New to Smartthings... few questions


(Jimmy Smitty) #1

Hi all, new to Smarthings and have a few questions.

Our old home we had Vantage Controls automation for the lighting and shades which was integrated with RTI remote controls as well… Our new home currently has nothing and we’ve been searching for a whole new system.

We’ve been looking at Insteon because of the multiple buttons on the Keypads and the laser etching of the scenes on the buttons, but we would have to get an ISY Hub for Insteon to work with other devices like Zwave an such. Plus there is no native app for the ISY, just a couple 3rd party ones and the Android ones are not to hot.

Then we’re looking at the Fibaro Hub and the Wink2… not much info on the Fibaro system which uses all Zwave, the Wink2 I see a lot of people saying that the response time is from 5 seconds to 45 seconds just to turn on a scene.

Now we just came across Smartthings and wanted to know how this Hub is compared to the others?

What I want to do with the system…

  1. have excellent response time whether I touch a wall keypad, a button on an app, or say Alexa do this.
  2. have a good Android app that we can customize the pages that we’re looking at. I would like to have a tablet in a room with a page created just for the room. i.e. In the kitchen, the tablets app will show a Kitchen page which will have Kitchen lighting scenes, a view of the outside Gate camera, and Gate open/close button… in the Bedroom have Good Morning/Good night scenes, Alarm on/off scenes.
  3. I want to be able to create If Thens so that when I hit the apps Alarm On button, it will turn on motion sensors and such, then if it see motion, turn on the lights, sound a couple of sirens, notify me on my phone.
  4. Have great Alexa control. In place of the engraved switches, we’re thinking about getting the Zwave+ Leviton dimmers which are just rocker switches… but instead of using them just tell Alexa turn on the lights (when were standing in the kitchen) and just the Kitchen lights turn on… in the bedroom, Alexa turn off the lights, will just turn off the lights in this particular bedroom. Alexa, run Away sceen which will turn off all the lights, adjust the thermostat, turn On the alarm.
  5. App have Geofencing, so that when we’re leaving and about 1/4mile away from the home, the Arm Away scene auto activates… when coming home, past the 1/4 mile gps mark the Im Home sceen activates which opens the gate, turns on lights and turns off the alarm.
  6. The Hub needs to work locally when there is No Internet… obviously Alexa is Cloud based so that will not work, but everything else (wall dimmers and such) should continue to function.

Sorry this is so long but it’s been difficult to find a HUB that will do all of these and do it well. The good hubs i’ve found and poor Apps, or have a good app but poor Alexa performance.

Thanks all for the help!


(Jimmy) #2
  1. I haven’t used any other systems, but mine is usually pretty dang good, especially if local devices (see #6)
  2. The default android app isn’t very customizable, but it sounds like you want to add on another software called Action Tiles which a lot of people use for tablet based controls.
  3. SmartThings has some out of the box called Routines, or default Smart Lighting app. Then there is a community created app called WebCore that has endless possiblities
  4. Done with the latest Alexa update
  5. yup. works well for most people i’d say.
  6. Kinda. Manual control without internet will of course work if you’re using smart switches (not bulbs). Automations only work in specific cases. The most popular devices run local, but not all Smart Apps run local and in order for automations to work without internet BOTH the device and smart app need to run local. Right now only Smart Home Monitor and Smart Lighting run local. Oh, and the app is useless without internet

overall, I think its a good fit.


#3

If you want rules that run locally, SmartThings is not a good fit. There is a very small amount of local processing, but SmartThings is primarily a cloud-based system. For example, you cannot use the Smartthings mobile app at all without Internet access, even if your phone is on Your home Wi-Fi. Technically it would be possible, and there are other systems would do allow for it, but smartthings does not. The only things which one locally are the official smart lighting frapture and some parts of the official smart home monitor feature. Even the official routines features don’t run locally. And if you are using the base hub, you can neither arm nor disarm the security features unless the cloud is available. :disappointed_relieved:

The biggest strength of Smartthings is the ability to use custom code, but no custom code runs locally. And sometimes things which did run locally, stop running locally because they change the stock device type handler without warning. :disappointed_relieved:

Every system has pluses and minuses, and it can certainly be challenging to find one that meets all of your own requirements. It’s good that you’re doing your research ahead of time. All the marketing materials look about the same, but there are some big differences in the details.

We also need to note that the original smartthings hub just isn’t very good as a security system, and it sounds like you are expecting a lot of security – related use cases.

They have just this month released a new version which is cobranded with ADT and which fixes some of the previous deficiencies, but we don’t know all the details on it yet. And it does cost much more than the original hub.

(BTW, I have moved this to projects so you can get personalized responses based on your own needs and preferences.)

As far as lighting with excellent response time that also works with Alexa, I would look at Lutron Caseta devices. (And you can even get custom engraving if you want that :sunglasses:). Lutron is an engineering Company holds many patents on lighting, and quick response time is one of their top priorities. Their system will work with many other systems, including Alexa, HomeKit, and smartthings. Light control rules themselves all run locally, but there is an Internet bridge So you can also get Alexa integration and Geofencing even without another hub.

Of course that doesn’t meet the requirement for a security system, but the basic SmartThings hub doesn’t really either.


(Jimmy) #4

I think the OP needs to define local control: Local manual control or local automations?


#5

Yes, good point.

If you mean “if the Internet is not available, will pressing on the light switch still turn on the light?” Then there are certainly a number of options where that would be true of smartthings. (And some options where it would not, so it depends on specific Device selection.)

But in the first post, the example given

I want to be able to create If Thens so that when I hit the apps Alarm On button, it will turn on motion sensors and such, then if it see motion, turn on the lights, sound a couple of sirens, notify me on my phone.

Would require the Internet when using the basic SmartThings for several of those steps.

We are still waiting to hear whether that is also true of the new ADT/SmartThings panel or not.


(MS) #6

@integraoligist, Bravo for trying to do the research (and I don’t mean that sarcastically), but at this point of Home Automation development- it’s a very big ask. As advanced as we think we are, this tech is only in its infancy. Nothing will be as perfect-world as we’d like. Case in point: I moved to SmartThings just THIS WEEK after being on Wink (Hub 1 for a while, and then upgraded to Hub 2) for almost 4 yrs. My initial thoughts: As someone else mentioned, the biggest benefit of ST over Wink is device compatibility via Custom Handlers. Wink only makes money from compatibility partner agreements with manufacturers… if XYZ Company doesn’t want to fork over money to Wink, Wink will not “officially” support their product. And without official support, the likelihood of it pairing/working well is miniscule. With ST, if Samsung doesn’t “officially” support- some engineer/programmer wrote code that will make it happen - this is fantastic. BUT… Routine device response on Wink: I probably had a routine take 10 seconds once in the past few years… maybe ONCE. For the most part, all my stuff (regardless of how complex and regardless of bandwidth time of day) took 2 to 3 seconds very consistently. Some people on Wink have complained about devices “dropping” out of their ecosystem and needing to be re-paired. I saw that happen just a few times over 4 years, but it’s happened to me six (6) times this week on SmartThings. Good luck


(MS) #7

@JDRoberts, Does webcore run locally? Obviously it’s web-based for programming, but I thought I read that the piston ends up sitting locally(??). I have seen staggeringly fast response from a motion sensor that triggers a set of lights… it’s like instantaneous.


#8

No, Webcore does not run locally, it runs in the SmartThings cloud. At the present time, all custom code runs in the cloud.

This is because of an architecture requirement that anything which is going to run locally (that is, without the cloud) has to be pushed out as firmware to every SmartThings customer.

This is why they have limited it to only those features which they believe will be used by almost all customers, meaning SmartLighting. And then only if the rule is limited to devices using the standard stock device type handlers which are then also pushed out to all customers.

Although certainly it’s possible to imagine a hub which includes memory which would be available for individual upload by individual customers, as homeseer and vera have it, it’s just not the way that SmartThings has been designed. The SmartThings hub is really just intended to be a box of radios for transmitting messages to nearby devices, with the logic that constructs those messages running in the cloud.

As to how fast cloud-based operations run, it can certainly be faster than a human can perceive. :sunglasses: That’s the whole basis of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri. Those run in the cloud as well.

Conditions will vary from day to day and House to House, but in general cloud-based is quick. But it does require either Internet or cellular connection, and not everyone wants their home automation to be reliant on those.


(Jack Goldberg) #9

integraoligist did you install anything yet?

If not, why not go with Vantage again?


(Jimmy Smitty) #10

Yes we have done all zwave+ devices everywhere and using Homeseer as the controller, everything is running perfectly.

Vantage works well when it's Wired, but the wireless only works maybe 75% of the time in all the places we've installed it. Plus at $300 per dimmer, it's just not feasible anymore when zwave+ is only $30 per dimmer.

(Jack Goldberg) #11

Sorry that you had a bad experience with Vantage. We have installed a great deal of RF devices in our 20 years as a Vantage dealer, and if installed correctly ( more than 1 antenna if required), have never had issues.

And yes it is not cheap.