Arrival Sensor or other suggestion?

I’m still new with this SmartThings so please bear with my slowness of figuring out what can and can’t be done. Appreciate any advice y’all can give me.

We have one of those inexpensive security alarms but I just feel we’re kind of wasting money with it. I have a few security cameras I can view the house with on my phone and was thinking of just putting up some of those door sensors and monitoring the house myself. The only issue is my parents live with me, and being warned the door opens/closes when I’m at work if they’re home would be annoying.

I see they sell an arrival sensor (which also has that added feature of helping mom find the keys shes lost weekly). Now since my parents and I live on separate schedules obviously, if I purchased two of these, and had them on both our key rings. Can I set up the system to only notify me about doors opening/closing when BOTH sensors are away from the house? And how would you do that?

Or is there a better way of doing this?

Theoretically, smartthings should be able to do exactly that. It’s pretty straightforward, most of the official features have the option to do things differently if everyone is away or if one person comes home. There are several different ways to handle that, but the basic idea is definitely supported.

The biggest issue with SmartThings at the present time is reliability. When it works well, it is absolutely my favorite home automation system. But since last November I have yet to go 10 days without an impactful SmartThings failure.

If you are considering it for home security issues, you should also know that from time to time they push out hub updates which will take your system off-line temporarily. They try to give us a few days notice for these, but you cannot refuse or postpone them. Usually the hub is down for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so. It will typically come back just fine for most people but there are always a few people who find that the system doesn’t come back without some physical resetting. You can usually get everything back to normal again in a day or so, but again, not what people usually expect from a security system.

So: can you set up a rule that will have things report differently if you are home or away? Absolutely. Will that rule operate as expected 99 days out of 100? At the present time, probably not.

So it just depends on your own specific needs and expectations. The company is very well aware of the reliability issues and is trying to make improvements in that area. But they’re just not there yet.

The following FAQ discusses more about the presence options if you’re interested in details:


Among those alternative ways and also to decrease the false alerts, SmartThings has what is called predetermined “modes”. When everyone is “away”, you could create one of these modes to let SmartThings hub know that you want to be notified. When someone returns, then you change the mode to “home”. This way, you could mix and match sensors (maybe a cellphone, an arrival sensor, a motion sensor that no longer detects motion, etc).


SmartThings offers some of the home security functions of a dedicated security system, but not all. The new v2 hub has an integrated battery, but is still heavily reliant on your internet connection. A backup cellular connection is not yet available with SmartThings but is common in most modern security systems so notifications will continue to be sent. Many SmartApps still do not run locally even if all of the devices communicate directly with the hub, so they cease to function if the internet connection even if you are home and could access the hub over the home WiFi network.

As for presence detection, you could also make use of cellphones in addition to dedicated presence sensors. Each user would need a separate smartthings account and you can share guest access to your hub. As was pointed out, the presence sensor can trigger routines like “I’m Back” which can be configured to change the mode to “Home”, or set the system to “Away” when no one is at home. Do not trigger more than 1 routine with a single presence sensor. I made this mistake in my system with separate routines for “I’m Back” and “Car’s Back” which were both triggered by my phone. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Eventually I bought a separate presence sensor to leave in the car so that would trigger the routine to open the garage door when I arrived home in the car, and to close the door when the car was gone for more than a few minutes.

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