Motion Sensor Alerts not working

(Ted McLaughlin) #1

Last night my sister came to visit and I left her a key to the house. I then realized I forgot to disable the alerts for my motion sensor, but then I figured I could live with a few extra texts. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t get any. I’m no longer getting any texts when my phone is away.

So today I left my ceiling fan on, (definitely tripping the motion sensor), and am now sitting at work looking at my iphone. In the app it says:
Motion Sensor1: Motion
Ted’s Phone: Away
So I should be getting alerts.
If I tap on the Motion Sensor1 I go to it’s page, and the big blue banner that says “Motion”, and 50% battery. When I tap on the smart apps tab, and then Motion Alerts, it says:
Push Notification: On
Text Message at: (my correct cell phone number)
Certain times: nothing
Certain days: nothing
Only when mode is: Away

I just removed and set up the alert again, and still no text messages. I know the hub is working because I can log in and see my living room through the camera, (and see the fan moving). And it’s got what looks like the correct temp from the motion sensor as well.

Any suggestions for what else i can try?


Contact support, they may be able to see something from their side.

(Greg) #3

Regarding your sister, maybe she never came?

If the fan was on before you left, the motion sensor likely never went inactive. So your smart app is listening for a motion event, but it’s not being sent because motion already existed. If it is a smart fan, turn it off, wait a bit, then turn it back on, see if you get a motion alert then.

What app are you using? Are you sure you house went to away mode?

(Ted McLaughlin) #4

I’m sure she came because I sat in my living room talking to her for several hours after I got home :slight_smile:

The phone says there is Motion now. I assume it detected that motion before I left home as well. I assume it always detects motion as I am leaving, but since the phone doesn’t go into Away mode until I am 500’ from home it normally would revert to No Motion before it switches to Away.

Unfortunately it’s not a smart fan, just a regular ceiling fan, so I’ll have to try this again tomorrow. The problem is having my phone more than 500’ from the house, and then having motion in the house, to test this thing. I thought leaving the ceiling fan on would do the trick.

I’m not sure what App I’m using. Is there a way to tell? I’ve never downloaded any specific apps so I assume it’s whatever came with the Smart Things app for IOS and the Smart Things motion sensor.


(Greg) #5

Assuming you are using a routine to change modes, you can just go to the routine page on your phone and press “goodbye” to make it switch to away mode even if your phone is at home. Then you can walk by the sensor yourself and see what happens. No need to wait until tomorrow. Hope that helps.


It just depends on the sensitivity that that particular motion sensor is set to. Many have a default setting that requires four minutes of inactivity before they report. So your 500 foot transit may not be long enough.

(Ted McLaughlin) #7

This is the model that I have:

I don’t know what the model number is, (I should have written that down last night), and since it’s not the latest one on the website I’m not sure how to find out what the specs are on it for the thing about 4 minutes of inactivity.

One thing though is that the fan wasn’t running on the day my sister came, so that wasn’t the issue then. I had been making sure I turned the fan off every day before I left, just to make sure I didn’t get spammed by constant alerts.

Thanks to every for your suggestions.


There was one day last week, I don’t remember exactly which one it was, when a lot of people reporting that motion sensors were not triggering. I had the same issue at my house. The motion sensor that turned on the light in the guestroom just didn’t work that night. By the next morning it was fine again. No idea what that was, it was very strange, but I do know I wasn’t the only one with the issue.


I have the same motion sensor and it’s been flaky for the past few days. I even changed the battery because it was at 25%, that didn’t fix it.

(Ted McLaughlin) #10

Does Smartthings push out software, (or firmware), updates? Or do they have to be manually downloaded and applied?

To have this many sensors having a problem makes me thing a patch got pushed out that isn’t working correctly.


(John Luikart) #11

I’m new here (hub delivered today), so probably wrong. But does the status of the motion sensor have to change from inactive to active? Perhaps the motion sensor status was already active so when the phone went to away you didn’t get a notification. But if the phone was away first then the status changed from inactive to active it would have worked?


SmartThings does push out firmware updates to the hub. It does not at present push out updates to individual devices. But the device handler (also called the device type or the device type handler) is the software that handles communications Between the device and your SmartThings account, and that software is actually hosted in the cloud. So they can make changes there and you will never know it. This has happened multiple times and has occasionally caused problems.

There was an example about six weeks ago where the backend system started processing milliseconds as seconds for some commands. That caused problems with a number of device handlers.

(Ted McLaughlin) #13

Do you know what part of the process actually sends the alerts? That’s what seems broken here.

If the sensor says Motion, and the mode is Away, and those are the criteria to send an alert, then that alert should fire no matter what.

Are the alerts generated from something in ‘the cloud’? If so then I think the Smartthings server is broken.



Consider this example:

You ask your friend what kind of pizza they want. They tell you ham and pineapple on an extra cheesy crust.

The pizza arrives, and it’s ham and pineapple on a regular crust. Where did the “alert” fail?

The first step is you calling the pizza place. Did you communicate all the details of the order? That’s the motion sensor sending the alert.

The next step is the person on the other end of the phone takes down the order. Did they enter it correctly into the system? That’s the hub sending the alert to the cloud.

The next step in the kitchen is the person who is actually making the pizza. Did they read the order correctly? Did they actually do what the order said? That’s the cloud processing, which prepares the instructions for what is supposed to happen when motion is detected.

Finally, the delivery person brings the pizza to your house. Did they give you the right box? In this case, that’s the message going out to whatever the event is associated with the motion sensor coming on. Maybe you wanted to get a notification. Maybe you wanted a light to come on. Maybe you wanted to siren to go off. The point is just that there’s a last communication step which is an instruction to something other than that original motion sensor.

Anyway, you can see there are a lot of places where this “event” can fail. Because in the particular case that I was talking about multiple people had the same type of motion sensor failure on the same day and most of those people reported that it “fixed itself” about 14 hours later, it seems likely that the problem was in the kitchen. That is, in the cloud. Certainly not in the individual Devices because there was nothing that changed for them over that time period.

Again, though p, you can also see from this example that there are a lot of places where things can go wrong. Sometimes just coincidentally I forget to order the cheesy crust on the same day that there’s a cook in training in the kitchen who is messing up a lot of orders. SmartThings has enough different customers that it is possible for two people to see the same bad outcome for two completely different reasons.

So that’s why it’s helpful to always report these kinds of problems to support and let them look at things in their side and see if they can figure out specifically what went wrong at your house.


(John Luikart) #15

It depends on how the trigger is coded.

Triggers work by monitoring the event log, likely the trigger is set to:

If motion status changes from inactive to active. And phone is away. Then send alert.

So, if the motion staus was active, and then phone went away, it wouldn’t necessarily trigger the alert.