Help designing heating automations?

At the risk of being a drain on resources here, I think I need to ask for help designing my automations. I've spent the last week trying to fathom the interface, but I can't parse the mountain of information on this forum any more. I don't even know what to search on for help designing what I need done. Nothing is leaping out at me. And I don't want to pull my IRIS system until I understand this one.

I can't decide between rules, triggers, triggered rules, actions, etc. And what the heck is a Mode? It appears to be nothing but an empty container? In other words, it's just a name? But it has something to do with location?

Here's what I need to set up.

I have two HVAC systems, one upstairs and one downstairs. They each have the RT CT 101-L hooked up and I don't want to program anything into the thermo itself. Each thermo has changing set points specified on its own schedule. When presence is detected, they should run on those schedules. When presence is "Away", the schedules should be deactivated, and replaced with a constant temperature. The only exception is late at night, if I arrive within half an hour before the evening scheduled temp change kicks in, there should be no attempt to heat or cool the place to a pleasant temperature for such a short amount of time. On occasion, we need to boost the heat "manually". Right now I boost via the IRIS app. Easy. But there is no app for Hubitat…

Do I make modes for each thermostat change? Upstairs Day, Night, Away & Downstairs Day Night & Away? Thats a lotta modes. Or is this some series of rules? Yes, I've watched the videos that attempt to explain the difference between rules and triggers and actions. I've successfully used button controller to turn on a light. I've used Rule Machine to sense presence and send Pushover messages when presence is sensed. But I've accomplished these things more by accident than understanding. I think this is pretty simple, but I've got brain freeze now.

I'd appreciate not just a plan, but concrete explanations of where to find some of these features.

Any pointers will earn you my undying devotion.

Here's something to get you started. I have a RT CT100 controlling one HVAC system. I have 3 modes based on time of day (e.g. Day, Evening and Night). For presence, I use virtual switches. To control the HVAC I use a virtual switch called Alarm - Away Mode. It gets turned on when I leave and turned off when I come home.

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I'll answer the easier question first: modes are basically whatever you want them to be, just a system-wide "state" that the hub remembers. ("Location" pretty much just means your hub...the terminology was borrowed from a similar platform.) Many people use it for time-of-day or home-vs.-away or both (though the latter should not be confused with the armed state of Hubitat Safety Monitor should you use that). They are useful because every app provides a way to restrict running based on mode (e.g., "only run this app/automation when in these modes"). Some apps allow you to use mode changes to trigger other events (e.g., "do this when mode changes"). But basically, you can create whatever modes you want and use them to restrict or "trigger" pretty much anything else you want...or you can not use them at all. They're just what you make of them. (But nearly every app provides a way to tie mode into its automation, by default just the ability to not run it in certain modes, so they can be useful.)

Back to your thermostat question: it sounds like you're trying to use Rule Machine to set up automations for it. You certainly can, and in doing so you can use mode, time of day, day of week, presence (should you have something set up for that), button pushes, or pretty much any condition/trigger. But have you checked out the Thermostat Manager app? It can do a lot, though mostly time-based, without you needing to create rules for every scenario. If there are gaps, you can use Rule Machine to supplement Thermostat Manager for those cases. Or you can do it all with RM--and you don't have to stick to "mode" as a condition/trigger, as above. There are lots of ways. RM, unfortunately, can be a bit complicated to use at first.

Thanks.... so you aren't using the three modes you mention in connection with your HVAC? I don't see the words "Day" "Evening" or "Night" in those triggers anywhere. And would I need a virtual switch if I want a presence fob to do the switching?

Is there a place I'm missing when you specify what the "state" is that the mode name refers to? Or is it the other way around? That a mode only exists if it's referred to by external things/triggers, etc? Anything that mentions the word "Home" becomes part of the mode that is "Home". Like, you build a mode in reverse?

I listed the modes of the house to let you know I was using them, but they are just for lighting. As @bertabcd1234 staid, modes are for whatever you want. I can't get my lighting to agree with my home/away so I kept that separate. You don't need a switch for a fob. I use a virtual switch because I have a couple of triggers. I use a presence sensor for my phone and I also have a rule setup for anyone using the keypad on my front door lock. It just made things easier to have a switch control the multiple inputs.

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A week later I'm still lost.
It's now my understanding that a "mode" contains a set of rules or actions to be taken. Is that correct? If so, how or where do I program that set of rules or actions into a mode?

Could someone provide a step by step example? How would I make a mode turn on a light?

Actually, I'm going to cross-post this over to the IRIS Transition page...

Not really,
Think of a mode as a ‘switch’
Only one mode can be ‘on’ at one time.

For example
I use 5 modes on my system:

Early morning (weekdays)

So, ‘early morning mode’ is ‘timed’ for when my wife gets up at 6:30 during the week for work
I use this mode with an app I wrote to turn on various switches (heating and lights) for her
(I usually work from home so don’t get up early)

‘Morning mode’ turns off any lights etc left on and as I don’t really use the heating during the day my app also turn off the central heating.
This mode is activated by a luminance sensor, triggering when there is enough light and it’s at least 30 mins after sunrise.

Afternoon mode doesn’t really do anything atm but is activated at 12:00 noon

Evening mode is again activated by luminance (when it is dark enough to need lights)
Again using my app it switches on various lights and allows certain motion sensors to trigger other lights.

Night mode - I activate this manually using alexa.
This turns the tv and all downstairs lights off except my hall lights (it sets those to 25% so I can see to get up the stairs to bed)

So, as you can see, the modes themselves are not actually doing anything. My app (or RM or anything else you want to use) is actually doing the work.. when the mode becomes active.

The other way to use modes is to again think of them as a switch.
You can restrict most apps/rules and actions by mode.
I.e if you are not in the correct mode (think of the switch being off) then the app/rule won’t run.

As a shameless plug, my apps can be found here:
The apps I’m using for all this are called ‘mode switch’ and ‘modes plus’

Hope this helps and didn't confuse you even more


Regarding this comment, I made a post in another thread that explains the difference between them:

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