After getting back from our summer holiday I figured that I should share some experiences on how my home automation should work during my holiday.

What do you have to do when you’re going on a holiday or away for more than a couple of days?

  • Lights
  • IP camera (recordings)
  • Sending notifications, SMS or emails based on:
    doors or windows opening
    other sensors (temperatures, energy usage)

Enable “holiday” mode

How do you let the system know that you’re “away”? (how to enable the ‘holiday’ mode) You could enable each individual event when you’re going away. That’s a lot of work and it is easy to make mistakes. It would require a clearly documented check-list. We don’t want that, we want to automate that.

Create Device S10 “Holiday” (type Virtual)

Events: Move all holiday related events to event group “Holiday”
Event trigger: All of these events have an extra trigger: “S10 = On”

How to start the ‘Holiday’ mode?

Use this event. If you enable the S10 device it will immediately start sending emails, recordings etc. So you want to build in a delay.
EVENT “Holiday Start”
WAIT: 20 minutes

NOTE: Make sure that the ‘Holiday’ device is not visible to guests if you have enabled guest access in Homeseer. Otherwise it would be really easy to see if nobody is home. From that perspective I think nobody should enable guest access on their Homeseer system. Only provide access to users that you know, for which you create accounts.

Example: Lights

With lights you can enable a configurable (random) security timer so the lights never switch on at exactly 21:10.

LocationTime ONTime OFFRemark
Living 121:1023:30xx
Hall upstairs23:3223:48xx

Example: Notifications

When being away you know who’s allowed to enter your house and when that’s going to happen. Being away you know that any doors opening between 01:00 and 06:00 are security issues. Nobody is going to water the plants at these times. So, identify which monitored behavior is out of the ordinary.

Outside FrontdoorMotionLights ON
Camera picture
Email picture
DoorsOpening between
0:00 and 07:00
Lights ON
Camera recording
Email picture
Send text/APNS
WindowsOpeningSend text/APNS
Daily Electricity usageabove 2 kWhSend text/APNS
Daily Water usageabove xx LiterSend text/APNS

 How are notifications send?

– Use APNS (Push notifications to Apple iOS devices) using my Twitter script
– Use my Twitter script
– Use email (send email event or using the email script command)
– Use SMS (text message to cell phones) – for this you need some kind of SMS gateway.

Example: Security

So now you identified the situations that are out of the ordinary. What are you going to do? If your IP camera’s support recording of any kind you can do 2 things:
– Send a notification that helps you to find the right recording
– FTP/Copy the actual recording to an external location (in case your NAS gets stolen ;-)
(for this you could use the hs.ftp script command)
Depending on your camera’s they will do continuous recording or they support recording based on events (through inputs that have a motion detector connected).

In case of a fire you also might want to send some pictures to an external location. Not that it’s going to do you any good but it might help.

Example: Other events

You will find a bunch of events which are not important when you’re away. You can prevent these events from running when “holiday = ON” by adding a condition to run only when “holiday = OFF”. These could be scripts like:

  • Traffic information
  • GPS Car Tracking
  • Chart creation scripts
  • Weather scripts

Hope this helps you a bit to make your house more secure during your absence.

Any other ideas? Add a comment!

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