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5 ways geofencing makes your smart home smarter

Have you ever wished your smart home would react to your presence (or absence)? There are a lot of smart home features that work based on when your device connects to Wi-Fi, but you can use geofencing to achieve the same result at a greater distance.

A geofence is a virtual perimeter around your home. It detects when you enter or leave the perimeter and acts according to its programming. If you have smart home accessories that work with geofencing (or can connect to IFTTT and be connected to a geofence that way), you can take advantage of the service to make your smart home even smarter.

Automatically arm or disarm your security system

Ring Alarm (2nd Gen) Keypad on wall.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

How often do you forget to arm your security system when you leave home? While most smart security systems can be armed remotely, it’s better if they arm themselves. Through geofencing, you can set your security system to automatically arm or disarm according to your location.

This means you will never again forget to arm your system, nor will you have to worry about disarming it when you get home from work. In fact, you can have it switch automatically to “Home” mode or your custom monitoring settings. All you do is come home from work, and the geofence detects your presence and triggers the action you set up.

Turn on lights when you come home, adjust temperature when you leave

Honeywell Lyric T5 mounted on wall.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With the dog days of summer upon us, temperatures have already started to climb — and with them, so have utility bills. The good news is that with geofencing there is no need to keep your home at your preferred temperature level when you aren’t at there. Provided no one else is in your home (including pets), your thermostat can be set to automatically raise the temperature a few degrees when you leave the house.

It can then begin lowering the temperature about an hour before you come home. This keeps energy costs lower during the warmest months of the year. You can do the same with your lights. Imagine if you came home, and the moment you turned into your driveway the front porch light and your interior lights all switched on. You would never again come home to a dark house. While not all smart thermostats offer a geofencing feature, the Honeywell Lyric T5 is one of them that uses geofencing to its full potential.

Send you shopping reminders

Geofencing isn’t limited solely to your home. Some smart assistants (like Alexa) can send you reminders based on your current location, as long as she has phone access. If you tend to forget to pick things up, you can ask Alexa to remind you to buy milk when you near a grocery store.

You can also set up reminders to drop off your dry cleaning, buy stamps, and do anything else you can think of. What sets this feature apart is that these reminders aren’t based on time, but on location. They can be triggered by walking or drive past a designated location.

Open the garage door for you

Smart garage door opener

Keeping a button in your car to open the garage door is convenient, but it can also be risky. If your car is stolen or someone breaks into it, they have an easy way to access your home. Rather than create a security risk for your home, you can use geofencing to automatically open your garage door when you cross the barrier.

If you have a double garage, you can link each door to a different device and trigger them separately from one another. Your spouse’s side of the garage would open only for them. You can even program custom responses depending on who arrives first; for example, your spouse might like music to start playing when they come home. Geofencing makes it possible.

Geofencing can start appliances when you leave

An iRobot Roomba S9 cleaning up a mess on floor.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

No one wants to hear the constant hum of a vacuum cleaner when they’re at home relaxing. While you can schedule your robot vacuum to run while you aren’t home, you can also use geofencing to trigger the device the moment you walk out the door. This is particularly useful for people that work from home.

Imagine: You leave the house for a few hours to run errands, go to the gym, or see a movie. When you cross the threshold of your geofence, your robot vacuum automatically starts up and cleans. When you return home later that day, it will be to clean floors. You can do this for any appliance that makes an unpleasant amount of noise.

Geofencing is a tremendously convenient feature and one that is included in an increasing number of smart home products. Even those that don’t have geofencing capabilities by default can usually connect to IFTTT or another service that does.

Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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