DIY Home Automation: Programming Events and Non-Events

A key component of home automation is the alert concept. Property owners want their systems to alert them to certain things. For those who choose to go the DIY route, alerts often need to be set up manually. That is when you start getting into more advanced concepts, like programming both events and non-events.

An event is something that triggers an action within a home automation system. A property owner might want to know every time someone arms or disarms the security system. So, they set up a rule to send them an alert whenever that event occurs.

Non-events do not trigger anything. Therefore, setting up rules for them can be a bit more challenging. For some reason, software developers in the home automation space seem to forget that certain non-events require notifications. For example, consider being sent an alert that you’ve left the garage door open.

  • Multiple Ways to Look at It

Alerting to non-events requires an entirely different approach from the manufacturer’s side of things. Using the example of the garage door, the manufacturer could design a system with multiple sensors. One sensor is tripped and engaged when the garage door is in the open position. A timer could keep track of the amount of time that sensor is engaged. If it isn’t disengaged within a certain amount of time, the system assumes the door is open and sends the alert.

Under such a scenario, the non-event actually becomes an event by way of the timer. Yet this design has one major flaw: it only works when the door is in the fully open position. What if it gets stuck half-way down?

A manufacturer could design the trigger from the opposite direction. By placing a sensor at the bottom of the door track, the manufacturer now knows when the door is in the fully closed position. For purposes of creating an alert, software could be programmed to check the sensor at regular time intervals. If it has not been activated after a certain amount of time, an open-door alert is sent.

  • Programming Alerts

It is not possible to measure non-events because there is no data to measure. Your only workaround is to turn a non-event into an event so that alerts can be programmed. Both of the proposed garage door solutions do just that. They use timers and sensors to generate data where none would otherwise be generated.

This is all well and good from the manufacturer’s side of things. But what about the consumer’s? Software makes an enormous difference. Some apps are intuitive in their alert programming while others, not so much.

Garage door control as part of a prebuilt system from a brand like Vivint Smart Home works out of the box. It is already designed and programmed to monitor an open garage door and send an alert. But DIY home automation builders need to handle this themselves. Their choice of apps makes a difference.

  • Sometimes You Have toDig

The reality is that some home automation apps are not as intuitive as they could be. Sometimes you need to dig deeply to find ways to program alerts for certain non-events. And even after you find what you’re looking for, it may require several steps to turn a non-event into an event that can be monitored.

Home automation is all about using a variety of sensors and triggers to automate device functionality. When you break things down to the simplest form, home automation is a tool for measuring events and non-events and then triggering actions based on them. It is a simple concept that is sometimes hard to master.