How I got ST working reliably for me

I’ve been reading these forums with people having issues with SmartThings for various instabilities, reliability and issues with devices not behaving as programmed to do and I too have suffered some of these very issues over the last 18 months of being a ST customer.

Only recently have I managed to customise my settings and devices so that I can say with my own certainly that for the last 6 weeks, ST has been rock solid and I attribute that from my experience to simplicity, flexibility and compatibility.

I have over 50 devices in my house ranging from ST devices like their motion sensors, moisture sensors, multi sensors to HUE Lights and keyless dock locks.

I like most people I presume, set up ST to include all my rooms and devices and routines. With routines, I set up like others to have it change to various modes during the day like morning//evening/night etc at various times and those modes would determine whether lights would come on or off etc…

What seems to be a common issue for a long time now for others and affected me was that for one reason or another “Routines would fail to change” and therefore you could be stuck in morning mode when it was 7pm at night for example and the lights wouldn’t come on. This wouldn’t happen all the time of course but it would happen on average 1-2 times per week for me and so you can imagine the issues this causes with my family and security of the house when this HA tech is causing me embarrassment let alone frustration.

At one point ST support said (and advised in these forums) that to fix the routines not changing, you just had to amend your time settings for whenever they were due to change by a minute or so and that would freshen up your settings and get the routines changing again. This did work for a few days or a week but then you were back to the odd failing routine and I grew frustrated again!

The solution I have found is to not have your routines change by time of the day but by motion detect. Where as before I would set my morning routine to go into “Good Morning” mode at 6am and then switch to “Mid Morning” mode at 9am, now I say switch to Good Morning mode if motion is detected upstairs (when I get up) anytime between the hours of 6am and 8.59am. I applied these ‘flexi’ variables to each routine throughout the rest of the day and IT HAS NOT FAILED ONCE to change routine! Also I get the added bonus of it being flexible. So say for example at the weekend I don’t get up until 8.30-8.45am, then it won’t go into Good Morning mode until I get up and it detects motion - therefore until I get up, it will still be in Night mode or lockdown mode which is obviously better for security…

On the hardware side of things, I found compatibility to be the key. For example - I had a lot of Wemo switches integrated into my ST for months and they were forever failing and I have had issues with other non ST devices that can be linked to work in Labs mode etc.

I also upgraded to hub v2 from v1 during the last couple of months as well although I haven’t noticed any advantages/disadvantages of note in doing so.

Not too long ago, I noticed that ST updated the compatibility list of hardware devices and makers on their website so I took close attention to the list and made sure future devices I added were on this list -

Anyway, I know that this won’t apply to everyone’s issues with ST and a lot of people have a lot more devices than I have but I just felt I needed to put this out there just in case any of you found some sort of solution or help in my experience. For the others, I hope the support team come back to you soon!


I’m glad you found something that works for you. I hope it continues.

I’ll admit it still feels to me like somebody who wants to sell you a used car and says it works great as long as you don’t make any left turns. And, yes, most of the time you can make three right turns instead. But being able to set up a time-based schedule is a basic home automation function. Not everyone will need that, so if avoiding those works well for you that’s great. Different things work for different people. But I still think it should be something that works in any system that is sold for home automation or home security, whether the person uses it or not. And if that doesn’t work, I have to be concerned about what else might not work.

It was just two weeks ago that automations based on my SmartThings brand motion sensors stopped working correctly for two days. Nothing to do with timebased schedules.

So absolutely, if you can find a combination of rules and devices that is working well for you, more power to you. :sunglasses: But I’m not sure you can count on it continuing.

Submitted with respect.


Yes I completely agree that it should work and that users like me shouldn’t have to try different things to get it to work but as you are no doubt aware, support from ST is nigh on non-existent at the moment so that’s why we are all using these forums to try and help each other out.

Maybe you are right and maybe it will stop working for me soon but as I stated in my post- it’s been rock solid for 6 weeks now and counting and therefore offers me and perhaps others a little hope and relief to the frustrations we have had.

My post talks about failing routines and I suggested a possible fix which is evidently not what your issue is. Perhaps you should post your gripe elsewhere in this forum rather than deprecate my suggestion.

With respect.

Whoah! @JDRoberts is one of the most active, most helpful and respected member of this forum. I don’t think he was trying to crush your point but to add a different perspective. If you could take some time to read other posts on the forum, you’ll probably understand better his point of view.


These posts come along almost weekly.

"Hey Guys, new to smart things. But guesssss what… ermahgerd… THIS GUY figured out how to operate ST, where all you veterans have failed… check out my magical formula for success… it is as follows… now follow me to enlightenment and your st can be as good as mine… "

Look, I appreciate the enthusiasm, and as much as I too want to discover the secret formula, it hasn’t happened yet. And JD is a great contributor, as level headed as they come. When he says with respect, he means it. There is not even a hint of sarcasm there. So cool the jets. Please.


I already said in my original post that I wasn’t new to ST…

And…I did make it clear that it was “working for me” and may not for others…

I honestly didn’t expect that kind of reaction :flushed:

If JDRoberts is one of the most active, helpful etc, then I am surprised he dismissed my point - he came across as weary and a cynical - maybe ST had made him that way - maybe not.

I won’t try and help others by posting on here anymore because if that’s the reaction you get to perhaps offering a little light on ST - then I’ll keep it to myself.

I hope you all truly get some stability and find solutions to your issues soon - I really do.

Don’t kid yourself. You know that’s not the issue. Where you took the wrong turn is taking that tact with JD.

Maybe not new to ST, but you are new to the community as far as I can tell. JD is a veteran contributor here and is one of the most helpful members.

Being tactful in your interactions with other members is key to a successful experience in the forum. You will find that everyone I’d here to learn and to help. @JDRoberts is a highly respected manner if this forum. While you may have taken his response as dismissive, be assured it was not. It was not so much a reminder to you, as you had already started this works for your system, but a reminder to other members that will read this thread.

Now, on to the reason for your posts…

I’ve run across things that have helped me make a fairly stable system, and I’ve seen trends from others about what to try and what not to try. Some things work and some things don’t. But the going consensus is what works today will probably not work tomorrow.

You were talking about routines and mode changes. From the very beginning I had nothing but problems with routines and modes. I very quickly stopped using them completely. I just programmed around them using rule machine.

Recently I decided to give the routines and modes another shot. Total failure occurred within a day. So, I eliminated the routines again.

What I did instead was use rule machine to change my modes. I created five modes and made a rule for each one based off of time initiated changes. That’s been going for five days and I have not had a single failure.

Each day I have been adding a little more complexity to each mode change. At first the rule was inky to change a mode. Then I added lights, then dimmers, then motion, and finally thermostats.

So far, it’s running strong.

This had led me to believe that MY problem lies in the routines.

Any time a routine is added, there is nothing but failure.

Now, as @bravenel starred inI post a few days ago, a routine is nothing more than a group of actions performing. So, a complex rule in rule machine is a self programmed routine. Who needs routines? Not me!

Starting on 1 Feb I will be maintaining a detailed log if all changes to the system, to include programming, hardware, failures, and errors. I plan to do this for one month and analyze the data to improve my system. I will start a thread on this and keep it up to date.

I will say this, your original post gave me some ideas. Using modes I plan to implement an upstairs/downstairs mode for each current mode.

This will add a lot of complexity to the system, but it will tell me if ST is going to be robust enough for my wants and needs.

FYI, I am currently running with 74 installed devices and will have over 100 within a week.

“Weary,” sure–I’m quadriparetic, use a wheelchair with limited hand function, and I am tired a lot of the time. It’s the main reason that I use home automation. Even turning on a light switch is a lot of work for me. So I appreciate anything that makes it easier.

As far as “cynical” and “dismissive” that was not my intention, and if you felt bad after reading my post, I’m sorry. I did intend it as a conversation specific to what you were writing. And I was very glad to hear that things are working better for you. And I do honestly feel that different people have different use cases, and so one system may work perfectly for one household and not at all for another. That’s all normal in home Automation.

I was trying to specifically respond to two parts. First this:

In my opinion, and it’s just my opinion, I know other people may feel differently, that’s a workaround, not a solution. If a customer has to avoid basic advertised features of a product, it may still have value for a particular household, but the underlying deficiency is still there. So that was the left turn analogy.

I am still very hopeful that SmartThings will solve the reliability issues, for time schedules as well as everything else. When it works, it is my favorite home automation system. But right now, the reliability just isn’t there. I will be looking at candidates for my phase two home automation in May, so I do follow closely all the suggestions people come up with. And I would really like to see A universal fix some day. I know your posting didn’t promise one, so maybe I was just being over optimistic based on the topic title. If so, my bad, and I apologize.

The other specific point I did want to make, as well, is that motion sensor-based events do fail as well from time to time. Even with the SmartThings-branded motion sensors. Just two weeks ago multiple people were reporting in the forums that they were having motion sensor failures. So while I have no doubt that timebased triggers fail more often, I’m pretty sure you’ll find that motion based sensors also fail occasionally. If that turns out not to be true at your house, I am sincerely happy for you. In fact nothing would make me happier than if nothing ever fails again for anyone. :sunglasses: We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’m sorry again if my post came off with the wrong tone. My background is engineering. I am used to a give-and-take discussion using hypothetical alternative use cases for any suggested protocol. It wasn’t intended to end a conversation, but rather start one. Clearly I failed in that, which I’m sure is my fault.


Could anybody shed some light on “Rule Machine”? I currently have the Smart Rules app and it’s fine. What is Rule Machine and is it worth switching/upgrading? Thanks a lot!

This is Rule Machine! The saving grace of ST, provided by a non paid forum member.

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Thanks. Sounds promising. I’m digging in now.

Rule Machine is a smartapp created by a community member that is a very advanced rules engine for SmartThings. Very popular because it allows for multiple conditions. So serves the same basic purpose as smart rules and simple rule builder, but is installed through the IDE, does not use an externally-hosted database, and allows for complex Setups.

Its main limitations are those of the official SmartThings mobile app itself: it is a non-graphical interface, and you have to be comfortable with Boolean logic in order to set up a rule correctly using text descriptions.

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Not quite true. The vast majority of Rules have very simple logic, such as “Front Door Open” AND “Time between sunset and 11 PM” . And, text descriptions play no part in setting up a rule. A rule is constructed by selecting the Conditions that one has already setup up (e.g. “Front Door Open”), and by selecting the two logical operators AND or OR. It is also possible to construct complex rules with parenthesized sub-rules, but this is an advanced feature that most users don’t need.

Below you can see the Conditions selected, and on the right the Rule defined. Below is the main page of the Rule once it’s setup to send a push and speak a message. Note that the [FALSE] shown in the display reflects the current state of those Conditions and Rule truth.

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This is very true for those attempting to get accustomed to Rule Machine on Android phones. The current state of the ST mobile app makes it very difficult to follow the thoughtful workflow that Bruce @bravenel generously set up for all of us. For those getting their feet wet, keep in mind that is not the design of Rule Machine that is confusing, but the inability of ST to maintain an environment that allows great apps to shine!

A polite way for saying that there is a nasty UI bug in the Android mobile app that prevents Rule Machine from properly displaying what you have selected. Instead, after you hit Done on a selection, it looks as if you haven’t selected anything at all. Actually, the selection was made, just not displayed. If you go back into the selection, and hit Done again, the display will catch up.

This problem is acutely bad in you are trying to setup a delay. After you put in the number of minutes, the options you should be presented are not presented until you hit Done, and then go back into the delay setup again.

This bug is known to ST; date for a fix is unknown.


This coupled with a recent ST development blunder that takes you to the top of the page, after having clicked done, makes it a very confusing and irritating experience especially when working with rules based on more than 3 or 4 conditions.