Wednesday 27 July 2016

Use IFTTT To Automate Almost Anything...Free

Ever wished you had an easy way to automate things, either in your house or out in the world? If you have a smartphone you can!

IFTTT (If This Then That) is an amazing app/service that lets you connect seemingly unconnected things and systems based on conditions you set.

The instructions for setting what you want to happen based on conditions are called recipes, and there hundreds and hundreds of existing ones available for free, or you can make your own.

Want your coffee maker to start brewing as soon as your fitbit detects you've woken up? No problem. Automatically text your significant other when you're leaving work? IFTTT has you covered. Get an email when a stock you are watching goes up or down by a certain percentage? Absolutely.

With IFTTT you can set triggers for almost anything, the list includes Best Buy, BMW Labs, Facebook, Home Depot, The Weather Channel, Gmail, GE Appliances, Nest, Office 365, just to name a few. There are literally hundreds of different conditions and services.

How could this be helpful? One great example is if you have a Nest Protect smoke detector/CO detector and a Wink Hub. You can enable a recipe that turns on all the lights in the house (Assuming your lighting is automated)  if the Nest Protect goes off. That's a potentially life-saving feature and it's yours for free.

IFTTT can help you save money. You can have IFTTT watch certain products at Best Buy or Home Depot and alert you when the price changes. Pretty handy when you want a new item but forget to watch for it going on sale.

Sign up for a free account at and then load the free app on your smartphone. (Android or iPhone) From there you can start enabling existing recipes or building your own.

Obviously this service dove-tails nicely with other home automation products, it can automate controlling temperature, door locks, garage doors, moisture sensors, and safety equipment.

Wouldn't it be great to have your in-ground lawn sprinkler system not turn on when the forecast calls for rain? Or turn off all the lights in the house if your Nest thermostat goes in to Away mode? IFTTT can do that.

Here's how easy it is to create a recipe:

Choose a trigger channel for your recipe. In this case I chose Weather as my Trigger Channel

From the Channel Trigger you select what the individual trigger should be. Here I've selected "If Tomorrow's High Rises Above", and then entered 33 Celsius as the trigger temperature.

Once the trigger is created it shows a summary (below) of the condition(s) you have set and you click on "that" to define the action that should follow

You select an Action Channel, which looks very similar to the Trigger Channel selection. 

 For this blog I chose "Android SMS" as I wanted to receive a text if the temperature would be above 33.

At this point I fill in the phone# I want the test going to. The message text is pre-populated but you have the opportunity to change it to whatever you wish.

Once you click the "Create Action" button IFTTT shows you a full summary of the rule you've created.

That's all that was required, no fancy programming skills needed. I've now got a functional recipe to let me know when it's going to be really warm tomorrow.

Of course if you're like me you might create recipes that probably won't ever be used but are nice to have just in case. Programming the lights in the house to flash and your audio system to play "We Are The Champions" when the Maple Leafs with the Stanley Cup comes to mind.

The possibilities are endless. Feel free to share recipes you've created or ideas you have for using IFTTT in the comments section.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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