How to Use GPS Location to Make Your House Welcome You Home
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There are few places where automation makes more sense than at home, but what good is a smart home if it doesn’t know when you’re there? Setting up your smart technologies to welcome you home is a great way to save time on lots of things, from turning on the air conditioning to starting dinner.

There are a number of ways you can get your house to welcome you home, but I’ll concentrate here on using IFTTT (if you’re not familiar with the service, check out our ultimate IFTTT guide The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro If This Then That, also known as IFTTT is a free web-based service to get your apps and devices working together. Not sure how to build your applet? Follow along with this guide. Read More ) to trigger actions based on GPS locations that it gets from your phone or car. Let’s get started!

Triggering Actions with GPS

IFTTT offers a variety of ways to monitor your location with GPS. Two of the most useful are Android Location and iOS Location, both of which use the location of your phone to determine when you enter or exit an area. You can take advantage of this flexibility by triggering an action when you leave work, for example, and a different one when you arrive home.


A number of car-based GPS systems are also available for use with IFTTT. Automatic, Dash, and Zubie are best for triggering smart home events. Both Automatic and Dash support triggering actions when your ignition is turned on or off in a certain area, and Zubie has a “Vehicle arrives in places” trigger that could let you trigger an action when you pass through a certain place—in the middle of your drive home, for example.

You can also get a little creative with IFTTT and GPS. For example, you can trigger an action whenever you check in on Foursquare or Swarm Foursquare Relaunches As Discovery Tool Based On Your Tastes Foursquare Relaunches As Discovery Tool Based On Your Tastes Foursquare pioneered the mobile check-in; a location-based status update that told the world exactly where you were and why – so is the switch to a pure discovery tool a step forward? Read More in a specific location. You could set up a specific action to be taken when you check in at work, for example, or at the grocery store when you’re on your way home.

“Welcome Home” Actions

Okay, so now we have a good idea of how to trigger actions. But what sorts of things can you have your house do when you get there? We’ll start with the basics—you could, for example, set up a recipe to turn your Philips Hue lights Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue Light Your Home the Smart Way With Philips Hue If you can afford the initial expenditure, you won't find a better-supported and more user-friendly smart lighting system on the market. Read More on when you get home. When your car or phone detects that you’re within a block or so of your house, it will turn on the lights so you don’t have to. You could even program them to dim depending on the time you arrive. You could even have it flash a certain color when a specific family member is almost about to arrive home!


In the summer and winter, your house can get really hot or cold while you’re gone at work all day, but you don’t want to leave the heat or air conditioning running and wasting energy. GPS and IFTTT can help! Just set a GPS trigger for when you leave work and have it activate your Ecobee or other smart thermostat Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives When it comes to controlling the temperature of your home, the Nest smart thermostat is king, but there are plenty of options out there. Here are 5 you should consider if you're looking to buy. Read More to get your house back to a comfortable temperature by the time you get home.

What if you use a window air conditioner, though, or just a fan to keep the air moving? You can make that work with a WeMo switch. Turn your device on, and use the WeMo app to turn the plug off. Then, when you leave work or arrive home, set a trigger to turn the plug back on, giving power to the air conditioner or fan and cooling your home. You could also use a WeMo switch to turn on your crockpot to have dinner warmed up by the time you arrive.  Why by an expensive “smart” crock pot when a WeMo switch will do?


Have you ever been at the door with a load of groceries in both arms and not been able to unlock the front door? Sure, you could just set one of the bags down, but a smart home should be able to help you bring in the groceries! Setting a small GPS trigger area for your phone near your front door can be combined with any smart lock Forget Keys: 5 Smart Locks You Can Unlock With Your Phone Forget Keys: 5 Smart Locks You Can Unlock With Your Phone Here are 5 different locks that you can unlock with your phone. Read More that supports SmartThings—now, when you get close to the door, it’ll unlock and you can walk right in. It could even lock behind you when you move further away.

With the huge number of devices that are SmartThings compatible, you can have your house do just about whatever you want to welcome you home. Turn on the fan, turn on some music, dim the lights, turn off an alarm, or any other action you can take with SmartThings-enabled devices. Check out the full list of SmartThings-compatible devices to see what else you could do!


Want to start with something really simple? Why not just open the garage door when you get home? Garageio turns your smartphone into your garage door opener, and it also connects with IFTTT. When you get into the driveway, you can trigger your garage door to open. (You can also check your phone to see if you left your garage door open when you’re at work, and close it if you did.)

As you can see, there are nearly limitless possibilities for having your house welcome you home when you return. But what about getting an actual welcome home? You can do that too. Use this IFTTT recipe to get a text message that says “Welcome home!” every time you get back. What could be more welcoming than that?

Your Favorite GPS–Smart Home Interactions

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly widespread, and things like smart plugs 6 Smart Plugs That Aren't Belkin WeMo 6 Smart Plugs That Aren't Belkin WeMo Read More and smart bulbs Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It The Philips Hue system is leading the charge when it comes to smart lighting, but there are some worthy alternatives. We've picked three that all offer the same basic feature set and hackability. Read More are making it easy for anyone to start making their home smarter 6 Smart Home Projects You Can Take On This Weekend 6 Smart Home Projects You Can Take On This Weekend Here are six ways to add a little ambient intelligence to your daily routine. Read More . Get a couple smart devices and play around—you might be surprised at how many useful things you can accomplish by combining GPS and your smart home!

Do you use any GPS-based triggers for your smart devices? What have you found to be most useful? Share your tips below!

Image credits: hkeita via, Jo Ann Snover via, Lighttraveler via, Alita Bobrov via

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