Looking for some advice before I dive in


(Paul Ashby) #1

Hi all, I am looking to get a SmartThings hub to replace a Fibaro HC2 I have and have never really been happy with.
I wanted something to easily integrate with Google Assistant and the HC2 does not seem to be able to without possibly a lot of work and a ending up with a Heath Robinson setup. Hopefully the ST hub can use some of my existing devices but initially I aim to buy a couple of dimmer controllers and maybe a few other devices off the compatible devices list.
I need to have it working quick and easy else I will not get the support of the rest of the household after last years mess with the Fibaro.
SO any thoughts on if I am going the right way?
As control os mostly on the cloud I am a bit concerned with what lights and heating will do if the internet goes down, may sound silly but I assume the lights do not just all go on or off when the internet goes and the heating will carry on as before and just cant be changed?
Cheers
Paul


What can I do without internet?
(Eric) #2

it seems odd that you mention Google Assistant and ST in the same breath. Did you already reject Google Home?

IMO, if you really need quick and easy then home automation is not the way to go. Wall motion light switch replacements (dumb, not smart) are quick and easy.


#3

(Welcome! :sunglasses: I’ve moved this to the projects section so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and set up.)

I’m guessing just from the few things in your post that you are in the UK or Europe? There are some differences in device selection between the US and the U.K., but basic operations are the same.

Also, I don’t believe google home is available in the UK yet, and to be honest I’ve no idea whether the Google assistant features will work without it. Hopefully some of the UK members will have more to add on that topic.

Cloud factors

Smartthings is indeed a cloud-based system. There’s a very small amount of stuff that will work if the SmartThings cloud is not available, just the official SmartLighting feature, and that only with some specific devices. For example, the SmartThings/Hue integration doesn’t work without the cloud.

Anyway, as far as what happens if the SmartThings cloud or the Internet or the hub itself is not working…

Any master switches that you have, those that are load controlling, can still be flipped on and off manually.

Smart bulbs become dumb bulbs, so they can still be turned on and off at the switch.

Thermostats are more complex, because it depends on the specific model. Some of them will continue to work manually and some of them won’t.

Auxiliary switches in a two-way set up (called a 3 way in the US) such as one switch at each end of the long hallway that both control the same light, again depend on the specific model. Some of them will still work even if the cloud is not available. But for other models only the master switch will work if the cloud is not available, the auxiliary switch just won’t do anything at all in that situation.

If the power is lost and then restored, Smart switches generally remain in whatever state they were in when the power was lost. Smart bulbs, on the other hand, typically come on to full brightness when the power is restored after an outage. But they can then be turned off again. If power loss is a frequent problem in your area, some people do have a bit of code that will turn the bulbs off again if that’s preferred.

If the cloud is not available, most of the home automation features will be lost, including the ability to control any devices from your mobile. In the SmartThings system, the mobile app talks to the cloud, then the cloud talks to the hub.

xAF

As far as family satisfaction (what we often call FAF for family acceptance factor or xAF where x stands for anyone else in the household except the person responsible for setting up the system :wink:), that just varies a great deal.

SmartThings is a very flexible, very powerful system, but it does still have some issues with reliability and stability. It’s not terrible, most of the time it works pretty well. But it’s certainly not yet up to the stability standard of, say, just a Phillips hue bridge.

The company is very aware of this and has made improving reliability their top priority, they’re just not quite there yet.

You can check the first bug reports list in the community – created wiki if you’d like to see some of the recent issues. In many cases the problems are corrected in a few hours or a few days, but some of them do linger on. Again, it’s not that everyone has the same problems, or is affected the same degree, but problems do exist.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Bug:_First_Reports#March_2017_2

Every system has pluses and minuses. SmartThings’ biggest strength is in its flexibility and the variety of devices that will work with it.

So I’m not sure “quick and easy” is an apt description. There are certainly systems which are much less fiddly, but they generally offer fewer features as well.

If all you need is simple voice controlled lighting, there are other platforms that I would look at first.


(Paul Ashby) #4

When I say assistant I do mean Google Home.
I need something to get going easily to get the buy in from my other somewhat critical half, so being able to turn some lights on and off and dim them from google home will do for a start and should impress enough for me to then do all the house lights, fit security sensors, smoke/co detectors and all the clever toys I want.
This was supposed to have got started last year and I did have the heating controls working and z wave rad stats fitted, no lights as I have been fitting LED spots as I decorate each room so those are all dimmable and just waiting for some nice controls. Unfortunately the HC2 died and had to go back to Fibaro for repair, when it came back all the devices were gone and the heating switches refused to reconnect, child 4 went and popped out and the whole home automation thing went on the back burner. Now with Google home coming out I feel its a good time to start again.


(Paul Ashby) #5

Thanks for the info JDRoberts, I am not that concerned about manually doing things in the event of no internet, since upgrading to fibre I am not aware of any dropouts so its not something I expect to happen often.
I think its probably worth getting the google home and maybe the smartthings starter pack and playing with those for a bit and coming up with something Mrs A will find of daily use. Any of my existing devices that I can get to join will be a bonus but I will avoid wasting time struggling with those initially.


#6

If you’d like to take a look at the applications that other people have found useful, there’s a topic on the Get Started quick browse list in the community-created wiki for “Top 10 Things to do with SmartThings” that you might find of interest.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Project_Reports.2FQuestions

Also, if you are in the UK, there’s a similar thread specific to UK devices:


#7

Oh, and because SmartThings is a cloud-based system, 3 different things have to be working in order for your home automation system to work:

  1. the physical hub at your location

  2. the internet connection at that location

  3. the SmartThings cloud that you will access via internet

So even if your internet is working perfectly, if the ST cloud has gone for a walk it will have the same effect as the internet being out for most things.


(Paul Ashby) #8

Google Home was released here in the UK today so I ordered one.
I am thinking of playing with it for a week then buying an ST hub with maybe a couple of devices off the official supported list. I have a fair few Fibaro devices already doing nothing so I can try to get those into use.
Is the Nest heating controller worth going with or should I look for a cheaper heating controller that is compatible with ST?