Multiple Locations/Hubs - Best Practices for Shared Access (with Alexa)?

project_presence

(Jarrett Campbell) #1

I’ve recently taken the ST plunge and my mother-in-law decided she wanted one too for her house across town. So now we have two hubs in two locations, and my first inclination was just to set her up on my account so I could manage both hubs, but we’ve already run into some issues – Alexa won’t integrate with both our hubs at the same time, I managed to blow away a bunch of logic in SmartRules smartapp, etc.

Here’s what I’m looking to do:

  1. We both want to be able use Alexa/ST integration in our respective homes.
  2. We both want to be users on each others’ accounts so we can use our phones as presence sensors (unlock her door when I arrive at MIL’s house, unlook my door when MIL arrives at my house, etc.)
  3. I’d like to have access to her IDE so I can tweak her setup remotely.

I think’s it’s clear to get Alexa working in both locations, that I have to have these hubs on separated accounts in ST. What’s not clear to me is how I can accomplish the presence sensor requirement going in both directions.

Thoughts or experiences that could prove helpful?


PSA: If two locations/hubs both have Alexa + Smartthings integration - Alexa will only be able to control devices from one of them
(Larry) #2

you are correct alexa doesnt work, I’ve even had to clear the cache on my android phone after coming home from our other house. Even after removal and install it was finding the wrong devices. That said I don’t see how to get both working at once on alexa, and there is no way to have the sensor joined to two hubs. Just get two arrival sensors and stick it somewhere in your car. They are cheap on amazon like 21 bucks. But if you dont go over often the battery may be dead they only last like 6 months.


#3

(I’ve moved this to projects so you can get individualized responses based on your specific setup. :sunglasses:)

Hopefully people who actually have something like this working will chime in. You’re right that you will have to have separate smartthings accounts, not just two locations on one smartthings account, or the Alexa control won’t work correctly. If you want administrator access to your mother’s smartthings account, you’ll need to set up a new email address and have her invite that one instead of inviting the email address you have associated with your own smart things hub. Otherwise, just use smarttiles to get on/off Device control of the account for that the other person’s hub.

So each person has their own smartthings hub, their own Echo, their own Amazon account, their own email address. They use the SmartThings mobile app on their own phone to have administrator access to their own SmartThings account. They use smart tiles on their phone to give them On/off access to the devices at the other person’s home.

www.smarttiles.click

Presence

So that leaves the presence issue. You going to need two different ways to establish presence for the same person, so that each smart things hub will see them.

Obviously you could use two different devices, namely an arrival sensor for one hub and the phone for the other, but I think you can do better than that.

The following is just theoretical, because I haven’t tried it myself, but it might be possible to use the SmartThings mobile app As the presence indicator for that person’s main account, and use Life360 on the same phone (using The secondary email account) to establish presence for the other person’s hub. Life360 is a third-party service and has an official SmartThings integration which is quite popular.

I’m just not 100% sure that that will work, or if just the fact that there is a life 360 app on the same phone as the SmartThings mobile app will in some way tie them together.

If it doesn’t work, there are three alternatives that I do think will work, they’re just more effort to set up.

First, you could set up an IFTTT account for each person, using a third email address. Link that account to the other person’s smart things hub. (I know you can have more than one IFTTT account linked to the same smartthings location, we have three at our house.) use IFTTT presence to turn on a virtual presence sensor at the other person’s house.

Or use connecting to the other person’s Wi-Fi turn on a virtual presence sensor at the other person’s house.

You could also use an IBeacon at each person’s house and have the phone turn on a virtual presence sensor for that house’s hub.

All of these methods get a little complicated. But they are detailed in the presence FAQ with links to threads were people have done them. And they’re all based on the same basic idea: each person will have two different ways of defining presence, one for each hub. How many email addresses or devices that will require ends up depending on the specific method you choose.

So I’m pretty sure it can be done, but there may be some trial and error in testing which method works best.


(Jarrett Campbell) #4

Thank you for the very thorough response.

One thing I’m considering – I have installed and have working Ask Alexa smartapp at my home and Alexa official ST integration is working at MIL’s house. I may just stick with this setup as it accomplishes both my goals. It just annoys me that I can’t use the official Alexa integration at each location, especially since the authorization API explicitly asks you which location you want to authorize :frowning:

I’ll explore the IFTTT and Life360 options as well and report back!


(John C) #5

Since both Alexa and ST know the locations (each has at least the zip code!) I tend to think it can be done. Those of us with two or more hubs that wish to use Alexa independently at each location under the same Amazon account are perhaps a very small piece of the population and aren’t getting traction…

With the rapid ramp-up of voice control of the HA space, it might be a smart strategic move for ST to make this happen :blush:


#6

They’ve said they want to, just no timeline given.

Can I control multiple SmartThings Locations with Alexa?
.
No, not at this time. But we are working on an update that will allow multiple Amazon Alexa devices on separate Amazon accounts to control separate SmartThings Locations.


(Jarrett Campbell) #7

My very initial test with Life360 seems promising. Currently, I have both a ST app Presence Sensor and Life360 Presence Sensor registered on the same hub using the same phone and email address. After I segregate MIL’s hub onto a separate account, I’ll be able to verify but I think this looks like the simplest solution for presence.


#8

I think for this to work you will have to have the SmartThings app using one email address registered to one hub and the life 360 using a different email address registered to the other hub. Otherwise you just have two ways of announcing your presence to your house, but still nothing for announcing your presence to her house.

I know it works to have life 360 as a second method for the same hub, I just don’t know if you can have it on your same phone with a different email address and have it not register to the SmartThings mobile app on that same phone.


(Jarrett Campbell) #10

I don’t think the email address or even the phone it’s running on is important. It seems to run just as a distinct presence sensor. When you enable the Life360 smartapp, it simply asks which members of your Life360 family circle to include. On my hub, I chose only my MIL, on her hub, I chose myself, my wife, and my son.

Here’s the screenshots of our two hubs:

In the first hub, Janet’s ST app is the presence sensor, and Jarrett, Elizabeth, and Maxwell’s Life360 accounts. In the second hub, Jarrett, Elizabeth, Maxwell, and Molly are using ST apps for presence sensors while Janet is using Life360 account.

I’ll confirm 100% tomorrow once I move her hub to a separate account, but I think your idea is proving itself out.


#11

Awesome, I hope it works! Keep us informed. :sunglasses:


(Jarrett Campbell) #12

Just checking back in to report success.

Moved my MIL’s hub to her own account (needed a little help from Support as it didn’t go as smoothly as it should). Got Alexa working on both independent accounts. I’m using Life 360 and ST app on my phone with same email address to support two different presence sensors – one for my hub, and one for her hub. Same with my MIL.

Works beautifully.

Now I’m considering paying for the premium Life 360 service as it will give me a lot more control over locations and be able to see when my kids not only leave our houses but also schools, sports practices, etc. Cool stuff.

Thanks for all the help.


(Don) #13

Thanks for the report back. I have a hub sitting in the box and sensors for my MIL house. Was watching to learn from your experience.

So you shared her account with you to enable control of her devices from your phone? Without having to log in and out of accounts correct?


(Jarrett Campbell) #14

Don, let me clarify:

My initial approach was that I just simply created a second location and second hub on my personal account. I then shared my two locations with her email so she became an authorized user (in the same way that I had shared with my wife and kids). This literally gave me and her control of both locations, and we would just use the location selector in the app to choose which one to control. From the IDE perspective, I had access to both locations, hubs, devices, device handlers, smart apps etc.

This worked perfectly (with the one downside being that MIL got push notifications when things happened at my house) until we discovered that Alexa will not work with two different hubs linked to the same account. Even though I authorized my home from my Amazon account and my MIL’s home from her Amazon account, and even though the IDE authorization process asks you which hub you want to authorize for Alexa and even let’s you specifies which devices from that hub you want to authorize, it does not work. We were literally in a situation where I could talk to the Amazon Echo in my house, and it would shut off the lights at my mother in law’s house across town!

If you don’t need Alexa at two locations, the above is the super simple way to do this. However, my MIL specifically wanted Alexa control as did we. One option we explored was to install Ask Alexa smartapp for my location and the normal ST Alexa Skill for MIL’s location, this worked perfectly but I was not satisfied because I didn’t want to use the “Alexa, ask SmartThings to turn off the …” command but prefered the shorter simpler “Alexa, turn off the …”

To solve the problem, I basically did the following.

  • Setup my hub on my email address. Removed MIL as a shared account.
  • Setup MIL’s hub on her email address. Did not share her hub with me.
  • Setup Alexa on each hub with the correct respective email addresses.
  • MIL shared her IDE login username/password with me so I can setup her custom devices and smart apps as needed (although she really doesn’t need much more than the standard install)
  • I can also log out of my ST app on my phone and log in with her email address if I need to control her hub for some reason (or also use her login with SmartTiles).
  • I create Life 360 family circle (free) with both of us in it and am using that as our presence sensors in both hubs (rather than the standard ST app presence sensor) and this works beautifully, giving you a few more location-based capabilities than the standard ST app.

Just to further geek out, I have BlueStacks running on my PC and have been using the Android app on my PC to create her CoRE rules etc. This keeps me from having to log out and in on my phone repeatedly.

Let me know if you need further details.


(Don) #15

Thank you very much for the informative answer. Just what I and probably others needed you hear.
Guess I need to talk to MIL and wife too see exactly what the desires are. We don’t get very many push notifications. So maybe your 1st path and easiest path will be sufficient for my use.

Well see?

Thanks again for the reply.


#16

Hey everyone! Great Thread.
Here is my situation…
I’ve had ST hub at home for a couple of years with tons of integration including Alexa. Love it.

I am opening a new store across town and just bought another ST hub, ST goodies, Echo dots, etc.

I am going to be the only one monitoring both locations. I would like to quickly switch back and forth to monitor and get text alerts for both locations. I am willing to put 2nd ST hub on another email account, and also the new location to separate Amazon account.

Biggest question. Can I see whats happening in both locations and get text alerts for ST activity. And have both locations control their respective location based devices using Alexa?

I understand the precious thread, but I’m confused since everyone has other family members involved, and in my case its just me, and the worker bees at new location don’t need to get alerts etc, just be able to tell Alexa to turn off a light.

Thanks so much in advance. I’m curious to see some creative solutions or further solutions since this thread.

I am also willing to buy and install action tiles if this helps with monitoring doors open, cameras etc in both locations :slight_smile: