My Current State Of Things With SmartThings


(Jon Allsebrook) #1

Ok so this is going to sound like a complete moan session and in a way it is but I still love the ST platform and the promise it has. However some things just don’t seem to want to work on a consistent and reliable basis and some features lately seem to be slow in coming but I wanted to share my experiences incase I am missing some simple fixes that will make ST better in my setup! I have listed the issues under each ‘Device Type’ for clarity.

Hue Bulbs -

  1. These just don’t work reliably. The status is very slow to update
    and sometimes the tile will stick on switching on or off until I go
    into the individual bulb and refresh the status.

  2. Adding new bulbs is a complete pain in the ass. I still have to
    remove all of the bulbs and the associated smart apps then add them
    again. Not good when I add them in now and then as budget and wife
    allows. Its actually stopped me buying them.

Wemo Devices -

  1. Slow to update device status and regularly refuses to run commands.

  2. Insight Switches still not supported even for basic on and off
    commands.

Notifications -

  1. Sometimes there is a fair bit of lag in receiving these.

Camera Types -

  1. Very keen to get some officially supported camera types. Don’t get
    me wrong I love the community generated solutions but something
    official other than Dropcam would be great.

Overall UI and usability -

I have posted some issues I am having with the Android App in another thread for thoughts and feedback but these are my overall thoughts on the App itself…

User Control -

For this system to work really well in my environment (and I suspect many many users environments) we have to have a different way to allow non ‘super/admin’ users to control devices and get alerts/notifications. I just don’t want my son or my wife or anyone other than me to have access to the configuration of ST. All I want them to do is have control of the devices that I dictate and to be able to have the ability to receive the notifications they want to be able to receive in app or via text. Long term this could well be a deal breaker for me on this system which would be a real shame and personally I feel this is a feature set that if added would set ST further apart from the competition. There are work arounds such as using iRoomie or similar but I really want everything controlled from one system and would prefer not to have to setup lots of http requests which break if I change anything in ST.

Shake to see names - Please please can someone in the UI design team come up with a way to label over the icons the device name instead of having to shake to see them. Sorry but it doesn’t seem like a big deal to change that or at least give an in app option to have labels/icons or both…

Ok so thats what some people will probably see as a moan/rant but it truly isn’t. I just think there are some features and fixes that could be worked on now (such as sorting out Hue bulbs that have been part of the system for a while now) to make the overall system and experience more solid before the ST team start heading off onto adding in other bits and pieces.

Cheers

Jon


(Korban Hadley) #2

I understand where you are coming from and agree almost 100% (besides the fact I don’t own any wemo products).

My biggest thing right now is user control. Having talked with support a few times about other issues (so far support has been awesome), this is something they have said is in the works. Should have been implemented from the beginning however.

For a while I had setup notifications when someone arrived home but this would go to all devices. Not sure why I would care if I arrived home. This completely makes this feature useless to me as I don’t want to be notified when I arrive home or have my wife notified when she arrives home. Yes I was nagged for that one until I disabled it.


(Amauri Viguera) #3

+1 for the addition of roles.

This is a great “bachelor” app, but as soon as you have to add one more person into the mix, the problems become apparent. I’d like to be able to grant “user” access to someone without them having the keys to the kingdom, and having per-role settings for things such as push or sms notifications.

Similarly, it would be useful to be able to notify people depending not only on their role but also on their state – like sending messages or notifications only to people that are home or away and not everyone that’s on the system.


(tduffy) #4

I am with you on most of these as well. My biggest concerns are:

  1. The Hue bulbs. I too buy these one or two at a time as I update the house. And in fact, I have three that I just have not included into ST at the moment because of the hassle it will cause me to uninstall all the previous ones (25 of them) and reinstall evverything again. They are too integral into the automations I’ve set up to make me want to go through that process lightly.

  2. Control of devices. The SAF for control of devices right now is very low. The app is too slow to allow quick control of things that do not have physical switches, and too complex for the basic “hm, the light automatically turned off, let me turn it back on” type of issues.

  3. And ugh! the tiles. Yes PLEASE please please let us have names for the tiles instead of/with the icons!! I spend way too much time clicking into each tile to find out if I have the right particular bulb or sensor.

There are smaller things I’d like, the notifications by user role especially. And of course, I’m always eager for more devices :slight_smile: But I really feel that just these few UI/background changes would make a world of difference.


(Amauri Viguera) #5

I haven’t been bothered by the tiles all that much, but I imagine that it will get very annoying as your device count grows.

Which brings me to another point that I was thinking about: device groups.

Maybe I’m missing it, but it would be extremely useful to manage device groups based on whatever I want. Maybe I want a group for “all bulbs” or “downstairs bedrooms” or “all cameras” and have them show on their own page on the mobile app.

And similarly, I’d like to be able to apply commands to a group of devices, without having to jump through the hoops that you do now.

So… If I add a new bulb to the downstairs group, I don’t have to edit anything else to be able to turn it on / off when I select an action for the group itself.


(Bryan) #6

Agree on all points.

I completely get the cloud-based, automation-focused philosophy of ST. The problem I see is that it’s just not reliable enough to be hands-off. There’s too many failures and failure points, and too many scenarios where simple presence in the home isn’t enough to drive automation. And I don’t really want to shell out hundreds of dollars to put motion sensors in every room, because the integration with things like Hues and TCP bulbs is still shaky.

For example, I have a simple app that will activate a hue bulb at 2% dim red in my kids’ rooms when there’s acceleration on the sensor on their doors. It fires in Night and Evening mode, so we can check on them if they wake up. About half the time, it either doesn’t work outright, or it’s delayed more than 10 seconds. It’s just not reliable. And there’s no easy way to fire up the app, go into Things, go into the Group for my kid’s room, click the gear on the Hue light very carefully, set the dim and color. So I’m getting a Tap to put on the wall.

I think this is the most critical deficit in ST right now if they want to expand past the niche tech home automation geek crowd. Until the rules are hub based and completely reliable, automation is going to be secondary to control. And the UI does not grant easy control.


(Jon Allsebrook) #7

I think there is a bit of a theme in what we would like ST to work on appearing here!

A note on the local control… Alex tweeted a few days ago that there could well be a degree of local control coming to the hub shortly…I have to think they are maybe working on a major upgrade to the hub/software and this is why things are a little quite on the new developments front.


(Bryan) #8

Ah, I’d read local control would likely mean a new hub. Which is fine, I’m invested, I’d buy one. But I think it’s critical if automation is really the goal. Verizon FIOS had an outage in my area for 8 hours a few days ago. Nothing worked via ST, but my Hue app worked, my TCP light app worked, my Foscams worked …

If I can’t trust the automation to just work, 99.9% of the time, I need an app that’s intuitive and gives me easy control.


(Amauri Viguera) #9

I think a new hub would put off a lot of people, unless it was a relatively cheap add-on or USB dongle or some such…

As far as availability, I can mitigate power problems to some extent with a UPS or generator backup, but having a complete loss of functionality because of an internet outage is very discouraging. Not only that, but there’s no resiliciency to the system… there’s no wireless backup in the event that you want to use a hotspot, for example.

I think the assumption is that if your internet is out then your power is out as well, but that’s not necessarily the case for some folks. I’d hate to have power and not be able to turn on a light bulb because the hub can’t connect to the ST servers :smile:

That whole situation has me rethinking my approach now. I think I’ll connect the hub to a wireless bridge, which would in turn be connected to my network. It’s an additional device and potential point of failure, but in the event of an internet outage I can still access the bridge and change what access point it connects to (to use a hotspot on my cell phone or MiFi or something else).


(Geko) #10

If turning lights on and off during internet outage is your only issue, there’s a simple solution - a secondary Z-Wave controller. For $11, it’s a must-have. BTW, it’s another reason to stick with Z-Wave and stay away from Zigbee. :smile:


(Matt) #11

@geko I’ve never been able to get the HA07 to pair, any advice?

I tried info in this thread


(Geko) #12

You need to replicate Z-Wave network from your primary controller (ST hub in this case) to the secondary (HA07). It’s described in HA07 manual (pages 28-30). HA07 will appear in ST “things” as “Z-Wave Remote”. Yes, you won’t see any activity from the HA07 in ST, but the whole point here is that you can now control your Z-Wave gear independently from ST.


(Matt) #13

My problem is getting ST to even see the device.


(Amauri Viguera) #14

Does that mean that for every change to your environment you have to re-replicate your network over? So if I add new switches / bulbs / whatever, I need to start over so the HA07 will have the latest version of my network?


(Geko) #15

If you want to control the newly added device from the remote, then yes. If, for example, you’re adding contact or motion sensor, then no. Unfortunately, ST hub does not support Z-Wave SUC/SIS mode. At any rate, adding/removing and even moving Z-Wave nodes typically requires “repairing” the network to ensure that all nodes have up-to-date routing tables. You can read more about Z-Wave here:
http://www.vesternet.com/resources/technology-indepth/user-friendly-z-wave-network


(Amauri Viguera) #16

And just like that, I have an internet only outage tonight. Seems like I was tempting fate by talking about it :slight_smile:

The hub is going nuts blinking blue, and occasional red spurts show up too. Everything is pretty much dead in terms of in-wall switches and the app is crying foul.

I guess it’s time to consider that HA07 as a fallback, just in case.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #17

Earlier this year when I decided to start replacing my Insteon/x10 setup, I vowed not to invest heavily in any platform that did not provide a robust, local API. My choices thus far have been Hue, iTach, and Venstar. I almost returned my SmartThings when I discovered that, regardless of how open it would be, nothing would be local.

Obviously I have kept SmartThings, but am not heavily invested in Z-Wave, nor do I plan to be. I have 3 Z-Wave endpoints for non-lighting purpose (amplifiers, water heater, pool) and hope to cap it there.

For now, I control most everything from a server. SmartThings is the smarts reacting to sensors, but for the most part my apps just send an event to the server and it takes care of the rest. All of my scenes and macros are scripts on the server, and I find it far simpler to edit these with a simple text editor than have to reconfigure a bunch of SmartApps when I want to change things. Another plus is that I don’t use the SmartThings app as a controller; I am using iRule and Tasker, which can send those same events to the server, and provide much more flexible interfaces.

So when the internet goes down (or SmartThings itself), I do without some automated tasks, but give up little to no local control.

I love SmartThings, but it will have to become much smarter (and reliable) before I give it full control. And the next gen of smart devices to replace zigbee and z-wave will need to have open, local APIs before I spend a dime on them.


(Geko) #18

Nice thing about Z-Wave network is that you can have as many secondary controllers as you want. The only thing that secondary controller cannot do is include/exclude devices, but hopefully you don’t do it every day. :slight_smile: Nothing should stop you from adding a Z-Wave USB stick to your server and integrating Open ZWave into your setup to control Z-Wave devices locally.


(Matt) #19

I have tried to add this device numerous times, always unsuccessful. After finally getting it added today I got a little excited that I may be able to get my ZWN-SC7 working as well since it essentially is similar in concept.

Although, I haven’t actually taken a fan down to find out. I’m pretty sure neither of these devices will do what I’d hoped unless I can get the buttons to access SmartApps.

I have so far 3, and plan to add 4 more ZWN-RSM2 installed in ceiling fan canopies. The problem is they only have 1 pairing button on them so I don’t think I can add each of it’s relays to buttons on the the controllers.


(Geko) #20

The problem is they only have 1 pairing button on them so I don’t think I can add each of it’s relays to buttons on the the controllers.

I don’t see why not. It’s a dual switch, so you should be able to assign each switch to an individual scene button.