Posted by Jay Basen ● October, 2020
A Beginner's Guide to Leveraging Tempest Weather Data in a Smart Home
Smart homes are gaining in popularity, with 32% of households in the U.S. using smart home technology and that number expected to jump to 57% by 2025. However, the term is often used to mean that instead of having to walk across the room to flip a switch to turn on a light, you replace that task with a voice command.
What makes a home smart?
A smart speaker from Amazon or Google is a marvel of computer engineering. But although the use of voice commands to control lights, thermostats, etc. in your home may make it more convenient to live in, it really doesn’t make it very smart. For a home to truly be smart it should sense what is happening in and around your home and take actions to anticipate your needs based on that input.
Many sensors can be integrated into a smart home to let a smart home processor / hub know what is happening inside the home. Motion sensors can, for example, be used to tell where people are in a home. A smart thermostat can tell the temperature in a home and whether, for example, the temperature is too cold and there is a risk of a pipe freezing. An alarm system integrated into a smart home can detect if there is a fire and trigger lights to be turned on to help a family safely exit the home, flash exterior lights to allow first responders to quickly locate the home, and turn off a forced-air HVAC system so it doesn’t spread smoke throughout the home
Similarly, the Tempest Weather System can be a valuable tool for integrating outside environmental information into a smart home. Tempest offers direct integrations to Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, Crestron, Indigo,Homeseer, and more. The Tempest System includes sensors for:
- Air Temperature
- Ambient Light
- Barometric Pressure
- Lightning Strikes and distance from the station to the strike
- Rain Accumulation
- Rain Duration
- Rain Intensity
- Rain Onset
- Solar Radiation
- UV Index
- Wind Speed
- Wind Direction
INTEgrating tempest data with ifttt
One of the easiest ways to integrate information from these sensors into a smart home is to use IFTTT. IFTTT stands for If-This-Then-That. It is a subscription service that provides a way to integrate IoT (Internet of Things) devices from disparate vendors so they work together. IFTTT allows a connected IoT device to act as a “trigger” for an IFTTT applet that will cause an “action” to occur. For example, if your Tempest Weather System reports that the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees (the “trigger” for an IFTTT applet) then a command is sent to your Ecobee thermostat to turn on the heat (the “action” for the IFTTT applet) so water pipes in the home don’t freeze, burst, and flood the home.
WeatherFlow has worked with IFTTT to provide a wide range of data from a Tempest Weather System that can be used as triggers for IFTTT applets. These include:
- Brightness Drops Below
- Brightness Rises Above
- Humidity Drops Below
- Humidity Rises Above
- Pressure Drops Below
- Pressure Rises Above
- Solar Radiation Drops Below
- Solar Radiation Rises Above
- Temperature Drops Below
- Temperature Rises Above
- UV Drops Below
- UV Rises Above
- Wind Speed Drops Below
- Wind Speed Rises Above
- New Observation
- Lightning Strike
- Rain Detected
examples of ifttt triggers
There are a variety of ways that these triggers can be used in a smart home. Here are a few examples:
- If the brightness of the sun rises above a specific level then close motorized blinds, or shades, to reduce glare in the home and to protect valuable furnishings from sun damage. You might want to have several IFTTT applets that are triggered based on different brightness levels as the blinds on a north facing window could stay open on all but the brightest days but the blinds on a south facing window would allow much more sun to enter a home and would need to be closed much more often.
- If UV radiation rises above a specific level send a notification to family members to make sure they use sunscreen if they go outdoors.
- If the wind speed rises above a specific level then send a notification to make sure that patio umbrellas are closed so they don’t get damaged.
- If you spend a lot of time outdoors it can be very useful to be notified any time there is a lighting strike near your home so you can find a safe place to shelter. This can be especially useful if you live in a golf community where lightning can be especially dangerous.
- Rain can trigger motorized skylights and windows to close. This can save thousands of dollars in water damage in a home.
Tempest weather system applets
IFTTT is a subscription service with a limited free tier. The free tier limits a user to only authoring three applets consisting of an If-This-Then-That rule. However, a user can stay at the free tier by leveraging as many applets as they want that have been published by different manufacturers that have partnered with IFTTT to integrate their products with the service.
WeatherFlow has published twenty-six applets based on triggers from a Tempest Weather System for free use by Tempest owners. These applets provide a wide range of functionality for a smart home and can all be used with the free tier of IFTTT. Here is a list of those applets:
- Log Tempest data to Google Sheets
- Text me when Lightning detected
- Alert me it’s freezing by text
- Text me when rain is detected
- Notify me when wind speed exceeds threshold
- Receive notification when temp drops below threshold
- Log lightning to Google Sheet
- Delay my Rachio Sprinkler cycle when it rains
- Text me when the temperature rises above a threshold
- Blink my Hue Lights when the first rain drops start falling
- Turn of my Rachio Sprinklers in high winds
- Turn my Philips Hue lights blue when it’s freezing
- Log hot days in a Google Spreadsheet
- Call me when pressure rises
- Freeze alert: turn on sprinklers (turning on sprinklers can save plants from freezing conditions)
- Park my Husqvarna Automower during frost
- FIRE WARNING: text me when humidity drops
- Text me when the pressure drops below ___mB
- Close Hunter Douglas blinds when the sun is intense
- Snooze RainMachine sprinklers when rain is detected
- Start my Next heating when outside temp drops below ____
- Stop watering with your RainMachine sprinklers in high winds
- Start my Next air conditioning when outside temp exceeds ____
- Turn on my Honeywell Lyric fan when it’s above a certain temperature
- Automatically close your Hunter Douglas shades when it’s hot outside
- Switch on a SmartThings-connected fan when the humidity rises above ____
Save time and money with simple smart home automations
IFTTT has only very recently transitioned from a totally free service to a subscription service. While the change was met with some criticism, IFTTT offers the ability to integrate a wide range of smart devices without needing to invest in a smart home hub or develop the level of expertise to work with one. IFTTT is also introducing new integrations that go beyond those previously available. The savings from these kinds of automations can easily offset the cost of IFTTT’s subscription fee.
So, instead of a smart home that only provides an alternative way of controlling things in your home, consider leveraging IFTTT with your Tempest Weather System. The Tempest Weather System’s IFTTT service provides a wide range of triggers that can be used to add a great deal of functionality to your smart home - no technical expertise required.