Presence Sensor vs Phone

(Michael Frankfort) #1

Just wanted some opinions on this topic. I have my phone set as my presence sensor, and my wife has a physical presence sensor. I have my garage door set to close when I leave, and open when I arrive. My issue is that it doesn’t shut until I’m way down the street (When WIFI loses signal). When I arrive, the garage door is always open. As a test, I took my wife’s presence sensor with me to the store, and it said she left 1 min before me, and arrived 1 min after me. I know it’s not a huge issue, but I don’t want the door to stay open for that long before it shuts (neighbors dog likes going in it). I think the physical presence sensor might be the best option, as supposed to my phone. Any opinions on this?

(DLee) #2

I looked into this and just used our phones for presence. We don’t bother with having the garage doors open/close automatically based on presence though. Reading through the forums a month ago, I believe I concluded that the presence sensor is also at risk for delayed home or away status updates and adds the complication of short battery life.

(Chrisb) #3

I use physical presence sensors in both my cars.

There is a delay on leaving. ST by default waits a little bit from the first “lost ping” to make sure there wasn’t just temporary interference with communication. But it might be better than the phone… I’m not sure.

Arriving will surely be more accurate because you have to be in pretty close proximity for it to trigger.

However, there are three (potential) disadvantages:

  1. Battery life isn’t great. Even though they only ping every 30 seconds or so and even though the radio is not high powered, I’ve gone through batteries twice in a year.
  2. Because the radio is low powered, you may not trigger “I’m home” until you’re already in your driveway waiting for the door to go up. This can be helped by position of hub and/or Zigbee repeaters.
  3. Again, because of the low powered radio, there are incidents where you tag may seem to leave and re-appear randomly when you are home… sometimes many times in an hour. Again, these issues can be alleviated somewhat with position of hub and/or repeaters.

(Marc) #4

I went through this and ended up returning the physical presence sensors as they were not suitable for Garage Door activity. Perhaps for thermostats and other situations that won’t put the safety and security of your home at risk. Mobile phone presence is definitely the way to go for Garage Door opening and closing, although for closing, it still won’t close until I am around the block and I am not comfortable driving away from my house without seeing the door closed, so I usually just manually close it. It’s such a pain pressing that one button every day :smile:

(Chrisb) #5

[quote=“Mbhforum, post:4, topic:4400”]
I went through this and ended up returning the physical presence sensors as they were not suitable for Garage Door activity. [/quote]

I would respectfully disagree with this. While I do agree that it is worrisome that the door doesn’t close until well after you’ve left, I would say that otherwise they work very well. I usually leave before my wife so I just leave the door open to be closed by ST after I’m down the street a bit. On the off chance that the door close app doesn’t fire I get a message that my door has been left open too long and then close it with the app (happened maybe twice in over a year).

I did have an issue with my tag not registering soon enough but a properly positioned Zigbee repeater (ie: SmartSense Motion plugged in) rectified this.

(Ben Edwards) #6

I have carried both the SmartSense Presence (tag) and my phone for presence to test the differences for much of this year. The physical ZigBee powered tag will consistently check in and out more quickly. AKA when I am close to my house. This is due the the fairly large geofence minimum we have in place. We have that in place because we believe some delay in arriving and departing events is preferable to false positives to to GPS “drift” that occurs with many devices. (not a SmartThings specific issue wholly)

Other people have been using the Life360 integration:

For me, it seems to alert arrival home even earlier than mobile presence, but other seem to think it is more consistent.

(Marc) #7

When I was using the physical presence tags, I would have to sit in my driveway for up to 1-2 minutes for the door to open. I tried positioning the presence tag on my windshield. I do not have this issue with my mobile phone presence. I just found it was completely unreliable for Garage Doors in my use case.

(Chrisb) #8

While I never waited 1-2 minutes, I did occasionally have a 15-30 second wait. I ended up mounting a plugged in SmartSense Motion sensor (which is a zigbee repeater when plugged in) in an upstairs window that faces the road. Now I never wait.

(Engelwood) #9

Just out of curiosity, how big is your geofence in feet?

(Michael Frankfort) #10

I carried both on my keychain for a few days, and so far the presence tag Leaves 1 min faster, and arrives 1 min later, which is what I want. I still can check if it’s open or shut, and also have a 9 month pregnant wife that doesn’t really leave the house much, so she’s my fail-safe. haha. (We have 2 single garage doors). I’ll see how this week goes with just the physical ones. I do have a very strong router, so I’m wondering if that’s the delay for the phone. Let’s see!

(Michael Frankfort) #11

And oddly enough, I went downstairs and grabbed something out of the garage, and saw it was open. Looked at the phone, 10:47 it said I left, 10:48 I arrived (opened garage). Doh. So far Phone 1, Sensor 0. lol

(Ben Edwards) #12

The smallest I can set it to: just about 500 feet.

(Chrisb) #13


That is one of the disadvantages of the presence sensor. Due to the relatively low powered radio if you’re not in close range you can get the mysterious wandering sensor. I use a modified version of the Rid. Automated Garage Door opener SmartApp which has a fail safe built in. If you’re not gone for x-number of minutes, when the sensor shows back up it will NOT open the door. I have mine set for like 13 minutes I think. This eliminates any false positives I’ve ever experienced with the wandering sensor.

(Michael Frankfort) #14

How did you set that up? I don’t see the option under “Open it when people arrive” Thanks.

(Kmugh) #15

I would like to have a presence sensor inside our cars, but we park our cars not in the driveway, but on the curb, across the street (only place with some shade). I have wanted to buy the ST presence sensors to keep track of thecars (just a security measure), but looks like the range is limited. Are there any other options for this?

(TG) #16

My wife and I are using our iPhones as presence sensors. It seems to trigger the Away state about 30-45 seconds after we pull away. No garage doors to trigger, so this is just the front door lock and the other Away actions (temp, lights). The geofence is set to the minimum, 500 feet. It should also be noted that the iPhone App needs to be open at least in the background and it needs the “update in the background” permission set to “yes” on your phone.

Next house will have garage doors, though, so I’m interested to learn how the presence sensors work when kept in the car. It would be nice if a battery could last a full year, but I guess that asking a lot from that type of device.

(Chrisb) #17

It’s a SmartApp, not park of the default ITTTBOW options.

(Elijah) #18

While playing with my presence sensors, I had a ST Motion sensor in my garage plugged in to extend the presence detection down the driveway. Last weekend I moved it to next to my front door, to control a light & noticed it appears to reaches out farther now. I suppose being near windows now seems to help, I can most times detect a sensor 100’+ from the house, where as before being surrounded by an all brick garage, next to a breaker box, & next to garage computer, I maybe had 20’ of detection.

(Michael Frankfort) #19

So far so good. I think I’m going to start using the actual clicker to make sure everything is shut, and then use the “Close the garage when I leave” as a sort of fail-safe. I did notice that the presence sensor today didn’t trigger the garage to shut, so did it manually with the app, then when I went to check, it said “open”. So I wonder if when it triggers it to close, since it was closed, it triggered it to open. I’ll keep playing with it and let everyone know.

(Ron S) #20

Hey guys! I am sure you are all techies and know better than me. I use the MyQ garage sensor devices and refresh SmartApps by the veterans for manually opening and closing the doors. And it notifies me iff it was actually closed when in hurry. Guys it’s just a click of a button on your fancy cars to open or close your garages any reason you don’t want to stick with it… Just a thought.