Smartphone controlling temperature on a smart thermostat

The initial appeal of smarthome devices can be one of intrigue. Furthermore, these products can do a lot more than you might think from first glance.

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When most people think of how you control smarthome devices and what you can do with them, they most likely envision the ability to control things from their smartphones or using their voice with Alexa or Google Assistant.

All of this is true, and it’s certainly the basis of controlling smarthome devices, but there’s also a lot more you can do with this stuff. Let’s go over a few cool ways you can improve your smarthome experience.

Automating Devices

routines for turning the porchlight on or off at specified times of day

Using your phone to control things like the thermostat and your lights is pretty cool, especially when you can do it while you’re away from home. But the real superpower is not having to control them manually at all.

In an ideal smarthome, everything is automated—devices control themselves based on some parameters that you’ve set up ahead of time. There are several different ways you can automate everything, including by motion, scheduling, geofencing, or triggering by a separate action.

RELATED: Forget Voice Control, Automation Is the Real Smarthome Superpower

You can even automate stuff in your house without spending a lot of money on actual smarthome devices—things like outlet timers, remote outlet switches, and light socket motion sensors are incredibly affordable but can provide you with a great glimpse into the smarthome world.

Link Devices Together

Devices linked together in the stringify app

Another great feature of smarthome devices is that you can usually link them together to have multiple things happen at once.

For example, instead of having to manually control your lights, thermostat, and other devices individually, you can initiate a single command and have everything happen at once. For example, you could set up a single routine that configures everything the way you want it when you leave your home or head to bed for the night.

RELATED: How to Use Stringify For Crazy Powerful Home Automation

Some devices natively support integration with other products, but you can use a service like IFTTT or Stringify if you want even more flexibility. With these services, you can link together smarthome devices that you wouldn’t normally be able to link together and have them work together to do certain things with a single command, like blinking your lights when your Alexa timer goes off or turning on the lights when your Wi-Fi cam detects motion.

Use If/When Commands

IFTTT recipe that turns the thermostat off based on the outside temperature

This is similar to the previous section; only it doesn’t necessarily need to rely on devices themselves. Some smarthome devices allow you to control them using various metrics, like the time of day, the temperature outside, the temperature set on the thermostat, and so on.

With IFTTT, for example, you can have your smart thermostat automatically shut off when the outside temperature reaches a certain point. So if you have your AC on, but it’s 65 degrees outside (which is definitely cool enough without AC), you can have the thermostat turn off, and even send you a notification telling you to open the windows.

RELATED: How to Automatically Turn Off Your Nest Thermostat When It’s Cool Outside

Similarly, you could have a porch light automatically turn on and off based on when the sun sets and rises. Not every smarthome device can do this, but at least with Wink, it will get your location and figure out when the sun sets and rises in your area. From there, it will turn on and off your smart bulb in your porch light accordingly.


In the end, there are a lot more ways to control smarthome devices than you might think—they’re not just devices that you can control from your phone, but rather control a different number of ways. Heck, sometimes there’s no controlling you have to do at all. Just set some parameters and let it automate everything for you, which is really where smarthome tech shines in the first place.

Craig Lloyd Craig Lloyd
Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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