Is SmartThings just highly unreliable?

Thanks JD. Your posts throughout this community are some of the MOST helpful. I did cross the FAQ at work. To test the theory, I swapped my living room ‘Motion Sensor A’ with ‘Motion Sensor B’. The false alarms held location and appeared on B instead of A. So I have indirectly confirmed the cat :). She has a specific path she walks from the bedroom to the kitchen and back several times a day. This puts her in range of one and only one motion sensor. She is below the field of the remaining motion sensors. Funny actually - if you need to break into my house, just follow the cat!

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Oh, regarding the heat, there is no direct warm draft that directly hits the sensor. It is too far removed from any vents. Rather, I have 4 other sensors that are near and within the direct breeze of 12" square ceiling vents and they do not return the false positives.

Having said that, my motion sensor at the front door is tripped by changes in lighting, including turning my Christmas lights off at midnight. I am currently using the Ring Doorbell here and this problem is well documented.

I still haven’t pulled the trigger on a hub yet, but I keep waiting & then sale prices end… so I need make moves… reading this kinda worries me, but I see a lot of good follow up responses by the veteran users. Community almost makes up for quirks.

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“Reliability” means different things to different people. The level of hands on maintenance required for SmartThings, combined with the occasional outages, is still well within tolerance for many people. :sunglasses:

Just as one example, whenever smartthings does a maintenance update, which is generally every five or six weeks, They try to let us know a few days in advance. We don’t always get advance notice, but we usually do.

The advance notice is helpful, but individual users cannot refuse or delay the update. They will happen, and when they happen your hub will go off-line.

Sometimes it’s only off-line for a few minutes, sometimes it’s for several hours. After the hub comes back, Some people don’t have to do anything, but quite a few find they may have to reset some sensors or open the app to a specific rule and then save it again, or other small maintenance efforts.

Lots of people do all of this without even thinking about it. I can’t tell you the number of people who will say that they haven’t had any outages, when I know there have been two or three scheduled updates during the same time periods That they’re discussing. So they definitely did have outages, they were just probably just short and not particularly inconvenient.

There are also problems that will only affect a particular device and if you don’t have that device, you won’t notice. For example, right now there’s a problem with minimotes, which are one of the most popular handheld remotes used with smartthings.

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They stopped working with the official device type handler a few days ago. That’s a major inconvenience for some people, but not even noticed by others.

Because I’m quadriparetic, I have to pay someone else to do pretty much any maintenance on the system, including just opening the app and closing it again or popping the batteries on a sensor. I’m home almost all the time, and I use my home automation system a lot. So I’m likely to notice pretty much any outage, and even most of the minor glitches if I have the devices that are affected. I definitely notice the planned outages for maintenance because I only have one aide Who can do techie stuff, and he only comes on Tuesdays. So I dread it every time I get a notice about a planned outage that will fall on a Friday or even Monday. :wink:

My own definition

My own requirement for reliability for this kind of household system is simple. I want a maintenance free operating period (MFOP) of at least six months. And preferably 12. That’s the same thing I would expect for a dishwasher. I don’t expect anything to be perfect, and I don’t expect it to last forever, but I also don’t expect to be having outages or doing maintenance, however minor, every week.

I do get that MFOP from a number of home automation products, including the Phillips hue bridge, the Logitech Harmony hub, Amazon echo, and LuTRON Caseta.

But since November 2015, my MFOP for smartthings has never been more than 10 days. :disappointed_relieved:

Again, some of the glitches have been minor, and for someone without my physical challenges the fixes might’ve been super simple. But it’s a pretty high maintenance system and it’s definitely not “set and forget.”

There’s a reason the new ADT/smartthings security panel Uses an entirely different architecture, even a different radio frequency, for the part of the system that will actually notify the ADT monitoring center. And that issue is reliability.

Research

You can see what the outages and glitches have been in the past by looking at both the official status page and the “first bug reports” in the community – created wiki.

https://status.smartthings.com

Note that neither of those include the planned maintenance outages. And many issues never make it to the official status page. For example, the current issue with minimotes is not posted there, nor is an issue with Samsung televisions, even though engineering is working on both of those. Usually the only things that make it to the status page are architecture issues that will affect most customers and have a severe impact.

The first bug reports page is more complete as far as known problems:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Bug:_First_Reports

You can see the planned outages, as well as discussion about what happened when they were applied, in the announcements section of this forum.

There were 7 planned outages for 2017, but some of those ended up requiring two or three outages each As various problems were discovered and then fixes had to be sent out. So anyone who has the V2 hub had at least 9 outages last year, even if they don’t remember all of them or if some of them only lasted a few minutes.

And so far, every time there has been an update, some small but significant percentage of users have had some problems afterwards, which is just something you have to be prepared for in case you’re one of the unlucky ones.

https://community.smartthings.com/c/announcements/hub-firmware-release-notes

People with the older hub, the V1, didn’t have as many maintenance updates in 2017, but of course that model is no longer sold.

My advice

My usual suggestion to people considering the system is just to buy it from someplace with a 30 day return period, Immediately set up one simple use case in an area where you will notice problems but it won’t be critical if there are any, like an extra table lamp with a motion sensor near the front entry, And then see how it goes. And to be honest with yourself if the level of failure/maintenance required meets your own needs.

Oh, and if you intend to use a siren with your system, make sure you get a siren for your initial test as well unless you have little kids. Set it up exactly the way you intend to use it long term. But you will want to be aware of how many false alarms you get while you are still in the returns period.

The issues with smartthings are not subtle. Most people will be able to tell in a few weeks whether it is going to meet their own expectations for reliability. So it’s easy to judge for yourself. :sunglasses:

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Great response… fair assessment of the reality of it all. Right now with Amazon $155 for Hub, (1) Smart plug (2) door sensors (1) motion. That’s like $15 a sensor if you take the reg price $90 hub out of the total.

That’s a pretty low entry price to test things out on, especially door locking routines, which is currently on my radar for purchase, Lowe’s has a sale on those… they have great return policy, I’ll check to see what amazon return policies are… but that def makes sense.

Afterthought: Another reason for my delay in buying the Hub is trying to decide between ADT ST & replacing all my existing hardwired sensors (expensive way to jump into HA), or just keeping my current alarm system ($50 monthly), & getting a STv2 for automations, while having the option of ‘later on’ using Konnect w/ scout for a $30 monthly savings.

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ADT/SmartThings Offers fire monitoring for an extra fee in most areas, Scout doesn’t have it at all, so that’s just something to be aware of.

But if you go the Scout route you also have the issue that Your Internet has to be working in order for your security system to work. There’s no cellular communication option like the one that’s built into the ADT panel. And there’s literally no way to arm or disarm the original SmartThings system, even with scout, unless the smartthings cloud is available.

At this point all of the links on the smartthings website for security go to the ADT model line, it’s really the only one that’s suited for being a primary security system.

See the following discussion:

I am considering the Scout monitoring option for later in the year and I don’t think my old hardwired option is a good value anymore. Details as to why I want to switch would sidetrack this conversation. Nonetheless, I am looking at replacing my home phone (old LAN) with a 4G SIM card from AT&T as a nearly equal monthly value. Then replace the current local monitoring contract with Scout. I am waiting on the fire dispatch UL qualification.

The Scout Monitoring is equal to my current LAN phone contract price, but far less than the company will charge me if I upgrade to internet or wireless options through them.

The AT&T SIM card will cost $10 when added to my family plan and can be connected into my home network for when internet (Cox Broadband) is out - which is rare in itself. It uses a 4G SIM card internet router and then I use a DHCP server to only authorize this connection to my Samsung and other IoT automation devices.

My current LAN phones does not have any redundancy and goes out with the internet. If someone wanted to break-in and disable the alarm, cutting one wire that only hands 7-ft off the ground takes out both. The 4G SIM backup resolves this vulnerability. Scout and AT&T give me the option to introduce this option with no increase in monthly fees from my base line.

To test the Samsung ecosystem, I am using the Alarm feature of the hub now, even though it only sends messages. With exception to the one outage, so far I am satisfied. The trial run will run for several months before I make a final decisions.

Regarding sensor reliability, I plan to use the Konnected modules or other hardwired relay solution so I can use existing hardwired devices. I trust my iris sensors for operating lights, but not dispatching police.

Has scout announced this is happening? You could be waiting for a while…

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They have not provided a date but said this was their current pursuit. Because I already have an existing system that works, I am in no rush. This change would be strictly for convenance, not to save money.

Do you have an article for reference or a conversation where this is documented that this is “their current pursuit”? That would be helpful to have posted out here.

This doesn’t say anything about current pursuit:

Screenshot_20180107-124647

Well, right on the website you references, they have a very generic catch all statement regarding future services. So, I emailed Scout to ask them for more information. This was the emailed response:

"Thanks for your interest in Scout Alarm!

At this time we only offer police dispatch for burglary, but we are planning to expand our services to fire dispatch in the near future. We’re happy to reach out once we begin to offer fire dispatch. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and/or the Scout Alarm Blog for the latest announcements.

Please let me know if you have any further questions, and have a great day!"

  • Amanda, Scout Support.

Sorry, no real inside information.

Wait what uses a SIM card in a router? I’d like to keep my wired sensors also, while my internet never goes down (went thru 2 hurricanes, never lost internet), I’d still like to have a cell backup if I choose to go with Scout for self monitoring.

My router doesn’t have a spot to shove a SIM card in it, but I’d upgrade to that if need be. I can also add a “device aka SIM card” for $10 monthly using T-mobile.

Here is the 4G Modem:

This is not a router, just a modem. You will need a router that can manage two WANs and assign priority and authorization. Fir exampke, I would not want my computer streaming over 4G, but I want my IoT to still function.

Ok so I keep my existing modem, add this as a backup to iOT/ST hub… sweet. How does this modem know when my reg wired modem loses connection & take over? Or am I simply adding it full time to ST hub? I’m bit confused, but I like where this is going!

Still researching myself. The router makes the decision, not the router.

The router or modem, you wrote router twice lol

But keep me posted on your research , thx man

My understanding of how this works is that it plugs into your router and should the normal internet crash this automatically switches over to cellular. This is great, but there is a cost involved with cellular communications and you need to set up a cellular account with a carrier. For short outages, the data usage might not be much but for longer outages cellular can get expensive unless you have an unlimited plan with your carrier.
In my experience, power outages happen due to electrical outages. I haven’t researched too much but I wonder if this has battery back up and if so how long would it continue to work if the power went out. Of course, being plugged into a UPS would keep it going for a short period of time.

Brian

Sorry,

You will need a 4G modem to receive the SIM card and wireless data signal.

You will need a failover router so only your primary data (i.e. broadband) is used and then the 4G system is only used in the event of the primary data failing.

Some of the more expensive router will take the SIM card directly. These tend to be geared towards business and are overkill for our needs.

I did find this discussion here:

Sorry Im not more help right now, but Im still very early in my research.

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Many Asus routers can be set to failover to a 2nd wan, including a 4G modem connected to the router’s USB port.

https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1011719/

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Awesome find :+1:

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