Current state of Smartthings and Rivals


(Carl Crozier) #1

Hi all,

I’ve been a lurker for some time now and am interested in beginning my home automation journey but was dismayed to find out so early in the process of some of the issues with Smartthings.

As I haven’t yet committed to buying a hub I wanted to ask the UK community for feedback on the current state of Smartthings in the UK. I understand our official compatibility list is much reduced, and some features the US users have we sadly don’t have access to. I also understand that the current state of development for Smartthings is focused on stability and health rather than new features or compatibility with products.

So, in a nutshell, do you experience problems in day to day use? Does the platform have much downtime, and how badly does this affect your setups? Are community created smart app’s and device handlers able to be used successfully in the UK? Would you buy the smartthings platform again if you had to start over, or do you feel locked into this system now?

I’ve also been looking at Cozify hub which seems like a much smaller operation than Smartthings but has the advantage of being offline so if the internet or cloud services fail, your home doesn’t fall over entirely. The biggest downside of this system seems to be that they don’t have much of a community so I’d be limited on app’s and devices which are compatible to that system.

Thanks for your input!

Carl


(Kraeg) #2

Hi Carl,

I’m in the UK and find in general SmartThings is ok. That’s as far as I would go though.

The guys in the US certainly have more to choose from in terms of devices but I’ve not found much you can’t do here in the UK.

The custom DTH and SmartApps people create on these forums are SmartThings life saver. I have lots of them running and found most are fantastic.

Reliability is certainly something which needs work and why SmartThings are probably working on that. Even now I have a few issues which aren’t fixed.

Just be warned: once you start with devices, you won’t stop. Id hate to think how much I’ve spent in the past year since getting the hub. It’s very addictive.

Kraeg


(Wayne) #3

It’s certainly far from perfect but I’ve not found anything as flexible or better so here we all are! :grinning:


(Carl Crozier) #4

Hi guys,

Thanks for the input so far. Could I ask what kind of issues you have faced with Smartthings, particularly in terms of reliability? Does the service go down often or are there delays with actions etc?

I’ve kinda gotta sell the system to my OH and I know if it works at anything less than 100% she will not be happy… :thumbsdown:


(Wayne) #5

It will be less than 100%, so might might as well accept that from any system to be honest.

For a start Smartthings is cloud based, so if your internet goes down you’d be left with no automation.
There are of course things you can do to reduce that eventuality but depends on how you design your system.
For a start my lighting for all important areas (like hallways and kitchens) are controlled via zwave/zigbee light switches which have an local switching ability in cases of outage.
I have also invested in multiple UPS systems for my internet routers and other systems I need to continue running; also looking at having a fallback route to the internet via 3/4g if the fiber fails.

HA is for convenience and to be honest at these price levels a hobby. You should never rely on it for anything critical. For me right now, my lights go on and off automatically in walkways, my robot vacuums the floors when I’m not around, I know when windows and doors are left open when it’s raining, ST tells me when my alarm goes off, my lights go on/off when we’re on vacation, my lights in the lounge are automated depending on different sources I’m viewing on TV, my gates of the driveway open when I arrive, I get letterbox notifications… the list goes on and on.

Is it all 100%? No.
Is it fun? Yes!!


(Mike Barton) #6

From my use of it reliability is the big let down, If you want smartthings to control something important like a door lock you will very quickly question that decision. I dont know if the issue is the hub or the sensors or something serverside but I rarely get through a month without one of my sensors hanging and if that is on your front door and you see its open on the app what do you do then?


(Wayne) #7

I have around 70 zigbee sensors all around the house and reliability was absolutely rubbish. I was getting 2 or 3 stuck sensors every single day and adding more repeaters in made it worse.
Until I removed all my osram bulbs from smartthings. Those should never be connected directly until ST/Osram fix the routing issues, I’ve posted a lot about this.
Now I’m back to 1 or 2 a month, which in my view is pretty good compared to where I was. Of those, I’m pretty sure I can fix by improving the mesh.
Zwave I find much more reliable and the handful I have are solid.


(Brian) #8

I’ve been using ST for about a year in the UK

I haven’t seen ST go offline or had a major issue with it in that time.

Firmware updates are the main issue as they seem to knock out subsystems in unexpected ways.

For example I’m currently dealing with an issue with the Color coordinator and Hue when ST & Hue did parallel fw updates. Also if ytou become over reliant on any one community app and then it falls over with no support (see the Rule machine Woes)

But if I look at the systems I have integrated into ST all are working reliably and I’ve probably had a maximum of 2 issues over the last year with any one of them.Which I would say is pretty good given the number of potential failure points and API’s involved

Hue lights
ST sensors
Lightwave rf
Nest
Lametric
Logitech Harmony
Raspberry Pi
Fibaro sensors
Fibaro light relays
Android
IFTTT
Google Calendar
Netatmo
AV via DNLA
Not mentioning all the community apps I use including CORE.

It’s September so it’s new release time so I wouldn’t jump just yet but if you like tinkering ST is the platform for you.

I have to say I have definitely not regretted the purchase but I’m probably more worried about products being deprecated and having to find different replacements.


(Cr76) #9

Was speaking to the CEO of Cozify yesterday at an event. He informed me that they should be releasing APIs for 3rd party integrations and hobbyists by the end of the year.


(Brian Harding) #10

Hi Ceefore,
I hope that you do not mind some input from a US Smartthiings user. I have had my Smartthings system or nearly a year and I am hooked. As others have said, once you purchase the system be prepared to spend some money because your imagination will come up with an infinite number of uses for the system, LOL. I am retired and stay home most of the time so I may not have as many issues as others have. I believe that Smartthings has gotten a big jump over the competition and eventually will be a leader in the field of HA. That being said, they have grown so quickly and have integrated with so many devices and may need to from time to time evaluate where they are headed and set priorities. Depending on the reasons that a person purchases one of these IOT systems will determine the level of what he/she will tolerate and won’t tolerate. For example, if some lights fail to turn off or on is quite a bit different than a burglar invading your home and you system was very slow to notify you or possibly never did. My complaints have been very sluggish operation when the Cloud was misbehaving and an occasional having to reset my hub after an update. Otherwise, it has worked quite well.
My concern is for those people that believe that Smartthings, as an alternate to a true Home Security System, will give them a false sense of security. The security systems are designed to do one thing and they do it very well and reliably. The designs are “closed,” meaning that there are not a lot of changes, experimentation, etc as there are in these HA systems. I use my ST system as a backup/enhancement to my main security system. Smartthings is NOT a true security system in my opinion.


#11

Good advice.

I am just embarking on more home automation. Ive had evohome for a year, but am now going down the smartthings route with switches and sensors etc.

I already have a separate house alarm. It works just like an alarm should and I don’t believe it would be prudent to hand over the security of the house to smartthings (or any other cloud based or relatively new home automation system).

However if you want to integrate your home security with smartthins then there are options depending on what alarm system you have.

Mine for example can be confibured to trigger outputs or switches etc inside the alarm panel. It would not be too difficult to have these outputs feed into zwave relays or switches, these could then be configured to trigger other actions or scenarios within smartthings depending on which output was triggered on the alarm.

If it works, then great. If the link fails, then your house alarm still does its primary job.


#12

The following might be of interest. It covers both US and U.K. options:


(Carl Crozier) #13

Hi all, thanks for the ongoing contributions to this thread.

Funnily enough it was my alarm system which has started me down the Smartthings route in the first place. I have a very old system installed and it keeps going off at night and sharing the hell out of me with false positives. I think it’s at the end of it’s life and it doesn’t have a working outdoor siren either, so is of very limited use. The way I see it, even an unreliable Smartthings set up is better than my current set up, which is unable to alert me when I’m away from home.

I’ve actually just pulled the trigger on Smartthings and am hoping the hub will arrive in the next week. It seems that Cozify is too small at the moment with limited compatibility however the real cost of the HA set up are the accessories. I figure I can replace Smartthings with Cozify later on if it doesn’t live upto expectation or Cozify community takes off more.

redball - which alarm system do you have? I’d be very interested in an alarm system which can be connected but not reliant on Smartthings…!


(Bob) #14

Personally, the only issus I get are:-
A 3-4 delay when motion is detected and a light turns on. A couple of times a month.
About once a month one of my pistons does not run.
As this is a cloud based product this may be my Internet connection causing this but it is hard to pin down.
Both of the above are minor issues against the gains I get.
The reason for me for going with ST is that we retired and spend a lot of time away now. This means my automated house looks lived in when we are away.
I currently have:-
3 x Hue Strips.
1 x Hue bulb.
3 x WeMo bulbs.
I x Popp outlet.
2 x WeMo outlets.
2 x SwiidInter switches.
2 x Fibaro Dimmers.
3 x ST motion sensors.
3 x Fibaro Motion Sensors.
1 x Humidity Sensor.

As you can see I have tried a wide range of products and this gives you a idea of the versatility of this platform with different manufacturers.
Would I go for this again? Most definitely.
EDIT: Although I have Hue products, I do not have a Hue Bridge. People have been having issues with these at the moment.
As I don’t have one, I don’t see the need. Those with will probably disagree.


(Brian Harding) #15

Some things to consider. Can the potential intruder cut your internet cable or power before his intrusion? Without cellular backup your system will be dead in the water. Will you get a notification in a timely manner to respond to an non monitored system? My alarm system which is cellular only with a battery that should last several days solves both of those issues. Do you have the ability to hide your hub to prevent or at least slow down the intruder? Again the Alarm system has no wires other than it must be plugged into a power outlet. Should the intruder find smash your hub, will you know it. The Alarm system that I have is aware of hub damage, especially after an intrusion has happened. If you should be in a location where you are no communication with your phone, (in my case, for example, in the North Carolina mountains), Smartthings will not notify the police or fire department.Hub updates do not make my Alarm inoperative as Smartthings often does. It arms/disarms instantaneously - no delays.


#16

Its a texecom system. Though more detail than that Id be reluctant to share online.

The programming takes some learning, as it’s not really a product aimed at the DIY market. It has the ability to trigger various outputs based on what it senses. you could then feed these output signals/voltages into the appropriate relays and trigger switches which could be picked up by smartthings.


#17

Out of interest what for and how are you using the raspberry pi?


(Brian) #18

I’m using the pi as a node.js server to run light wave switches and lights. If you look for the thread on lightwaverf all the instructions are there. I also am trying to use it with the maker channel on ifttt to drive a colour led matrix. But that’s an ongoing project.