I've been away from SmartThings for a few years now, on Home Assistant... worth coming back?

Hi all,

As the title indicates – I’ve been on Home Assistant for some time and it works, albeit with some little challenges here and there. It works well, I enjoy the location services, etc. I pay the Nabu Casa cost monthly to engage with Alexa as well, which again – also works well.

However, it does tend to flake a little with devices. I have pretty simple devices set up, some ZigBee, and soon to be ZWave (Inovelli switches), and a few WiFi switches (Kasa).

My biggest issue right now has always been the same – local control and speed. I left SmartThings when the server went down one too many times, and while some of the features of having an online connection are great – the reliability is important to me.

Appreciate folks thoughts, I know local control is coming/here(??) but am curious as to the state of it from a usable perspective.

Thanks!

Too soon to tell. The local part of the new platform, called SmartThings Edge, is still in developer beta. There are some community members working with it, but still a lot of glitches and still a lot of features not yet finished. It feels like a good direction, particularly when combined with some amount of support for Matter, but as always, QOS will depend on small details of what’s actually delivered.

See the announcements section of the forum for the official announcements,

and the following topics for discussion of Edge.

https://community.smartthings.com/tag/edge-device

As far as reliability, it’s about the same as it’s always been: not everything gets posted to the status page, but there is typically a platform level issue every two or three weeks. Each individual issue won’t affect every user every time, and some are worse than others, but it’s often enough that whenever there’s a problem, most people assume it is a platform issue. that may change with Edge or it may not, but as long as they can continue to force send hub updates without giving customers a means to defer or deny them, there are likely going to be some stability issues. :thinking:

https://status.smartthings.com/

As an example of something that doesn’t make it to the status page, something recently changed in how button capabilities are displayed in the app, with many people reporting that buttons now list eight or 10 or even 12 possible actions which don’t actually work and make the UI very cluttered and confusing. Nothing about that hit the status page, even though it’s a known issue.

https://community.smartthings.com/t/feedback-on-edge-drivers/235555/2

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What’s “Matter”?

Matter is a new industry standard for IP based devices which has active participation by most of the big IOT companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Philips Hue, Silicon Labs, as well as the Zigbee alliance. It’s a very interesting project with a lot of momentum. See the following discussion thread (The topic title is a clickable link)

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By the way, there’s a thread in the home assistant community on matter as well:

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Yep, it is confusing. But maybe it is sign of things to come. Now I have used routines to set actions for buttons, but it’d be nice to have something happened after sixth press of a button. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

My experience with Edge has been positive. I use simple automations and don’t have hundreds of devices. 95% them are using Edge. Fast, reliable, ans some of the drivers habe neat little features. @Mariano_Colmenarejo has made terrific job with his drivers!

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Long story short, NO.

Control from the app is terrible, the design is stuck at Samsung’s UI, the capability scheme is like trying to push a square shape object through a round hole and that describes the UI as well.
You cannot select what devices you are sharing with Google or Alexa, just all without selection. If you want a dashboard on a tablet or something, you are relying on other services and Internet connection.
Cloud to cloud integrations flaky all the time. And nobody takes responsibility for anything when they are not working.

And of course regarding privacy, all your data goes through Samsung’s server. Don’t be surprised when the SmartThings app showing you advertisements all over the place and trying to sell you a TV, Washer or just a headset.

Some services are working only with high end Samsung phones.

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I would recommend the “Universal Remote” app that is in SmartThings Labs, or using app widgets on an Android tablet. Both allow you to create a control dashboard user experience.

you are relying on … Internet connection.

I was referring to this when I mentioned the universal remote. ^^^ You don’t have to rely on other services to get a master dashboard of sorts.

As for the internet connection portion, a tablet of app widgets works well. Many apps run locally. For example, if you have your tablet on the same wifi network, some Samsung appliances, Philips Hue, and others run locally without internet. Those widgets can be placed on the tablet to make a custom dashboard experience of your own.

I agree on the Google/Alexa critique. I don’t use those integrations because they literally access everything without a way to limit them.

For that sort of control, all runs through the cloud. The SmartThings app cannot communicate with your Hub without any Internet connection, even if they are on the same network.

Hue runs without SmartThings by itself. And when you mention some Samsung appliances, I guess you mean the ACs. They used to be local controlled, ages ago, before everything got merged into the SmartThings app. I have serious doubts that they still do.

And just for reference, this is how a dashboard can be look like, not just buttons.

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Yes. When I refer to app widgets for various devices, I mean to use their dedicated apps. So Hue, Roomba, etc.

ST is even fine for this when devices need internet themselves. Examples would include things like a Roku, Sonos streaming, etc which are useless without internet anyway.

Sure, but HomeKit, for example, comes with an app that runs just fine without the internet as long as your phone/tablet is on the same WiFi net as your home automation devices. The only thing that doesn’t run locally is voice control.

image

Many people are surprised that Samsung doesn’t provide similar functionality for SmartThings, but it just doesn’t: the ST app requires an internet connection.

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For the low low price of “free”, I feel that ST is working very well. We’re using it as a primary controller and dashboard in the main house. Haven’t experienced any issues due to outage or any other complaints. For us, it just works, and has been solid since the new app growing pains. We’re not using any edge drivers in “production”, only on test devices and hubs.

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I’ve got your point, but then you miss the point what any Home Automation system is made for, to integrate all the other solutions into a single system, so you don’t need to handle multiple systems separately. But unfortunately in many case, especially in SmartThings, these integrations are limited to the bare minimum, but that is a different story.

I actually started out with Smartthings a few years ago and added Actiontiles at first for tablet Dashboards to my house, but a few weeks ago i took the plunge and installed Home Assistant.

First off, the installation was a breeze and not at all complicated as some older posts might have you believe, integration with Smartthings went smooth as well. 5-10 minutes in i had access to all my Smartthings connect devices and HA discovered several devices and integrations on first install that i wasn’t able to before.

After running HA for a few weeks I have made integrations to my Nest doorbell, Nest minis, Google Text-to-speech, Volumio, kitchen appliances (home connect) Air conditioner, Energy monitoring, fully kiosk, roborock and much, much more.

Even the dashboards allow for much more control, both in terms of devices as well as design. And of course Automations I never thought was possible before, it really is night and day when it comes to how feature-rich the HA experience is and not a single hitch so far.

Now, I don’t want to ditch Smartthings as I will use that as an endpoint to connect all my Zigbee and Z-wave devices (around 80 so far). I´m not really interested in using HA as a Zigbee or Z-wave hub seeing how many seem to have issues with flaky connections and USB dongles etc.

Feel I made a decent choice with this and haven’t had a single glitch although it’s only been running a few weeks now as I mentioned, but offloading or not using HA with the task of connecting Zigbee and Z-wave devices was a no-brainer as Smartthings does this so well.

Funny thing is that the devices seem to respond faster through HA then Smartthings, I suppose that’s down to the cloud API being fast enough while not having the overhead of the Smartthings app. At one point in the transition I couldn’t get Smartthings to respond, but it worked through HA I guess the public API was still working as intended.

Really the only thing I miss at this point is Google Assistant API to allow actionable notifications like Alexa offers. but until then, Android actionable notifications will have to do.

I guess my point in all this is, you don’t have to make a choice of returning to Smartthings, just grab your Smartthings hub and use that as a middle-man for your devices and use HA for automation management.

Personally I couldn’t go back to only using Smartthings, HA simply has too much to offer but Smartthings handles Zigbee and Z-wave device enrollment much better.

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This varies by device. For me, I moved to HA completely and found my SmartThings Buttons work 10x better NOT connected to SmartThings. Some old Z-Wave devices I have that aren’t even Z-Wave Plus did work more reliably on SmartThings.

The Google Assistant skill works more reliably on SmartThings, minus all the TTS stuff in HA. Alexa can work 100% locally by setting up an Emulated Hue Hub on HA. That’s insanely fast.

HA has some ongoing cloud issues and honestly SmartThings is more reliable in that regard.

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