Hi guys, I am a new Smartthings user and love it. Fell into it really, just bought some Belkin Wemo bulbs for 8 bux each at Frys and one thing led to another and now I have fitted my home with multipurpose sensors, motion sensors, wall switches and a bunch of bulbs! So much more to come, so easy to build as needed and so easy to use too…
Anyways I was selling my friend on the Smartthings hub and he has some questions that I thought you guys could answer real quick like I had him write it out and told him I’d post it, thank you in advance!
I am currently using alarm.com and I am considering switching over to SmartThings. I realize SmartThings isn’t primarily a security platform like alarm.com, however I was wondering if it could be used as one. Besides all the normal smart home functionality, could you tell me if SmartThings can do the following:
1) Can the smart things mobile app control multiple hubs (locations) via drop down menu? 2) Does the app support video surveillance? If so, does it have non-proprietary IP Camera integration with live view. For example, I would like to be able to view a camera in my garage to make sure it’s closed. Note: alarm.com has this feature, but it only works with their one proprietary camera, as far as I know. 3) Does SmartThings have a speaker that can play different sound options when opening and closing a senor? For example, playing a chime when opening front door. 4) With the optional 24/7 monitoring service, is there a keyfob that can disable the alarm when entering the house? Can this keyfob also open garage door? 5) Is there a silent panic button?
If you search the forum for “reliability” you will find many many threads from many many community members indicating that while smartthings is very flexible and very powerful, at present it is just not reliable enough for most people to use it for a regular security system. Many of us instead have a purpose – built security system that we use for security. Popular ones include the new Abode, and Simplisafe, but there are many others.
Although you can now get scout monitoring for burglary intrusions (not for fire) with smartthings, it doesn’t improve the reliability of the base SmartThings system.
I’m too tired today to go into all the details, but if you just search on either “security” or “reliability” you’ll find lots of discussions.
My own minimum requirements for a security system include that it have cellular connection to the professional monitoring center. SmartThings does not. All of its notifications go out via Internet, so if your Internet is down, you don’t even get sensor a notification on your phone. Also, there’s no way to disarm or arm the security system if the Internet is down. You’ll find lots of threads in the forums from people who had a false alarm, have a siren going off, and had no way to turn the siren off.
OK, I’ll leave you to do the rest of that research on your own.
As to your friend’s specific questions:
SmartThings allows you to manage multiple locations, but I don’t think it allows you to have Scout integration with multiple locations. You should ask support about that.
it does support video surveillance, although one of the features is broken right now. You have a choice of several cameras, including an official integration with Arlo which is quite popular. But not all IP cameras.
But again, while Arlo is officially supported, I believe the clips feature is broken right now.
One of the biggest strengths of smartthings is that you can use many different devices with it. The $49 Aeotec doorbell is popular for chimes and voice notifications. Can play up to 99 different sound files, and you can upload your own. It can be triggered by any smartthings event. See the following article in the community – created wiki:
( this is a perfect example of something that smartthings does really well, and give you a lot of flexibility, it just won’t necessarily do it well every day. )
again, one of smartthings’ strengths is that it works with many different devices. There are indeed a couple of different key fobs you can use, and you can use them for anything that the smartthings system can do. So if you’ve added a Z wave garage door controller, they can definitely open the garage door. Or arm or disarm the system. and any of them could be used as a silent panic button. (But once again, they may sometimes fail to do what you have programmed them to do.)
The silent panic button is a little complicated if you want one that will alert the professional monitoring service. You can use any of the fobs or buttons from 4) above, but because at present the scout monitoring service can only work with contact sensors or motion sensors, you will have to fooled inpt into thinking that a contact sensor has opened when you are using a different type of device. That can be done in SmartThings, but the conversion can only run in the cloud, not locally. Which means if the smartthings cloud or your Internet is down, the silent panic button would not work to notify scout. So you could set one up, but it wouldn’t run in all situations.
Everyone has their own requirements for peace of mind, so there are definitely community members using SmartThings as a security system. You just need to understand its limitations.
No cellular notifications
If either the Internet or the SmartThings cloud are unavailable, many functions will not work. This includes sending any notifications. It also includes anything you would normally do from the mobile app on your phone, including arm or disarm the system.
From time to time, often a couple of times a month, they make changes to the cloud platform which will affect you. There is no way to refuse or delay these changes. And They do often break things which were previously working fine.
When they send out a scheduled firmware update to the hub, we typically get notice a couple of days in advance, but not always. While the update is taking place the system will be off-line. This outage can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, and again cannot be refused or postponed. In many cases after a firmware update you will need to individually physically reset some of the devices, which can be inconvenient if you have multiple locations.
The professional 24/7 monitoring is valid only for contact and motion sensors. No fire monitoring, and no leak detection monitoring under the central office system.
When smartthings works well it is absolutely my favorite home automation system. But at present I only use it for convenience cases, like a notification that the guestroom window is open when it’s going to rain. I use a completely separate purpose built security system for anything that might affect actual health or safety.
And here are SmartThings’ own product use guidelines:
Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed.
Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests.
For example, because temperature readings may vary significantly from reading to reading on an individual device, between devices, or over time, those readings should not be used to control heating and cooling in environments where food spoilage, health risks, or damage to physical goods could occur.
Alternately, presence data from SmartThings devices or mobile/Smartphones can vary in accuracy, and therefore should not be used to control access to secure locations without secondary authentication.
Excellent info, thank you for your detailed response and time. I think for what smartthings is, is amazing. Integration with tons of products, some home monitoring features, lighting, etc as a replacement for an alarm, as you pointed out probably not at the moment.
Any way you slice it, it adds a ton of add as you go smart home functionality that requires nearly zero wiring and works pretty well with tons of products. As I said I love it. Again, thank you for your time
I, too, love what it can do. I just wish it would do it for six months at a time without requiring intervention.
I should also say that the company is very aware of the issues and has made improved stability a top priority. They hired a new chief engineer from Amazon just a couple of months ago, Robert Parker, and my own expectation from an engineering standpoint is that it might take him a year to get things turned around. I don’t know if Samsung is going to give him a year to do it, but I thought his hiring was a very positive step.
You could use the Universal Device Type Handler as a contact sensor that triggers your alarm and then use Smart Lighting which runs locally to turn it on with a secret button press.
For cellular backup, you could replace your current WiFi router with the PepWave Surf SoHo 4G WiFi gigabit router. If your cable internet goes down it will automatically switch to 4G cellular internet. You can get cheap pay as you go LTE plans for as little as $3/mo from H2OWireless.
For battery backup you can get a UPS to keep your cable modem, router, and SmartThings hub up for a few hours.
But that still doesn’t address the SmartThings reliability issues. SmartThings doesn’t always arm and disarm at the right time, lots of false alarms, etc. Commands not being sent/received. This is all sporadic and doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is enough that if you feel you need a 24/7 alarm system, ST probably isn’t for you. If you are OK with the occasional glitch or false alarm, then maybe ST will be OK for you.
The universal device type handler itself won’t run locally. (No custom device type handler runs locally.) That was exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote about fooling the system, but that the processing that will fool the system occurs in the cloud. So you can’t get around the local operation issue that way.
I have a ST Motion Detector outside my door that is not connected to SHM to notify me when mail or a package has arrived that is tied to the “Goodnight” routine. Then I have a ST multi open/closed sensor on my storm door and another one on my main door. Both of them are tied to SHM. I was expecting a package this morning so I set the routine to Goodnight and went to my home office to work on my computer. I saw the Fedex truck pull up to my neighbor’s house so I set the Good Morning routine to totally disarm ST. I got the message that the routine had been successful and double checked SHM and it showed Disarmed. I opened the front door and the alarms messages started. Opened the storm door and more messages. I again performed the Good Morning routine and got a successfully completed message. That Fedex truck was apparently not carrying my package and I saw him drive behind my neighbor’s house to turn around so, just in case I ran to the back door. My living room and kitchen motion sensors sent out alarms. Stopped and again performed the Good Morning routine. Opened the kitchen door leading out to the back porch and now I got warnings from that door and the back porch storm door. I went to SHM and it was showing Disarmed. I pressed that button in SHM and the troubles stopped.
Now imagine if I was away from my house and a false alarm like this occurred. I would be paying the police department fine for calling them out to a false alarm.
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