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How to use smart home routines

Smart home devices are more popular than ever, but many underestimate what you can do with them. Voice assistants let you create routines that make your life easier, especially when used in tandem with other smart devices. We interviewed our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to learn more about smart home routines.

Everything you need to know about smart home routines

What is a smart home routine?

These routines are a series of actions that happen in response to a specific command or event. You can trigger them at a particular time or when you say a certain phrase.

In many cases, they rely on other smart home devices to carry out the actions necessary for the routine. For example, you can use smart bulbs to turn your lights on each morning.

What can you do with smart home routines?

Smart home routines often control lighting, but the sky is the limit when you have numerous smart devices in your house. 

According to Vazquez, “some fun ones are specific greetings for video doorbells; when someone rings it, you can have it deliver a particular greeting message and turn on a light. If you have a smart garage door opener, it can determine your proximity, open the garage, turn on some lights and let your family know you’re home.”

If you have kids, you can create routines to help them go to bed or get ready for school. For example, you may have the lights blink or dim when it’s close to bedtime.

How to set up a smart home routine

The process varies depending on the voice assistant you use. Still, in most cases, you begin by navigating to your device’s settings and clicking on “routines.” 

Most voice assistants have numerous preset routines. If you want to design your own, simply follow the on-screen prompts and select the devices you want to use, the things you’d like those devices to do and the command you’ll use to trigger the routine.

Alexa devices have several options to trigger routines; these options can be found in the “when this happens” menu. If you select the “voice” option, you can use a particular voice command to start your routine, whereas the “schedule” option starts it automatically at a specified time. You can use the schedule option to create recurring routines.

If you choose the “smart home” option, you can trigger the routine in response to one of your device’s smart sensors. For example, you can use this option to turn on a fan or air conditioner if your smart thermostat determines your home exceeds a specific temperature.

Alexa devices also have a “sound detection” option that can trigger routines in response to everyday sounds, such as a baby crying or a dog barking. This feature is ideal for notifying you when your child or pet needs you.

Which devices do you need to optimize your routines?

Smart plugs are the most versatile addition to your routines. These devices let you turn lamps, appliances and other devices on and off. If you want to incorporate your home’s lighting, you may want to consider a few smart bulbs throughout your home.

Smart thermostats can detect temperature changes in your home for routines, and Amazon’s Echo Show device can trigger routines in response to detecting a particular person.

If you incorporate your smart coffee maker into your routine, you can wake up to a hot pot of coffee every morning. Additionally, if you have a smart lock, you can use it to ensure your doors are locked after you leave for work. 

Smart light strips can add ambiance to your entertainment room when you sit down to relax for the day. You can use your robot vacuum in your smart home routine to ensure you come home to a clean house. 

Smart home routine FAQ

Is there a particular voice assistant that’s best for smart home routines?

A. According to Vazquez, ”they’re all good at it. In general, Alexa is the best for ease of use, Google is the best for voice recognition and Apple is the best for privacy.” 

How many routines can you have on Alexa?

A. Currently, you can have up to 99 routines on your Alexa device.

Smart home devices our expert recommended

Best TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Four-Pack

TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Four-Pack

These can be paired with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can group separate outlets when creating routines, making them work more efficiently. You can use the Kasa app to track each device’s power consumption.

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Best Amazon Echo Show 8

Amazon Echo Show 8

This features an 8-inch HD touch screen display. It has a built-in camera you can use to enhance your smart home routines. It has a cover you can use to protect your privacy when you don’t need the camera.

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Best MyQ Chamberlain Garage Door Sensor

MyQ Chamberlain Garage Door Sensor

Installation and setup are quick and easy. You can use this to open and close your garage door via your phone, voice command or smart home routine. It’s a great way to determine whether you’ve left your garage door open while away from home.

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Best Level Bolt Smart Lock

Level Bolt Smart Lock

You can lock and unlock your door via your smartphone or Apple HomeKit. It can use geofencing technology to unlock your door when you get home. Its discreet design doesn’t let others know you have a smart lock.

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Best Philips Hue Bluetooth Smart Lightstrip

Philips Hue Bluetooth Smart Lightstrip

These lights can produce numerous colors to create an ideal environment for entertainment, get-togethers or studying. It’s easy to set up and can be used as a night light. It’s compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and Microsoft Cortana.

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Best Echo Show 5 Kids Edition

Echo Show 5 Kids Edition

This can play videos, help your kids with homework or enable kid-centric smart home routines. It features a fun chameleon design.

Sold by Amazon


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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