Scheduling Home Automation With IFTTT

We’ve taken an extensive look in the past few weeks about how IFTTT can be used for a wide variety of home automations that go well beyond what most manufacturers include in their own apps and services, and IFTTT even provides the missing link for Amazon Alexa and Google Home users, allowing interdevice automations to be configured that wouldn’t otherwise be possible on these platforms.

While we’ve looked at some of the really fancy things that IFTTT can do, today we’re going to get back to the basics, and talk about how IFTTT can be used as a simple scheduling platform for your home automations. Although most home automation platforms provide their own scheduling capabilities, these are limited to their own accessories. This is fine if all you want to do is turn on some Hue light bulbs, for instance, but can quickly become a nuisance if you also want to control other home appliances at the same time, as you’ll need to configure separate schedules in each app, and of course every app handles these a bit differently. Note that you can also use Google Calendar for setting up home automation schedules, but while we think that’s great for more advanced purposes, we think it’s overkill for simple daily schedules.

The Date & Time Service

IFTTT provides a Date & Time service that is the key behind creating simple schedules. It provides a pretty logical set of triggers that allow you to fire off IFTTT actions at preset times once a day, once an hour, only on specific days of the week, or a specific day of the month, or even only once a year. For obvious reasons, the Date & Time service doesn’t include any actions, only triggers.

The Date & Time triggers work exactly the way you would expect them to — once configured, they’ll fire off whatever applet you’ve set up according to whatever schedule you’ve set.

Creating a morning wakeup routine

One very simple example is a morning routine that fires off the things you normally want to happen in the morning, such as turning on some lights, adjusting your air conditioner, and turning on your coffee maker.

 

Note that you can also use the Every day of the week trigger if you only want your morning routine to run on weekdays, or if you simply want it to fire off later on weekends.

Unfortunately, since IFTTT only supports a single action within a given applet, you will need to set up multiple applets — one for each accessory you want to control — but this is still easier to deal with in IFTTT than juggling several third-party apps, since at least IFTTT provides a common interface.

Depending on the accessories you’re using and how you normally use them, you can also chain IFTTT applets together based on the actions taken with other accessories, rather than making them all time-based. For example, if your coffee maker is only ever turned on in the mornings, this could be used as the trigger the rest of your morning routine. The advantage here is that if you ever needed to adjust the time, you can adjust it within only a single applet.

Run the vacuum monthly

If you have an iRobot or Samsung Robot Vacuum, you can set up a routine that automatically starts it only on specific days of the month. In addition to a specific date, the Every month on the trigger also lets you set a schedule based on the last day of the month.

Make sure your lights are off

If you find yourself or other family members often forgetting to turn the lights off in certain rooms, you may find it helpful to set up an IFTTT schedule that simply sends a command to turn them off every hour.

Since this will turn the lights off regardless of whether the room is occupied, it’s only useful in those rooms where people don’t normally hang out, but it’s a less expensive alternative than buying a motion sensor.

Using Sunset and Sunrise

The Date & Time service only allows you to set specific times, but if you’d like to schedule routines based on sunrise and sunset, you can use the Weather Underground service instead. In addition to providing triggers for various weather conditions, there are two individual triggers that will fire off within 15 minutes of the sun rising or setting.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to limit this to only certain days of the week, but it’s still very useful for doing things like making sure your lights come on when the sun goes down.

Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington is based in Toronto, Canada, where he lives with his daughter, Victoria. He is the author of iPod & iTunes Portable Genius, and works as a senior editor for iLounge.com. Prior to becoming a writer, Jesse ran his own information technology consulting practice and served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve.

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