Alternative to the Samsung Arrival Sensor?

You may just be facing a limitation of the device and your home environment. The arrival sensor sends a signal out every 30 seconds that says “I’m here.”

While a zigbee repeater close to the entryway of your home might help, from what you mentioned above it’s possible that the bigger issue is when you exit your elevator, there isn’t much time for your arrival sensor to send out another ping before you reach your front door.


Thanks Mark. I figured that was the reason but didnt know the frequency was at 30 seconds. It would be nice if there is a way for me to adjust the frequency. I dont really mind to change the battery more often and to get this to work… Thanks for the reply and info!

Am right in understanding that the ST presence sensor uses Zigbee not WiFi and that the Zigbee signal strength could be improve putting a ST smart power switch in my garage? (I have a presence sensor in my car that seems to go in/out of range.)

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Yes to both those questions.

Edit: you may have to experiment a little to get the ST plug to improve the reliability of your presence sensor by creating a stronger mesh. Depends on the layout/building materials of your house, where your other zigbee devices and the hub are, if there’s a lot of wifi interference, etc. But in general it should work.

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It looks like the majority of this thread took place at least a year ago but the question still remains, ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO THE ARRIVAL SENSOR?

Things from my perspective have not improved since this was first posted.

We are using both the sensor and the phone app. One person uses the phone and the other the Arrival Sensor Fob from Smartthings (V2). The phone seem to work OK for me at best, but the Fob is the only option for the other person, who is >70 so training them to use a smartphone is out of the question. Also adding outlets at $40 a throw to improve a $25 sensor’s range seems a little upside down.

So is anyone out there using some kind of Fob or other non-phone device to detect presence? DIY-Home Brew, other brand, different technology?


There’s been a new community FAQ added on presence since this thread was last active, so you might take a look at that. There are a couple of additional options in that one. :sunglasses:

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I read that. Thanks! I guess there really aren’t any new developments at this time.

You can use Ibeacons, which is what I do, an NFC tag, or a facial recognition camera, those are all discussed in the presence FAQ and would all be new since this thread was started.


I love the sensor, for about a month. Then it gets funky, and you have to change the battery else it will constantly switch here/away and set off all the associated automations (unless you have them time/mode dependent, which in many cases I do not want).

There has to be a better way. Either make it USB rechargeable, or put a switch on it… some way to preserve battery life.

My solution has been to deploy the Ecobee geofence via webcore. It alerts when the wife is within X miles of home (thereby setting up the house temperature for her), and then the garage being opened within T minutes of that alert will unlock the front door for one minute and turn on appropriate lights. After a few hiccups associated with trying to have two geofence devices (ecobee handles only one), it’s working consistently well.

The Life360 geofence also works well. All the above could be accomplished using it and webcore.

Again though, your point is significant: the fob is a battery-chewer with limited range. That said, the outlets that will extend the range are, if the use case warrants, well worth the investment.

The fob is a 3v device, correct?

Hypothetically, it would be possible to use a pair of AA or AAA batteries to power it. Or perhaps a single 3v CR17345. A custom case to hold the batteries, and a plastic disc with contacts in the right places inserted into the disc battery slot and connected to the two batteries, might just do the trick and power the thing for many months. Throw it in the bottom of a briefcase or purse, and you’d be set for awhile.

There are several community members who have wired the SmartThings presence sensor for mains power, most commonly to connect it to something in a car. Something similar might be done for an external battery pack. You can find the project reports in the Quick browse lists in the community – created wiki on the list for “power”.

Thanks for the suggestions but there is both a “technology committee” and an “aesthetics committee” and they have final approval that must be dealt with so both app based and DIY/Hacking based solutions are just simply not going to fly.

I was hoping that someone would say something like Tile, Mother or something that I never heard of, might have been found by someone that works better.

I have discovered some different device type handlers so I will try them. Hopefully one of them may have better performance.

I realize this might be hard for Smartthings to solve but being so integral to the use and success of the system, I think they should be working MUCH HARDER. Range, user options, battery life and battery indicator accuracy (apparently 70% indicated = >25% battery life left) all leave a lot to be desired.

I have been using my cell phone as arrival sensor for months.

Cell phone or smartphone? There is a difference. If you are indeed using a cell phone, how are you detecting presence? Cell phones don’t generally run apps so I am curious as to how this would work.

Smartphone is a cell phone while cell phone is not necessary a smart phone.

For me smartphone as arrival sensor never worked very well. Very unreliable.
I have been using Samsung’s arrival sensors for about a year and just wanted to share some experience and tricks that I have learned. Since my sensors disarm the alarm, I’d rather not have it on a keychain.

I have sensors in the car. Car is parked in the attached garage. There is a fairly good zigbee coverage. Sensors disarm the house alarm. From time to time (not often) sensor does not report arrival in time before I open the entrance door. To get around this issue I put 2 sensors in the car. It is an added expense, but likelihood that one of the two sensors will report presence in time is very high for me. I don’t remember triggering the alarm after adding the second sensor. If for someone that still doesn’t work reliably or don’t want to spend extra money, the trick is to simply add a bit of delay before alarm sounds, so you can disarm the system at the keypad in a rare case when alarm is not disabled by the sensor. You can also simply check for the sensor presence in 15 seconds after opening garage entrance door, before activating alarm. I think it is not too difficult to go around the sensor delay in presence detection.

Like everyone else I have noticed right away the poor battery life. I must say that after 3rd pill battery installed, I have noticed that battery life was a bit improved. It got to 15% very fast, but then stayed at 15% for a long time. Not wanting to deal with battery/reliability issues, I hacked it. I see that similar hack was already suggested, but here is mine simple solution:

This holder has 2 AA batteries supplying total of 3V needed for the power. Just connect (I soldered) two wires to the contacts, attach sensor case to the battery case (I glued mine together) and you’re done. Very fast, cheap and simple fix to the issue.

I can’t believe that Samsung or one of the Chinese manufacturers didn’t come with a car arrival sensor yet in a bigger case, with much bigger battery and faster polling (if protocol allows).
Meanwhile I think somebody with more time of their hands can actually make some money building these from available parts, so people without experience don’t have to mess with it.
Arrival sensors can be had for $15 on sale (currently about $20 I think).
Battery holder is about $2-3.
One can easily put together at least 20 of these in one hour and sell for $35/ea with $10/ea in profit after parts and shipping.
Just an idea…

Meanwhile since I see that there is no product/improvement in this field after more than a year, I guess I will just have to get the same sensors again for another car/member and fit it if with the battery.


Nope, no $$$ to be made. The hack has been done many times, and in fact is doable in a 4-AA case where you house the sensor right in the case with two batteries. A guy called Cobra on this forum showed that hack, and it’s what I’m using. Put it together a couple weeks ago when I too tired of the unreliability of the phone-as-presence option.

Haven’t seen seen the AA-hack earlier, but found it after your mention. Unfortunately the thread that lists the procedure is not as easy to find. “Alternative to the Samsung Arrival Sensor” comes up on top of the search results, but I didn’t see the link to “Presence Sensor battery upgrade”. Here is a link to the topic:

In any case, the whole thing is sure easy to figure out without any instructions and I didn’t claim to be the first to do it. Just wanted to help others, who are looking for better alternatives to the Samsung’s arrival sensor.

I don’t see why someone can’t make some pocket money on this project building several dozens of these, offering ready product somewhere like an etsy and making $10 profit after the parts and shipping. Buying a soldering iron and solder will cost someone as much as the difference in price, if they don’t already own the tools. I’m sure with lack of will and experience there will be plenty of people who would rather pay $10 more for the ready product rather than doing the work, no matter how simple it is.
It won’t be a business, but a side hobby making a temporary niche product until a big manufacturer starts producing a better sensor. Good project for a teenager.

You make a pertinent point. I converted the Arrival Sensor with two AA batteries for the car, I can’t imagine people changing those coin cell batteries out every few months. Not sure about putting it in a 4 AA battery box, as that would effect the range. Seeing as SmartThings aren’t doing anything about it, I think there should be a page on here where you can buy these ST hacks from people, who already do the hard work, work out the voltages, do the soldering. And put Xbee’s together also for people is another thing.

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Taking the sensor out of its plastic housing, next to a battery, and putting it in a different plastic housing next to a battery should not affect its range at all. Hypothetically speaking, that is lol

I will say that the range of mine has increased since doing the mod.

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Just a followup: after a week of testing, my wife is happy with this! It is velcroed into the drivers’ side rear door, and is reliably doing what it needs to do.

Presence issues are finally resolved.
Just in time for the ‘new’ Smartthings. :eek: