As we’ve seen in our previous articles, the IFTTT (IF This Then That) service is a great way to create unique home automation routines — and fill in the gaps that may be missing from individual hardware vendors or other home automation ecosystems, such as Google Home or Apple’s HomeKit. However, for those who like to keep track of what goes on in their home, there’s another particularly interesting use case for IFTTT — the ability to record and log data from your home automation devices.
Although we’ve focused on IFTTT primarily as a tool for home automation, the hundreds of services offered by IFTTT actually run the gamut from email and social media integration to accessing file services like Dropbox and Google Drive, and all of these other capabilities can be paired with IFTTT home automation accessory services to do things like keep a log of each time your front door is opened or your basement lights are turned on.
In today’s article, we’ll take a look at using IFTTT to integrate with one particularly useful logging service — Google Sheets — and explore some ideas for how you can log information into a spreadsheet from a variety of different home automation accessories.
The Google Sheets IFTTT action provides the ability to add a row to a spreadsheet, and this works the same way regardless of what you’re sending to it — you’ll need to specify a name and Drive folder for the Google Sheet (both of which will be created if they don’t already exist), and then fill in a formatted row of data that will be appended to the bottom of the spreadsheet.
In using the Google Sheets action, we’ll be relying more heavily on data passed from whatever IFTTT trigger we’re using — referred to as “ingredients” — to fill in the blanks. Ingredients can be used in any field in the Google Sheets action, so not only can you fill in the data in the sheet itself, but you can use an ingredient to name the spreadsheet or determine which Drive folder it’s placed in.
Keep a log of who comes in your front door
If you have an August Smart Lock, you can easily use IFTTT to track not only when your door is unlocked, but who is unlocking it. Simply use August’s standard IFTTT Lock unlocked trigger. This will fire off whenever your lock is unlocked, but it also passes additional data such as the user’s name as an ingredient to the next IFTTT action.
This can be included in the Google Sheets action to add a row to a spreadsheet that not only records the time your door was unlocked, but who unlocked it — assuming of course that they used their smartphone app or the smart keypad.
Record each time the thermostat is adjusted
IFTTT can also help you keep a record of how often people in your household are adjusting your Ecobee thermostat, essentially overriding the schedule that you’ve set it up with.
While you won’t be able to tell who is messing with your thermostat — although of course you could set up an IFTTT-compatible security camera nearby and create another parallel applet if you really wanted to know — it will keep track of how often it’s being adjusted outside of your schedule, and exactly when this is occurring. You can even log the current indoor temperature alongside the requested temperature to help you see if the adjustment was really all that necessary.
Log noise levels
As we’ve already seen, Netatmo’s Weather Station has a wealth of IFTTT triggers for everything from temperature and humidity to noise, rainfall, and wind data, so it’s easy enough to create an IFTTT applet to log when this information falls outside of certain “normal” thresholds. For example, if you wanted to know when it’s excessively loud in your living room, you can easily create an applet to log this to a Google Sheet every time the noise rises above a certain level.
For the most part, Netatmo’s IFTTT service can only trigger actions when values go above or below thresholds that you specify, so you won’t be able to keep something like a regular temperature log; although Netatmo’s own software does do this well enough, there can still be advantages to using IFTTT, such as the ability to combine the data from multiple accessories into a single spreadsheet.
Track your oven run times
If you’re using a General Electric or Home Connect enabled appliance, you can also easily track how often your oven is used. Since triggers will only fire off when the oven is turned on and when the oven is turned off, you’ll need to create two applets. But this is a great example of how information can be combined into a single Google Sheet, allowing you to track the on and off times in one place, and of course you can easily measure the time elapsed between each pair of events using basic spreadsheet formulas. You can even throw in a trigger like Preheat temperature achieved to factor in how long it takes your oven to reach the desired temperature, thereby measuring preheat time versus cooking time.
There are actually a lot of other interesting things you can log if you have the right appliances; for example GE’s connected refrigerator also provides IFTTT triggers that can fire off whenever your refrigerator door is opened, so it’s easy enough to create a log of this information into a Google Sheet as well.
IFTTT services like Google Sheets provide a handy way to keep track of what’s going on in your home, and can be especially useful for keeping tabs on things when there are multiple people all living under one roof. Ingredients can be used to not only populate cells in a Google Sheet, but also to specify a name and location for each one, and you can also easily log data to a single Google Sheet from multiple applets. Of course, Google Sheets isn’t the only service available for logging information using IFTTT, and next time, we’ll take a look at how you can do this with other services, such as Dropbox.