Hub reliability

After connecting a few simple devices to test and understand my new things I left my home armed for the first day. 3:30 I get a message saying my hub as gone offline. I check, internet connectivity to my home is fine. This is rather disconcerting first day, is this stuff reliable enough to be considered a security system?

This is much discussed in the forums, and different people will have different answers. The following thread might be of interest (this is a clickable link):

Risk & reliability are possible to be estimated via various calculations, but for Consumers it really comes down to emotional comfort level or gut feelings.

I am very conscious of the responsiveness and reliability of my lighting, for example, and the schedules, motion detectors and door sensors I used to automate them; but I have no sense of the reliability of damage, danger, safety, and security functionality.

Except when my old dog Buddy, rest his soul, started peeing in the house occasionally, my leak detectors were essentially invisible. Similarly, in most homes, smoke detectors are mostly only noticed when they issue a false alarm due to burning toast or a little too hot stir-fry.

So when it comes to the reliability and risk calculation for damage, safety and security, the objective calculation is: What are the odds that SmartThings has a failure at the exact same time period that one of the security situations occurs?

  • If SmartThings is 10% unreliable (i.e., say 90% uptime without outages of 1 hour), and at any average hour you have a 1% chance of a break-in, fire, or leak … then the risk of them happening at the same time is 10% x 1% = 0.1%. In other words … SmartThings would only miss 1 in 1000 incidents. The actual numbers are much likely smaller than this unless you live in a really bad neighborhood or have kids that play with matches or really faulty water based appliances! And SmartThings is, in reality, closer to 95% or even 98% reliable, despite the anecdotal evidence.

  • But another way to look at it, is, in the above example, SmartThings turns out to be 20% unreliable, then the risk of an outage concurrent with an incident has doubled. You are twice as likely to not be alerted of a fire or break-in or leak. That’s has an “emotional” impact.

  • Finally, there is likely some correlation that affects the probability calculations. Burglaries, fires, and even floods are more likely when there is a power outage. And, it so happens, SmartThings is still essentially non-functional without power (the batteries don’t help much if it can’t also connect to the internet to push a message to your phone with an alert…). So if the odds of a power outage are 1% at any time, it would not be unreasonable to assume that that SmartThings is definitely down (100%), and incidents are highly likely (say 50%), giving us: 1% x 100% * 50% = 0.5% … i.e., 5 times as likely to fail to alert you than if you had a security system which was immune to power failures.

  • Add in the fact that burglars, fires, and water leaks are actually likely to cause power outages (burglars cut power or internet lines, fire burns them, water short-circuits them …), and that 5 times more risk may even be 10 times more risk…

So those last two bullets illustrate while Security & Safety Alarm companies emphasize battery backup and cellular connectivity as features. While the probability numbers are just illustrations, the “relative risk” is real:

i.e., Even if under normal circumstances (working power and internet) SmartThings was 100% reliable, the safety level it provides is relatively much lower than a system with robust backup power, full local functionality, and constant fail-over cellular connectivity to a monitoring center which can call fire and police.

In the big picture, the hiccups we experience with SmartThings are much more of an inconvenience (frequently a major inconvenience) than a security issue, simply due to the fact that safety incidents are, realistically, much more rare than routine activities like lighting and door locking and heating / cooling.

Emotionally, though, the relative risk of security reliability issues has a greater impact since expensive losses, damage, or even lives are at stake; much worse than being in the dark for a few minutes or having to dig up the hidden spare front-door key or coming home to an over-heated house.

Everything is relative to your sense of risk tolerance and extenuating circumstances such as high-risk neighborhoods, or limited mobility and increased reliance on the system due to a disability as is particularly important to @JDRoberts, or elder care situations.

I have thought about this quite a bit as I try to find a way to transition away from adt or a paid service. we were broken into 3 years ago and we have a monitored adt system. they came right in, ignored the siren (because its really not loud enough to hear outside of the house), and were gone before the police came.

I now have smartthings sensors in addition to my adt sensors all over the house, and when smarthings works as it should, its great. but there are many times where it will do things that I don’t understand how they happened, or contacts will report incorrectly, or light routines will not go as scheduled.

luckily, I have enough motion sensors that even if the contacts report wrong, the motions will catch anything moving around in the house.

now they have this service that Samsung is selling to monitor smartthings. this is going to be a train wreck in my opinion. on my system, I bet I would get a call at least once a week if not more, so I can only imagine how many others are out there.

I have been pretty careful to use only tested and supported devices, but even still there are issues. but as @tgauchat said, the safety events are statistically very rare, so I move along.

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I use the alarm settings everyday. You will have to understand there will be down times but majority of the time it will be up and running and working great. Yesterday’s hub issue was kind of a major issue but something that does not happen all the time if at all (at least for me).

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Smart things will never ever be reliable enough for an alarm system as long as it’s based on wireless consumer parts and your consumer internet connection. I strongly suggest you do not rely on ST to be anything but a “we need to call the insurance guy when we get home” notification.

If you NEED 100% reliable and fast, stick with a wired alarm that is monitored via phone/cellular.