Home Automation How To

Top 4 Smart Home Routines for Your Bathroom

Top 4 Smart Home Routines for Your Bathroom

You may not think your bathroom is ripe for home automation, but you might be surprised by how convenient and helpful a few simple smart bathroom routines can be. Automating just a few switches can ensure your bathroom stays dry and will help you keep it clean and fresh.

Start with Switches

We’ll assume that you can install your own smart switches. Some of these features may not be possible with your switches and system, but with some creative work-arounds, you may be able to achieve similar results.

Our suggestions here depend on two smart switches: one for an exhaust fan, and one for a light—preferably your shower light. If you’re not using fluorescent lighting, we recommend using a dimmer for the light to give you more flexibility. If nothing else, you’ll appreciate the ability to dim your shower lighting for very early morning or late night showers!

It doesn’t particularly matter what brand or technology you use for the switches. What’s important is that some mechanism exists—either through a hub, through an ecosystem like HomeKit, or through some other service or system—to automate their behavior. We’ve implemented all of these suggestions using [amazon_link id=”B003ZTVZ0W” target=”_blank” ]Insteon[/amazon_link], but Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or any other type of switches should work.

Add Some Logic

To automate your bathroom space, you’re going to need to add some logic. You can use HomeKit’s Automation abilities; a third-party service like IFTTT, Yonomi, or Stringify; a hub like SmartThings; or a more complex home controller such as Indigo, HomeSeer, or the ISY. You may be limited by the capabilities of your system, but even IFTTT can support some of our suggested routines.

1: Shut Off the Exhaust Fan

How many times have you turned on the bathroom exhaust fan and left it running by accident. In most cases, you want your bathroom fan to run longer than you’re actually occupying the space—either to remove odor or moisture. But you don’t want it running for hours. So this is a simple one, but it’s incredibly useful: Set it to go off 30 minutes after you turned it on. You’ll need to install a [amazon_link id=”B008HUWWOC” target=”_blank” ]smart on/off switch[/amazon_link]—not a dimmer—for this to work. Whatever automation system you’re using, this is what you’ll want to set up:

If this happens… …when this is also true… …do these things
You turn the fan on at the switch n/a Set a timer for 30 minutes

Turn off the fan

2: Keep the Fan On

If, for some reason, you want to keep the fan on for a longer period of time, you’ll need a routine that will override the timer. Most systems don’t let you stop a timer once you’ve started it, so if you’ve already turned the fan on with the above logic, it’s probably going to turn off regardless of what you do now. Instead, you may be able to do some other tricks with the fan switch.

If your switch can detect multiple interactions (e.g., double-tap, triple-tap, or hold), these may automatically override your timer automation. But if that’s not the case, here’s a good way of handling this situation, depending on what your hardware and system allow:

If this happens… …when this is also true… …do these things
You turn the fan OFF at the switch the fan is already OFF Turn on the fan

3: Turn the Fan On with the Shower Light

Ever get in the shower, only to realize that you’ve failed to turn on the exhaust fan? You then get out of the shower, trying not to slip, while you stretch your wet arm over to the fan switch. This is just a bad idea for so many reasons. No more. When you turn on the shower light, turn on the exhaust fan, too—then turn it off after some time passes.

Depending on your system, you may be thinking you can just “pair” the switches to work together. Light on, fan on; light off, fan off. Don’t do that, because your fan should run for a period of time after you’re done showering. We recommend a 30 minute timer, which will help remove any lingering steam and moisture. If you’ve installed a dimmer on the shower light, you may also want to specify the light level. Here’s how to set this all up:

If this happens… …when this is also true… …do these things
You turn the shower light on at the switch n/a Set a preferred dim level for the shower light (optional)

Turn on the fan

Set a timer for 30 minutes

Turn off the fan

4: Clean your Shower in Bright Light

Remember that shower light dimmer? A bright bulb on a dimmer can also aid with cleaning. If your switch supports double-tap actions, that may override the synchronized fan routine automatically, popping your shower light to 100% brightness. Perfect for cleaning. Alternatively, you could use a routine something like this:

If this happens… …when this is also true… …do these things
You turn the shower light on at the switch The shower light is already ON Set the shower light to full brightness (optional)

Turn off the fan

Bonus: Turn on a Night Light

If you have an overhead or vanity light switch at the door to your bathroom, and you’re not using fluorescent lighting, install a smart dimmer switch to control it. Then set up the following routine to enable a night light for late night bathroom visits:

If this happens… …when this is also true… …do these things
You turn the vanity light OFF at the switch The vanity light is already OFF Set the vanity dim level to 10%

Depending on both the switch and bulb you’re using, you may need to experiment with the dim level here to ensure the light actually turns on and doesn’t flicker. If you want the vanity light to always return to its dim night-light level, replace the “vanity light is already OFF” condition, above, with an “it’s night time” condition. You may also want to set up some general rules to turn the night light on at a certain time and then off in the morning. This will ensure if someone sets the light brighter at night, it will return back to its dim state, even when they turn the light off.

Who Knew Bathroom Lighting Could Be So Smart?

We often overlook bathrooms when thinking about home automation. But you can achieve quite a bit of benefit from a few smart switches and clever routines. Your needs may be different, and these suggestions only scratch the surface. Consider adding motion sensors or circadian lighting into the mix. Be creative, and let us know your favorite smart bathroom automation routines in the comments below!


About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.