My SmartThings Presence Sensors are going out one by one

First my wifes ST Presence sensor which has worked great for months no longer registers home for the last week and now my dog’s sensor that has also been working great overall (sometimes it says gone when it’s not but not too often) went offline this morning a few hours ago and is still ‘gone’.

Both batteries report at least 50%. Hub v2.

Any suggestions?

Normal behavior for these things - when battery gets down to ~ 50% they are gone. They work well, but if you plan to continue using them, lay in a supply of replacement batteries (and watch the online video, as it’s easy to break the battery clip if done incorrectly).

Great. Okay, thanks. Actually, I think I broke on already when I first got it trying to reset it by taking the battery out.

Any other recommendations besides these? Preferably something that is z-wave and not zigbee? I believe z-wave to be superior.

Thank you again!

Not really, or I’d be using it myself, Not Z-wave, but there’s the Life360 app that’s popular, but it’s much more than just a presence sensor (it actually tracks location), so some people might find it offputting.

Just a thought…
If the place you normally keep your keys (or where your dog roams) is far from the hub, you could try adding a powered Zigbee device that acts as a repeater. It might even extend battery life a bit, as it won’t ping the hub as often (assuming your current signal to the hub is weak or marginal). GL!

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Good idea. Thank you for being so helpful, Mr_Lucky!

Zwave is better for some things, Zigbee is better for others, there are pros and cons with both.

I’m not aware of any Z wave presence sensors. Zigbee tends to have somewhat better power management and also smaller devices, which is why it’s popular for battery-powered sensors.

In addition, Zigbee devices perform a checkin function which Zwave devices do not. This check-in is how the SmartThings arrival sensor and most zigbee presence sensors work. The hub just keeps track of the amount of time since the last check in, and notes the device as “away” when the set amount of time has passed.

If the arrival sensor devices have been working great for you, I’d just change batteries more often and continue to use them. There are some other methods using other devices that people try if the arrival sensors don’t work well for them, but again everything has its own pluses and minuses.

I would note that battery quality can vary quite a bit as well. I would not get no-name cheap batteries if battery life is an issue for you. :sunglasses:

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The SmartThings arrival sensors, like most inexpensive Zigbee sensors of this size, are pretty stupid.

All they do for their main function is check in with the hub every 30 seconds. That’s it. They don’t do it more or less often if they are out of range or in range. They don’t care whether they’re talking to the hub or a repeater. They just send their “I’m here” message every 30 seconds.

So adding another device on the edge of the range to extend range will do that, in the sense that the hub will recognize the arrival sensor as “here” about 50 feet sooner. But it won’t impact battery life at all one way or the other. The arrival sensor just sends its message every 30 seconds no matter what until its battery dies.

There are other pet trackers, like whistle, which are much smarter and do have a “standby” mode when the device is close to the base station which saves battery life that way. That’s probably what you were thinking of. It’s just that the much cheaper SmartThings arrival sensor doesn’t work that way. The arrival sensor itself has no idea how far it is from the hub and doesn’t care. It just keeps pinging every 30 seconds. Like I said, pretty dumb. :sunglasses:

Good stuff! Thanks for the info!

I just had to replace a battery on my son’s presence sensor after it continually reported away/home/away/home at random times. The battery was showing 60%+ and when he actually came home from school it registered from about two houses away (as per usual). I guess I broke some tab, because the battery is not held in place other than by the outer case. That may be part of my problem.

After the battery change, it behaved normally. This is the second or third battery in about 18 months.

If the battery is slipping around inside the case so that the device is being powered on and off randomly, that will definitely cause the Home/away/home issue.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, a watch repair place that works with battery-powered watches may be able to fix the broken tab problem.

There’s no rattle when I shake the sensor, so I think the case holds the battery quite secure. When I was getting the random events, the sensor was completely immobile. It started with a couple of home/away events and progressively got worse over a few weeks. I think the sensor is very sensitive to battery level.

Are there any close-up pictures available of the gen 1 sensor battery holder? I can’t really tell if something broke off by visual inspection.

I broke the darn little tips of the ST presence sensor when I was putting the battery back in. I watched the video to take them out and that went fine, but both plastic tips broke off upon insertion of the new battery. So I wrapped it with electrical tape. Works but I think for $30 bucks it should be a bit more solid.


The new uk model doesn’t have clips anymore, just a metal battery sleeve. Much better

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I think my sensor is toast :(. Even with a new battery and electrical tape I still got spurious home / away events today. I guess I’ll upgrade to the new Samsung presence sensors and see how it goes.

@Dan999 check for 2.4ghz inteferences sources such as your wireless router, check the frequency ranges do not conflict, use the following chart to check

Thanks for the pic! I definitely think I get some interference at times.

I used a wifi analyzer app on my phone to move my house wifi to channel 8, which is the least congested. But whatever is interfering is not consistent. For the last few days, the presence sensor has been behaving as expected, and wifi has been pretty good. Earlier, I had slow Netflix issues, etc. I think this was the same time that the presence sensor was causing issues, but I’m not 100% sure.

I wish I had access to a RF spectrum analyzer to get a real view of what’s going in my house :).

If you break the tabs, create a poor man’s spring by cutting a small, rectangular shaped piece of cardboard (I used an empty cereal box), fold it in half, and glue it to inside of the top cover. Carefully snap the cover on, and the “spring” will hold the battery in place.