How reliable is SmartThings?


(Jason) #1

I currently have a Vera 3 system and the unreliability and zero development has brought me to my wits end. I am considering the Revolv and SmartThings.

My main question is how reliable has your SmartThings been? There have been many, many times where I will activate a scene or device on my Vera and it just doesn’t work until I reset the unit. How often should I expect this on ST?


(Brian Steere) #2

I find that it is generally pretty reliable. It does completely rely on your internet connection, so if you have an reliable connection, SmartThings will be equally unreliable. Additionally, there have been a few platform issues in the past month or so, but those are usually resolved very quickly. Those both sound bad, but in my experience the system is easily reliable enough for home automation and convenience things. I probably wouldn’t use it as a serious home security system though.

Sometime in the beginning of 2015 the next version of the hub will be released. I expect that will improve the reliability rather dramatically as it will have more ability to function without the internet (internet will still be required, but not for everything all the time).

Specifically related to manually activating things, providing the internet is working I have never had things not turn on when I tell them to.


(Todd Wackford) #3

@stack,

I have been using SmartThings since March 2013 and have about 60 some-odd devices. You could say that I’m pretty experienced on the platform. Before I answer your main question I’ll address your issue with development on Vera.

The development of SmartThings has been phenomenal. Its hard to believe the progress that they’ve made in the approximate year and half that I’ve been using it. I use both Android and iOS devices. The developer community has grown very, very fast and the use cases/ideas from users have continually provided awesome inputs, driving the platform, apps and devices forward.

Now to your main question. I’ve found the platform very reliable. I use it daily and rely on it for security, convenience and just plain part of my life. There has been a few times where the operation has degraded or stopped, but it usually an issue that is from my internal network. When there has been platform issues, they have been short-lived. The SmartThings support team is awesome. They usually get back to you within a couple of hours, in person, not just a bot. In fact I’ve never seen a support group for a Software platform that is more responsive.

In closing, I will say this: The system is not perfect for every person. You have to realize that SmartThings, or Vera for that matter, is trying to glue together thousands of devices and present a sensible robust interface to every possible use case. A very daunting task. The reason that I picked SmartThings in the first place, is that I feel they have the best team, community and platform vision out there.

My suggestion is that you try SmartThings out. If you have Vera, you probably have a few devices so all it will cost you is the $$ for the hub. Post what devices you have and we’ll jump in and let you know specifics on each. This communnity is very active.

Good luck and hope to see you around here often.
@wackware


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #4

For me, it “seems” I see a glitch every week or so. I know I saw one last week, pretty sure I saw one the week before that, and the week before that. Unfortunately, the status page does not paint an accurate picture of how often SmartThings are not quite right.

The issues are pretty minor… usually a schedule doesn’t fire or is delayed; things are slow in responding; and very rarely things just don’t work. It is not as bad as my old power linc stuff was, where stuff would just come on and stay on for no reason, but I have seen enough issues since coming on board this June that I don’t run critical response stuff through SmartThings.

I have learned to contact support about any sustained, repeatable glitch I experience, and as others have said, they are usually very responsive.


(Natemare13) #5

I have had the system as one of the early kickstarter backers (Early bird FTW). At the time I received the first roll out of the hub & a few devices I was buying my very first house. So I literally built my house around smartthings and the issues it could solve for me vs costly “hardwire” or “rewire”-ing things. It has solved many issues for me and has provided a level of convenience I take for granted until I visit a friends house.

That said, I agree with @scottinpollock It seems every week since I recieved the system there is some sort of glitch or issue. Super early on I even had to have my HUB swapped out. The problem is the glitches come in a million varieties and manifestations. It’s rarely “the same thing” that I find myself fixing. One day it’s the thermostat that seemed to drop off the network, the next day one of my tried and true apps misfires in the middle of the night. Another day my alarm is set off at 4am because, turns out, a door sensor dropped off the network earlier that day, then at 4am “woke up” and realized it was “Open” thus the alarm app triggered. That was a fun night.

Net/net I have learned to use Smartthings for non vital actions. The alarm to me is nonvital because I’ve learned Smartthings at this point cannot compare to the reliability of a stand alone alarm. That said, Smartthings does a lot of other non-vital things really well and the inconvenience of some of those things being finicky or breaking does not outweigh the amount of uptime the system as a whole has and the convenience that uptime brings to my life.

I hope that helps.


(Michel Labelle) #6

Jason, I have both the Vera stack and the SmartThings hub (early adopter). I also support a smart-home setup for a friend.

Flat out - they are all about the same. Each has it’s quirks, each has its strengths and each is a piece of technology so it will be flaky at some point no matter what.

For SmartThings the big plus is ZigBee. For whatever reason this is where the market is headed. Using some of these sensors is so much easier than z-wave, and overall the IFTTT integration allows the platform to be truly an internet-of-things delivery vehicle. But Zigbee tends to be battery heavy for whatever reason so I find them flakier than their z-wave equivalent. The iPhone app is getting stronger daily and the android app is relatively stable. I especially recommend the presence feature offered here. The 3rd party development (i.e. users) is getting stronger daily as they get more info and features enabled.

The big minuses, is that the platform is VERY new, doesn’t support offline support of triggers (a big issue when I lost internet for 3 weeks due to an ISP problem) etc. Cameras are still flaky, and local IP integration is problematic, but definitely getting stronger.

For the Vera, I’d say mostly the 180. Extremely strong with z-wave and local IP. Cameras, alarm system integration, Sonos, AV system automation etc work very well. Strong 3rd party development community, but many are losing patience with the slow development cycle though UI7 sounds like it’s gotten everyone active again. HUGH threads over on the community site right now as everything is being re-written.

And the clear winner from my side is the standard Z-wave light switch that works regardless of the system being up-down or even removed (as I found out supporting the SmartHome system!). You get the advantage of PHYSICAL connections so your better half is never left stranded.

What the Vera stack truly lacks is the IFTTT/Internet-of-things and Zigbee support. So my recommendation is considering the investment you have - DO BOTH! Heck for those who only have ST, I’d recommend a Vera Lite or Vera 3 and spending the extra money on physical z-wave switches where possible.

I’ve managed to replicate or duplicate the functionality on both systems giving me the advantage of both. I can use the ST iPhone presence and interface for quick views and access to status of what is going on in the home. Much better than the Vera mobile interface.

At the same time, I leave the home automation aspect to the Vera as it is reliable and I know it works even when the internet is down, or I accidentally close the app on my phone.

I’d also recommend adding one more layer, a QNAP for cameras. That allows me to manage my cameras through a fully functional PVR interface with proper motion capture logic etc. Linking your home security system into the VERA and the QNAP gives you piece of mind that everything will work, no matter what happens.

On the Vera side, give them a call and have them do a wipe/reset of your controller. That fixes 99% of the issues and if it doesn’t work they will usually swap the controller. Ditto from the ST side from what I’ve heard.

Best of luck.


(Jason) #7

Wow! I am definitely impressed by the active community. Not only did I get 5 responses, but I got in-depth, detailed responses. For that, I am truly grateful, thank you everyone.

Unfortunately, it sounds like every system has its’ flaws right now and there is no magical, perfect system. The only system I haven’t looked much into is homeseer because of the price and 90s user interface.

I’ve decided to at least give ST a try, at $89 it can’t hurt.


(Chrisb) #8

I think this is the important part to understand. Like @wackware said… it’s a complex system tying together many different devices made my different manufacturers.

The more complexity you introduce into a system, the more chance there is that something goes wrong occasionally.


(Mike Maxwell) #9

Homeseers latest software runs as a console application, not a service as the previous version did. That’s all I needed to look elsewhere…


(Chrisb) #10

For those of us who fake at being knowledge, can you break down the difference between those those things and why this is a deal breaker for you?


(Ron S) #11

If you compare it to Wink, ST is a hub worth tons in gold. A little bit of exaggerated statement, maybe! :slight_smile: That wink thing is a piece of crap for newbies like me which doesn’t even connect to my perfectly working AirPort Extreme. It’s not even worth the 99 cents! I was completely new to home automation when I went with ST and all my 25-30 devices work fine with it and the setup for me was a breeze. Try this Wink thing and and you will never wink again. Just curious how did any newbie in this community like me ever set it up? It’s going back to HD with its nuts and bolts and loose screw!


(Ron S) #12

Update: woke up this morning and see that the "wink"
is connected by some miracle and I am scratching my head as to what happened. It is Halloween time, you know… Well, let me see how long the connection sticks.


(Ron S) #13

Wink, the brick is back to where it belongs…, the local brick store!


(Heather A) #14

You seem to have had the same issues with Wink I was/am having. According to Wink their servers were overwhelmed following the GE Link promotion and they had some service outages. However, those are supposed to be fixed yet my server hasn’t been reliable for at least 4-5 days. It’s so frustrating. I can’t take my hub back as I’ve had it since July, but I’m definitely exploring other hub options… though they all seem to have their issues.


(Ron S) #15

I am a newbie compared to all the experts in this community but wise enough to know that ST is far superior to the brick and I am sure that the experts will agree to this. This “community” which also includes ST guys like @ben makes me feel we will all make it together and I believe. I am in IT and design systems for banking and investment firms and know that no platform will ever be perfect but at times you go with a gut feeling. Do I think ST will be perfect? No. But do I think that they try and are much better than others? Yes.

And above all this community is unmatched.


(Jason) #16

Well I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised by SmartThings so far. It’s been a heck of a lot more reliable than Vera for me. There are certainly some features missing that need to be added, but I was happy to find a lot of stuff that I didn’t think it would be able to do. Very happy with the switch and love the community here.