Button to set mode

I’ve given up on geofencing…it’s just not functioning perfectly for me. Sometimes it works fine…sometimes not.
Therefor I’m going for a simple solution. I want to set the “mode” to “away” by pushing a simple button when leaving the house. I know there are some buttons available (eg fibaro), but I need one with a statuslight (to show whether the mode is “away” or “home”). Is such a thing available?


The Leviton scene controllers have programmable/controllable LEDs. They’re really pricey, though. I’m not aware of anything else, at least not for the US market, but I’m sure others will chime in…

On the subject of geofencing, I think I can safely say at this point that generally expectations far exceed technical and business (more importantly) reality. You used the word “perfectly”, and I think this is an apt way to describe the expectation, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Unfortunately, I think, like handwriting recognition, perfection is likely never to be achievable, and every 1/10th of 1% error feels enormous. I say this having made an attempt myself at implementing a geofencing system using OwnTracks (or really any other app that can send GPS coordinates–GPSLogger, Tasker, etc.). It works better than the Vera Mobile app, I think I can safely say, based on the feedback of others testing it for me, but it’s far from perfect. The problems are mostly related to the phone being optimized to preserve its battery, resulting in a variety of roadblocks to continuous, accurate position information. Both Apple and the various Android manufacturers (and Google itself) are also dealing with GDPR and other similar privacy regulations, and this is adding new roadblocks to the process even as we speak. Every part of it other than the phone is dead easy; but that’s the key component, and when it doesn’t work right (and punctually), everything downstream is irrelevant.

The “wasp in a box” model has been proposed many times. It’s not hard to implement; I even have a version of it that I’ve built in Reactor to play with. It has the advantage of potentially using multiple sources of “stimulus” in determining whether there is likely someone at home or not. With proper tuning, a lot of tuning, I feel this would more likely lead to a better solution than phone/GPS alone (phone/GPS can become an input to it, too). Perfect? Unlikely. But certainly better than most.

I echo rigpapa’s conclusion.
the issue here is: “how to detect presence”. When your smartphone enters/exits the network etc. How reliable is that detection mechanism and so on. So the key is to find a better “presence detection” capability…hmmm…

You could built a away button with a fibaro universal sensor, any button with a led indicator and reactor logic… btw my iphonelocator works really really good but sucking battery as hell…

And here is a Swedish homeautomationsites project with Arduino/vera mode indicator /Mattias

I have to say that the most prevalent issue I see with native geofencing is that the phone correctly (I’d estimate >99% of the time) identifies the geofence. Where it fails is communicating this to the controller.

Trivial to solve, I suspect, but no one has confirmed how it works so just don’t use it.

iPhone locator seems pretty much 100%.

Apple native automations and shortcuts also. They simply don’t actually allow you to run geofence automation. Again, trivial resolution, legalities aside, which, having implemented GDPR (as well as ISO and PCI/DSS) regulation I also think are overblown to a greater or lesser extent.

But what do I know


Hmm…presence detection looks very interesting. It would be possible to check if my router has a connection with my phone or not. If not, then I’m not at home. :grinning:

Just found the ping app in Vera. This allows me to detect if I’m able to ping my phone (+ the one of my wife) or not…and from there on write some code to put my system to “Away” or “Home”

Quite simply. Problem (for me) is it doesn’t allow sufficient time to get the heating 'stat to update and the heat tom get up to setpoint…

Oh and if I’ve not hooked into the WLAN before I open the door, all the alarms are going to go off…

If you already use the Alexa app from Amazon, you’ve got another GeoFencing option in that.

I’ve been using its location triggered routines, and with the Vera skill enabled, I trigger actions on my VeraSecure. In the four months I’ve been using it, it has been 100% – it has never missed a GeoFence entry/exit.

(Edited to add: I’m using an Android for GeoFencing – Samsung S7. I also have a GPS logging app on Android that can keep location services active all day. There is some “magic pill” that a few Android developers seem to know about to allow their app to keep getting location updates in spite of power settings.)

I have an Inner, Middle, and Outer “ring” set up, using the Inner for changing house mode, and the Middle and Outer for thermostat control (among other things) like you’re wanting to do.

That’s not new and is a pretty common way to do it. This is the main purpose for router integration into home automation platforms. However it has its problems too. Say the wife forgets to charge her phone (not you of course, you would never do that :wink: ) overnight and the phone is not pingable but she is still home and you set up the alarm to turn on in such a case… huh… WAF shoots down.
As @Catman calls it, it also prevents you from having multiple levels of distance behavior. Which I do to set my home to vacation mode for example but one could have many other uses.

I am also not a big fan of having a button… It kind of defeats the purpose of the automation.

I completely agree with @rigpapa on the fact that most problems we see with geofencing is mostly due to large variations of power saving schemes implemented in phones. If you use Android, you are out of luck. The variety of hardware and firmware/software variation is so large that you will likely never get anything close to consistent. The reason why @amg0’s Phone locator works so well is because… it relies on the iPhones and the iOS native location functionality and is as close to be perfect as can be. I am in the semiconductor/chip business and am very close to the design and manufacturing of these. I can’t start to tell you how far android based phones are from Apple. I wouldn’t use any android stuff even if I was paid to do so unless I had no other choice. That being said, it takes a bit of customization on the parameters to define the home perimeter and polling frequency and I can’t imagine a one size fit all for a generic geofencing done with a mobile app. There is just no way that could be reliable for every case.

If anyone is interested, here is my demo “Wasp in a Box” ReactorSensor (Reactor 3.5)…

The idea behind this is that a “score” starts high and decays, so it requires constant “stimulation” to keep the score from going to 0–activity causes the score to reset to max. Someone in the house, turning lights on and off, intersecting the path of motion sensors, traversing monitored doors, etc. would provide that stimulus. In the absence of all that, the score eventually decays to zero, and that means no activity has been detected for a long time–nobody home.

The “Buzz” group is configured to detect changes in any device that might indicate presence of a human in the home (care must be taken that this group not include any devices that might be modified by other automations). The more devices can be added here, the better. The “Buzz is TRUE” activity for the group sets the score variable to 100 (i.e. when a monitored device is changed, the score is reset to 100).

The “Timer” group is simply an Interval condition with a 10-minute interval. When it pulses true, the “Timer is TRUE” activity subtracts 10 from the current value of score, to a minimum of 0. Thus, the score decays 10 points every 10 minutes until it bottoms out.

The “Box is Empty” group simply checks to see if the score has decayed to 0, and if so the (empty) “Box is Empty is TRUE” activity is run, which could set the house mode to Away, turn off lights, turn on an alarm, etc. Whatever needs to be done.

A good addition, perhaps as an exercise for the reader, would be a time range coupled to the Interval condition so that the group doesn’t fire during “sleeping” hours (say 11pm to 5am)–thus the score would not decay during this period, so whatever mode the box was in (wasp or no wasp) at 11pm would be how it stayed overnight, unless overriden by device changes (which would still function without time restriction and force the score to 100–somebody home/came home late). This would account for inactivity when everyone was asleep.


My motto is NEVER use a button… Actually its very rare that I do that… as you said the iphonelocator works so good that I rely on it to 100%. I had native vera geo before but it works when it wants to… = sometimes… The only downside with the iphonelocator is that it would be nice with a more easy and understanding setting interface so you can set it easy for optimized battery/geoprecision/userindividual path. Its all possible now but I can’t really get a grip off it and its hard to try out it…


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You can just use a Wall controller switch. You can configure it to trigger the house mode change. Nothing like a bright red button next to the front door this time of year. :smile:

Cheers Rene

The “phone” thing is not working. It seems that my phone goes to sleep after some time and then one will not be able to ping the phone.
I just looked into the “Reactorsensor” plugin…this is really a fantastic,powerful tool !!
Unfortunately there is one thing i think i cannot do with it. I would like to ping our TV in the evening…as this is always on in the evening (unless we are not at home) , this could be very important to me in order to determine whether we are at home or away.

Not a smart / IP connected TV?
Might not be able to ping it but I’d have thought you could access some URL on it and get an HTTP 200 response.
Perhaps Sitesensor does something similar, or is that just a ping as well?


Hard to detect sleeping without a button. I’m very happy with my Wallmode Quad, with which i can set the mode and also set other settings, like sleeping late (handy for non weekend free days).
Also automatic home/away detection would not work with kids, grand parents, cleaning help, etc. But all of them understand the buttons!

For sleeping… I use eightsleep and integrated it through home assistant and site sensor. So yeah it’s possible. :wink:

My night mode is triggered by the bed presence sensor and is turned back to home when it senses my sleep state to go to “awake”

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Well…I’m able to ping my TV from my computer, no problem.

I like the integration with eightsleep, nice one!
I’m still hoping for an easily integratable lock/bolt sensor that detects whether a lock is closed from the inside (night) or outside (away).

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