SmartThings Community

Building Out My Smart Home - Any Insight Appreciated

I look at it this way. If you had a voice-activated garage door opener that failed about twice a month, and the resolution was that you had park the Car in the driveway, walk around to the front door, go in the house, use the button on the wall inside the garage, get back in the car And then drive into the garage, you might be willing to do that for your own place.

But would you put it in a rental? Or would you stick to a more reliable, if less cool, garage door opener?

There’s no right or wrong answer, different people make different decisions, and it’s also going to depend on the competition for rentals in that area. I’m just saying I’m pretty sure that the first time it failed, I’m going to get a one star review. And it’s going to make people uncomfortable, because they are going to wonder what else is going to fail in the house.

But again, choice is good.

If I were outfitting a rental, I’d just put in Lutron Caseta switches for lights, Add apple HomeKit for motion sensors and a keypad lock. The guest would not have to install an app on their own phone, which would be important to me as I know there is some understandable resistance to that. High reliability, works even if the Internet goes out, Gives you the wow factor With minimal maintenance requirements. Very easy set up if your property manager needs to replace a particular device. But much lower versatility than some other systems, including smartthings.

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Yeah that’s what I mean. I have figured out how to deal with family members when ST has its hiccups.

I would rather not have to plan how to placate someone that paid to stay in a property I own who is mad for the same reason.

Lutron and apple HomeKit is a good idea from the perspective of reliability. Maximal versatility is less important for a house if it’s primarily a rental, IMO. Especially since it may come at the expense of reliability, as you mentioned.

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If it was me and I was going for the wow factor, I would also add an Amazon echo, which would give you voice control over the lights but not the lock. Which is what I would want for a rental.

Assuming it was legal, I would add a Kuna porch light camera. It doesn’t integrate with anything else right now except echo to turn the porch light on and off, but it would give you a motion sensor light with camera at the front entry way.

And if I wanted to have entry light inside the house come on when someone got home, I would use HomeKit for that and trigger it off the lock unlocking.

This would be super simplistic compared to what you could do with smartthings, but You would get the reliability on the critical use cases. And again, the renters wouldn’t have to have a phone app installed. :sunglasses:

And a nest or ecobee can provide that wow factor for the hvac system. Even without SmartThings integration.

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As Terry mentioned, Actiontiles would be a good way to allow for interaction with a ST-based system, no phone app required.


I definitely like the idea of ActionTiles on a tablet tied to the property. Very much looking to stick with ST for our base as we can handle the tech setup from our end with all the installed devices, then creating everything on the tablet for our guests and having it be something straightforward to use in the home whether it’s us there or it’s a guest would be great. Will ActionTiles allow me to give the guest access to all the smart actions/functionality through the tablet but also an administrator login that I can access or property management team (looking to go w/ highly recommended friends of friends running the team who we’d be able to work with closely) can login to and correct any faults when things go offline, whether due to ST update or just glitches/hiccups in the system?

And yes, agree on the potential for renters to be “peeved” over smart devices not working and causing grief when they want to turn on lights, get in the garage, or have alarms/motions sensors triggering constantly. All for having manual overrides and ability to still use all the lights and other devices in the home despite ST running a system update or an unplanned outage rolling through for hours to days.

Now would you use some smart bulbs that can act as repeaters but not hook them into your system to be triggered by anything other than ST and the actions you set up through the smart switches? Or would you just go with dumb bulbs and the smart switches that are acting as your repeaters through the home? Does building a better mesh through having the devices in place but not necessarily being the sole point of control for action/inaction make the most sense?

ActionTiles is “only” for view and control … not for “configuration”. Using ActionTiles you can delegate access securely just by building distinct Panels and sharing the more powerful ones or limited ones as desired.

If “things go offline”, there’s nothing that ActionTiles can do to fix it … and, very little that can be done in the SmartThings Apps either, without physical access to the offline Things. Sometimes you might have to remove and add a Thing from SmartThings completely to fix an offline issue. This cannot be done in ActionTiles.

If such problems are frequent, then, indeed, the recommendations above are wise: Don’t use SmartThings for your use case.

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@tgauchat I follow now (hadn’t gotten my needed dose of morning coffee fully down yet when I wrote that, but have since looked at your site and more of the community forums/threads). Essentially though, ActionTiles is going to be the smart way with ST hub and devices to give control in one easy-to-use tablet app right there at their fingertips in the home and we could set up the login access for ActionTiles to an account we control… they’d still have access to the ones we deem fit and we can then access the other ones (or allow access to those we want through sharing, like our property management team) as needed when we’re there. Am I understanding it correctly?

We’d still be configuring everything in terms of our actions and device networking through ST ourselves… and when the system goes offline for an update or unexpected outage OR should one of the devices fail to respond properly (potentially after an update), we or our PMT would go in to resolve that through ST hub and configuration there - it’d never be something our renters access (nor would I expect or want them to).

We’re located close enough and I plan to provide our PMT with what amounts to a blueprint and full understanding of the ST setup inside the home 1) so they can thoroughly cover the features and integrations with the renters so as to maximize our traffic to it in comparison to other properties in the area & 2) to ensure they are able to go on-site to fix any hiccups quickly and easily… plus be there to mollify any potentially dissatisfied folks and provide peace of mind with customer service.

If we build it out intelligently with Smart switches (yet still able to be used manually like a standard “dumb” switch) rather than Smart bulbs and provide easy access to motion sensors, alarms, and other devices that may throw a more jarring wrench into the mix during an update or outage, we should be in relatively good shape, yes? And if access to ST and the action build-out is readily accessible to our PMT, going in to address any hiccups/issues should be relatively straightforward and keep things operating the smoothest… so I’d hope.

Yup… This is a good summary! But it’s best to experiment to understand the flexibility and power of our product.

Relatively… Yes.

The edge conditions are the area of concern, not even counting actual outages or hardware failures.

  • if you have heating or AC “smart”, it ought to shutoff if no one is home - but do you choose to rely on Motion Detection and/or Presence Sensors? Should the renters come home to a freezing house because this automation failed?

  • if you have Motion Determination turn on lights, is there an easy way to disable it, in case the motion sensor is being falsely triggered or fails to report motion while occupants are relatively motionless in a room they wish to stay lit?

  • what if renters don’t want their activities monitored?

  • I always recommend having a physical key in a lockbox available in case smart lock fails.

  • etc

I don’t think most property owners put a key in a lockbox on a rental because pretty much by definition you want every renter to use a different pin code. Unless you mean just the key for the property manager, but in that case you’d usually leave it off site with the property manager. :sunglasses:

We should say that keypad smart locks will almost all still work from the keypad built into the lock even if the home automation hub is not working, but it’s worth checking each model to be sure.

@JDRoberts Any recommendations on smart lock that also has a physical keyslot in addition to the keypad?

Also, any chance you’d be available for a conversation via phone or email outside of the community forum? Would love to run down/bounce my ideas off you as well as get your (obviously knowledgeable and insightful) take on my planned build out so I know whether I’m on the right track? Don’t wanna be going down the rabbit hole or Ouroboros’ing myself with redundant/inane plans.

I’ve looked at the ST-compatible list of door locks on their site and see quite a number of options with the keyed entry as well as smart push-button or touchscreen code entry… just wondered if there’s a consensus (or your personal recommendation) on Yale vs Schlage vs Kwikset or even certain models that’re better than others. Appreciate all the input here… more than any of you may know. You’ve helped me build smarter and understand the whole layout quite a bit better than I had previously.

Schlage Connect has worked fine for me (I have 2 of them). They are a tad slow to respond to Z-Wave commands; not sure if that is a security feature or some inherent quirk. But I mostly use the keypad anyway.

And due to Z-Wave security, if you do have to remove and re-add it to the network, you may have to bring the Hub near it, since it won’t use the mesh to join. But this is likely the same with other Z-Wave locks…

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@tgauchat So this bad boy for example - Schlage Connect Camelot?

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One hint…

Activate setup mode and join to SmartThings before you install it; however, it is important to ensure you simulate the correct direction / orientation for the bolt when you do this.

The benefit is that you can join it to your Z-Wave network closer to the Hub, rather than wherever your door is located.

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Just check the FAQs, pretty much everything is covered in those, including locks. :sunglasses:


Yeah it’s hard enough just keeping the immediate family on-board… keeping them happy is even more difficult. I for one stopped trying to “Run” my house on ST and I would never dare use it for a rental property. ST has it’s place but not for critical or sensitive things and especially when it concerns financial gain or loss.


How? What’s the secret?


I don’t run ST anymore :stuck_out_tongue:


That sums it up very truthfully and completely.