Random Poll for Reactor Users

I am curious how many people set device statuses by switching modes?

I don’t use that for anything except arming/disarming sensors. But I do have large scenes and reactor activities that set devices which could possibly be aligned simply with a mode. Then I could have move the bulk of actions into the house mode switching, triggered by a more complex Reactor condition perhaps, and then have remaining items handled specifically by Reactor if they don’t fit the ‘blanket mode’ setting.

I only ask because I’m wondering if this is easier overhead on Vera or not.

Simple real life example for me:
Morning” lights Reactor Condition from within my “Bedtime or Awake” Reactor sensor:

Which then runs this activity set:

And the first activity is to a run a the “Morning Lights” Scene, which I’ve had natively in Vera UI forever.

Which in turn includes switching the house mode to Home.

Then I can setup other Reactor conditions, etc, that rely on Home mode.

Very long story, short, is that I’m using House Modes as a flag to determine states. Sleep, Away, and generic Daytime. But since I’m switching these already would it be easier/simpler to just embed many of the device actions into the mode switching?

It’s a great question you pose, one that I’ve pondered a few times in the past. Before I answer, let me share a chuckle … that it took me several years to even FIND (much less use) the MODES page, and even longer to completely understand what “Arm” and “Disarm” meant, since until 2018 I had no sensors whatsoever in my Z-Wave network.

The reasons I ultimately decided NOT to associate device actions with changes in House Mode:

  • In my case, Vera switches modes often throughout the day (based on who is home, so the A/C comfort zone can be set appropriately) while relatively few, if any, devices need to react in those cases;
  • My brain doesn’t think of the “Modes” page (again, because it took me so long to discover, and I often go for months without looking at Vera’s interface!) so I’d likely get lost trying to troubleshoot unexpected behaviors;
  • Things got really complicated during some testing with my ecobee thermostat – I was trying to mirror any “Mode” changes between it and Vera, to keep them synchronized – whereupon I discovered that the ecobee plug-in (no longer maintained!) sometimes throws errors in response to (null) values sent by the ecobee API, which in turn placed Vera in an “unknown Mode state” (i.e. neither Home, nor Away, nor Night, nor Vacation);
  • I actually prefer everything being spelled out explicitly in Reactor;

Long story short, “Modes” frankly feels too much like an afterthought, both from the UI perspective (Vera likes to HIDE the Modes page!), interoperability (remember, it took the 3rd party plug-in “House Modes” just to be able to change Vera’s House Mode programmatically!) as well as the reliability I’d expect before committing device actions to it.

(Similar logic applies to my decision to eliminate 99% of my Scenes and Notifications, opting instead to build those routines explicitly in Reactor, where I can tweak them more readily.)

tl;dr To each his own?

LOL same here - I’ve had Vera forever and just found it a couple years ago. I use it only for sensors, as it’s basically easier to run down the list than add devices manually to a scene or reactor activity. Easy to view/edit.

I’m using virtual switches to determine who is home, and that works great. I use life360 to track wife, myself, her parents (who often come over). I use ping sensor to look for brother-in-law and his wife mobile phone. The life360 is also done with my ‘extra/old phone’ which has profile for life360, tasker, autovera (tasker plugin), autonotification (tasker plugin). The ping sensor is native plugin of course. Having a switch for a person makes so many other conditions fantastically configurable!!

But I’m with you - and along that line, it might be easier to just create my another reactor sensor with 4 groups (home, away, night, vacation) - AND then I’d have the option to create even more ‘modes’ such as “babysitter” or something (which is also a virtual switch currently).

Then I could move some of these mode changes into Reactor and leave the ‘main’ house mode in Vera alone.

My question really was aimed at if the house modes is efficient or not compared to others. Problem to me is that I’m using scenes, reactor, house modes, etc. all the time together. Just trying to get to more utopian state where Vera actually executes throughout the day flawlessly. Right now, I’m sure someone like @rigpapa would laugh at the spider-web I’ve created. One of those “If I was to do it all over again…” approaches/questions.

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I just invented a new term, to describe the protocol by which spousal approval of your home automation efforts is conveyed:


P.S. Hell to the yeah… Virtual Switches for the win!

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Ahhh an measure of WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor)

FWIW I do use modes to arm devices and set heating commands. Home and Away only though


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It would fun to do a zoom / webinar of some sort of ‘power users’ to see setups and compare notes.

Sort of like a tour and then others could pipe in with “oh that’s interesting - I do that but I use modes, or I use virtual switches” Kind of like peer knowledge sharing.

Would be fun to see the layouts in real time as well. (Versus piece-meal through screenshots like this)

Might be worth doing an actual poll or something to determine interest. I’d be happy to volunteer first since I’m working on some ideas to cleanup and reinvent anyway.

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Yes I just use the house mode to arm sensors that it. My modes are triggered mostly by who’s home and when which is handled by reactor. More complex device state changes mostly, DeusExMachinaII, are also handled by reactor. I simply don’t associate device actions with house modes because they are useless. I would rarely need some lights to stay on when im away, id rather use DeusExMachinaII. Thermostats have their own schedules, and stay at the same temp day and night mostly.

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You guys just reminded me that I do use Modes in two other ways:

  1. In conjunction with the new Alexa feature called “Guard”. When leaving the house, if I say, “Alexa we’re leaving” she’ll turn Guard ON, and included with that routine is a command to Turn On (a virtual switch named…) “Leaving the House” on Vera. That, in turn, triggers a few fun things on Reactor.

  2. As a safeguard so that certain Reactor routines do (or, most often, DON’T) run. I include “House Mode” among my set of Conditions to ward off misfires of things that might otherwise wake us up at night. #wifeeye

Realize here that I most often tinker with Vera very late at night, when everyone else is sound asleep, and the slip of a finger in the Vera Mobile app could cause a catastrophe!

  • Libra
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Ingenious solution for the guard feature! I’ll be implementing that once we gain routine control!

hahaah too true!!! My wife always yells “Smart Home Hell” when that happens. More often comical at this point, luckily - from an original angry outburst

The modes function for alarms needs to have a no change option, same as the switch/sockets. If it did i may use it more often.

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