Phone location not updating mode before alarm activates

Lately my wife and I have been having many issues with our setup we created at home to be a replacement for our ADT alarm. When working correctly, we have a siren in the house that activates when detecting motion or doors/windows opening while we are away. We have our ST set to automatically go to Away mode when we leave and Home when either person arrives back.

Lately ST has not been updating our location before we come in the front door (sporadically). I checked the geo fence and it’s fine, I even adjusted it to be slightly bigger but no luck. What happens now is I open the front door, the alarm goes off, I check my phone and turn off the alarm, and then check the mode and it has changed to Home. When I check the order of events, the alarm is activating first and then immediately after, ST is recognizing I’m home and changes mode to Home.

This needs to happen the other way around! Support hasn’t been able to fix this–they had me get rid of the SmartAlarm app and use “detect movement around dangerous items”. This worked fine for a few weeks but now is having the same problem.
Any recommendations for fixing this? I’m ready to ditch the entire setup because the alarm simply isn’t reliable for what we want. Hopefully it doesn’t have to come to that!

The phone presence is terrible. It has me leaving and returning all the time while I sit on my couch. I bought a SmartThings presence fob which has mixed reviews but it seems to be working well.

Others have reported that IFTTT presence sensor works better.

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I agree with many who depend on the exact nature of the geo fence, that the mobile phone location presence algorithm needs some improvement. IMHO, there are additional iOS location based service options that one could be allowed to more granularly define in ST App that might help improve it.

  1. Named Wireless SSD’s and status to indicate a mode
  2. Bluetooth named connections and status to include a mode
  3. Point to Point GPS locations, for example, one is headed home via a known route.

As I understand it, iOS devices without a cellular connection use only Wi-Fi for Location Services (if a Wi-Fi network is available). Some third-party apps rely on a Wi-Fi connection for region monitoring. If a device is passcode locked, this feature may be limited or inaccurate. GPS is available on iPhone and iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models.

I occasionally have a similar problem with our set-up. Perhaps once every three weeks or so, the mode will not change before opening our front door. And this is despite the fact that we use ST presence detectors, instead of the mobile phone presence. They’re more reliable. I found that using a plugged in repeater helped pick up the detectors sooner, but it did not fully resolve the problem. Using presence detectors could improve the performance problems you’re seeing.

I think this problem will persist to some degree until version 2 of the hub is released, allowing for local processing. The problem isn’t just picking up your phone, but processing the commands for the mode change in the cloud.

For that very reason I have not yet installed an ST siren, and we continue to rely on our overlapping ADT set-up as well (as much as I am dissatisfied with that overpriced service).


There are a lot of technical problems with trying to use the current options available for presence sensing in smart things. The truth is a mesh device just probably isn’t a good idea for this. I agree that Bluetooth point to point, like an iBeacon, would likely be much more reliable. But we don’t have that right now.

What we have works pretty well if you want to, say, turn on the heat before you get home from the office, or similarly turn on some lights. Things that don’t have to be exact to the minute.

Because I need more precise timing due to the bus stop problem I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve ended up adding a second type of device to shrink the geopresence zone and to handle the problem of random drop off’s.

But I personally still wouldn’t use this to trigger an alarm. I have a separate alarm system, and I do pay a monthly fee, but that’s just my personal preference. I want my alarm system to work even when the power goes out, I want it to connect to a professional monitoring service, and I want that connection to be cellular. For other people, not having a monthly fee is more important.

So there are multiple ways to look at the problem, but a lot of it does have to do with your personal preferences.