Arrival sensor or mobile phone?

Just got my hub today, set up the deadlock, now time for more things smart.
few questions for now , might be updating later.
what are the pros and cons of using arrival sensor vs mobile phone? are there any buttons on the sensor?
can i lock unlock? how does the phone feature work? does it just unlock when im in the area?

No buttons, as far as I know. Mostly, they are detected differently. Mobile presence works by using your phone’s GPS or location services to determine if you are within a specified distance from home and reporting that to the hub via the cloud.

The presence sensor is a device that connects to the ST hub, so it works simply by whether or not the hub sees the sensor.

It’s just the method of detection that’s different. Once it detects presence or absence, the ST behavior is whatever you programmed no matter what.

Some people seem to have reliability problems with one or the other. I’d say start with mobile presence, since there’s no additional cost. If you have problems with it or don’t like it, then you can ask around to see if the presence sensor would suit you better.

Version 2 you can only setup one user

Just chiming in here. I am looking for some feedback on if these presence sensors are working well.

I have been using Mobile Presence for about a year now and it’s awful. Half the time I have to push the home button on my iPhone sitting in the driveway just to get my garage door to open. I have done enough research to learn that the GPS on the phone (1) doesn’t check often enough, and (2) isn’t accurate enough, to make it work very well.

So, I was hoping these new Arrival Sensors would have better range and be more reliable, but it doesn’t necessarily seem so.

I just started using the arrival sensors with hub V2 and find them extremely reliable. Previously I was using my iPhone and thought it was horrible.

I’ve been using presence sensors in my car and my wife’s car from the get go. They haven’t always been perfect, but two things I did helped them work great… the problems with the presence sensors is that in order to preserve battery life the radios are very low powered. This means they need to be relatively close to the hub to have a signal.

I put a 1st gen ST motion sensor in a window facing the road as well as one in my garage. When plugged in these act as Zigbee repeaters and allow for the sensors to be seen at a greater distance as the motion sensors are further away from the hub.

Ever since I did that they have worked great 99% of the time. Every once in a blue moon they won’t work so well. But when this happens it’s either a near-dead battery or one of the ST motion sensors needs to be rebooted.

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SmartThings power outlet module will also act as a repeater, if anyone else needs one, since I think the first gen motion sensors are gone and the later ones are battery only, so they don’t repeat.

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Thanks for the reply. I just got the new motion sensor and its telling me it has to be withing 15 feet? so in order for me to create repeaters i need to install power outlets like GE 12721? I am planning to install multipurpose sensors on all windows so I def need a repeater, at the moment not sure how to go around it.

back to presence sensors, how many can i register with the hub? what exactly will the presence sensor do? will it unlock the door if im in the proximity?

how can i add family memebers to the account overall? or my only option is to login with the same account on all phones?

The GE plug-in modules are Z-wave. if you’re talking about the SmartThings motion sensor, that’s Zigbee, so it won’t be a repeater for that. However, I believe that the instructions are that it needs to be within 15 feet of the hub when you pair it. After that, you can move it farther away. I have the second generation of the ST motion sensor, and it’s nowhere near within 15 ft of my hub and it works perfectly fine.

I don’t know if there’s a limit on presence sensors. For now, to add additional mobile phones, you will have to log in with the same SmartThings account on each phone. After logging in you can add that phone as a new presence sensor.

  1. Go to the Marketplace tab.
  2. Make sure you’re on the Things section.
  3. Tap Coming & Going.
  4. Tap Mobile Presence.
  5. Tap Connect Now. Make sure to give it a unique name.

The presence sensor itself just tells ST whether that person is home. You can use it in various ways, like triggering a routine or a smart lighting rule or in smart apps that ask for presence sensors, etc.

Yes, you could set it to unlock the door (probably with a routine? I don’t have smart locks), although I would experiment first to see how near/far you are from home when ST senses the presence as having arrived. The mobile presence uses a designated radius from your house. You can change the radius.

  1. Tap the vertical three dots menu button in the upper left corner.
  2. Tap My Locations.
  3. Tap the gear button on your location in the list.
  4. Tap the area about setting where your home is on the map and it will walk you through adjusting the radius.

I would try experimenting with triggering other things than an unlock first, because you wouldn’t want your door to unlock too soon.

Feature to have more then one is disabled at this time.

Good point, and I actually just replaced the motion sensor in my garage with the plug I got with my hub. I’m thinking the motion sensor will go to my dad’s ST setup.

Also like that the plug is more “solid” than the motion sensor… no worried about the micro USB cord falling out or anything.

Arrival sensor = BAD. Mobile Phone = GOOD

It’s not all about range!

The hub is programmed to check for the arrival sensor every 2 minutes, and you can’t reduce that time any lower. I read somewhere that they’re working on improving this but it’s a limitation to maintain battery life. I find that’s far too long. Even though I have no problem with range, when I pull in to the driveway it doesn’t take very long to get out of the car and walk towards the door. If you want the lights to turn on and the door to unlock, you’ll have to sit there for up to 2 minutes waiting. Know what I learned? Two minutes is a very long time! Same thing when leaving, it takes 2 minutes to figure out you’ve left.

If your hub is in the front window, it might catch you on the street as you’re approaching your driveway, if you happen to come during one of those 2-minute checks.

But if you use your mobile as a presence sensor, generally I find the phone triggers my arrival much sooner than the arrival sensors. And I have my geofence to the smallest size. If your phone is slow to update, you can increase the geofence size to get a better chance of it updating before you reach the house. Tip - if you’re using google maps as you’re driving toward the house, it’s constantly updating your location so it should trigger the arrival much quicker.

If you do increase your geofence size, of course the concern is that you have to get further away before it triggers your away status. But that’s not really a problem for me, because even if the system worked perfectly and locked my door when I leave the property, I would still just lock it myself anyway. I don’t see the point in walking away from an unlocked house just to get the pleasure of letting smartthings lock it for me. If the exterior lights want to stay on for a few minutes as I drive away, that’s fine, it doesn’t cost much. My main concern is arriving, carrying groceries etc., and for that, the mobile phone definitely works better.

For me, with the smallest geofence it usually updates as I approach the driveway, or sometimes as I’m walking toward the front door. Perfect.

It helps that if your phone can get a WiFi signal in the driveway, the wifi signal will cause your phone to update its location quicker, since it (location services) has learned over time that your WiFi network is located here. Third party apps that check your location frequently should also help, because any app that checks location is using google location services so the location gets updated across all apps. Not sure if iphone is the same way.

So there’s my two cents. My arrival sensors are being sent back for a refund now, I find them completely useless because they don’t perform any better than the phone. They’re better for other uses where you don’t need an instant update.

I found this thread whilst looking for a solution to the problem of being unable to add my wife’s mobile phone (Samsung) to the device list. Her phone has both versions of ST app and she is an added user to Home, with her own Samsung account.

With regard to which is better - I need the ability to sense whether both my wife and I are not “present” in order to automatically switch SHM to “away”. The arrival sensors are working perfectly for this. Unless I can add my wife’s mobile phone then it’s a moot point as to whether sensors or phones are best.

Double check the Security & Location settings on the phone. Scroll down to “Privacy” and ensure that Location is set to ON/High Accuracy.

Thanks, that did it. Our phones must have been set differently.