’s web site to also determine if it’s a Recycling day
  • Send nightly reminder note to close apps for better backups
  • If the security system is armed at 10pm at night, send an summary note summarizing the status of the automation system
  • PLANNED: If temperature over kitchen stove top gets too high, warn
  • PLANNED: Integrate with family calendar (currently a mashup of hosted Exchange and Google Calendar):
    • ‘Bot events: Place zero minute events on the current day’s calendar for events like:
      • Security system armed, disarmed, or triggered
      • When the garage door was opened
      • When the heater ran
    • Human events: let people add events to the calendar as a way of communication with the Home Automation system. Examples:
      • Create an event representing the span of time during which the cat-sitter’s door and security codes are operational
      • Create an event representing a special “keep the heat on” time period (for, say, dinner guests… ordinarily, we let the family freeze during dinner, to aid digestion)

Will need to determine the right level of detail to avoid making the calendar unusable (or, create a separate calendar for the house). I got this idea from this excellent blog.

System Health

  • PLANNED: If system is not reachable from the outside in, send email. Requires a cloud service, obviously.
  • PLANNED: If no internet access (from inside the firewall), reset power to network components (modem, router, switch) and try again. Will require use of external relay to control power to power strip, obviously, and some amount of Homeseer scripting.
  • PLANNED: If temperature in computer rack gets too high, warn
  • Periodically check the health of all automation devices (1-wire hub, relay/sensor board, security system) and connected devices (A/V receiver, monitor, IR controller) to ensure all is well.
  • Send a note when there’s a power failure, and when power is restored (security system has standby power and internet connectivity)

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