Getting Started with SmartThings - Sunrise & Sunset Rules

Back in the Home Automation Kickoff post, I mentioned my past frustrations getting simple things like sunrise and sunset rules to work. For this example, we'll be using a simple SmartThings routine to turn on an outdoor GE Z-Wave module at sunset.

To illustrate how simple this is, first go to the Automation tab of the app, make sure that you're on the "Routines" tab (we'll talk more about SmartApps later), and tap "Add a Routine". We'll name this routine "Outdoor Lights on at Sunset".

You'll see that routines are broken down into super intuitive categories, like "What do you want to happen?". Tap "Turn on these lights or switches" since we want to turn On some lights at sunset, and select the appropriate devices to turn on.

Scroll down and tap the option to "Automatically perform 'Outdoor Lights on at Sunset'" so that we can define when we want this routine to run.

You'll see that you can now select from a number of triggers to start your routine. For this example, tap "At sunrise or sunset".

If you wanted to turn on your lights 30 minutes before sunset as an example, you can simply configure it. Make sure you select whether this is for sunrise or sunset, and enter any time offset you wish.

Once you tap "Done", you'll get an alert saying your routine is running, but you're taken back to the triggers screen, not back to the main routines screen. One of the things that's really slick about the SmartThings interface is the ability to do complex rules without a lot of thought. Since we were taken back to the triggers, we can now easily add a second (or third, or forth) trigger to our routine. This is particularly useful if you want to use multiple sensor inputs to control a device. You'll notice that there's a blue bar next to any trigger that is enabled for this routine.

Once you hit "Done", you're now taken back to the main routines screen, and you'll see that your new routine is ready to go. It's already running in the background, so 30 minutes before sunset, it'll automatically run, or you can run it manually just by clicking on it.