A virtual switch is a digital representation of a physical smart switch that has an on and off state. Virtual switches, sometimes called simulated switches, allow you to control other smart devices based on the state of the virtual switch.
Virtual switches work exactly the same as other smart switches and can be controlled through the SmartThings apps. The primary goal of a simulated switch is to control smart devices that are monitoring the switch's state.
The main use cases for virtual switches include:
Follow these 18 simple steps to create a virtual / simulated switch in SmartThings using the SmartThings IDE.
A Samsung account is required before you can continue this tutorial. If you don't have a Samsung account, follow my tutorial by clicking the video above.
If you don't have a location set up on your SmartThings hub, check out my tutorial by clicking the video above.
Go to the SmartThings IDE https://graph.api.smartthings.com and click on login at the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you are on a smaller screen device, you may have to click on a hamburger menu to show some of the buttons and links in this tutorial.
Click the button that says "SIGN IN WITH SAMSUNG ACCOUNT".
If you aren't signed in to your Samsung account, input your credentials and click "SIGN IN".
After logging in you will be taken back to the SmartThings IDE page, now click on "My Locations" at the top left-hand corner.
Click on the name of your hub's location under the name column.
Click on "My Devices".
Click on the blue button named "+ New Device".
Choose a name for the device. This will be the name that is displayed in the SmartThings apps and IDE.
A network id is used by SmartThings behind the scenes to make sure messages are sent to the correct devices. Every network id has to be unique and can't be in use by any of your other devices. If you create a unique name for each of your devices, you can just copy the name you used for the "Name" field and paste it into the "Device Network Id" field.
In the "Type" dropdown scroll down until you find the "Simulated Switch" option and then click on it.
In the "Version" dropdown select "Published" if it's not already selected for you.
From the "Location" dropdown choose your smart hub's location name.
From the "Hub" dropdown select the name of your SmartThings hub.
Once you have filled out the required fields (Name, Device Network Id, Type, Version, Location, and Hub) you can click the "Create" button.
You'll be taken to a page showing you that your device name has been created. Now click on "My Devices".
If everything was successful, you'll see your newly created virtual switch along with the rest of your smart devices listed under the "Display Name" column.
If you want to use Alexa voice commands or routines on smart devices that aren't compatible with Alexa, virtual switches are the way to go. First, you would assign your non compatible devices to be controlled based on the state of the virtual switch (on or off).
Next, you would create a voice command or routine that would turn on or off your virtual switch. Running the voice command or routine would trigger the virtual switch to turn on or off, which would cause your non compatible Alexa devices to be controlled indirectly.
Before you can use your virtual switch in the Alexa app, you'll need to connect your SmartThings account to your Alexa account by using an Alexa skill. Check out my tutorial on how to do this and import your smart devices from SmartThings to the Alexa app by clicking on the video above.
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