Newbe question: (Overlapping) scenes in open spaces


I’m currently in the process of migrating from a (quite sophisticated) OpenHAB setup to Home Assistant and I love it so far. :slight_smile: However, there are some topics which bother me and I’d like to collect some ideas on how to resolve them. Please tell me how you would solve this.

We have an open space living room which includes the dining room and kitchen. That also means, that many of the devices/entities in that large room are part of multiple scenes but others need to be switched off when switching scenes.

As an example set I have the following devices:

a) lightstripe in the kitchen (KNX)
b) workspace light in the kitchen (KNX)
c) the dining table lamp (KNX)

Which are participating in the following scenes:

  1. Cooking: a + b on
  2. Dining: a + c on
  3. TV: a on but c + d OFF

Especially the latter one does not fit very well into the scene model of Home Assistant: On a very typical evening we do scene 1, then scene 2, then scene 3. In OpenHAB I explicitly switched off the previous scene when switching to a new one. That was sometimes cumbersome, but worked for a good number of cases. In Home Assistant I see that there is now was to “switch off” a scene, but I can only “activate” it.

Does that mean, for a room-setup like ours I would need to explicitly set device “b” to “off” in scene 2 to make the scenario happen? Or am I conceptually setting up scenes in a wrong way?

Thanks in advance for any input!

I think your mind has been polluted by openHAB :slight_smile:

What would turning off a scene even look like? A scene might turn my lights to red at 50% brightness. But if I turn that scene off where do the lights go? What is the negative of red at 50% brightness? Is it off? Is it blue at 100% brightness? Is it the state the entities were at before I activated the scene?

To cut it short, your scenes need to set all the entities you want in that scene, including the ones you want turned off.

PS I’d be interested to know what happens in openHAB when you turn a scene off.


Right, scenes in HA are handled exactly the way they are handled in KNX - no turning off.
You can, however define a scene 4 that turns off all lights scene 1 turned on, if you wish, and call it “scene 1 off” :wink:

Hi nickrout & farmio,

thanks a lot for your input! In fact, OpenHAB does not have a native scene for “scenes” at all. That is why I basically implemented 2 rules for each scene: On & off. But when I think your arguments further I think you are absolutely right. Only thing is, that what I call “cooking” is not actually a scene but a shortcut to turn a set of lights on or off. That way it makes total sense to be only able to switch on scenes “TV” and “dinner” but not switching them off.

Best regards

They would go to the “background state”. Which is unfortunately not a feature of Home Assistant natively. HA Lighting Manager tries to address this, but I haven’t tested it yet.

What is the background state? What does that actually mean in practical terms?

For analogy, let’s talk about entertainment lighting control systems (theater, concerts, etc) since that’s what I do professionally and is shaping how and why I think about lighting.

For simplicity I’m going to call everything scenes. I have a scene where I have my egress lighting on, for safety reasons the egress lighting should never go below the values set in that scene. But sometimes, like when the audience is first getting seated, I activate a different scene called “preshow”. When everyone is seated, I turn “preshow” off, and the lights all return to their background state, which in this case would be the egress scene. I don’t have to reactivate egress, it was just there in the background ready to take over when nothing more important was happening.

In entertainment it’s very common to have dozens of scenes all trying to interact with the same lights, and what the lights actually do is determined by priority of those scenes, and then when the highest priority scene turns off, the next priority scene’s state takes over. (oversimplified)

So in home automation, I may have a scene for “nightlight”, that is on at night and just gives enough light to walk around all over the house. I get up for a midnight snack, and turn on my special “midnight snack” scene. Simultaneously my wife gets up and turns on the bathroom lights. When I’m done with my snack, I want to turn off the kitchen lights. But I don’t want to turn off the lights on my wife in the bathroom. If I activate the nightlight scene as it works now in HA, it will restore the kitchen lights correctly, but also grab the light in the bathroom and turn it to a low level, not good. If the nightlight was the background state, turning off the midnight snack lights would automatically restore them to the correct nightlight level, without adjusting anything else.

Thank you, very interesting. I also read the HA Lighting Manager docs (well the github README) you pointed to. Food for thought.