There are significant negative reviews on Amazon saying that the Samsung hub is unreliable. I am putting in a home automation system and have been in the controls business dealing with wireless protocols including ZBee and Z-Wave for many years. I would appreciate honest comments about this issue with the currently available revision.
The hub is dependent on SmartThings cloud architecture, which has had a lackluster history with reliability with respect to scheduled events, polling, and now (v2) various problems with routines and SHM.
If this is to be installed as a convenience, you’ll be ok for the most part. But few experienced folks here will recommend for security, or any real risk mitigation.
If you have a high tolerance for absurdity and you really like to constantly tinker with your set up, then by all means join the club. You could really get a kick out of this platform, BUT if you are looking for consistency and reliability, the only consistent thing you’ll get, is that your system will malfunction.
Take this for example:
Is there an available API?
Will they allow the hub to not be connected to their cloud?
There is an IDE. Hub is now, and IMHO will always be, useless without their cloud.
Yep, cant really say I’d recommend it either.
When it works, I LOVE it, and i’m not giving up on it yet. However, things are so unreliable. Even the basic presence sensors still give so many false readings that you can’t base anything of significance off them.
Such a shame.
I would set your expectations appropriately. The hub isn’t going to solve world hunger, it’s going to have glitches, it shouldn’t be used as your primary security system, etc. But I’m still happy with my purchase. It’s the only HA hub i’ve owned, but from what I’ve read SmartThings isn’t any worse than Wink, Vera, etc.
When SmartThings works as intended, it is absolutely my favorite home automation system. Unfortunately, since last November I have yet to go 10 days without an impactful SmartThings failure.
The Company Response
The company is well aware of the issues, and has said they are making it their top priority to improve reliability. The company CEO posted to the forums in April, and has been doing weekly updates since then. They have also hired a new chief engineer who was formerly at Amazon and in charge of several of their large projects.
Improvements, but not a reliable system yet
That said, the instability still exists. There have been at least two problems in the last week where things that worked on Monday stopped working on Tuesday, although in the most recent case only customers using a specific feature were affected.
The forum community is great, the staff is great, the company vision is great. But since you asked about the currently available version, it’s just not there yet with regards to stability. Top marks for flexibility and versatility, which is why many people stay with it.
Use Cases Vary
So it really comes down to what you want to use it for in its current version. I still use it for convenience cases like getting a notification if the guestroom window is open when it’s going to rain. But I have moved anything critical on to other systems.
Some people don’t mind a system that need some tinkering every week, even if it’s just popping out the batteries on a sensor and putting them back in. Other people want a “set and forget” system. They don’t expect things to be perfect, but they do expect the same level of reliable performance as a dishwasher. The Philips Hue Bridge meets that reliability requirement for smart bulbs, and Lutron meets it for smart switches, but few other mass market low cost systems do (and Lutron doesn’t work with SmartThings).
I have been doing home automation in phases. (I am quadriparetic, so HA adds a lot to my independence at home, but I also need it to be both stable and reliable. )
There’s Real reason to think the future will be better than the past
Originally I had hoped to do my phase II this fall, and had intended to evaluate alternative HA systems this summer, but it’s clear that neither SmartThings nor some of the major competitors like HomeKit and Google thread are ready yet. So I’m putting that off right now. In the meantime I’m using bits and pieces from various systems to meet a few major use cases. Right now I’m planning to reevaluate in November, Because it’s also clear that several major consumer tech companies are investing significant time and resources in bringing something to market at a much lower price point than the big established HA companies like Control 4 or Crestron.
I give Samsung credit for saying all the right things about home automation, including the needs of those those aging in place or physically disabled, and for investing a lot of money into developing those systems. I am hopeful for the future. But the present is what it is, and right now the maintenance free operating period (MFOP) for SmartThings still seems stuck at about nine days.
Every system has pluses and minuses, but they aren’t all the same pluses and minuses. Different things work for different people. SmartThings scores very high in flexibility and versatility, but there are other systems that score higher in reliability. Although they often do so by giving up a lot of the flexibility and versatility. So it just depends what you need.
Detailed discussion here:
Perfect example: this morning a number of people reported that they lost the ability to control their devices from the mobile app (both android and iOS). Support was aware of the issue and it appears it was resolved in about half an hour.
Some people are reporting that they had to physically reboot their hub to bring things back online once the platform issue was resolved. There is an option to reboot remotely from the cloud account, but it appears that was not working until the reboot was completed. So people who were away from home could not do the reboot.
Was this a major outage? Yes, in the sense that many accounts were affected. No, in the sense that they were only affected for a short time and quite a few people may have slept through it. And more major for some of us than others, since some of us cannot physically do a reboot on the hub.
So different people will be affected to different degrees. But there will be some people, because of the features that they use, who had similar issues on three different days this week.
I use ST hub and I would recommend it. It’s not perfect, but overall fairly solid.
Most my lights are motion triggered using Smart Lighting which does execute locally. I have 25+ light switches connected to motion or contact sensors. I have another 6 to install this weekend. I use Presence on my Nexus phones, works 97%+ of the time. I have also set up that I can use the regular light switch so when there are issues I can still hit the switch. People who use GE smartbulbs have issues, because the switch is rendered useless and you have to use ST to turn it on.
Hub can be had for $80 which is not bad. People expect perfection out of this device which costs less than a decent dinner out for 4. I use only zwave or zigbee 1.2 devices that should be 100% portable to another platform if ST does tank.
I’m about 3 weeks into my ST ownership experience, and I haven’t had any reliability issues yet with the hub. I’m definitely more in the convenience category though, I have a few door contacts and probably 20 or so switches/dimmers, as well as my integrated Harmony hub, but that’s about it. The only issue I’ve had so far is my phone has twice failed to update presence status, last weekend I was out of town and it showed I was home all weekend, and last night I came home but it showed away all night. My wife’s phone has not had a miss yet, although the reporting time for a presence status change has lagged by up to 30 minutes. Overall I’m happy with the flexibility of this system. I started with a Wink hub and sent it back after 2 days because of how limited it was in capability. I like to tinker though, so take that for what it’s worth.