I've given up on presence sensors

I’ve given up on presence sensors…I have 3 plus my mobile and the lack of accuracy is not worth my safety. A couple months ago, I had my ST set to unlock/lock doors based on these sensors…well around 2am my door would start unlocking, several united later it would lock, then unlock…it continued like this until I just deactivated that function. I knew this was happening because I had also set it to send a push notification. That was the only way I knew what was happening. This raised a serious safety issue with these presence and mobile sensors that I decided just to stop using them. Anyone else have issues with presence/mobile sensors?

I’ve been traveling via plane for the past 4 hours and my mobile(with me) says it’s home…smh…anyone else having issues like this?

I had this issue until i kept my wifi turned on. The way mobile devices find your location is very dependent on wifi. If you turn it off you will almost certainly get wonky things happening. This isn’t a STs problem necessarily, but more of an issue with how your device actually acquires your locaiton.

Hope this helps.

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I disagree. According to the ST presence on my phone I was teleporting 2 miles into town several times a night. My phone never lost connection with wifi during those events. That is however where the nearest cell tower is at. Since I switched from using the ST app over to life 360, I have not had once single instance of teleporting into town. If life 360 can handle my location with the same hardware, it is in fact a SmartThings issue.

Maybe ya’all are having some other issue. Mine was solved by keeping wifi on. I haven’t had a single presence issue in almost a year. I always love how some people have issues others don’t.

I love when I get put on these kinds of issues at work because it always ends up being the simplest thing but the things that no one ever thinks to look at. Could be iOS, Android, or STs… or a combo of all three. We should get them all in a room lol.

I also have my radius relatively wide. About a 3/4 mile radius.

This is also intriquing… Why does it only happen at night? Is it when the phone goes idle? Does charging the phone create some sort of signal interference that causes this?

@jody.albritton Again, very interesting. I moved away from life 360 for the simple fact that it sucked. lol… it was the most horrible geofence app i have ever used. It could never get it right.

Its when you have problems like this that they get hard to track down… Where do you start? lol

It was not happening only at night, but that is when I was at home the most. My family getting notifications that I left in the middle of the night was not fun either. I tried everything trying to troubleshoot the issue. I never turn my wifi off, I expanded the geofence, etc. I have been using life360 for months without issue. It might be an android problem, but life360 has figured out how to deal with it whereas ST has not. The fobs work really well too.

Ahhh yeah. I thought this might be the case. I moved from Android to iOS and that went a LONG way to helping my geofence issues. Unfortunately Android has problems like this, one software for all devcies with changes from the manufacturer make this really difficult, espcecially when the manufacturer generally doesn’t post or make public the changes that were made to the OS. (I develop for android and it sucks lol…)

Life 360 did work better than STs on my Android device though so i’d move there for anyone on Android. :smile:

I just got my hub and 2 presence sensors among other things.

I was having a problem getting my kwikset 912 to join so I moved the hub upstairs in my office away from other wifi extenders and got the lock to join but when I left it there, every 10 or 15 minutes it would say that my wifes presence sensor (which is in the glovebox of the car) was leaving and arriving. I moved the hub back to where it was on top of my airport extreme and next to my Philips hue hub and it was fine.

This is a mesh issue. You need more devices to complete the mesh. Zigbee needs a good mesh of devices to work properly.

I have a ton of zigbee. I have 25 hue bulbs and 15 ge link bulbs. im not sure how much more mesh I can get with out having too much.

I have/had this problem with my presence sensors as well… especially in cold weather. Part of the problem is that the presence sensors have a very low power radio in order to preserve battery life as much as possible.

I ended up putting a plugged in ST Motion Sensor (v.1) in my garage. Because these act as a Zigbee repeater when plugged in, this helps significantly. Every once in a blue moon (again… cold weather seems to be the factor) I still have an issue, but it’s exceedingly rare now.


yeah low power with cold is never good lol.

I still have an open ticket in the system for the same issues. The coming and going of the presence sensor in the middle of the night. My phone has started behaving the last two weeks so I am just keeping and eye on that one. However the boyfriends presence sensors is now DOA (battery) after only 2 1/2 months of use. At least we are not getting up in the middle of the night any more to see if someone stole the car… LOL

As @chrisb suggested, using an always on device is the way to go when trying to increase the spread of the mesh network.

If the devices don’t have power supplied to them, they aren’t acting as repeaters. For example, ‘smart’ bulbs that have the power switched off at the switch are not acting as repeaters.

If you have night mode, you can set a rule for your doors and locks not to open when you are in Sleep mode or Stay Home modes. That is what I do.

That’s a good call.

Another option is a delay before opening/unlocking. I use a version of the Ridiculously Automated Garage Door app and it has this built it. You can specify a period of time that you need to be gone before the system will run the unlock/open stuff. I have mine set to 15 minutes that I need to be gone. That way if something happens in the middle of the night and any of my presence sensors do the “away/home/away/home” dance, it’s exceedingly unlikely that they will be away long enough to trigger the automatic events when they show back up.


That’s a great idea too. I also went as far as double blind protection for my garage door and added a GE Smart outlet which is in line of the Garage Door and gets shut off when in away mode.

On iPhone 5 (wife’s) and 6, mobile presence has been pretty stable for me. We don’t use presence sensors.

One issue that I face here in NJ is the Optimum auto hotspots all over the state (even though saves me a lot on data plan). I have my phone registered to auto sign in to Optimum hotspots being an Optimum customer. These hotspots have very weak signal near my home. As a result the ST app would crash at times or will still be updating the status while I am already in my geofence and reach my house. Didn’t happen everyday (may be depending on the load) but this was one of the reason for me when it did not work for me.

On my way back home from office, I disable Optimum wifi on my phone to get around and the it triggers at the exact spot every day near my home.

But when leaving for work in the mornings, it triggers at a different spot. The reason may be I am still connected to my home wifi when I leave and as I go further away from house, the signal obviously drops and as soon as my wifi drops me and LTE takes over, I get the left home notification I have set.

Exact same behavior on my wife’s iPhone. So, basically in my case it was the slow transistion from wifi to LTE and vice versa causing this.

I was looking for a topic that would be suitable to ask questions about the thoughts I have been having. I am new to ST but enjoy creating rules for tasks and automating things. Used to program, have had a lot of fun using Tasker on Android etc.

What I can’t seem to get over with HA is the incredibly LARGE range of scenarios that for me, most “rules” or “actions” are quite unusable. For example, I can’t really say when “everyone is gone” because sometimes my wife forgets her phone and thus that breaks her being gone. In addition, sometimes she is gone but not driving our car (mom or sister picks her up)…again breaking presence. If it was just me, EASY! Fact is there are so many scenarios living with me, my wife, my kids, and my dogs that I don’t think any one “rule” would ever work more than 50% of the time.

Where I am at now is building out a spreadsheet of different modes that the house can be in and according to those modes, certain things will activate, i.e., doors locked, presence sensors not on, alerts to come through etc. That being said, I am 95% certain I will have to trigger these via the user interaction. I am currently setting up double tap on my bedroom switch to put the house into “Night” mode. This way no matter who goes to bed first, me or my wife, the last one up there can “set” the house.

My overarching question I guess is, for those of you trying to really automate the crap out of things, don’t touch light switches, locking things and open doors based mostly on time, modes based on times or presence…how do you do it. Does it work? How do other family members come into play? Do you have pets and how do you deal with them and sensors?

I guess it’s a bigger question but this topic seems to be sort where it would be decent to ask?

Thanks for the insight folks. Still love ST, just realizing that without a TON of nested IFs and conditions, my home situation is too variable to make it handsoff.



My setup is a mix of automation and manual interaction.

I automate certain lights to go on/off based on certain contexts, but other lights are still controlled manually. For example, the outdoor lights automatically go on/off based on Sunrise and Sunset and a few inside lights dim on automatically just before sunset, but I still manually hit a widget to turn off all the lights in my house when I go to bed.

I also picked up a Aeon Minimote so I could perform direct association of some of the devices in my house. For example, in the master bedroom I have bedside lamps on Dimmer Modules and tied a light switch directly to those lights. Sometimes it’s easier to just hit the switch on the wall rather than depend on automation or opening the app.

A key part of my integration is the app SharpTools, which is an Android app I wrote when I found out SmartThings didn’t have Tasker integration or Widgets.

I use Tasker integration to add voice commands like “Okay Google, lights out” and Widgets to make it easy to execute a set of actions by tapping an icon on my homescreen (eg. run a ‘Hello Home’ action / phrase). The Widget setup was a key feature to getting my wife to use the system… she loves being able to hit the ‘Lights Out’ button to encourage me to go to sleep!