Plugged in devices -- can I avoid battery powered ones?

In the past I have tried some basic home automation, predominantly focused on security with the use of the Scout Alarm system, and my experience has been mixed. While the service itself was good, I had some major concerns with battery life being about 1/4th of what was promised, and as such I have developed a bit of an aversion to battery operated devices in my set up.

So far in trying to breakdown what I can do with native Smartthings devices (or partner devices) it looks like there are options in lighting, plugs, Thermostats, doorbells and security cameras. I have had the schlage touchscreen locks in the past, not hooked to a hub, and the battery life has been fantastic so I would be willing to set those up again in my new home, and smoke/carbon detectors are already battery operated, so I’d be willing to run those on battery.

What I would actually like to do is reliably find a way to convert a battery operated device into a plugged device. While I would not like to take up all my plugs with sensors, a few things like a motion sensor may be worth it. Has anyone done this before?

I have a bunch of different thoughts on this, so I’m just going to number them for convenience.

One) Both zigbee and zwave are intentionally designed as very low power protocols and you should typically get 1 to 2 years of battery life out of any of the usual sensors or button remotes. I’m not sure what protocol your previous devices were using, but that’s a big improvement over, say, a typical Wi-Fi device which may only get a couple of months.

That said, I understand completely A desire to not use battery powered devices for any of many different reasons. Choice is good.

Two) there are mains powered devices in most device categories. Not for Locks typically, but since you already said you’re OK with the Schlage then that’s covered. But there are A couple of different mains powered Motion sensors, for example, so you could look at those. There are also some devices that can run on either battery power or mains power.

  1. The simplest option for converting a battery powered device to mains power is to use a dummy battery. The dummy fits right into the battery compartment and has a converter plug. These are easy to find it for AA size batteries because people used to use them for game controllers. There are some made for other size batteries so you can look into them. These have the advantage of not requiring physical modification of the device, so they don’t void the warranty.

I don’t know of any that would substitute for the coin batteries that are used in the typical very low power sensor type devices, though.

Four) the next option is to hack the physical device itself and convert the power source. There are some community members have done that. It will void the warranty on the device and it may not meet your electrical codes. You just have to look and see. So it’s sometimes doable, it would just depend on the specific device and your own electronic skills. :sunglasses:

1 Like

And here’s a past thread where community members have discussed some of the options:

Also, @ogiewon or @Mike_Maxwell might have some thoughts to add. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Thanks for the quick replies! Sorry I missed those previous threads, looks like my search of the forums before posting wasn’t quite thorough enough. Unfortunately my soldering skills are a little… non-existant. I do plan on learning and maybe this is the project for that, but for now I’m probably going to stick to options that are less likely to end with my sensors melting.

I dug a little more after you mentioned the dummy battery and it looks like a viable option for a few products, something like the following: Seems like that will be a good option if I can’t find a non-battery version of certain items. I also was apparently only searching a subset of the integrated sensors/devices as I was looking at the “Works with SmartThings” section. After some digging it looks like there are a lot more options its just tougher to navigate to.

The info about the lower power consumption is definitely helpful! I believe the Scout tech was mostly wifi based but I would need to check. Maybe I’ll revisit battery operated for some things sooner rather than later.

1 Like

The official “works with” SmartThings list is limited to devices they have actually tested in their own lab.

But SmartThings is certified under two different third-party standards. The first is Zwave, and the second is zigbee, but only the zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2)

What all that means is that you can select pretty much any certified Z wave device and it will work at the “basic” (that’s a Z wave term in this context) level with SmartThings. Which means on/off/dim for lights and switches and event detected/inactivity for sensors.

The manufacturer may have added additional advanced features, and those might require custom code to access.

For zigbee it’s a little more complicated, because even to get basic functionality for a ZHA device you may need a custom device type handler in order for the device to be recognized. But there are community members who will be glad to help you do this.

But in both cases you can check the forums to see if someone has already created the custom code you will need.

More information in the community – created wiki. :sunglasses:

New topic today that might be of additional interest:

1 Like