I’ve been investigating home security systems, but almost all seem to have their own set of issues. Several of the companies with DIY home security were crowd funded and appear to have limited financial backing. Smart Things is appealing because of it’s flexibility, the availability of devices from various vendors and the appearance of financial resources through Samsung. When I boil all the pros and cons of each vendor, Smart Things is the one I would pick first. The catch is that it doesn’t appear to work reliably. That’s a big problem for a security system.
The problems with the Smart Things system reported here plus poor feedback from the Apple App store put the brakes on any purchase for me at this time. With any product there are going to be unique problems, but it seems that there are many wide spread issues, not just individual misunderstandings or unique warranty failures. Is there anyone that is happy with the way their Smart Things system is operating with the current V2 hub and current app?
I assume that both hub software as well as the apps are updated regularly. From the threads I’ve pursued many of the issues read like hub problems. If the issues are just software they should be fixable. On the other hand I would be more concerned if there is a fundamental hardware flaw or design dependency that becomes intractable to solve. Perhaps problems are arising due to varied home RF environments or intermittent internet.
I’m really hoping to see a new raft of comments on these threads saying the problems have been fixed, that it’s now safe to jump in. I would purchase Smart Things based on it’s described capabilities, but for now the execution seems seriously flawed. Do you see any signs that Smart Things reliability is on its way to improving ?
How is my read of the situation? Are my observations about the current state of Smart Things reliability off base?
Firstly, I love the concept of ST and the user community is awesome. Most users sincerely care about the platform and want to see it succeed. I use it for non-critical things like lighting and notifications. I have some security type stuff setup but I don’t count on it. I have several other backup systems I use for security. I view it more as a hobby than a necessity.
With that being said I don’t feel the platform is ready for anything that you would consider critical such as a stand alone security system. Time based events, notifications and other aspects of the system are not reliable. This, in my opinion, appears to be related to issues with the back end.
The other issue is with local processing. Only a few apps will run locally, even though they advertise this as a function of the V2 hub. Even with local processing if you change out the device type of any of the ‘things’ the app will no longer run locally and be reliant on the cloud. At least this is my understanding.
Finally, with limited local processing any events that would trigger an intrusion may not be triggered if your Internet connection is down. You would also not receive any notifications.
This is just my opinion and I’m sure others will disagree with my assessment. Good luck.
(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy)
How about I say … there are signs, but they are too small to see? Or improvements are hard to see due to the noise of persistent problems and various steps backwards (even if those steps are temporary)?
SmartThings is an enigma – one of the few “super success stories” of Kickstarter and their first couple of years were incredible when considered in the light of their very lean business model. MVP (minimum viable product) is all the rage these days; usually the goal is to reach buyout or IPO. SmartThings got the former.
The big question is … why hasn’t the past year been a greater leap forward? Signs point to the “V2” (Hub V2 and mobile App V2) as being a major sandtrap. Why? Well… perhaps instead of being a determined focused leap forward, Hub V2 and App V2 (and related back-end cloud platform version changes, and UK market expansion, …) were rushed to release, and thus started the MVP cycle all over again.
Short answer: It probably won’t get steadily worse. So, yes, “Smart Things reliability is on its way to improving.”.
Thanks for your observation about the dependence of Smart Things operation on the back end processing. Local processing of events would be much more reliable. This is either a fatal design flaw or just an interim step that will be rectified by pushing more functionality down to the hub as there is more time to implement the functionality. I hope that there are sufficient resources in the V2 hub to allow more local processing to occur. Otherwise down the road we would be better served by a V3 hub with enough capability to handle local processing.
I am curious enough about Smart Things that it might be fun to follow as a hobby, but not to use as a primary security system that could miss events and drive the family and neighbors nuts. I hope that Smart Things has the engineering horsepower to make the right design changes so it could become a serious security system.
I think you have the timely perspective on ST. Dedicated security alarms also have their issues and I suggest multiple (at least 2) reporting channels. Cameras are also useful for confirmation which is important because most alarms are false alarms even for dedicated security systems.
Well I’m now 3 months in to smart things… during that time I was away out of the UK for a 4 week period. During that trip I had 2 miss fires of the security system. however due to the nature of the system I could see they were miss fires and not an actual intruder. up time for the 2 month period has been exceptional. the only outage I have experienced was 10mins today when I couldn’t access the system online or via phone. I guess they were messing around with stuff server end.
I have had a miss fire today as well due to the Presence sensor appearing to be “away” which triggered the alarm mode to away(armed). I also have bulbs that seem to be doing a reset and are on when I get up in the morning but that could be down to bad intermittent electrical in the house maybe.
As a techy… these miss fires don’t bother me and can be overlooked. I don’t mind messing and seeing if something caused this. I am very much enjoying the automation this affords me. and to be honest has triggered less miss fires than my parents alarm system PIR sensors triggering with in house heat changes.
However if you were like my mother the phone and smart things hub would have been thrown out of the house by now out of pure frustration.
I really like the system and have expended it bigger than the original system quicker than expected.
I can only see it getting better the more people that come on board the more they have to do behind the scenes. I put a shout out on facebook the other day to see how many of my friends are using the system. Not one person replied and all my friends are techys who are in to this kind of thing not one has it. It isn’t as wide spread yet. But it is catching on.
Your experience is encouraging. If ST is heavily dependent on the back end server and the internet connection I could see how some people could be experiencing difficulties. My internet connection is usually fast and reliable so a small experimental setup might useful to see for myself how robust ST really is today.
Transition to new hub: not complete
Transition to new app UI: not complete
Local light automation: pretty reliable
Everything else: somewhere between "oh great it’s working this (hour|day|week) and hot mess of randomness
Not ready for grandma, but ready for a hobbyist or HA enthusiast. Then again, pretty much everything else on the market is in the same place.
In my opinion, the really frustrating part is the large number of “small” problems/gaps sprinkled throughout the platform. ST seems to follow the 80% rule on everything they do.
All things considered, I thought about returning the hub early on, but before I did I decided to monitor the competitions forums, can’t say that it’s any better. In fact, ST seems to have an edge for now, but it won’t take much for someone to leap frog past ST. All it would take is to offer the same functionality that ST originally promised and keep it stable. In ST’s defense this seems to be an unattainable goal by all the vendors in this space.
Then there’s this…
Is Samsung pouching/straining current ST resources for future device functionality? It this point I can’t help but wonder if ST has now become an Alpha test of future platforms.
“With Samsung Smart TVs working with the SmartThings technology, we have an opportunity to reach millions of households,” said Alex Hawkinson, CEO and Co-founder of SmartThings. “Applying this technology into current household devices is a major step forwards that will make it much easier for everyone to experience the benefits of a smart home.”
You can’t just rub the ST hub on a TV or USB Stick and it magically integrates.
You have to port the platform to the new hardware, which most likely involves coding firmware for new chipsets and form factors. You then have to regression test existing functionality on the new hardware. Assuming it’s even going to tie to the same ST cloud, will they spin up a separate cloud instance and charge a subscription? Samsung has share holders…
…and don’t think for a second somebody hasn’t injected new ideas and features into the new devices which require further development.
I really like ST, but I think we’re getting jerked around a little bit. They could have most of the basic annoying issues fixed in one cycle/iteration. That fact that they haven’t seems to indicate our user stories are at the bottom of the backlog. I’d like to see their JIRA instance, it might be enlightening (for all of us).
Have you ever contacted Samsung support for anything? My experience is not good. To put it into perspective, current ST support is far superior than what I experienced with Samsung. So there is the fourth option, they upsell SmartThings without overhauling its infrastructure so those who care about HA will continue to support each other here, while the masses buy an expensive TV and never get the stick or they get sick of an unreliable system and give up.
(Different Computers. So happy with Indigo.)
@Greg1 My perspective of SmartThings is a little different than what you will see in the community. Up until a couple months ago, my setup ran like clock work. Very reliable and consistent and I was very happy with the platform. Around the time of the v2 launch, the platform did (and continues to) experience hiccups. Having said that, while annoying, they have not been that bad for me. It is pretty rare that something in my setup misfires. Maybe it has to do with the devices I use? Not sure, but most of my devices are Z-Wave and work great. I have seen that a lot of complaints in the community have to do with Zigbee devices. That is just an observation though, and I don’t know if it has any merit. My point with this is that you have to use reliable devices to expect reliable results from them. (obvious, I know)
My SmartApps and routines are pretty solid at this point (knock on wood). It feels like things have improved a little bit. Not to diminish anyone’s experiences, but I wonder how much of the complaining in the community has to do with low quality devices, local and WAN network issues, etc. I feel like things will get better, but the platform is not quite there.
The thing that makes me stick to SmartThings is honestly the community. It is fantastic and filled with talent. I credit SmartThings for keeping the platform open enough for the community to thrive. I love that SmartThings has the tools for me to easily create or modify SmartApps and Device Handlers. I often find a thing or two that I would like changed on either of those things, and I can do it in a matter of minutes.
One thing you could do is try out the platform. Just make sure you buy devices that work with other hubs (like Z-Wave). If it doesn’t work out for you then worst case you have wasted $99 (and the time spent exploring SmartThings, but that can actually be enjoyable).