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Vacation Mode Programming Anybody?


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Just wondering what some of the techniques to implement a vacation mode would be. Currently, my vacation mode is very klugey. I have defined a Vacation mode ON and a Vacation mode OFF lighting scene. I then use scheduler to set start and stop dates for the vacation and it turns the lighting scene on at sunset and off 6 hours later. The scheduler randomizes the on and off by +/- 30 minutes. So, in order to do this I have to go in to scheduler and adjust dates.

I would prefer having some button defined in the MTS that I could use to turn the Vacation mode on before I leave the house. It would also be nice if the lights defined in the scene could come on and off independently while the vacation mode was on.

How do other folks do this?

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Right next to my garage door, I have a six button pad. As I leave, I press a single button. That activates the extended away program which controls the HVAC, lights, security system and a few other things. Most of the scene is set during the daily lighting schedule. If the away variable is on, then it quietly exits. Otherwise, it executes the daily scene.

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This is an interesting question which I worked on awhile back, and decided to do something which would stay in effect all the time. My own version of it depends on having your C4 tied into a security system, but if yours is then here's what's worked really well for us.

I defined three schedule agents:

Travel Evening 1

Travel Evening 2

Travel Evening End

The first one is programmed for sunset +/- 15 minutes (randomized)

The second is 9pm +/- 30 minutes (randomized)

The third is 11:30 +/- 30 minutes (randomized)

I then created 3 lighting scenes. One for the early evening (office, kitchen, kid's bedrooms) and one for the late evening (upstairs, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc) and then one for night time (external lights, most interior off).

In the programming for each of the three agents, I have 2 lines of code:

For schedule agent travel evening 1, it says:

If Alarm System is armed to Away

>> Execute scene Travel Evening 1

And then the same for Travel Evening 2 and Travel Evening End.

The nice thing about doing it this way is it not only makes the house look lived in when we are on vacation, but if we're out later in the evening (especially now that sunset is so early) we come back to a house that also looks lived in. And I don't have to remember to do anything special when we're heading out of town.

Because we'd never have the alarm armed to away when we're home the scenes won't be triggered if anyone's in the house. If you don't have your system tied into the alarm, you could do all the same things with a variable and just trigger that variable when you're heading out of town (so instead of "If system armed to away" it would be "If variable 'Away' = True" then execute scene 'travel evening 1').

Hope that is helpful for you, it's working great for us!!


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One other option which comes to mind if you don't have an alarm system connected to C4 but you want the vacation settings to kick in automatically.

You could have another variable called "Occupied". Every afternoon at 4pm you could set the variable to "False" and then program a number of actions which would revert it to "True" such as lights going on, media active, etc. At sunset you have the evening lighting sequences above occur, but instead of checking the alarm they'll check the variable. If between 4pm and sunset none of those actions occurred, then the "Occupied" variable will be false and the lighting scenes will begin. If one of the actions occurred, then the schedule events will find the variable "Occupied" at True, and nothing would happen.

Similarly, you could program a sequence of commands to check each light in the house and change the Occupied variable to true if it finds any lights turned on, and that way the sequence will kick in if the house is totally dark.


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  • 2 months later...

Jason, Finally got around to implementing this. Thanks for your help. I don't have my alarm system integrated yet so I went with a simple variable called Vacation Mode. I enable this via the MTS if I'm out of town. I like your "occupied" idea too. I may have to try that.

Thanks again,


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