You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Never Forget to Turn Off Your Lights with HomeKit

May 9, 2017

HomeKit is not necessarily the most popular smart home platform around, but it’s more powerful than many people think. If you have an iPhone, you can use HomeKit to make sure that you never forget to turn the lights (or anything, really) off when you leave home, or turn them on when you get home. This is one of many way to use HomeKit’s automation services, but this is a great introduction to what s possible.

Prerequisites

You must own an iPhone and a HomeKit-enabled smart device for starters. Apple has a list of products at their website, and this example will be using the iDevices Switch, which is a wall outlet that my lights are hooked up to.

An advantage of using HomeKit is that it normalizes the interfaces for different brands and types of products, so even if you have a different wall plug, switch, or smart bulb, the process is going to be basically the same. That said, each smart device you get typically requires you to download that manufacturer’s app and do an initial setup. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go.

Setting Up Our Rules

There are 3 tabs on the bottom of the Home app for iOS, and we’re only going to play with the Automation tab today. Tap into the Automation tab and you’ll see the screen to the right.

You’re probably ahead of me already, but you want to tap on the big orange “Create new Automation” button. The Home app will show you the types of triggers you can use to initiate actions, and we’re going to go with My Location Changes. The app will ask you what location you want to use. You can select your home by default, but other locations work as well and you just need to search for wherever you want to use.

Note the toggle above the map, which says “When I Arrive.” You can set rules for when you arrive at or leave a location, so make sure you have the right one selected. On the map itself you can use that blue dot to make the location you are talking about bigger or smaller. I find the default size to be fine for me, but your milage may vary.

Hit Next when you’re ready, and then you’ll get a list of “scenes” and devices you have connected to your HomeKit account. Scenes are states you can out your devices in (such as “turn my desk lamp and bedroom lights on”), and we’ll go over those in a separate tutorial, so today we’re just going to pick the 2 devices I have on this account: Bedroom Lights and Bedroom Night Light. Make sure your devices have an orange checkmark on them and tap Next again.

This is the last step, and it’s where you need to tell HomeKit what to do with these devices when you leave the house. In this case I’m looking to turn off all lights when I leave, so I can just tap the 2 lights so they are grayed out and say “Turn Off.” Tap Done, and that’s it!

Start Experimenting

Now you’re rule is in place to turn off whatever devices you told it to when you leave. If you want to set a similar rule to turn these devices on when you get home, just make another rule with the same steps as before, but make it for when you arrive home. I find rules like this very helpful since it lets me ensure I never forget to turn off a light when I leave, and that I never walk into a dark house. You can use these rules to create actions that are more specific to your needs too. Use this same rule with a smart lock so that you are always 100% sure your door is locked when you leave home. Use it on your garage door so it opens when you are a block from home and it’s just open for you when you pull up. There’s plenty more, and hopefully this has given you a couple ideas for how to play around with HomeKit.