How To Only Run Alexa Routines At Night (Or After Sunset)

Routines with Alexa play such an important role in many of our lives. They help us in day-to-day life, making everyday tasks that much easier. From helping us to relax, to keeping our homes and loved ones safe – routines are no doubt useful. But some routines are best carried out at certain times of the day, and some only on certain days – but is this possible?

Now it is! We’re familiar with being able to use specific times as a Routine trigger. However, now you can get your new, and even established routines, to be triggered only on certain days or times of the day. This means, even if you say the Routine command at a day/time that it’s not specified to run, it won’t. So how can you do this?

Key Points

  • Alexa routines have always allowed you to trigger around sunset (or a specific time).
  • However you can now also have triggers that only activate between certain times and days.
  • Alexa routines are not quite as powerful as using Home Assistant or SmartThings, but they are improving all the time.

Overview: Routines With Alexa

Routines, or smart home automations, are one of the most popular uses of Amazon’s Alexa app. Routines are automations that you create in the app that get your smart devices to work together to carry out specific functions. Examples of smart home automations include; turning the lights on when a smart camera detects motion, or playing the news and turning on the coffee maker (via a smart plug) when you say something like, “Alexa, Good Morning”.

After connecting your smart home devices to their respective apps (i.e. adding a Ring camera to the Ring app), you can then add your smart home devices to the Alexa app.

It’s important to make sure you add the respective Skill for your device, if needed. This ensures that your account is linked to your Alexa app so that your device works properly.

Wyze Skill in the Alexa app
Wyze Skill in the Alexa app

After that, you’ll then be able to control your devices, as well as get them to interact with other smart home devices. The beauty of the Alexa app is that you can get devices from various smart home manufacturers to work together from one central location.

Many popular smart home devices such as Ring, Arlo, and Philips Hue, just to name a few, are compatible and able to work together via the Alexa app.

Alexa is also the brains behind Amazon’s own smart home speaker, the Amazon Echo.

Echo Dot 3rd generation model, with a blue 'listening' ring after a voice command was issued.
Echo Dot 3rd generation model in listening mode

With voice commands, you can carry out Routines and even check on smart camera feed via the Echo Show. For example, if you have a Ring Video Doorbell, you can say something like, “Alexa, show me the front door.” Then your Echo Show will display what your Video Doorbell sees.

So what are some Routines you might want to try?

Helpful Alexa Routines

If you’re not familiar with using Routines, or are looking for some ideas to add to your list, what are some helpful examples?

Let’s say you get home from a long day at work, and you just want to sit down and relax. You might create a Routine that has the lights dim at a certain time. This promotes a peaceful atmosphere that can get you ready to relax and settle down for the evening. 

Kids being rowdy before bed? Try a bedtime routine specifically for them! Something like, “Alexa, time for bed.” Add in actions like dimming lights, light strips coming on at a certain color, and soft lullabies playing. You can even link Alexa to E-book services like Audible. Then, in your Routines, you can specify a bedtime story that can help catch the attention of busy little ones!

When it comes to Routines with Alexa, the possibilities are practically endless! Most people are familiar with creating Routines based on a specific action in the Alexa app (i.e. when you tell Alexa you’re leaving and she turns all the lights off.).

But what about creating Routines that only happen at certain times? Say, only at night?

How To Create After-Sunset, Night-time Routines

An infrared reflection causing a strange light effect at night from a Ring Doorbell Pro
A night-time capture from my Ring Doorbell Pro

Creating Routines in the Alexa app is a fairly simple process. You’ll want to have in mind what you want your smart devices to do before you begin. For example, a relaxation Routine that dims the lights, but only after sunset.

Or, you may choose to have a Routine that can only be triggered at night. Previously, you could only choose one trigger, such as scheduling a specific time, or using a smart device as a trigger. Now, the Alexa app allows you to choose a smart device as your trigger, and still be able to select when you want the routine to go into effect – quite a convenient new feature!

So let’s dive into how to create a Routine using a Schedule, as well as the new feature.

Using A Schedule As Your Routine Trigger

To do this, you’ll start by opening the Alexa app, where you’ll find your Dashboard. Go to the 3 lines at the bottom right-hand of the screen, and tap on them. 

Alexa App Home Screen and More Button
Alexa App Home Screen and More Button

On the next screen, you’ll see an option for Routines. 

Where to find Routines in the Alexa app
Where to find Routines in the Alexa app

The next screen will show you what Routines you already have set up.

List of Established Alexa Routines
List of Established Alexa Routines

On the top, right hand of the screen you’ll see a plus sign. This is what you’ll tap on to create a new Routine. 

On the next screen, you’ll see the options for creating your Routine, starting at the top with naming your Routine. After you’ve done that, you now get to choose your trigger, a.k.a. what action will put the routine into action. Hit the plus sign to select your trigger action.

Routine Ready to Set up in Alexa app
Routine Ready to Set up in the Alexa app

You’ll then see various options for starting your Routine, such as Schedule.

Alexa App Routine Triggers
Alexa App Routine Triggers

Here, you have the option to set a specific time or choose Sunrise or Sunset. Alexa uses location data to decipher when Sunrise or Sunset is in your specific area, so make sure you have Location enabled and that your time zone in the Alexa app is correct.

So let’s say you choose Sunset. You can even choose how many minutes before or after sunset your routine goes into effect.

Minutes BeforeAfter Sunset for Routine
Minutes Before/After Sunset for Routine

Once you’ve selected your trigger, then you can go ahead and add what you want to happen next, such as dimming the lights.

Using A Smart Device As Your Trigger (This New Feature Is Awesome!)

So let’s say you want to use a smart device such as a smart camera or Echo as your trigger, but only want the routine to be executed after sunset, as per the new feature.

Follow the steps outlined above to begin creating a Routine, but this time, choose Smart Home instead of Schedule as your trigger. On the next screen, you’ll be presented with devices that can be used as a trigger.

If you choose a camera, your trigger can be when motion has not been detected for a set period of time, say, 2 hours. Hit Next.

Sample Smart Camera Alexa Routine Trigger
Sample Smart Camera Alexa Routine Trigger

On the following screen, you’ll be back to the main screen of creating your routine. You’ll see the new option there that allows you to specify what time of day this routine happens

It will automatically say “Anytime”. Select the link next to it that says “Change”, and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can specify an exact time frame this routine can go into effect.

Changing Time to Activate Routine in Alexa App
Changing Time to Activate Routine in Alexa App

So if sunset is typically about 7:30 pm in your area, select 7:30 pm. The second time will be when you don’t want the routine to start.

Set Condition and Time for Routine in Alexa App
Set Condition and Time for Routine in Alexa App

So to clarify, the Routine can start after 7:30 pm, but not in the morning, say 7:30 am. This will not stop the routine at 7:30 am, it just means the Routine won’t start at 7:30 am, only after 7:30 pm.

You can even select the days that the Routine runs.

Setting Active Days for Routine in Alexa app
Setting Active Days for Routine in the Alexa app

Once you’ve specified when you want this routine to run, you can go ahead and select your action, completing your Routine.

Routines on Your Schedule

Creating routines that only occur at certain times is something that Alexa/Echo users have wanted for some time, and Amazon actually added it! The convenience of knowing you can confine your routines to certain times has helped many to operate their smart homes as they like.

About Yvette Griffith

Yvette is a freelance writer who also happens to be a smart home enthusiast! She owns several smart home gadgets like strip lights, smart bulbs, cameras, and more! With a knack for troubleshooting device issues, she’s been the go-to for family and friends for all kinds of tech-related issues - dating back to VCR’s!

Here on Smart Home Point, she shares her knowledge with the world in hopes it’ll help you create and maintain your smart home.

2 thoughts on “How To Only Run Alexa Routines At Night (Or After Sunset)”

  1. The title of this article specifically states “at night (Or After Sunset)”. But this is NOT an option. The only option is a specific time of day/night. Since sunrise/sunset can vary by 5.5 hours from summer to winter (in my time zone) this routine really doesn’t work, unless I want to adjust manually throughout the year. This is not your fault, but I don’t think you should use this wording in your title or as the example. Hopefully Amazon will add this feature…someday. It would be invaluable for those routines, like lighting, that should only run after dark.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Jim. I had always thought that the Alexa routines for sunset/sunrise do adjust based on location and time of year, but apologies if I’m wrong. I’ll do some further testing, and we can certainly double back and adjust this accordingly. I usually use Philips Hue’s sunset features, but I will test the Alexa ones further. Thanks again for the comment.

      Reply

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