Alternative to the Samsung Arrival Sensor?

Apparently the Samsung Arrival Sensor (even Gen 2) is still a pretty lousy product. Can anyone suggest an alternative “arrival sensor” device that will perform the same desired function, but do it consistently and reliably?

How about a Z-wave arrival sensor? Anything available? (This was an added question an hour after my first post)

Do you mean in terms of battery life? If so, I agree. In terms of reliability, they work great for me in all my cars that are inside and outside our garage. I probably replace batteries 3 times a year, maybe 4, for a couple cars we frequently use.

Unfortunately I don’t know of a non-Smartphone solution, but apparently one of the new Lowes gen 2 devices is a presence sensor. I don’t believe anyone here has played with one yet, but I can’t say that for sure.

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Not just battery life. In Amazon reviews and also right here in the SmartThings Community Forum, there are so many negative commentaries: arrival/departure sensing is unreliable/flaky, cheaply made so battery even disengages, etc. Just a LOT of these kinds of comments. The high percentage seems to be negative.

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Unless the platform is belly-up, mine have been rock solid. ZigBee mesh strength is critical.

Exactly. I added an ST zigbee smartplug in my garage knowing this would add to reliability, as well as a GE outdoor zwave outlet to cover a contact sensor as far away as my mailbox. BTW, mine are gen 1 presence sensors and were some of the first devices I added back in December 2014.

The battery holder could certainly be improved, but with one of mine with all the holding tabs gone, the cover still holds down the battery with a little help from some foam.

Likewise. I’ve got a plug under a window that looks out over my driveway and there’s a night and day difference in reliability when it’s plugged in vs when it’s not. Mine are also the old style sensors, but it’s worth noting that the insides are the same between the two versions. They’re just in a different case.

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For various technical reasons, Z wave is not used for presence sensors. Zigbee Devices already have a check in routine with their coordinator which is easily adapted to this use but there is nothing comparable in Z wave.

There are a lot of things that can affect the reliability of the zigbee sensor. Mesh strength is one. Interference from boosted Wi-Fi is another. At my own house, the zigbee arrival sensor goes crazy every weekday afternoon around 330. I suspect that one of my neighbors has boosted Wi-Fi and a child who gets home from school around that time.

There are a number of strategies that can be done to improve presence detection. You’ll find many of them discussed in the following topic:

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So, then, other than the battery life, am I correct in my understanding of what you’re saying is that the Zigbee “mesh” (zigbee extenders/repeaters) for a solid reception, is the key to successfully using a Samsung Arrival Sensor?

Absolutely! I have over 230 devices, and a healthy mesh (zigbee or zwave) has been instrumental to my reliability, as well as hub placement.

A foundational requirement, but not the only issue. You could have a really strong Zigbee mesh and still run into the interference issue. Just as you could have great Wi-Fi coverage, but still run into Netflix buffering if you started making popcorn in the microwave.

Agreed. It’s been waay better than my wife’s iPhone 6 for presence. I also think many people set “Minimum away time” to too low a value in an attempt to get instant response on leaving. All our presence stuff is set at 2 or 3 minutes, and we’ve never had a failure or false alarm.

My wife’s iPhone (multiple models) has never been reliable and the only thing I have not done is wipe her phone out and build from scratch which I refuse to do. I have relied upon a first gen ST presence sensor since. I did two things to make it reliable:

  1. Placed it in passenger side of her car door which sits outside my garage. I used to have it affixed with reversible tape under her rear view mirror but I would get random false positives, especially when battery was low. I figured since it was in clear vision of my house and higher up, I would have gotten better results, but this was not the case. My hub is in the second floor as I live in a high ranch. Perhaps glass was causing signal degradation??

  2. I changed my time out period to 5 minutes. This is trial and error and will vary depending on your situation. As a backup, I also have my locks when used with a valid code change my status to home which serves as a backup. 5 minutes would be unacceptable if you were closing your garage doors automatically which I no longer do because of security concerns.

Since I have done the above 2 things, my wife’s presence has worked nearly flawless for the past 6 months.

So I am having issues with Android being reliable presence and I am thinking of getting a couple of these for my wife and son. My hub is <10 feet from the front door, but behind a second wall, and 25-30 feet from the driveway where the cars park. My son will probably have it in his backpack or lanyard with his key, my wife in the purse. Is the general consensus that the system should disarm before the front door opens? No automatic locks or other systems just open close and motion. I just want the system to be disarmed before people open the door.

My iPhone 5S works pretty darn well as a presence sensor, I’m just sick of it draining my phone battery. I think I’ll give one of these a try

@Manofice and @seattle505,

I have 4 of the original arrival sensors, and even though they do eat batteries, they work very well for me.

I have one in each car, usually inside the sunglasses holder, or another small compartment (not the center console). 2 cars sit outside, and the other 2 in a garage. I have no issues with ST recognizing when they come and go.

I would say for sure the system should disarm before any sensor trips. While I don’t us ST’s security feature as my primary security system, I do use it on occasion and it worked pretty well for me.

To test out @seattle505’s use case when I first read this post today, I created a Routine to disarm when my wife’s car got home. She was out of the house, so this was a great opportunity to see if this worked as expected. As soon as I heard the garage door open I started to see when the arrival sensor was picked up by ST, and when it disarmed. Here are the events in the order they happened:

Garage door opens:

Arrival sensor arrived:

Security turned off (disarmed):

Wife opens the door (and no alarm screamed at her):

Here are the notifications in the phone app: (I have no idea why they showed up 3 times, or why you see null in the messages)

I didn’t test with more than one arrival sensor, but I did check just now how that would work. When selecting which arrival sensors, the solution says “Any of these people”. I think that would imply that both your wife and son don’t have to be home to disarm it.

In another thread, SplanK gave me some advice;

I had this and these are the 2 things I changed.

  • Removed the change of mode option

  • Under “when somebody arrives” or “everybody leaves” option, ensure that the action delay time is set less than 10 minutes. I have mine set to 3, but others report 5, or even 9 works.

I did item 2, and the sensor is working perfectly now. Didn’t even need to have it stop changing modes. And yeah, I think it helps that I have a repeater in the right strategic spot to cover my front door.


Wow that was above and beyond what I expected. Thanks for running that experiment and showing some of the nuances that make it work. I am probably good in device locations as I have 3 devices near the driveway/ front of the house and the hub is 5-6 feet from the front door.

So as far as the change modes, does that actually do anything from the SHM POV? Looks like it just allows for another app to read the mode and do something else. But seems like you can do that with other rules etc. Not sure what the mode actually does.

Thanks again

oh yeah one more thing. When you say “eat batteries” is that like once a month or twice a year? I assume they take the same battery as the rest of the SM devices? I just bought 50 of them off amazon because it looks like the rest of my devices will only last a few months. (Been running them for 2 weeks and are all at 88%)

Hi @seattle505, no problem at all!

That’s correct. You may not want motion sensors to send you a notification when you’re home (Home mode), but only when away (Away mode). Modes can be use used to do that. You could use arrival sensors and other SmartApps as well. Modes and rules (like SHM or Smart Lighting) can be confusing, but search the Community because there’s a few good topics on that subject.

Up in post #2 I kind of said how often I replace batteries, and so far that’s held true, but maybe a little less often. They are coin batteries.

With exception of the arrival sensors, my other devices requiring batteries have not yet needed replaced, and they’re going on year 2. Do another search on the battery % and you’ll find valuable info on that too.


Changing the presence timeout, thanks that is a great tip!

My phones presence work great for me and my wife, so arm and disarm work flawlessly.

But I do not want my iPhone to control my garage door, i want something associated with my car. The Samsung presence sensor sometimes arrives and leaves within minutes on its own.

Changing the timeout may help make it work. Do not know.

Thanks again!