Multiple Hubs, Single Location?


(JJG) #1

I am wondering if anybody found a way to reactivate this capability that SmartThings sadly disabled 2 years ago ?
This is essential when you want to set up a single SmartThings system over separate buildings.
I understand that SmartTiles can present some unified view over multiple Locations, but it is not the same.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Actually, SmartTiles is a “stand-alone” SmartApp, and thus can only show one Location at a time.

ActionTiles can consolidate view & control of Things from any number of Accounts and/or Locations and/or Hubs.

But… yup; the big problem with Multiple Locations is that any individual SmartApp instance can only interact with Things from one Location. A SmartApp instance is installed “in” a Location.

Indeed, it isn’t installed “in” a Hub; except, Hub V2 is probably what prompted the restriction of one Hub per Location … because a Hub has the ability (in theory) to execute a SmartApp locally. If a Location could have many Hubs, then a SmartApp instance would have to now be assigned to a specific Hub and… voila… a SmartApp would no longer be able to interact with “all” the Things at that Location.

Make any sense?


(JJG) #3

Yes and no.
I understand that SmartThings wanted to offload as many functions as possible to the v2 Hub, thus the limitation.
But I suspect people using more than 1 Hub are likely less than 5% of SmartThings customers, although they are likely VERY PROFITABLE customers (large SmartThings systems, multiple Devices and Hubs).
So I do not understand why the “multiple Hubs, single Location” option cannot coexist with the 95% of customers using a “single v2 Hub, single Location”, an option which could be buried down with multiple warnings in taunting legalese, and which would satisfy those 5% of advanced customers : NO additional development needed on SmartThings side, since the SmartThings cloud does yet support today v1 Hubs.


(Mark) #4

I’m not sure that’s a valid assumption.

The hubs are cheap, usually 50 bucks in the recent past. And power users are more likely to use the many non-ST branded products that either work natively or can be used with a community-developed device handler.


(Ray) #5

Not sure what you want to do with the devices of both hubs but I do use Stringify to bridge some of the devices together.


(JJG) #6

Thanks Ray for the Stringify pointer, but to be honest I am VERY reluctant to add one more cloud layer to the already blotted SmartThings pie : it is as such soooo unstable that adding even more different technologies into the critical path, whether IFTTT, Stringify or whatever does not seem such a good idea… :frowning:


(Ray) #7

I understand but I don’t see they are going to implement it anytime soon so I guess we don’t have much option right now.


#8

It sounds like you’re asking couple of different questions here, but I did want to just tease one thing out.

It is possible to have events from one hub trigger actions on another hub that have two separate locations on your account, but you have to use webcore for this, and there will be some additional delay, maybe a couple of seconds. And you have to set up proxy virtual devices and do a bunch of other things. But it doesn’t add any additional cloud layers. So I don’t know if you would be interested in that or not.

This is briefly discussed in the how to article in the community – created wiki on automating an outbuilding. Which also discusses some other options.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Automate_an_Outbuilding

Second, if what you really want to do is have multiple units in an apartment building each with their own hub, there is a community member who is running a multi family unit with 200 hubs and his company has created their own umbrella software for it which I believe they will license for a fee to other landlords. Anyway you can read more about some of those issues and options in the following thread


(JJG) #9

@JDRoberts : Thanks for your very detailed and informative answer (as usual :slight_smile:) and for your very interesting links.
Thinking I had too many scale up problems with my dozen+ Hubs, when others already manage 300+ : wouah :open_mouth:.
It is even more interesting that those same people envision mission critical functions (like remotely opening doors) with SmartThings, which although more stable than 1 year ago, is still very, very far from the 99.99% reliability goal I would assume as needed for such missions.

I will look some more into those innovative multi-Locations unifying solutions, but to be honest, when I started this thread, I was just hoping for somebody with a workaround to go back in time to the pre-v2-Hub SmartThings, when assigning multiple Hubs to the same Location was a snap : unfortunately, it won’t happen any time soon :frowning:


(JJG) #10

@tgauchat : I looked into ActionTiles, which does look powerful, but the pricing scheme makes it unfit for my case : 1 license per Location, which in my case means 1 license per Hub/Thing.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #11

How many Things do you have on that second Hub? ActionTiles is definitely not priced “per Thing” at this time; only per SmartThings Location (which, yes, is “per Hub”).


We may introduce more “a la carte” pricing in the future, but it was important to us and our customers do keep it as simple as possible for as long as possible.

We figured that since SmartThings charges “per Hub”, that it made sense for us to do the same. At $99 for a SmartThings Hub (well; I guess ST has had some great promo prices recently, as have we!), we figure under $30 is a reasonable upgrade if you find the functionality of ActionTiles useful in your household.

Our current license has no additional charges per Thing; you can have a hundred or more Things on a Hub all under one ActionTiles License. - Even though those Things cost $20 to $50 each, or more.

And, unless we add more license variations, there’s no charge or limit (within reason) to the number of Panels, Buddies (sharing Accounts), or simultaneous logged in browsers, tablets, phones, PCs, etc.


(JJG) #12

All my Things (Fibaro FGK-101 Temperature sensors) have their own Hub, because of distance.
So I have 12 FGK-101 / 12 Hubs / 12 SmartThings Locations / 1 Logical Location.
Thus need 12 ActionTiles Licenses per your current pricing scheme…

But I agree with you, a simple and clear pricing scheme is important, and my situation is likely not typical of your average ActionTiles customer.


(Ian Abercrombie) #13

It is possible but it is a huge pain in the neck if you already have a system. You need to rebuild the whole system from the ground up.

What you have to do is delete your existing location and create a new one. Create the new location from the WEB portal at graph.api.smarthings.com and create it with no hubs in it.
Now open up the smartthings app on two ios or andriod devices and log in to the new location on both of them. On each device click the Add a Thing option which will prompt the app to ask you for a hub welcome code. With the welcome code text box open on both devices type the welcome code for one hub in one device and the other hub in the other device. Step by step go through the rest of the setup of the hubs keeping each device in sync i.e. when you click next on one device go and click next on the other so they are at the same point in the installation. This synchronisation might not be necessary but I did it and it worked fine for my system.

When you have finished you will see two hubs in the new location. You should rename one or both of them so you can identify which is which.

Now you can use the IOS or Android app to add all your devices back and recreate all the smart apps you had. If you had any ZWave devices installed when you deleted the original location you will need to go round and exclude these from the hub they are trying to connect to because the hub ID will have changed and they will not be able to reconnect. Once they have been excluded the hub should pick them up again in the normal ‘add a thing’ mode.

I have been using two hubs in one location for several years with absolutely no problems. The mesh networks cannot see each other as they are in different buildings but all the devices appear in the same location in the app and all the routines including Alexa work fine. My original hub stopped working with Zigbee so I had to replace it. I was told, by support, that it was not possible to swap the hub or add it as another hub to my existing location but I figured out this work around right after ordering a pair of Mixtile hubs to replace my system since they can do it and as a bonus they support bluetooth and do all processing locally so you are dependant on an internet connection. I may still change over for these two reasons.
It is a real shame that Smartthings decided to remove this capability from the application because it really does work very well and there seem to be quite a lot of people who would like to make use of it. I have 69 things in my system spread over two buildings on one site but about 150 yards apart linked with a WiFi bridge. I use Alexa to control everything and without this work around that would be impossible as Alexa can only work with one location.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #14

That’s an amazing hack… :no_mouth: Thanks for sharing!


(JJG) #15

Thanks Ian, great hack ! :+1: :+1: :+1:

I may be wrong, but reading your hack I understand I would need… 12 iOS devices to configure my 12 Hubs into the same Location, right ?
It is not completely impossible, I suppose I could beg and borrow around me, but I cannot imagine doing that for 50 Hubs in the same location…

I totally agree with you that SmartThings should be ashamed of removing this multiple Hubs / single Location capability AFTER it worked perfectly fine for 2 years, especially since it was a major selection criteria when I chose in 2014 the SmartThings solution : as you, I have Things too far apart for a single Z-wave network, and only with multiple Internet Hubs can I achieve my goal of controlling a single logical Location spread out over 300 meters.

It is especially ridiculous and show great despise for SmartThings users who direly NEED this functionality since if obviously works even now (as it did 3 years ago) at the lower layers of the SmartThings cloud.
There may be some bugs and limitations, but SmartThings could very easily burrow this functionality into an undocumented, hard to find path, and activate it only after you have explicitly agreed to a lot of legalese.

Furthermore, what is the point of having a cloud based architecture, with all its inherent reliability issues, when you cannot benefit of the geographic spreading capability of the cloud ?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

I don’t recall it ever working… But it makes sense cuz it was always in the data structures.

But a reason for removal was Hub V2 (and App V2) because local execution requires all code for a location to belong strictly to one Hub.


(JJG) #17

It worked from 2014, when I started working with SmartThings Hubs, till some time before 11 February 2016, when I discovered you could not change anymore the Location of a newly actived Hub (my Support request #188376).
It was clearly related to v2 Hub introduction, but since v1 Hubs continued to be supported by SmartThings (all my 12 Hubs are v1), there was no good reason to remove this critical feature as long as the v1 Hub behavior could also be emulated by v2 Hubs : local execution by v2 Hubs is subject to a list of conditions, which when not ALL met force v2 Hub execution at ST cloud level instead, exactly as for v1 Hubs.

I have no problem with some local optimized execution as long as you do not loose the single Location / Multiple Hubs feature WHICH IS CRITICAL TO A NUMBER OF USERS (those needing a widely spread out network, beyond Z-wave very limited capabilities).
I understand this number of users is currently small (of course : those who need absolutely this feature had to move away from SmartThings ! :disappointed:), but since it would cause nothing to SmartThings to reestablish this previously working feature, it was quite unfair to remove it, with complete disregard to those who critically needed it and who had invested a lot on SmartThings.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #18

Never assume what the implementation (or re-implementation) costs are. Especially for SmartThings.

There are lots of features (including old ones like light and sensor groups) that ST lacks. We can’t know why.