Home Automation - 3 - 4 Month Project [May - Aug] (Canada)

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #1

Hey Guys,

My name is Neal, fairly new to the forum and Smartthings. Been reading through the forums, especially about the stability issues and I have a few questions. I will outline my home project below and I would appreciate any and all feedback. BTW I am from Canada (Greater Toronto Area) so if any location based feedback is available that would also be appreciated.

What I want the system/hub to do

  1. Let me monitor the house when I am away, give me alerts if something unexpected happens. This is with a variety of motion sensors, door/window sensors and camera’s.
  2. Control various items such as the thermostat, lights and small appliances when I am away.
  3. Connect 2 Neato vacs for daily cleaning when I am away. The problem is I don’t want the SHM to send me intruder alerts when they are running around doing their jobs.
  4. Receive notifications if doors/windows are open if its raining, the thermostat is running or for similar reasons.
  5. Since I look after a few ecommerce sites I have a wall of monitors running with up to date google analytics, server statistics, current site activity and various other info. Planning on installing a motion sensor to activate the screens in the office when I am in the room and turning them off when I am not.
  6. Automate as much as possible through out the house. I have a lot of ideas currently but haven’t decided on how to proceed yet, will update once I do.


  • Doors: I have 5 doors leading out, plus 2 additional that are part of a solarium that’s attached to the house (its quite large). I want to be able to monitor the open/close status on each, especially the doors for the solarium and I am worried that since its technically not temperature controlled any sensor I fit on the door might malfunction in a matter of weeks. Any feed back would be appreciated.

  • Windows: I have about 40 windows that need to be covered in my entire home. Now this is where things start getting expensive since open/close sensors are upwards of $60 each in canada. I’ve been looking at possibly getting a few generic chinese zwave sensors as a sample to test, and if it looks like its holding up, purchase in bulk. I can do it through my employer (they’re on board for it, I checked) but do you think this is a good idea?

  • In House: I am looking at 10 motion sensors for the living, dining, family, kitchen, foyer, Basement room 1, Basement Recreation Room, Basement Common area, Basement Back hall (with a door going outside). This should cover the main floor and the basement quite well.

  • Camera: Between 5 - 10, and I’ve been thinking of using Blink using @RBoy device handler and smart app (btw thank you for the awesome work). This would also let me reduce the total number of motion sensors needed.

Now, is monitoring all of this through SmartThings going to be a headache? My main concern is I want to keep as much of everything in one system and not have multiple hubs/systems to go through. But from the recent forums posts system reliability seems to be a main concern.


  • Lights: Need to check if I can install smart switches, I only get the keys to the house in May. The house is a bit on the older side but I am hopeful. If not smart light bulbs would be the way to go. Recommendations on cheap and effective ones are appreciated.

  • Outlets: Both to act as repeaters and control lights/appliances in between.

  • Garage Door: Any solid suggestions for these. The one in the house is an older model (don’t know exactly which one yet) but suggestions are always welcome.

  • Door Bell Camera: Currently considering either ring, or a kuna.

  • Blinds & Shades: Now this is where it gets interesting. I will be installing a fairly new set of products that we are releasing next month, all I can say for now is no bridge is required to make it work. We are currently working on getting it to work with smart things. Look for updates in May. I might also add a few with the ZRTSII as well. (BTW: if anyone needs them I can get them to you for $85 USD or $95 CAD)

  • Thermostat: Fidure A1730

I might have missed a few obvious things that could also be done. If you guys notice anything feel free to comment away and I will look into it.

I will have videos of everything I do as well as document it everything. The reason being if someone want’s to do all of this it gives them somewhere to start and if you guys notice that something could be done better, you can actually tell me.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the long post!

(Marc) #2

I didn’t read thoroughly through your post, but the answer is Yes to this question. Currently, Smartthings is having continuous performance and stability issues which will make your experience inconsistent. I haven’t had a day without an issue in weeks.

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #3

Hmmm… that honestly, sucks. Could you please elaborate on a few issues you have been having? And how long has the issues been there? Thank you!

(Marc) #4

Sure. BTW, everything you want to do I am currently doing today. I have a ton of integration (Ring Doorbell is one that doesn’t natively integrate with ST, but you can use IFTTT as your bridge). Some examples of issues I have been having:

  1. Smart Home Monitor is very unstable. There are times where it won’t disarm or arm when supposed to. A ton of false positive alerts due to lack of delay thresholds and improper states. They claimed to have fixed this during the week, but many including myself are still having issues.

  2. Mobile presence is completely unreliable which is the heart of the system. Yesterday, my phone didn’t check in properly, and when my wife went out later, my alarm went off because it thought nobody was home. My wife’s mobile phone has been even worse, to the point I had to buy her a presence tag, which has been reliable, but even still once in awhile has issues. ST has known about the mobile presence issues since day 1 and still hasn’t committed to fixing it, although this week they mentioned they were “discussing it”. You will find some people have resorted to Life360, IFTTT or even WRT router scripts.

  3. Integration with Phillips Hue is buggy and doesn’t work correctly. Sometimes, lights will stay on or go off when they are not supposed to. I have resorted to using Yonomi to do some of my Hue automation except for one use case that depends on a zwave motion detector.

  4. Mobile app crashes, has errors often.

  5. Scheduling is unpredictable. Many routines, rules, etc. do not run when supposed to.

ST is the most flexible, open product out there, but it’s hampered by poor stability, so it’s a trade off.

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #5

The issues with SHM, Mobile Presence and Scheduling has me a bit worried. And like you said, the reason I opted for SmartThings was the open platform, but if stability is questioned frequently then it really becomes a question of whether it’s worth it.

(Bob) #6

Not everybody seems to get issues.
Me and my wife both have Galaxy S6’s that we use as presence sensors and NEVER have any issues.
I have 3 outlets (2 are WeMo and one a Popp zwave) and have no issues with my rules and routines turning them on and off.
I also have 3 WeMo bulbs which 99% of the time work flawlessly.
I have 3 ST motion sensors, 1 of which does go missing probably once a month.
I have 1 fibaro motion sensor which also works flawlessly.
I am using a V2 hub in the UK. Not sure if this why I am not having the issues that people your side of the pond are getting.
I do not use SHM.
Not sure if this helps but it does give you an idea that not everyone is seeing issues to the level that @Mbhforum is describing.
Have fun…

(Chris Fichter) #7

I’ve had my system for about 8 months. I have been extremely happy with it. I came from VeraLite. Yes I have had some minor issues. But nothing to catastrophic. Mainly just routines not firing occasionally. But now with the new scheduler everything is good. The majority of peoples systems are working quite well as of now. Yes there are some that are having minor issues and catastrophic issues. The Forum is not on meltdown like it was before.

The things you want to do are quite doable. There’s one thing I’ve learned about home automation. If there’s a will there’s a way. What you want to do seems fairly straightforward though.

I have some other comments that could help you too but I will get back to you later. I’ve got kids to haul around.

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #8

How many devices are you running on smartthings? It sounds like the issue is created when there is a large number of devices (I might be wrong).

(Bob) #9

I should have mentioned that my Fibaro Sensor is being used for Luminance and motion to turn on lights and also rules for my other lamps so that they only come on during certain Luminance levels and also certain times during the day/night. Once I got the Luminance levels right it works brilliantly. Turning my lights on during the day when there is a storm and the light level drops. I prefer these to the ST motion sensors

(Chris Fichter) #10

I have 43 devices not including virtual switches. Ranging from motion, key fobs, light switch modules, water sensors, Door and Window sensors, Outlets switches, ceiling fan controllers, a standard Z-Wave switch module for opening garage. I also use door and window sensors too notify me of such things as doorbell ringing. I run 9 routines, 7 Rule machines, various other apps, 7 different device types, and about 5 different community developed smart apps.

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #11

Thank you, it really puts things into perspective for me. Also I have a quick question regarding routines. Is it possible to have multiple auto conditions on a routine? What I mean by that is for example Routine A should automatically run when motion is detected and only during a certain time. I notice that I can actually select both under the automatically run routine section, just not sure if it uses a and logic or an or logic. If it uses and then it should work, if it uses or… well I need to figure something out since Rule Machine isn’t available anymore.

(Chris Fichter) #12

Typically routines are used to control modes. I use it for that and minor other things like when one of my girls leaves the house their bedroom light turns off. Kids! If you want to do simple things like just running lights on motion sensors. Just use Smart lighting app. It will run things locally for the most part. Smart lighting doesn’t have a lux/illumination sensing feature. So I use a different app for outside lights because I have a LuX sensor outside. So when I open an exterior door the outside lights will turn on but only at night

(Chris Fichter) #13

There are tons of apps that do different features. you just have to try them out and see what works for you

(Chris Fichter) #14

And I’m hoping rule machine will be back. If not I’m sure somebody will figure out something. Actually some people already are.

(Chris Fichter) #15

Oh and yes you can do multiple situations on a routine

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #16

Thank you for all the info!

(Chris Fichter) #17

No problem. Here’s some more would personally not integrate video into home automation abs at this time for numerous reasons. I would recommend CCTV for exterior and IP for interior. I know you don’t want multiple applications but at this point in home automation it’s the way to go. My opinion anyway.

the garage camera you see there is floating it’s not integrated into the system. The CCTV cameras record 24 hours a day onto a hard drive. Interior cameras don’t record anything but I don’t have a need for that. If I can see bad people coming in and leaving that’s good enough for the police.

(Neal (www.zebrablinds.com / www.zebrablinds.ca)) #18

Hmmm, for me in terms of video what I am looking for is something that I can check in on the house from (so live feed) and possibly store clips of videos when motion is detected and the system is armed (which is why I thought of Blink). I will definitely take your feedback into consideration when actually implementing this.

(Chris Fichter) #19

Blink does seem to be pretty cool. But I just don’t think it’s ready for prime time yet. Which may or may not come. I have a friend that may go with blink. But he’s not quite sure yet because he’s already has CCTV outside and IP inside. Side note I can record interior if I want to onto a SD card on the camera. I use tinycam an Android app for my interior cameras

(Ben W) #20

I am considering Bink too, but right now just use a Ring doorbell. Once I get ll the interior done up with automation I will swing back to cameras.

If you are replacing the garage door I would recommend Liftmasters with internet gateway, and use the MyQ integration found in the forums. I am happy with the integration and some of the Liftmasters have power bolt which really helps secure the garage.

I am 90+ devices in, have some hiccups, but its really about choosing the right devices. Avoid GE bulbs, use Wall switches when you can. I like wall switches cause if a rule fails, I can fallback to the old way of hitting a switch. HUe bulbs with the bridge work really well. I try to keep my rules simple, most are on Smart Lighting and run locally which I think really helps with timings. I try to keep my triggers to only 1 or 2 events. I want to avoid triggers like: If 1 person is home, Lux is less than 1000, there is motion in the kitchen, mode is Home and window shade is closed, then turn on the lights.