I’ve been tracking the progress of SmartThings for about two years now. First, I was going to jump in and buy a v1 two years ago then decided to come on here and check out the forums, only to conclude that there were so many issues that I wouldn’t have enough time to work through them all. So I waited for v2. V2 gets released and I check back in here to find that there are still a load of issue that people can’t fix or have to code workarounds for.
So, my question is this: does SmartThings now work to reliably automate lights, garage doors and other devices automatically and by presence sensors? And is the home security capability solid? I’m afraid I just don’t have the time to invest making it all work, then troubleshooting it when for apparently no reason something stops working etc etc
Then SmartThings is not going to be your cup of tea, you may want to look into the control4 systems they will do exactly what you are looking for, it will just cost a bit more.
(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy)
Hey, Sid… there are certainly more alternatives that the luxury brand Control4.
Staples Connect, for example, is a simpler system that uses some of the same local networking technology. It certainly isn’t as customizable or extensible, but I believe it currently is more reliable.
Alarm.com, iControl (branded as PEQ and others), Xfinity, Vera, Iris, etc., many more … are all affordable and worth consideration.
Of course, except for the Control4 / Crestron / Savant’s of the world, “smart home” is a very immature and rapidly changing product-service category. There’s just as good a chance that SmartThings will significantly stabilize before a comparable competitor does … or vice versa.
The biggest problem: What makes a competitor “comparable”? That totally depends on the subset of smart home functionality that you want and/or need at this time.
Control4 does work very well, but you’re looking at costs of $40,000 and up. Plus annual fees. So not usually the same market as those looking at SmartThings, where most people seem to be aiming to a budget of $200 - $500/room, and not every room at that.
As far as competitors to SmartThings, you can certainly get very reliable lights scheduling and very reliable security monitoring in the inexpensive range, but it takes two different systems. And you will have a very limited choice of devices and likely little or no ability to do custom code.
Thanks guys, much appreciated! I’m not spending Control4 money on this project, but I would like to assume that if I spent $1-2k on a SmartThings (or other competing brand) setup that it would work out of the box once I’ve programmed its basic rules. Ever since I first visited this forum I’ve seen too many grumpy posts from folk who have invested thousands of $$ and countless hours trying to make their ST setup just run basic commands - or fix it when it stops responding and doing its job properly.
An example: if I spend $1,000 on any other tech product I can think of and it doesn’t do what it says it’s supposed to do (and I’ll give it a weekend of me being nice to it and trying to make it work with the help of the product’s tech support) then it goes right back from whence it came and I get a refund. I really don’t think that this is a particularly high standard for any product to attain.
(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy)
Yup… and, truly, some of us have been “luckier” than others in having relatively stable success with SmartThings in our homes, cool integration with Amazon Echo, etc…
For the rest, well, … lots of us, myself included, are really hoping SmartThings meets those high standards sooner rather than later; but that won’t stop us from switching brands if we’re convinced it’s worth it.
You also must take into account that satisfied customers rarely have a need to visit forums. If the only feedback you take is on the user forums you will usually find the people posting are the ones experiencing the most problems; normally because they are looking to get those problems resolved. I come here to see whats going on and to try to find ways to make the most out of my ST system, and ther are many others like that. Sometimes you just ahve to jump in a take a chance.
My response was not to be snide, if you don’t want to setup an home automation system only to trouble shoot it when it breaks, control 4 is one of the few systems that fit this requirement. Yes it’s more expensive but it is also very reliable and you have payed support to come out and fix it when it breaks. You not going to get this with most of the brands mentioned. Considering all the requirements mentioned control4 is a really good fit.
For the requirements mentioned in the first post, if you want a “do it for me” model where you pay for service, I would think either ADT pulse or Xfinity’s new home automation offering would be something people would look at before control4. The other two are in the same range as most home security systems for middle-class families. Control4 is really intended for the kind of people who have 1% income.
In contrast, Xfinity home control is priced very similarly to security packages, typically $399 for the initial install and equipment and about $40 a month after that.
I’m not saying that’s what the 0P wants either, just that while control4 is a great aspirational system, I’d love to be able to afford it, but it’s not what most people will be looking for even for systems with maintenance contracts .
I agree with @Widzinschinke, I dont alway get on here and post all the positive that I have for the past 2 years. I normally get on here and help others or ask questions for things that I am thinking about doing in the near future. So you will get more of a 85% (maybe not that high) negative talk. It’s more people trying to figure out stuff and getting help fixing it.
I did that same that you did @AnimalHungry and saw all the negative posts and some of the frustrated people talking about… Is this ever going to get fixed or why did this crash and was working just an hour ago… I ended up jumping in and spending the money and for the past 2 years I have not had much if any issues. If I did have an issue it was b.c I did something for jacking with something that was working fine or ST was doing an update to their systems and not paying attention to not make any changes during that time. There are a lot of smart and very friendly people on here that will help you work out a bug or figure out what you are trying to do and get you up and running.
Last, if you are not willing to give a little time just to tinker or fix stuff periodically when stuff do crash. Even with the more $$$ products out there you will still have things crash or times where you will need to tinker just to fix a small issue. Then this product is not for you…
P.S I probably tinker with this maybe 4x or so a month right now (only b.c I’m working nearly 40+hrs OT at work right now). Even at work I will get on the app and play with it to learn more things about the product.
Just one more thing to point out… you can’t actually spend $1k to $2k on a SmartThings system. You can spend $100 on the hub, and then everything else you buy uses open standards. If you invest $2000 in mesh devices, you’re probably going to be able to take those to any hub you want later on. This is not the case with Control4, etc.
The devices are using open standards, but you’re still making an investment decision. Just as if you bought an android phone versus an Apple phone and later wanted to move your app purchases. You’re not just committing to a hub, you’re committing to an ecosystem. In this case Zigbee and Z wave.
For example, if you later decided you wanted to move to HomeKit, right now the only devices that could go with you would be Phillips hue.
If you decided you wanted to go to Staples connect, very few of the devices would go with you, just because Staples Connect supports very few devices.
If you decided to go to Vera, all your zwave devices would go, but your Zigbee devices would likely not. The same with the Fibaro.
If you decided to go to Insteon, very few of your devices would carryover, regardless of the hub version that you chose.
Iris, wink, abode, securifi Almond plus, and Zipato all have some support for both zwave and zigbee, in some cases more devices than SmartThings, in some cases fewer, but the feature sets that are supported may be somewhat different. For example, the Aeon minimote doesn’t necessarily work as a button controller with Zigbee devices with another hub.
So it’s not quite as simple as saying that your investment is protected. Some of the devices may work exactly the same with another hub, but it depends on the specific hub you choose as to exactly what will or will not be supported. Of course the same thing is true no matter what hub you start with right now–there are several different ecosystems in play already, and the devices don’t all transfer.
As I’ve mentioned before, I made the decision last year to limit my initial investment to specific use cases that had an immediate pay off precisely because I expect the list of home automation system candidates to be quite different in the summer of 2016. And I expect at that time that it will be quite similar to the mobile phone landscape, where there will be different and incompatible ecosystems, the equivalent of Android/Apple/Windows phone for mobile. Only it will be works with Nest/weave thread/HomeKit/AllJoyn or something like that.
If you invest a lot in zwave devices now, you will have some other choices besides a SmartThings hub in the future, but you won’t have all choices, and maybe not even two out of the top three.
Of course it only takes one good one to make you happy, so the number of choices may not matter. But I think it is important to understand that you are still making an investment choice.
So I took the plunge and bought the ST hub with some door sensors, a flood sensor for my crawl space, a multi sensor for motion and temp outside the house, a motion sensor for inside and a power outlet, along with my pre-existing Schlage front door lock. Pretty straightforward so far with the ST app being able to connect and stay connected to all my devices. We’ll see how it goes
After initial purchase, Iris requires a $10/month fee to be able to use the advanced rules engine. I think that’s the main disadvantage that people choosing SmartThings see.
There are a couple of other differences.
The two systems can use pretty much the same zwave devices.
As far as I can tell, Iris can only use zigbee devices which are already in their library (have a known fingerprint) which means that there will be some zigbee devices that will work with SmartThings that will not work with Iris.
The first generation zigbee devices used with the Iris hub used a proprietary zigbee and could not be used by SmartThings. But the second-generation use the standard zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2) so they will generally be able to work with SmartThings.
In some cases, there are some additional features which require the hub to do tracking of the device, and these features may not be available in SmartThings. The best example is the ability to use the Iris panic button pendant as a presence sensor. This feature will work with Iris, but will not work with SmartThings. However the same device can be used just as a button by either.
On the other hand, SmartThings has some official integrations with third-party devices which are not available in Iris. One of the most popular is echo. Smartthings also has an IFTTT channel, allowing additional integrations. There are several different ways to get voice command in a SmartThings set up, including echo and IFTTT. I’m unaware of anything similar in Iris.
Smartthings also has an official integration with Logitech Harmony which is very popular as well.
I believe SmartThings also offers more color management options for RGB lights.
And of course, SmartThings encourages custom development and provides a number of developer tools and options. It’s one of the reasons this community is so active.
So different things work for different people. I believe the iris system is more stable and offers a wider choice of officially-supported devices, including a keypad and a glass break sensor. But SmartThings allows for custom development, offers some interesting third-party integrations including Echo, and doesn’t have a monthly fee.