How to deal with multiple vehicles, multiple people and multiple garage doors?

So I have a sort-of interesting problem that I’ve been chewing on for a while and wondering how other people are handling it…

Presence detection / reliability notwithstanding, under the assumption that SmartThings can be “trusted” to deal with opening / closing garage doors, this is my current situation:

There are two people, two cars and three garage doors.

If you simplify this, it’s fairly easy to use something like WebCore to say “if person x arrives, open garage door x” – of course this only works when you make the assumption that “person x” is always going to use “garage door x” but that’s not always the case. It doesn’t work well when someone takes a different car, or when both people take the same car, and the only solution that covers all cases is to open both car doors when either person arrives.

I thought about throwing in a presence sensor in each car, but I’m not entirely sure that the sensors would have the range to notify properly, or that they would do it with enough time for it to actually be useful. If I have to sit out there and wait for ST to decide that the sensor has arrived, I can easily just open the door myself.

I was thinking of maybe even putting another hub in the garage itself as a second location on the same account, pairing the presence sensors with that and throw them in the car. But then that would require some voodoo magic to say “open garage door x at location A when sensor x arrives at location B” – which sounds like a real pain.

I think the only reasonable solution would be to have something in each car to track the vehicle location, although some crazy ideas float around in my head about looking at the garage bay itself… maybe some strange laser / light beam circuit in the garage with a raspberry pi. That way if “car x” is gone and someone arrives (either person x, y or both) the assumption is that you need to open “garage door x”

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Have a look at this… you might get some ideas…

I use multiple presence to determine who took a shared car, including which cars were still on the drive and which driver was still at home

And maybe this might be useful…

If you think about it…

Wife goes out in a car on her own…
Wife not present… car1 not present…You and car2 still at home - Car returns… open door for car1

You go out in car on your own
You not present… car2 not present… Wife and car1 still at home - Car returns, open door for car 2

You both go out in car 1 - car 2 still at home… - Car returns, open door for car 1

I have also used this…

Although I’m working on something to do it all

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Also, for the senario when both cars are away and one returns, use a virtual switch for both you and wife to tell ST which door to open. If switch is on and I am x miles away, open this door… If that switch is on and wife is X miles away, then open that door instead.

My son had something similar for a while: an ST Arrival sensor in the car that would unlock the door when he arrived home. That worked OK for some time — although he quit using it, mostly on account of batteries not lasting.

Your idea of a sensor in each vehicle corresponding to the garage bay that car uses sounds plausible — assuming each vehicle always uses the same bay of the garage!

your son should do the battery upgrade.
Been working for me for a number of months and still showing 100% battery on each of the 3 cars

Here is another idea… will cost some more money though. You may have heard of Automatic, the little dongle that connects to your car. This thread is old but I think the app still works. Also, there is an IFTTT integration.

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Yeah, I mentioned that — but he hasn’t gotten around to it yet! :yum:

(He gave me a spare arrival sensor, however, so I could try it out, too😎)

Yeah the more I think about this, the more I think that tracking the car’s arrival is not really the way to go, because that introduces the range and connectivity problems. Tracking the car’s presence instead, and people’s arrival, should do the trick, provided nobody forgets their phone at home and there are no connectivity issues at the arrival boundary.

And I’m starting to lay down the framework for a similar presence “quorum” type of sensor, because I think we’re all tired of the quirkiness of the whole system, and whether it decides to be reliable today but act up tomorrow.

My strategy is to have the mobile device as one input, tasker / sharptools into a simulated sensor as another input, and a standard keyfob type arrival sensor, all reporting into the “reliable” virtual presence sensor. I’m thinking of adding different weights to the inputs, since I’ve had very few issues with Tasker reporting (so it would weight more) but the ST app – even on the same phone – tends to pretend that I’ve left and returned 18 times in the middle of the night (so it would weight less).

That could also be expanded to include something like a tablet, which would give even more credibility to the arrival / departure events, or can be used as a device tracker of sorts – like send a push notification to all devices if you leave with your phone but your tablet stays home (or vice versa).

I guess it’s just a matter of drawing the whole thing up and coming up with the logic.

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For my wife I use…
Her car (which I never drive)
Her Iphone
A SmartThings presence Sensor in her handbag (purse?)

If any one of these left - she left.
If any one arrived - she arrived

At the moment I am using ‘reliable presence’ and this seems to work quite well.
But… I’m just putting the finishing touches to my own app which will do this and a lot more…

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I’ll keep an eye on whatever you’re coming up with though mostly because I’m lazy… :slight_smile:

But I find that really “reliable” presence doesn’t necessarily mean listening to the last message, but to the one that carries most weight.

As of late – and this hasn’t always been the case – presence based on my Android phone location has been rock solid, even after switching to 3 different phones (Moto / Samsung / Pixel). But there were times when I removed the presence out any automations because they were completely unreliable.

I don’t mind bouncing around 200-300 feet inside my (rather large) geofence, but I remember nights when my phone would just leave and materialize far away, then return a couple of minutes later. Had I paid attention to the last message (phone just walked in so I just walked in, let’s execute some routine), it would have been an interesting conversation to have… :slight_smile:

I guess all of this can be wrapped around time constraints though, so that there are no blinky lights and doors opening at 2AM. :slight_smile:

One of the things my app will do is restrict by time… only allow depart/arrive responses between certain times.
It also has an optional on/off switch for each child app so you can also use that to restrict operation
I’m testing now so should be done soon…
(although it won’t do everything at the beginning as I have a few additions to put together)

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Well… you could see what you think about this…

Have a play and see what you think

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I’ll fiddle with it when I get a chance. We’ve had a fun couple of days following the nasty weather in the Northeast and the internet has been out since yesterday. Gotta love the ST “ecosystem” when the internet is unavailable. :slight_smile:

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Ugh… started to set this up with the ST presence sensors in the cars and at least one of them started leaving and arriving out of the blue. This car was in the garage since 3:32 and did not move, but apparently left and came back twice.

I see this is not going to work… at all.

As bad as the phone-based presence detection can be, it appears the dedicated sensors are much worse, so I can see why people were (are?) getting frustrated by these.

I can see the other car sensor checking in at 20-40 second intervals, while the other one supposedly “left” at 12:31AM and hasn’t checked back in since.

I had similar issues when first setting up the cars.
I did a couple of things so don’t know exactly which one worked the best.

1st I converted the sensors to use 2x AA batteries to get a solid consistant power supply (the original batteries seem to be easily affected by temperature.)

2nd I used a smartplug as a repeater in the garage to make sure I had a good, solid, zigbee mesh.

As I sometimes park on the road at the end of my drive I also put a zigbee smartplug repeater near a window upstairs at the front of the house.
My intention was to fit a waterproof box outside with the socket in to get maximum coverage but I havent found it necessary.

Not sure which one worked but I suspect it was the sockets increasing reliability of the mesh as I live in an area with lots of wifi

Since doing this my presence sensors have been rock solid and work perfectly.

Unfortunately my app (or any other app) relies on the ability of the phones/sensors to work reliably

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I’ll try doing a repair or something to see if that helps, but right now both cars sit in the garage, and there are two garage door openers and a bulb right at the doorway, and a repeater just a few feet beyond the doorway which I figure carry the signals into the garage pretty well.

Then again up until recently I had mysterious “device unavailable” problems with one of the garage door openers, which just fixed themselves out of the blue.

This is why I figured rolling out a WiFi solution of some sort would actually be better. There’s some kind of inherent wonkiness to the way SmartThings is handling this whole sensor business, and it’s definitely an issue for some of these scenarios.

Silly question…

The sensors are Zigbee not Z-Wave

Are you boosting z-wave with the socket and door openers?

I had to use smartthings sockets here in the UK as there was not another zigbee alternative

At the risk of drawing the attention of @JDRoberts and his thread about repeaters, the bulbs are Cree LED bulbs, but I also have some random Osram things to try to cover ZLL and ZHA.


Incidentally, the other car didn’t experience any issues. My drive drove it out this morning and it showed up as “departed” after being quiet through the night.

The Ford truck which was sitting in the garage the whole night hasn’t returned since 12:31AM, even though I drove miles away this morning and even moved the sensor from the glove box to the cupholder thinking that would help.

My fobs were always very reliable except for a once every few month storm in the middle of the night when the sensors would bounce like crazy. I always attributed it to upgrades.

Otherwise they were great, only issue is the batteries run down way too quick.