Can STv2 make a convert out of a Vera user? Can ST do these things?


#1

Greetings,

I’ve been a Vera user for a long time. If you know Vera, you know it’s a love and [much] hate relationship. With the ongoing and recent Vera issues, I am looking at alternatives. As much as I like openHAB, I do not have time at this point in my life to devote to development of a HA system. I just want things to work…

This is what I know so far if I were to move to ST (when comparing to Vera):
ST Cons:

  1. No web UI – This is important for a HA system that has many devices and more complex setups. It’s also good for monitoring. I know about SmartTiles, but it does not replace a real Web UI. If I must, I’ll live with it…
  2. Less ability to script and create more complex scenarios.
  3. No local/direct connection. When there is no Internet connection, there is no access to devices for config/control.

ST Pros:

  1. Probably more stable and reliable
  2. Native Echo and Harmony integration (Is this true?)

Any other pros/cons that I missed?

Here is why I am really posting–to find out if ST can do some specific things that I am having Vera do today:

  1. In Vera, I use a) a plug-in app to determine dusk/dawn. It determines sunrise/sunset time for each day. b) a motion sensor. c) a Zwave light switch. The scene/script is setup so that from dusk till dawn (timeframe is different each day), when motion is sensed, a light will turn on for a period and I will receive an alert that the light has turned on. During the day, the system will only alert when motion is sensed but not turn on the light.

  2. Using sensors, Vera reminds me when I left the garage door open for longer than a set period of time, and continues to remind me at specific intervals.

  3. Turn on/off attic fan based on a temperature (sensor) thresholds.

  4. Warn me if ambient temp is above or below a certain temperature.

  5. Using s scene, as I am near home, opens my driveway gate, opens the garage, unlocks the door (deadbolt and lever locks), turns on the light, and turns on the AV system (via Harmony).

  6. At specific time frame of the day, send alerts when door/window sensors are tripped

  7. Scenes/scripts to recurringly override thermostat default set temps

  8. Send alerts when battery devices reach a certain low battery threshold

  9. Motion sensor triggers a camera to record for a duration

I know many of these things are probably easily possible with ST, but I would like to know if the more complex scenes can be done (such as item 1).

I would very much appreciate some input.

Cheers.


(Scott G) #2

Great set of questions. Most simple direct actions are available via stock options in ST, but there is a ton of custom development being done. In particular for anything complex, you may want to read up about Rule Machine. It can do an amazing amount of automation customization.

  1. Isn’t entirely accurate. I don’t know what the scripting options in Vera look like, but with developer access to write custom Device Handlers and SmartApps, you can do almost anything in ST (Rule Machine).
  2. This is 90% true. The Smart Lighting SmartApp does run local on hub v2 for most officially compatible devices. This is particularly helpful for simple motion triggering lights actions to be very fast and work regardless of internet. Anything custom is relegated to the cloud though.
  1. Don’t know much about Vera stability, but ST has its share of issues, particularly with scheduled events. A new scheduler is expected soon, which will hopefully improve reliability. For the record, my system has been very reliable.
  2. Yes, this is true. Native Echo integration allows for control of on/off/dim lights and now thermostats. Harmony integration works great for me, but note that Harmony only provides access to “Activities” like Watch TV, not individual remote commands.

For your specific items, I’ll note whether it’s available via stock options or custom code. For the majority of custom code, you simply need to be ok copying/pasting from the great developers/community here.

ST has native sunrise/sunset times based on your hub location (subject to scheduler working well), so you should be able to set all of this up in Smart Lighting (Stock). You can definitely do it in Rule Machine (Custom).

The 1st reminder is easy to do natively. (Stock). To get the repeated reminders, you probably need Rule Machine (Custom).

Very easy to do. (Stock or Custom).

ST does use geolocation to determine “presence” that you could use to trigger this via a Routine very easily. Presence itself isn’t the most reliable for everyone, so you’ll get differing opinions on this. It works well for me. (Stock).

6 and 9 are part of the Smart Home Monitor security solution. On 9, I’m not positive if recording is available yet or not and what cameras are compatible. It will also have a fee attached for ST to store the cloud recordings. Here again custom is an option if you have the recording capability setup yourself.

7 should be easy. There are a ton of custom thermostat control apps available to help monitor and adjust your thermostat based on its setpoint, other temp sensors and any schedule you prefer. Typically if you’re using ST to control a thermostat it’s best to turn off any scheduling built-in to the thermostat itself.

8 is a native feature of ST, but I don’t think the low battery threshold is configurable. You could certainly do it with a custom app though.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #3

Live with it, you must, Luke! :slightly_smiling:

Lots of customers would love a full web interface, but that’s not high on SmartThings’s feature list.

Lots of Community Developers (Alex and myself of SmartTiles included) would love to offer a more complete web interface, but we’re pretty restricted … visit this Topic for more info:


(Jimmy) #4

I don’t know what the current issues with Vera are, but if it is reliability then SmartThings isn’t the answer (yet). When it does operate as expected, it can take care of the features you mentioned. The camera recording would be handled outside of ST, but i believe ST can be the trigger to Blue Iris, Foscam, etc.


#5

Many thanks guys–what a great forum! Some never answer newcomer questions, but you guys not only made me feel welcome, you have provided tangible responses to my questions. @Sticks18, I especially appreciate you taking the time to answer each point. Cheers all!


(Bob Anderson) #6

If that’s your #1 pro, I think you’re off on the wrong foot here.

ST can’t reliably turn a single light on and off on a schedule. I know because I took my system all the way down to this and only this, and it failed about 5-10% of the time over a several month period. There have been multiple supposed fixes for this over a period of a year or so, but none of them stuck if they had any observable effect at all - the failures always reappeared before long. The latest claim is that a complete replacement for the scheduling facilities is coming Real Soon Now, but given the track record, 1) we don’t know if it will ever happen, and 2) we don’t know if it will make the problem worse, better, or have no effect.


(Jason) #7

True, but there have been some good signs… I.E. Staff talking about things that will be affected, and many staff talking about it coming and saying it’s in beta.

This is more my concern, I sure hope it solves the problem, not only for now, but for good. With all of the 2016 TV’s having ST built in… They better be preparing for scaling…


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #8

If SmartThings wasn’t prepared for around 200,000 Hubs over the past 3 years, what makes you think they can handle 1,000,000+ Televisions?

Sure … it’s great to be optimistic and I’m hoping for the best. As existing Customers (and developers), we can’t hope for worse! But without detailed insider information, we only have the past to predict the future.


#9

Could be it will be handled by the Samsung Smart TV group rather than the SmartThings team. They certainly know about high volume. :sunglasses:


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #10

And they know about (Super) High Definition! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


(Chris Fichter) #11

I left Vera about 6 months ago. At that time it was incredibly stable. I had it for 2 years and probably only had to reset my Hub 3 times. And I had no other issues.
With smart things on the other hand there is always something not working properly. It can be a minor issue that last a long time or a serious issue that lasts for a short time. Each system has its pros and cons. The only real way to do it is just by The Hub and see if you like it. You could spend hours doing research and you really will never know until you actually do it.
One thing that I am starting to believe is that companies come out with this amazing product promising amazing things in the future that never come. So what you end up doing is buying the latest greatest hub until the next latest and greatest hug comes out and that’s the only way you progress.


#12

it’s true for the US region, although the Harmony integration has broken at least four times since November that I know of.

The third-party integrations are different for the UK region, however.

I don’t think there’s any harmony integration for the UK yet.

There was no Amazon integration for the UK until recently, and it appears that may have broken about A week ago.

I would check in the UK section of this forum to make sure if you are in Europe and those integrations are important to you.

If you’re in the US, the integrations exist, but there are some stability issues.


#13

BTW, my personal suggestion for anyone raising these questions would be that as long as you can get the smart things hub with a 30 day return policy, just get one and try it. Set it up with three different devices with use cases that will be useful to you, but will not be responsible for anything affecting actual health or safety.

If you don’t have any small children and you intend to use a siren with SmartThings, add a siren as a fourth device. Make sure everyone in your household knows how to disable the siren if it goes off when you don’t want it to. :wink:

If you already have another system, you can use devices you already have, or you can get new ones, again assuming you can get a good return policy.

Then just set it up and use it for 20 days and see if it’s reliable enough for you.

One of my favorite sayings is “all home automation is local” meaning something that works great at my house might not work at all at yours, and vice a versa.

As I’ve mentioned before in the forums, when it works well, SmartThings is absolutely my favorite home automation controller. But as I have also mentioned, since last October I have yet to go 10 days in a row without at least one impactful SmartThings failure.

But none of these are hidden. So I think if you just get one and try it, you’ll know within three weeks whether you find it valuable.

Just understand that if anything fails, even very simple things like turning a light on at 7 PM, it’s quite likely that it will continue to fail at times going forward. So judge it for what it actually does, not for what its potential might be.

SmartThings is intending to put in an entirely new scheduler sometime this year, but no specific time line, and no real way to know whether it will make things better, worse, or stay the same.

So I would say if your main concern is whether it’s reliable or not, get one and try it. It may work perfectly at your house. But there really isn’t any good way to know ahead of time. :sunglasses:

On the other hand, if your questions are whether it will work with a specific device or not, or be set up to address a specific use case or not, you can ask those here and people will be happy to answer.

With SmartThings the hard question to answer isn’t whether it can do something, it’s usually whether it can do it reliably enough to meet your particular needs. :bulb: