Feature request - Smart Lighting condition for 'if offline'

Hi, it became apparent during a significant internet outage that many users of more advanced rule engines, like myself, are at a huge disadvantage when the ST hub goes offline. Whilst many devices can operate locally now, these newer rule engines cannot.

Could we have a condition or toggle for apps that run locally, such as Smart lighting’ to only run when offline?

Whilst in my recent scenario, Smart Lighting rules would be more simplistic than my rules in Core, I’d prefer some automation and control if offline than what I actually got - which was no lighting in most rooms for about 20hrs.

This, seemingly small addition if done at a rule condition level, would add a layer of resilience and flexibility I don’t think I’ve seen in any other product out there and would allow many more users to leverage local device handling.

Thanks in advance

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While this sounds like a reasonable request, I can’t help but think it has pretty low relevance.

How frequently is your Hub “offline”, really?

The primary benefit for local execution is lower latency. For the small portion of customers with unreliable broadband, then indeed, resilience would be better served with this failover to local SmartApps feature.

But that’s gotta be a pretty small portion of consumers, ain’t it?

Absolutely agree it’s a worst case / hopefully low occurrence event Terry… But for those who rely on motion sensors or other triggers that quickly become ‘default’ behaviour it makes a huge difference. I found out I was offline when my lighting rules + control failed whilst dark outside. So that’s no bedside lamp (curtains shut so pitch black room), no top of stairs lighting (triggered by motion), no bottom of stairs lighting (triggered by motion), no ancillary lighting in core rooms (living room / kitchen etc) so whilst these rooms have other lighting circuits that are not smart in any way - default behaviour was massively impacted as we would typically use the smart enabled lights as the defaults. In my case… my internet was out for 20 hours which was 2 ‘dark cycles’. I use core rules over Smart Lighting as I have time based brightness settings and motion rules that tie into multiple rooms that SL cannot do afaik. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have given my left arm for basic functional lighting for 20hrs!

I personally am not happy to remain exposed to this risk (however low occurrence) as it’s impact is potentially huge in ‘worst case’ circumstances. After having finally convinced family members and relatives to leave light switches alone it’s an un-nerving scenario to have no lights if offline again whilst dark - especially as in the UK now it’s generally dark all day lol. I have already purchased a new router with dual wan cellular failover capabilities and am probably going to pair this with a UPS for good measure. Seems an easy risk to negate with the existing capabilities of the ST hub with a backup ruleset executing locally though.

It’s a rare day the native ST eco system + hardware already seems to have all the component parts in place to meet a new enhancement request and the SL app was probably conceived before local execution was implemented to a point it was useable. It would be great to understand from ST / SL development perspective how difficult it would be to add a ‘run when offline’ flag per app or just an in app condition as prevention or mitigation is better than cure in my mind (also would have been a fair bit cheaper than additional networking hardware! :wink: )

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But one major point: SmartThings would be much more inclined to implement this if the non-local SmartApps were published, official, had training materials, blogs, etc. and thus used by hundreds of thousands instead of, well… only a few thousand customers…?

There are devices out there which will fail over your internet connection to the cellular phone network. Maybe try this route rather than trying to get a change made to a core Smart App.

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Yeah as stated I have already ordered such a router. Seems a rather inelegant solution given further cost, power, set up etc OR as I have here, propose a code / software change in one ST app. After all, the name of the very product is SMART things. Not very smart to not have a failover or any kind of resilience built in. ST hub has a battery backup (that may or may not leak) so they considered part of the issue on the hardware front. Why not further this to the software side?! If we don’t ask the questions, we may never know if the answer could have been a Yes :slight_smile:

Do you have a router that fails over to cellular 7andy? And do you have any automations that run in the cloud that you would notice if they failed?

I might be missing something obvious but Why would this incline ST to do anything more so than if these apps didn’t ( as it seems you are implying is the case today)

Surely if you had the chance to better your own product and further differentiate yourself in the market for the good of your customers you would want to do that? If the cost of development is prohibitive then you would absolutely need to understand the ROI here… but this could be a small change to the SL app for all we know.

With Samsung looking to group all the B2C cloud offerings I would like to think they will start to think with a “cloud first, local backup built in” mentality or we could all end up with incredibly smart homes… As long as the internet works :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

There may even be an even easier way to implement this that would work with all locally running apps. You can build a SL rule that only fires when in a certain mode. If we could have a default mode for ‘offline’ then this could be a universal hook for these kinds of scenarios that uses an already established concept of "mode’.

Just build a set of SL rules that only work when mode is offline with what ever conditions and triggers required… and the required change here would be to switch mode to offline when connectivity is lost. When connectivity is restored and we are notified in the app, return back to the previous mode.

Edit / solution available today: given you can switch modes via a routine I think i will be building a break glass style device to toggle between offline / online modes that runs locally and sits hopefully unused in a cupboard 99.9% of the time. Once triggered, switch into a custom mode called offline (set up in ide) that then allows a set of SL rules to run. Once back online, reverse back into normal mode and default to Core / Webcore type rules. Be nice if the offline mode could be triggered automatically but as it can’t. I’ll go this route… Oh and by using a physical device that can run locally to execute the routine change you also negate any issues where you might still be online but you can’t reach the ST hub via the app (faulty router etc) :slight_smile:

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Unless something has changed recently, routines do not run locally. :disappointed_relieved:

The only things that run locally are the official smartlighting feature (and then only if all of the devices referenced use device type handlers which are eligible to run locally) and some parts of smart home monitor.

And you can’t change the mode locally – – that’s handled in the cloud.

So nothing that is based on either modes changing or on routines can handle your internet outage situation. :disappointed_relieved: SmartThings is primarily a cloud-based system.

There are a number of home automation systems which do have much more local processing or even run primarily locally (except for voice controls and IFTTT integration if available): HomeKit, Insteon, Vera, homeseer, indigo, etc. Even Philips Hue and Logitech Harmony run primarily locally.

But it’s just not true that SmartThings “has all the component parts” for similar operation: since its architecture places all the custom logic in the cloud, it’s not available without a cloud connection. But the company did address it at the same time that they addressed the battery back up for the hardware: by making the official smartlighting feature available to run locally. It doesn’t do a lot, but it will do lights and motion sensors if you’ve chosen the correct devices.

Choosing an Emergency Plan

If your main concern is motion sensor lighting, there are several ways to give yourself a backup system that will work even when SmartThings fails.

  1. use Z wave direct association Between Z wave motion sensors and contact sensors and zwave switches and light bulbs. You need the smartthings hub operating to set this up, but once it’s set up it will work even if the cloud is not available. think of this as emergency lighting, so you might do only A few lights, but it will keep your stairwell lit as long as your power is on. The con for this is that it only works with Z wave and there’s no logic rules on it at all – – every time that sensor is triggered that light comes on, even if it’s the middle of the day. This is what people used to do, but there are better choices now.

  2. set up locally eligible smartlighting rules for your emergency situations. This allows you to mix some protocols, such as a zigbee sensor and a Z wave light switch and give you some logic filters. It’s nowhere near as sophisticated as webcore, but if you just want to sure that a light will come on at the top and bottom of the stairs, it can work quite well. You can also set up a minimote to leave on the nightstand instead of using sensors.

The main con is just that the rules engine isn’t as powerful as webcore. And it won’t run as many different devices. And it may take some planning to get rules that are still valid for non-emergency situation. But it’s a valuable tool for emergency planning, and it’s the one that is officially provided.

  1. Use HomeKit with Phillips hue lights and motion sensors working through the Hue bridge as your emergency system. HomeKit runs locally and while there isn’t a single overall mode, you can enable each individual automation pretty quickly. This is what we use at our house. (We also use Lutron Caseta light switches, but we are in the US. In the U.K., the 2nd generation LightwaveRF Wall switches work with HomeKit, but unfortunately don’t as yet work with SmartThings.)

The rules engine isn’t as powerful as web core, but it’s reliable and everything runs locally except voice processing, which will run over cellular.

Also unlike the first two options, you have the ability locally to enable/disable the individual HomeKit automations so you don’t have to worry about rule overlap during non-emergency situations. The Con is whether you have to buy additional devices to make this work. you might end up with duplicated motion sensors in some rooms, for example.

Because I myself am quadriparetic, my backup system needs to include voice control. If the Internet is still available, it’s just the SmartThings cloud that is glitchy, then I can still use echo with both Lutron Caseta and the Phillips hue bridge. If the Internet is out, I can use Siri on my Apple Watch with the same devices. But not everyone has a voice control requirement for their emergency plan.

The community – created wiki has a list of devices that work with both SmartThings and HomeKit. There aren’t a lot, but there are some.


So to summarize:

You won’t be able to do anything based on changing modes or routines: when you lose access to the SmartThings cloud, you lose those as well.

Most people will be able to set up emergency lighting with locally-eligible motion sensors and zwave switches using the official SmartLighting feature. It won’t have all the bells and whistles that WebCore provides, but it should keep you from having to navigate a dark stairwell. So with the right planning, this should be the “good enough” emergency solution for many people.

For others, particularly those who want to include voice control via cellular in their emergency plan, HomeKit with the Phillips hue bridge is worth considering, particularly if you already have some iOS devices. And any other devices that work with both SmartThings and HomeKit. Again, the logic will be much simpler than with webcore, but it’s a level higher than the local operation of SmartLighting as it can include Geofencing triggers. And it is pretty simple to enable/disable individual rules locally when you are shifting over to your emergency operations.

If you have frequent Internet outages, or you place a very high priority on your home automation working when the Internet isn’t available, then you may just need to consider a different system with more robust local operation.