Question on alarm panel/monitoring

I’m just starting to learn about automation possibilities and was researching various options for my home. What I am trying to accomplish is to have an alarm panel that I can utilize z-wave capabilities on WITHOUT having to pay for any sort of monthly monitoring service (hence why I’m a fan of ST!) Is this even possible? I was looking at the Lynx Touch 7000 panel, but everywhere I look I am reading that some sort of monthly service is required no matter what to simply “activate” or “maintain” the wifi and/or z-wave functionality. Please forgive my ignorance in advance!

I was looking at the Lynx line also (5200) and you do need to pay a monthly fee IF you want offsite access/control. Honeywell has an app that gives you that but only within your own wifi network. To use the Total Connect 2.0 software, you have to pay the monthly fee. It’s available without monitoring, but still a monthly fee. Lynx is probably the best system of its kind, but I chose to go with a Zwave solution because it is much more flexible and I believe that is where the future is headed.

ST can sort of do most of what you want but it’s not an “out of the box” solution. First, there is no hardware panel, but most are using an app called SmartTiles paired with a tablet for similar functionality. The V2 of the ST hub was supposed to have local execution (without internet connection) but at launch, only one app (for lights) is capable of that. So currently, the apps that would give you the “alarm system” functionality still rely on the ST cloud which has had reliability/latency problems, but is rumored to be getting better. Until all devices and apps that comprise your system run locally, I would not bet my family’s safety on such a system.

So, it does sound like with the Honeywell panels, you have to pay someone somewhere for the offsite access. Bummer.

Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly do you mean by going “with a Zwave solution”? The SmartTiles app option sounds pretty close to what I am trying to accomplish - a system in place more so for remote accessibility, not necessarily reliability (at least not at this time from what I’ve read about the release of STv2) with no monthly nor annual charges whatsoever. Hope this makes sense.

I just meant going with standard zwave devices to create the alarm system instead of a proprietary system (Honeywell sensors, cameras, etc.). The Lynx is kind of a hybrid…a dedicated alarm system with proprietary sensors, and some modest Zwave functionality. ST will get eventually offer all you want, just not at the moment. There are other zwave solutions, but I think ST will eventually be the best of the bunch. Samsung has deep pockets.

Would you possibly be able to provide any sort of information as far as suggestions on devices, apps, configurations, or links so I can better understand what some of my (currently available) options are? Much appreciated!

@jarballa16 The concept is the same as a dedicated security system. You use door/windows sensors to protect perimeter areas. Motion sensors are used for indoor “area” protection, to detect movement in the portion of the room covered by the motion sensor. If you have pets, make sure your motion sensor is listed as “pet-immune” meaning it won’t be activated by small animals, but it will be activated by a person. Some have jumper switches used to control the sensitivity, and thus the size of the pet detected. Also, be aware that with motion sensors, some have a reset period of several minutes, meaning once activated, they can’t be activated again until after the reset period. Once you have all your motion sensors in place, just set up the app in ST to alert you when they are tripped, either via siren activation, text message, push alerts from the app, call your cell phone via link to IFTTT, etc. Be sure and test, test, test!

Personally, my hardware consists of (all Zwave) Ecolink door/window and motion sensors, and Aeon Labs recessed door sensors, and an Aeon Labs Gen 5 siren. I’ve not had any problems with them yet, but they have not been in use very long.

There are typically 3 security modes: Armed Away is where every sensor is armed. Armed Stay is where only perimeter sensors are armed, not motion sensors, to allow for movement inside the house (get up for a glass of water) when everyone is home for the night. And finally, Disarmed. You can customize each of these for your personal use, or add more modes if you like. For example, you may want to activate a motion sensor for the downstairs in the Armed Stay mode if your bedrooms are on the second floor of a two-story house. All kinds of possibilities.

Smart Alarm is a great app created by @geko here in this community. It is a very popular security app. In V2 of the SmartThings app, ST launched Smart Home Monitor, baked into the app. It is new and, in my opinion, not as comprehensive as Smart Alarm, but perhaps someday it may be. You could also “roll your own” by using any combination of event alerts in conjunction with sirens/device notifications, but the two mentioned are a simpler/cleaner approach. But like I said earlier, neither of these (at the moment) will run entirely locally, meaning without internet service to connect to the ST Cloud. So all an intruder has to do is cut your power line and cable/DSL line and you’re SOL; not what I would call “secure.”

Although the power issue is somewhat mitigated by the battery backup in V2 hub, you would be better off putting the hub on a high-quality UPS backup system. You can get around the cable cut problem by installing a failover router with 3G backup. Essentially, it’s a multi-WAN (wide area network, as opposed to LAN local area network) router that will immediately switch to its backup WAN when the primary fails. So you might have cable as your primary internet, but also a cellular 3G/4G modem as backup. On the better devices, the failover is immediate, so you wouldn’t even know when it happened if you were on a VOIP call. A good router like this will start at around $300. This Peplink router gets very good reviews (and probably my choice) but Cradelpoint, TP-Link and others also offer them.

Even with 100% internet uptime, you are still dependent on the ST Cloud servers which have had a lot of issues lately, though this may improve if/as more operations shift to local operation on the V2 Hub. If your alert/siren activation is delayed by even a minute or two, you might wake up staring down the barrel of a bad guy’s gun, or even worse, not wake up at all.

So bottom line, even ST V2 Hub is NOT a security system I would bet my life on, at least not until EVERYTHING can run locally. And even then I have a backup :wink:

As a newcomer to home automation and SmartThings, I can tell you there is a TON of good information you can learn by perusing this Community board, and by using the search tool (magnifying glass upper right) to target specific keywords you’re interested in. And if, after you’ve searched, still can’t find an answer, just ask away. Most everyone is helpful, and some of the threads can be quite amusing.

Also, know that new custom apps are always being developed by many of the members here. They frequently involve some effort (cut & paste code) but not that much, and the good developers give explicit instructions on how us mere mortals (non-coders) can implement their work. Without their work, ST would be nowhere near what it is today.

Hope that helps!

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Wow, thanks for the insight! Sounds like I just gotta do some more research as to what to get to accomplish what I need for my system to do, and how to put all the pieces together.

Just thinking out loud here, but in a perfect scenario couldn’t a valid workaround for power/cable failures be circumvented by using the system through its own dedicated mobile or cellular network such as a mobile or 4G hotspot?

One last thing (and again, maybe I just need to take the plunge and actually play around with some of these devices myself to figure all this out): When you get all the working pieces together and link them up to the hub, I’m assuming if you have multiples of the same sensor that the hub can differentiate them somehow? And as far as assigning them different roles/duties is all done through the ST app, or SmartAlarm?

Yes, that’s essentially what the failover router setup does - you hook up a cell modem/hotspot to the router for the 3g connection. The hub is not capable of a direct connection to a cell modem yet. There is a USB port on the V2 but it isn’t activated yet. Most people have both cell service and a wired internet connection that they’re already paying for, either cable or DSL, so why not use the wired as primary and only incur the data cost of the cellular when necessary (failovers). I don’t know what the data usage would be while on 3G because I’ve never measured it. Ideally, you would want a pay-as-you-go plan since you would only need it occasionally and why pay the monthly cost. For me, it would cost $10 or $20 per month to add a hotspot/modem on to my cell plan with VZ, but that’s still cheaper than what ADT charges. And all this would only be necessary until all operations could be handled locally on the hub, so I’m anxiously awaiting that time.

As far as sensors, each one registers separately with the hub, so no issues there. You can name them whatever you like. They report their status (open/closed, motion/no motion, battery strength, etc.) to the individual smart apps that are run from the hub, but at the moment they work through the cloud connection…no internet = no device reporting = no alarms. SmartAlarm is one of those apps that you install yourself. Smart Home Monitor comes already installed when you install the SmartThings app on your phone or tablet.

Thanks, again, for all the info and insight! I’m sure I’ll be back after some further digging, but until then…

Hi to All,

Any update regarding this problem? I’m having problems with the fact that when Internet is down, the Smart Monitor features are totally useless, due that the sirens didn’t trigger. I feel rip-off, due the fact that Samsung market this new V2 hub with some Offline features, and as usual… the most important one to work without Internet (run locally on the Hub to trigger the sirens) it is NOT supported. How convenient!!!

Best regards to all,