Do "alarm-grade" devices (contact, motion) exist?

The primary reason I bought my Smartthings hub (V2) a few years ago was for use as an inexpensive home alarm. Though I’ve expanded the system beyond that, it is still the most important feature to me.

Unfortunately I’ve been disappointed with the reliability of the Samsung multipurpose and motion sensors included (and subsequently purchased) with the hub. I find they go unavailable way too often to be reliable, the battery life is less than a year for all devices, and I get a lot of false alarms as the batteries are nearing death. In contrast, I have family with a professional alarm which was installed 3+ years ago; their sensors have been rock solid and they are still going strong on their original set of batteries.

Not sure why the Samsung sensors differ so much in performance from the pro alarm sensors (to be honest, I don’t know if they are nearly the same technology - I’m assuming they are). I’m not using any of the features beyond contact and motion (axis, temperature, etc.) if that’s part of the cause.

It got me wondering if any of those same devices would be available for use with Smartthings. Are there any “alarm-grade” devices available for use with our hub? Meaning, devices that are used with pro alarm systems, or ones with similar specs that will have the same reliability and battery life? Or other brands I should look at for greater reliability? Zigbee vs. z-wave? Contact and motion are all I need.


Everything is anecdotal, but here’s what I observe:

Hypothesis: Low frequency sensors are more reliable and less power hungry than ZigBee.

I suspect it is true. Unless you happen to be in an environment where 900 Mhz doesn’t transmit well.

I wouldn’t call them “alarm grade” because they are Z-Wave, but I have a number of Ecolink PIRZWAVE2.5-ECO sensors that are reliable with long battery life. With one exception, they don’t produce false alerts. For the one that does occasionally alert falsely, I have not yet had the time to see if the sensor is faulty or if the placement is causing issues because sunlight, etc.

Battery life is excellent. I’ve had them a year or so and have yet to change a battery, which is a CR123A. Ecolink says they have a 5 year life, but that remains to be seen.

These sensors have a longer reset time, so they are more suitable for alarm purposes than room occupancy. I think this contributes to battery life.

I haven’t had any drop from the hub . . . 2 hubs in two locations, actually. I think the difference between these and “alarm grade” sensors in terms of reliability is that the “alarm grade” sensors use frequencies that are less likely to be interfered with.

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I do have some Monoprice z-wave sensors that I use for garage door and for external switches. All have been installed since I bought the hub and I have yet to change their batteries. Perhaps swapping out the Samsung zigbee sensors is the way to go. Wish they weren’t all so expensive (5 contact sensors + 2 motion = $165+).

I guess, though, that most of these will not run locally once set up? Or are more and more third-party devices configuring locally?

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Only the Dual logo ADT/smartthings sensors which work only with the ADT/smartthings model of the hub. These use a proprietary communications frequency which has been specifically described as having fewer false alarms than the home automation sensors.

If you follow any of the links on the main site to “security“ now, it will take you to this model line.

But those devices do not work with any other smartthings hub models, because the other hubs don’t have the proprietary radio. And the ADT model hub will only use those special sensors to trigger calls to the monitoring center, not the home automation sensors.

Most of the security grade sensors from other companies will be neither Z wave nor zigbee home automation because of the issues with mesh. ( they might be using a different zigbee profile, like control 4 does, but those will not work with smartthings.) Like smartthings, the other companies might offer some for home automation use cases, but not to trigger calls to the monitoring center.

Sounds like you have zigbee mesh issues. Is your hub at least 5 ft away from any WiFi routers? What zigbee repeating devices do you have?

In spite of the higher frequency, as a communications protocol zigbee handles power management somewhat better than Z wave. This is why ZIgbee home automation sensors are typically smaller and more responsive than Z wave home automation sensors.

Since 2016, unfortunately, the smartthings brand zigbee sensors have tended to underperform. I don’t know why. :disappointed_relieved:

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Hub is away from my wi-fi access points by a couple of rooms, however it sits next to my modem/router (wi-fi radio turned off). I don’t think many of my mains powered devices are zigbee - maybe a smart outlet or two, and a Cree bulb are about all I have.

Have you checked your WiFi and zigbee channels for interference? Another zigbee outlet or two strategically placed around the house won’t hurt either.

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I am using Wireless Proximity detector for industrial purpose and with help of great support provided by the company to use with various IoT platform, this might be a useful wireless sensor with long battery management services.

It looks like a well-engineered device, but At $160 for just the sensor (it still needs other devices to work), I don’t see this as a good match for most residential applications. It’s intended for warehouse use, such as to keep forklifts from running into things, and makes sense for that. But it’s overkill for most homes.

There are alarm panels out there that can be integrated with ST. You will have to do your research but these panels can be hardwired to sensors, have battery and cell backup and professional monitoring solutions.

The physical panels and all associated sensors will show up in ST and you can arm/disarm the system programmatically.

I personally use an Envisalink by EyesOn connected via a custom app called Alarm Server running on a Pi3. This doesn’t work if the internet is down however, my Alarm System, although connected to ST, doesn’t rely on ST.

Saying all that, the Ecolink sensors are pretty darn reliable and battery life is great!

I’m also a fan of the Iris sensors but seems like Iris has ran its course.