Hub Connection Issues (Resolved)


#1

So, I dove into home automation and Smart Things a few weeks ago. I have a v2 hub, a Hue hub (v2), and a dozen or so z-wave devices (mostly GE dimmer switches). I’ve found some great tips on this forum (the tips about excluding switches to help get them paired were very helpful).

When my hub is connected, everything works perfectly. We can shout things at Alexa and the house responds. Lights, thermostats, TV remotes…everything responds and seems like something out of a sci-fi movie where a computer responds to your every whim.

But right now, I’m finding myself a bit frustrated with Smart Things.

For the third time in the last week, my hub is reporting as offline. Each time, it is exactly the same. My internet is fine (every other device in the house connects just fine). My hub has a green light. My app (and the developer portal page) show my hub as offline.

I’ve contacted Smart Things support. The first time, they got my hub online, but it went offline again a couple hours later. The next time, they mentioned something related to the ‘connecting to multiple servers’ issue I’ve seen brought up here, they pushed an update, and the hub started working.

However, this latest outage is going on several hours, and whatever they are trying isn’t working. My hub shows connected (green light), but they can’t send anything to the hub. If it isn’t actually connected, why is the hub showing that it is connected? (Seems like a design flaw). And why is there no way to connect locally to get any status/log/error info?

My wife has been surprisingly supportive of all this, but I think if the ‘fancy stuff’ (voice commands through Alexa, remotes, presence detection, etc) don’t start working again soon, she’s going to change her mind.

Is going offline multiple times per week normal? Are there specific things on my network that might be causing this?

I can’t believe that these kinds of problems are common, or Smart Things would have a very bad rep. (They seem to get great reviews, so these sorts of problems must be isolated to an unlucky few.)

I guess I don’t really have a question (aside from ‘what can I try?’)…just needed to vent to in a forum where I expect at least a few people share my pain.

I really hope this is something specific that can be sorted out, otherwise I’ve spent $$$ for nothing.


(Chuck T) #2

Hey @wes21 sorry for the crumby situation. You’re absolutely right that this is a specific and rare occurrence, and it doesn’t have anything to do with your local setup or network. Our team is working on the root of the issue, but in the mean time we should be able to get your Hub back online (and stay online).

You said you contacted the Support team which is the right thing to do, but if you are still offline, please DM me and I’ll see to it ASAP.


#3

The Smartthings hub going offline frequently is not common. Mine has only lost connection when following an update briefly, no power, or no internet.

You can use Alexa to directly control your lights and some other things without using Smartthings at all. Alexa is directly compatible with smart lights, Nest thermostat and other smart devices. Smartthings hub is a platform that allows Alexa to do more than what Alexa could in it’s own, like running routines.


#4

Thanks @Chuck_ST. Smart Things support did get me back online a little after I posted. (And for the record, support has been great). Glad to hear it isn’t common, and that it isn’t related to my specific setup. I’m happy to work with anyone to figure out what is going on. We’re not relying on this stuff yet, so if I need to install some update that might break stuff, just to test a fix, that’s OK.

@tpip, I’ve got Alexa set up to directly talk to my TV (Harmony remote), thermostat (Nest), and a couple of the lights (Hue), but most of my stuff is z-wave, which I don’t think Alexa supports without a hub in-between (I could be wrong). I went that route because I wanted the physical wall switches to work normally. If I went with smart light bulbs (instead of switches), they might work directly with Alexa, but flipping a switch would render all this advanced technology useless :slight_smile:

Despite my frustrated post about the outages, everything has worked flawlessly most of the time. I’ve gotten great satisfaction looking at the logs to find that when I’m not home my wife is asking Alexa to turn various things on and off, and Smart Things has handled it all. If I can just keep the hub from going offline, this would be one of the smoothest tech rollouts I’ve done in the house.


(Chuck T) #5

@wes21 Glad to hear it’s working for you (I had full confidence in the Support team, they’re the best). Let me and/or them know if it drops again.


#6

Good that it’s back online.

Here is a couple of lists of stuff that works with Alexa. Amazon is frequently adding more compatible stuff.


#7

Well, it was a nice 3-4 days, but I’m offline again. I’ve reached out to support - waiting to hear back.

This time I noticed that the hub started having problems after my internet went offline for a few minutes last night. When my net came back up, everything else automatically reconnected. The Smart Things hub, however, went into this state of showing a green light, but not actually being connected. I’ve now been offline for about a day. (I wasn’t able to email support until tonight - because, you know, life…)

I hate to say this, but I’m starting to research other options for a hub. I need something that can stay online, and can reliably reconnect after an internet connection drops (I think that should be pretty basic functionality for an internet connected device).

I really like the Smart Things hub for its compatibility, ease of use, and extensibility (smart apps, custom code, etc.), but if it can’t stay online…


#8

Another update (just in case one day someone has a similar problem…)

Support got me back online yesterday. The explanation was that the hub was trying to find the location and wasn’t able to, so they pointed it in the right direction.

Today I went back offline. Again, it appeared to happen after my internet went down and came back up. (It seems my net connection is having some issues…I’m working on that.). In the last 2 weeks, my hub has gone into this state (green light, but not actually working) 5 times. On at least 2 of those occasions, I know that it immediately followed my net connection going down and coming back up.

Worth noting - my net has gone down and come back up on other occasions, and the hub has recovered just fine. So there must be some detail I haven’t figured out yet. Earlier today, for example, my net went down, got the hub offline notification, then a few minutes later net came up and I got the hub ‘active’ notification. That seemed to work fine. A few hours later, it happened again, and that time the hub failed to come back online.

Obviously, my net connection seems to be an issue. However, everything else is able to successfully reconnect when there is a short loss of connectivity. If this were just an issue of the hub not re-initializing properly, a reboot of the hub on my end should fix it. However, each time it requires Smart Things support to do something on their end.

The hardware involved:
Arris SB6183 modem
Netgear R7000 router
v2 Smart Things hub

When things go offline, it is the Arris modem that fails. It reboots when it hits certain signal errors, resulting in a loss of connectivity. The Netgear router loses its ability to connect to the net, but is still ‘live’. When the modem comes back up, most things just start working again. So, unless I was actively using the internet, I wouldn’t even notice the net was down for a couple minutes.

I’ll get my net issues sorted out soon (working on troubleshooting that now). When that is resolved, it might ‘fix’ the issue if net isn’t going down anymore, but I suspect the underlying issue (failing to properly reconnect) will remain.


#9

In case anyone having similar problems stumbles across this…

I have now been up and stable for over a week. Not a single moment of downtime with the hub.

The symptom was that the hub would show as being online (green light), but the app would report the hub was offline, and nothing worked. Turns out there were two things going on.

The hub appears to have a problem if the internet connection drops out. I think this only happens if your router stays up (hub has an IP), but the actual internet goes down. When this happens, the hub seems to get confused and will show as online when it isn’t working. When you’re in this state, the only way to fix it is to contact support and have them reset things on their end. I had them reset me probably a dozen times. They were great, and always got me back up quickly. They told me this is an issue they are trying to track down, so hopefully a firmware update at some point will fix it. So, the first problem is that the hub doesn’t recover properly when net drops out.

My second problem was that my internet was dropping out. Obviously. Prior to setting up all the home automation, I noticed that my internet would go down briefly once every couple of weeks. To try and improve this, I bought my own modem (top rated one I could find), and started installing home automation stuff. It turned out that the modem I bought was VERY susceptible to certain problems on the connection. When anything went wrong, the modem would reboot to try and fix it. When it reboots, net drops out, and the hub goes into a bad state.

After researching things, I determined that my net connection was having an occasional (once a day) bit of trouble with the upstream connection. The trouble isn’t enough to cause an issue (I can still get full upstream bandwidth), but it technically generates an error. I found another modem that people say handles this error more gracefully (it just retries instead of rebooting). This seems to have fixed everything.

Part of the confusion came from the fact that prior to setting up the Smart Things hub, I had nothing that was constantly relying on the net connection. If my net dropped out for a few minutes in the middle of the day, no problem…it was back up when I got home. But since the hub doesn’t recover properly, now I would come home to a non-functional house. Since I don’t actively monitor my internet, this appeared to just be instability/flakiness in the hub.

So…if you’re having an issue where the hub has a green light, but appears as offline…

  • Contact support. The only way to bring it back online is for them to reset things. They are nice, fast, and efficient.
  • Check the logs on your modem. Look for errors.
  • Resolve the issue with your connectivity by either replacing your modem (doesn’t ‘fix’ the problem, but side-steps it), or contact your net provider and have them fix the problem in the line. (I didn’t do this because my provider tends to check basic stuff and say ‘everything is fine’.)

I got really close to unplugging the hub and giving up. Glad I didn’t. Hopefully this helps someone avoid similar frustrations.


#10

Hi wes21,

I am facing similar issues with hub disconnection, and also have similar setup as you mentioned with arris modem and netgear router.

What is the new modem brand/model that is working better for you?

Thanks!