Device / Physical vs / Digital - Digital "physical" triggers?

Hi All -

My motion sensor (smarthings motion) went off inside the house this morning when I wasn’t home. When that occurs, all of the lights in the house turn on, which are all zwave switches from either Jasco / GE or Evolve. I wasn’t sure if the motion was a false positive or not (never had that happen before) so I checked the API graph for all activity. One thing I noticed was that there were mostly “Device / Digital” alerts for lights that turned on, which makes sense because it was a digital command. However, there are also a few “Device / Physical” activities as well.

My question for you all…does “Physical” mean someone physically manipulated the switch on / off 100% of the time? Or can something else trigger this event?


That is what it is supposed to mean.

Agreed that it’s what it is “supposed” to mean, but does anyone out there know if that’s only what it means, or has anyone seen this as a bug or possibly triggered in some other way?

Well… I have only seen it related to the physical sense, but I don’t spend all day in log files. You should probably contact support if you feel the results you’re seeing are erroneous.

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Not to play devil’s advocate, but are you sure that someone else didn’t stop by… a friend, relative, etc? So far I’ve only seen Device / Physical when I’m actually touching the switches.

No single-tech motion sensor is perfect. Common causes of INDOOR false alarms include spiders, flys, sunlight, curtains, HVAC diffusers. Once I had a housefly lay an egg INSIDE a PIR in the garage, which grew into a full-size underfed fly dancing around in there…

Dual-tech such as microwave and PIR is better but still not perfect. Another common technique to reduce false alarms is cross-zoning, that is multiple sensors in the same zone within X seconds.

So most likely you have a typical false alarm, not something to be reported. IMO not a bug.

@ero4444 The false alarm isn’t the big issue. We all know they happen. The issue is that some of his devices are showing physical interaction when there was no one home. So either:

  1. ST is reporting physical interactions intermittently when it’s really a digital interation
  2. Someone was in his house flipping switches.

If it’s #1 then that is something to be reported. If #2 then he needs to take away someone’s key.

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Thanks all. I assumed it was just a bug (in the software sense, not physical sense…but could be a fly) but then I saw that several switches were "physical"ly activated, and grew concerned because it would make sense that if someone broke in, they would probably try to turn the switches off if all of the lights suddenly turned on. I won’t be home for a few days and my fiancee will be the first one in the door Wednesday night, and I didn’t want to have a surprise intruder (or broken window, for that matter) so I sent the cops out to make sure nothing was wrong.

For future reference, the Evolve dimmer switches, when sent a command to turn on or off, appear to alert as a physical activation of the switch.

I have many switches where the log entries report DEVICE/physical.
I am 100% sure nobody is moving furniture to press the little button on the plug in modules
These switches are controlled by Hello, Home

I have both the ON/OFF Switches and the Dimmer switches from Jasco/GE. The ON/OFF switch correctly reports the digital vs. physical event type attribute but the dimmer does not.

I noticed that if I change the device type of the dimmer switch to “Z-Wave Switch” or to “Z-Wave Switch Generic” the dimmer switch will start reporting the digital/physical attribute correctly (but, of course, I lose digital dimming capabilities).

I noticed that in the source code of the “Z-Wave Dimmer Switch Generic” device handler it does not set the event type of physical and digital like it does in the source code of “Z-Wave Switch”. Could this be fixed by updating the device handler code for the dimmer switch?
(I was referencing the source code published here:

I wish I had more time to experiment with this but I wanted to share my findings.

This was a bug introduced I think in the late spring. It’s been much discussed and reported a number of times, but it hasn’t been fixed yet. I don’t know why.

I think @sbdobrescu was one of the first people to report it.

Here’s the most recent discussion. I’d continue there, since this thread hasn’t really been used for a year.