The perfect Vacation (Mode)

Summer is the time of vacations. All across the country, people are leaving work for the beach, mountains, lakes, cities, and national parks. It’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. Pack the bags and leave normal life behind for a week. You deserve it!

And don’t think about your home while you’re away. One of the best things that a connected home gives you is peace of mind. Your home is filled with sensors that will let you know if anything’s amiss. If you want to see what’s happening, you can go to one of your cameras and see what’s happening no matter where you are. When you’re on vacation, you can rest easy knowing that your home is secure and your belongings are safe.

But your home can do more than just give you peace of mind. It can also react to things the way you’d react. When you go away on vacation, your home can behave differently than when you’re there, saving you energy while avoiding unnecessary notifications. All it takes is a couple tweaks to your Vacation Mode.

Modes are the most powerful part of Staples Connect. They control the Activities around your house that run and don’t run depending on where you are and what you’re doing at that time. For example, your “Entertainment” Activity might not be a part of your Sleep Mode because you don’t want the cat to accidentally push the Pico button that starts up your lights and Bose SoundTouch. (Cat-induced parties at 3:15am are, surprisingly, not the best parties.) Modes let you control what happens in your house and keep your home in sync with you.

With Modes, you can make the same event cause different results. Press a button on a Pico remote in Home Mode and the light will turn on to 100; in Sleep Mode, it will only go on to 10. Or make a sensor send you a push notification if you’re Away but turn on a light if you’re Home. Each of these is an Activity (sensor sends notification, sensor turns on light) that’s enabled in a specific Mode.

We’re going to set up our Vacation Mode with a few ideas in mind:

  1. Sensors should send us (and maybe a local emergency contact) notifications, not turn on lights.
  2. Our usual time-based Activities (“Good morning“, “Good night“) aren’t needed.
  3. Someone playing with the lock should trigger an Activity.
  4. Do “random” series of events with lights and shades to discourage would-be burglars.
  5. Our thermostat should turn down and stay down.

That should give us a Vacation Mode that saves us money on energy costs, alerts us to things happening at our house, and discourages potential burglars by simulating that someone’s home. Let’s get started.

First, we’ll choose the Activities we want to run in Vacation Mode. Although we’ve got a lot of Activities in our system, not many should actually run while we’re on vacation.

To do this:

  1. In the app, tap the Modes tile.
  2. Open Vacation Mode.
  3. Tap “Activities are enabled”.

To start, we’ll disable our “Good morning” and “Good night” Activities. Our “late night” Activities also don’t need to run when we’re not there. These should be turned off.

Activities with sensors require a little more thought, though. When we’re away, we don’t need any sensor-turns-on-a-light Activities to run. But we also don’t want to turn off all sensor-based Activities. Door/window sensors need to stay active. So does the water sensor next to our water heater. If anything happens to any of these sensors, we need to be notified immediately.

We don’t want anything to happen around the home—we’re not there. Any sensor-based Activity that does something should be turned off. But our notification-only, sensor-based Activities should stay active, keeping us protected and informed about what’s happening at home.

This extends to locks as well. We want our “Lock notification” Activity to be active as well. This will send us a notification whenever someone enters a code on the lock (successfully or not).

Finally, we’ll make sure the series of Activities we made to discourage potential burglars is enabled. We’ll also add our connected shades to the list of devices being adjusted by these Activities.

With all the correct Activities selected, click Save. Our home will now run the way it should.

Before we go, we need to make sure our thermostat isn’t running while we’re away and costing us money. To do this:

  1. In Vacation Mode, tap “Devices adjust.”
  2. Tap Edit List.
  3. Choose the thermostat, then tap Save.
  4. Set the thermostat to a cool 60º, then tap Save.

Great! Now we’ve got a home that runs properly even when we’re away on Vacation. Now it’s time to relax and leave the regular world behind for a while.

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