Presence Sensor (Phones) Range

(Greg) #1

Is there a way to reduce the range of the presence sensing? My wife works fairly close to the house and the system keeps picking up her phone and opening the door. I would like to get the range down to like 50 yards, not a 1/4 mile! It works a little too good!



Unfortunately, no, that’s just a fact of life when using GPS geolocation.

The SmartThings zigbee presence sensor sold in the shop on this site is intended to have a narrower range. It works great for some people, but others, including me, find it unreliable. It may just depend too much on local conditions.

I use a wheelchair and it can take several minutes before the bus driver gets the lift deployed at my stop. I’m still trying to find a presence indicator which won’t trigger until I’m at my house, but now feel I may have to wait for Bluetooth microlocation. I’m sure this feature will arrive eventually, but maybe not for another year or so.

(Marc) #3

You can try Life360 and see if that works better for you.


One hack if you have the zigbee presence sensor is to put it in a faraday pouch when you’re out working in the yard. You can buy these for less than $15. They block communication so your hub will think you’ve left even if you’re still in range. Take the fob out of the pouch and the hub will detect you again.

This doesn’t work for me because I have limited hand function so need handsfree options. But will work well for some people.

Don’t put a phone in the pouch or you won’t get your calls.

Another approach is to create a mode called Yard and set presence detector apps to not trigger in Yard mode. Then you can use the mobile app to change modes when you go out or come in. I did set up a yard mode at my house, but find I forget to set it. :pensive:

(Marc) #5

By the way, I have similar problems with my wife and her job. She is a substitute teacher at two local schools which are 2.5 and 4 miles away from our house
and if she joins their wifi network, ST detects her home sometimes. Since she’s been on maternity leave, the problem has gone away. I am not sure if the issue is at both of her schools, I will troubleshoot again in September when she goes back :slight_smile:

(Greg) #6

I actually have that app. Didn’t know I could integrate with ST. Any trick to it?

(Marc) #7

Just add the Life360 app under MyLabs, enter in your credentials and use that device as your presence sensor. Not sure if the range is any smaller…In my wife’s case, it did not help our problem.

(Greg) #8

Thanks! I am going to switch her over to the keychain presence sensor and see how that works. I am a custom AV integrator and have been using ST for about a month now and I am very impressed. Control 4/Elan/Savant must be terrified!


Some people have reported that life360 was more reliable for them, but the minimum radius is the same, 500 feet, since it uses the same base technology (GPS + WiFi).

The zigbee presence sensor should be a smaller radius (50 to 75 feet), but may run into various local issues.

In my case, the wheelchair accessible entrance is around the side of the house. The phone presence triggers much too soon (bus stop problem). The zigbee fob also triggers too soon because the fob is connecting with the hub from one side of the house before I get around and through the gate on the other. That’s fine for lights, but a problem with my door, which has locked itself again before I get to it.

But everybody’s use case and local environment is a little different, it’s worth trying several different options, including Life360, to see what works for you. “All home automation is local.” :wink:

(Amauri Viguera) #10

I’m going to again point towards Tasker & SharpTools, mostly because it works for me. Now the solution is not free, but getting Tasker, the SharpTools plug-in and AutoLocation plug-in should cost less than $10 on the Play Store. The other catch is that it’s Android-only.

You can create REALLY small geofences with AutoLocation, like 10 feet or so, and use a toggle the state of a virtual presence sensor to set home / away / whatever modes.

Doing something like this you could set a very tight geofence around the house and around her job, and that would determine when she’s at home or not.

You can also trigger presence based on connecting to your home WiFi for example, which should work just as well in your case.