Any SmartThings experts willing to help for a fee?


(Tommy Mcnally) #1

I’ve been looking at home automation both DIY and professional (Control 4).

There seems to be a big jump from the DIY systems to what some home automation companies charge.

Example, Professional Entry system £500+, DIY Ring door bell and lock £200+
Professional Wall mounted control £600+, DIY tablet wall mounted £150+

There is no middle ground. Someone like myself who is has no coding experience and wants the full home automation package (lights, door entry, blinds, gates, garage door, cameras) can Smart Things be a realistic option and if so is there anyone that would offer their technical expertise to help implement the system for a fee?


(Edward Pope) #2

Great question, I know that SmartThings and HA can be overwhelming.

First, I think you need to understand that while you can reduce the cost with a DIY system like SmartThings, it does involve considerable time and effort to make sure that things work the way you intend.

Second, most of the cost with SmartThings are going to be for the switches, relays, motors and other devices to make your HA dream come true. Even with that in mind, whatever you are planning for cost wise, best to double that now if not 3x that to have some sort of realistic idea of what type of money that you are about to invest into HA.

Third, if you frequent this community you will see that we all pitch in and help with HA setup, while you may need some initial instruction on how to do things, I am assuming you are technical enough to follow instructions so you should be able to ramp up you SmartThings knowledge quickly and any assistance you require will be for things like how to add a SmartApp through the IDE or Device Handler. This I assure you, you can learn and do.

I certainly have no problem helping you, but I live in the US, so will not be able to come to your house to help (SMILE). But could use the money (SMILE)


(Tommy Mcnally) #3

Thanks for you detailed and positive response.

I have been following the community for a while. And it seems from most of the feedback that ST does not seem to work all that well when you move away from the basics. I would take the leap of faith but looking at the feedback a lot of the systems require some sort of work around. I do not want to commit to a project that does not work at the end!

Where i wanted the full home automation system i wanted someone who could provide expertise. I guess the first step is establishing if ST can offer the full home automation package or is it to early in its development to offer anything more than a few lights and cameras?


(Kevin [Yorkshire UK]) #4

Importantly at the moment there is also a significant jump in reliability when you have these professional installs ( Control4, AMX, Savant, Crestron), Some of this is down to the hardware, in-particular the substitution and use of radio linked devices to ease retrofit situations and some just the experience and expertise of the installers.

The major cost differential is however the time based labour involved, which in the home install markets is just ignored and absorbed by the hobbyist. This can be a really significant time when you actually add it all up - especially in hindsight when things constantly keep going wrong and need remedying. If you have to apply a commercial time rate and travel to that it becomes horribly expensive. Sometimes these issues are down to inherent product bugs but the higher end products are orders of magnitude better tested and near 100% dependable, and correspondingly more expensive. However , doing it yourself allows for great flexibility and the ability to change the operation / upgrade without significant costs , rather than locking yourself in to an expensive upgrade with your installer. None of the configuration software for these higher end products is available to the end user customer. This is a most significant issue if you do step up to a professional install.

I doubt that there are any ‘people with technical expertise’ who would recommend a SmartThings based system currently as it still has too many teething problems which inevitably will result in an unhappy customer. ST will get there, although it’s journey is surprisingly slow at the moment. Fixing the scheduling will be a huge step as that’s a fundamental flaw, but that is being worked on as top priority.

Unfortunately decent home automation for the truly non technical is not easy or even really achievable currently. ST has set out to try and offer that type of solution but it is still in it’s infancy. The hub is offered at an extraordinary low cost although third party sensors are probably more expensive than they need to be for mass adoption. Regardless the belief that you can create a full and dependable HA system without technical know how for a few hundred dollars is fallacy (currently) but in time ST might be just that product.

The other thing I would add is that investing in HA will be a continually evolving project and it’s addictive, your needs and ideas will change very frequently, perhaps weekly and early on you will make uninformed decisions that you will want to change. In order to satisfy your new found interest you will need to be able to understand how your system works, where it might be letting you down and why and how to fix and enhance it. This inevitably requires some technical knowledge currently but SmartThings and this community is a way to ease into that although it’s a contradiction of frustration and elation currently. Being reliant on paid help will be problematic. Unfortunately the need for coding and other tech aspects is more prevalent in the UK as fewer devices are supported out of the box.

Every manufacturer knows this market is large and growing but it’s proving problematic. There are others trying to fill this middle gap between the hobbyist and the professional systems - Loxone being perhaps the most obvious. As ever a well thought through specification will reap dividends although I realise people often don’t know what the system is capable of or even what they actually want at the time they first jump onboard.


(Edward Pope) #5

I personally have a rather complex system. I have 4 motion detectors that turn on and off lights or series of lights as needed. All the lights in the house are now controlled with Z-Wave devices, I stayed away from the smart lights as they seemed unreliable with the exception of Philips Hue devices, but did not want another hub in line to confuse things. I do all that you want to do in your first post, but do not have a garage opener (SMILE). So can it be done YES. The question is are you in a position to do the work necessary along with the time needed to make it work for you?

I have worked over time to Automate the house with the idea that the house responds to me, not me to the house. I use multiple presence methods for my family, a combination of phone, ST presence sensors that work together pretty well (although not perfect) that controls access to the house via a Smart Locks.

When I go into my living room, when I start a movie or TV the room adjusts to my lighting requirements based on what I am doing and time of day.

So while I am sure that your HA requirements are not the same, I am sure that everyone here can pitch in and help you build your system.

Current project, working on a PI powered z-wave device that starts my shower and sets the temperature to what I or another family member pre-sets are and then lets you know when the water is ready.


(Jason) #6

In my experience this is Only true if you are looking for the stock device type handlers and smartapps. If you are even a little bit technical you can very quickly catch on to the community created awesomeness of this system. You are only limited by your imagination and time you are willing to put into this system and perhaps best of all you won’t find a shortage of help from this forum. There are many helpful people here that love to troubleshoot/spitball ideas. You will be hard pressed to find a “how do I integrate this” topic that doesn’t have a few different option/answers.

Now get me wrong, you’ll see me post more than a few woes about the scheduler in the forums, and I am keeping my options open I only buy Zigbee HA or Zwave devices so that if I need to switch hubs I can. That said I do have renewed faith that the ST scheduler issues will be taken care of with the recent updates.


I know that there are a few people on this forum that would probably remotely help you for a fee the best they could, perhaps there is even someone local to you, but if you have the Time it probably won’t be necessary.


Edit: With only 1 community created smartapp you can do so so much. If/when you do jump on board, save yourself some trouble and install Rule Machine.


(Edward Pope) #7

BTW, much of this was through trial and error. Try this, does it work, yes good, if not try a different solution. ST gives you the building blocks to make it all work, just understand that it takes time to make it work as you intended.

Also @JDRoberts is a great if not awesome source of information (So when he pipes up, listen carefully as his information should be considered as gospel)

Not excluding all the other people who will help here, as they are all very helpful. One of the best things about ST is the community they have created in making this device for all of us.


(Tommy Mcnally) #8

Does anyone from the UK recommend ST for a full home automation system?


(Edward Pope) #9

I totally agree with Rule Machine here. The only problem is the nomenclature can be tough to understand, but like with all things on the SmartThings community, there is a thriving section on how to create the rules and how to implement interesting Home automations through Rule Machine


(Jason) #10

Yes, that’s why I think it’s important for OP to tell us how much time he is willing to put in. In Any DIY setup Time will be your biggest limit IMO.


#11

Personally, I got ST because I like playing with things. It does make me tear my hair out sometimes. But it’s a hobby - I didn’t get it because I NEED Home Automation.

So I guess it depends what you need really. If you want to spend some money, get everything hard wired in, have support from the installer - go with a ‘Professional system’

If you like to tinker, and don’t mind a bit of research, and the fact that ST integration will be forever in development (and therefore never working 100% optimally all the time), go with ST (or the like)


(Kevin [Yorkshire UK]) #12

There are a lot of issues currently but like Edward, after a period of frustration I too am now starting to see proper attention by ST to the problems and I feel happier, confident that ST will indeed fix them,

One important aspect of SmartThings you should consider is that it is cloud based. It requires an Internet connection to do almost anything and you can lose fundamental control abilities if that fails. I am less confident that much will change in this regard. Local control is possible and implemented for a very small subset of functionality but the longer term prospects are uncertain in this regard.

Not me currently … too much based on future fixes although it’s getting better … once they fix scheduling things will change though. For me the cloud based dependency doesn’t suit my setup.


(Geoff Poore) #13

@Tommy_Mcnally I am also trying to answer this question before taking the plunge. My difference is that I have not done any HA before and are just trying to make sure everything is in place while building a new house


(Edward Pope) #14

Get that house built, just make sure it is up to code. When you do HA, plan for a room at a time. Determine what you want to do, and make sure that works before moving forward with the next project.

Good Luck


(Wayne) #15

Would be interesting to know what you have in mind when you are thinking “full home automation”. If you list out what you want to achieve we might be able to manage your expectations.

I’m based in the UK too and have enjoyed putting it together since last Xmas. From my experience I don’t appear to have the scheduling issues that many people speak about and seems to be pretty reliable. I don’t know for sure and but this might be related to the separate cloud instance we have in the UK or the fact we have far fewer users. The only issue I seem to suffer from is the occasional Motion detector getting “stuck” but even those incidents are getting rarer as time goes on.

Unfortunately we also have less supported devices than our US counterparts but that hasn’t stopped me integrating light switches, Philips and osram smart bulbs, harmony hub (TV, satellite, as equipment etc) , camera system (blueiris) , heatmiser underfloor heating (via scripts) , nest thermostat, nest protect (not great), life360 and my automated gates (via a relay) into ST. Also IFTTT allows integration of other services like smappee (solar panels), bmw presence and netatmo Face recognition.
Just takes a bit of work and help from the community.


(Tommy Mcnally) #16

Thanks for your reply Wayne.

I did list the full service i was looking for. The home automation company are able to provide the following which i wasn’t sure ST could do:

Open front gates
Open garage
Door entry system + lock
Front door bell (ERA DOOR BELL?)
Control blinds
Drop down cinema screen
Heatmiser NeoHub (i note you said you use)
The general lights, multi-room speakers, cameras i know you can do.

If i’ve missed anything new out that i can use please let me know. The official list is so small and there are so many review of the system not working it doesn’t really sell the system.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #17

Yup. Just private message me, please.


#18

Thanks for the shout, although there are many people here much more expert than I am in many different aspects. I just happen to be particularly interested (due to my prior career) in the details of network protocols, which means I’m interested in some things a lot of other people aren’t! :sunglasses:

When it works well, SmartThings is my favourite inexpensive home automation system. However, the reliability just hasn’t been there for me.

Everyone has different budgets, preferences, priorities, and capabilities, so there’s no one right answer to the question of “Will SmartThings be a good solution for my home?” It’s certainly not a perfect solution, and it’s definitely not “set and forget.” But again on the days when it’s working well, it’s fantastic, and as a low end system it is one of the most versatile and flexible. Just not the most reliable.


(Jason) #19

I don’t have an intimate knowledge of whats available in the UK frequencies… but zwave / zigbee relay switches can likely control the gate & garage pretty easily

The blinds might have an interface, or if you can find ir blinds you could control them via something like logitech harmony.

Do you already have a drop down screen? if it has an ir remote you could use harmony for that as well.

I love my yale locks and it looks like they make them with the uk frequencies


(Jason) #20

it’s not their business model to have everything official imo.

Also the Unofficial community created integration’s are the largest i’ve seen. And Easily bring the total of integration’s higher than the other systems out there.

Yeah, this part is tough to argue, as I know it can and has been frustrating. If you said you wanted to use this for security I would definitely urge you not to… If you want 100% reliability and someone else to install it, that you have to pay to change something it’s also not for you.