Smartthings brand device reliability leaves much to be desired

My house is pretty basic from an automation standpoint. It’s packed with tech though. I have 11 Google homes of some variety or other. Tons of Philips hue lights and automation for those lights based off of smartthings sensors. Most sensors are based on the smartthings multipurpose sensors. Open the closet door the light comes on. Close it the light turns off. That kind of stuff. Problem is that I regularly have to remove and read these sensors to keep them working.

The symptom is that the automation will stop working and looking at the activity it’ll have a day or more since it’s recorded any activity. For instance my master closet has 8 hue bulbs in it with a sensor on the door. Simple. Automation that when the door opens the lights come on and when it shuts they turn off. In the last 2 weeks the lights have either stayed on or not turned on. Looking in the sensors activity it’ll show that a day before it detected open but never got the close signal. No matter what I do (pull the battery/push the little button) nothing changes. I have to remove the sensor from smartthings and re-add it back. It then works for a while and then stops again. In the past these problems happened once every couple months but now they are happening multiple times a week. Nothing in the house has changed and the problem is across all my sensors.

So here’s my 2 questions.

1: am I alone in this problem?
2: is there a better sensor I can use than smartthings?

  1. do you have device health turned on? It would notify you in the app when a sensor drops off
  2. the multi sensors use the zigbee protocol. Do you have any zigbee outlets or light switches that would act as repeaters for them?
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In the past I was told to turn off health.

I don’t have any repeaters as far as I know. Is this a specific device I need to buy or is it built into other products?

Pretty much every mains powered zigbee device, except certain brands of bulbs, will act as a repeater. I personally use Iris, Sylvania and Securifi peanut outlets and Sylvania Smart+ bulbs.

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Do you believe that is my problem? House is 3700 Sq ft on 2 levels and most devices are at opposite ends of the house from the smartthings.

Probably. I have at least one zigbee repeater in every room. Also make sure your hub is at least 5 ft away from any WiFi router.

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You definitely need a few repeaters! I’m like Jimmy, and have at least 1 zigbee repeater in each room. Most of the are Iris plugs, and many are GE zigbee in wall switches.

Also take note of what ZigBee channel is in use by your hub and what WiFi channels are in use within your home. Your house is larger than mine and I without a doubt have to have repeaters across the house or I have issues like you are reporting.

All of my repeaters are the ST or IRIS appliance plugs. I have I think three of those across my 2300sq house and made sure to change my WiFi to not use Channel 6 since that overlaps with my ZigBee channel in use.

I concur with everyone responding that you definitely need repeaters. How many and where they need to be placed is highly dependent on your house layout, materials, obstructions, interference, etc but I would start with building out a backbone of repeaters equally distributed around the house so that all your battery operated zigbee nodes have one in reach. Also, once you hit a certain number of battery zigbee devices the hub will refuse to connect more - I believe the limit was 32. To overcome this direct to hub connection limit you will need to use repeaters. Repeaters, being closer than the hub, will also help overcome possibly interference from WiFi. Since you cannot change the Zigbee channel, you might need to select a different Wifi CH on your router is interference turns out to be causing issues.

Ever since I strengthen my zigbee mesh network with repeaters strategically placed, I have never had any further issues. I find ST’s zigbee sensors to be very reliable and have not had the battery issues that some complain about.

If you use webCore you could create a piston to turn off lights if there is no motion or close reported for over X time. This way, if the sensor is not reporting motion or the door closing due to issues, the piston will turn the light off after (i.e.) 1 hour. If the logic is designed properly it should not interfere with your desired behavior and act as a backup. The backup to lights not turning on is your finger ;-). Backup for lights not turning off needs to be automated as when you leave the room you do not know whether it will work or not and you might discover it many hours later…

As an example, my bathroom fan turns off 10 minutes after the lights are turned off (so it can never turn off while you are in the shower for example), however if the lights were turned off before the fan was turned on… the fan would never turn off until someone turned the lights on and then off (or turns the fan off manually), therefore I also have a time limit that turns off the fan if the light has been off for 30 minutes (or whatever the time limit is).

EDIT: My home is on 2 levels and including garage is a bit larger (I have sensors/devices all over, including attic and garage). I started with 4 repeaters (IRIS outlets) and now have 7 (a few plug in CentraLite 4257050-ZHAC dimmers that I like because they turn power on if they detect someone flipping the switch off/on on the table lamp). My total number of Zigbee devices is just over 30. I have 4 APs in the house for WiFi coverage but they do not blast at max power (common misconception / misconfiguration) so I do not seem to have any interference issues. Keep in mind that you might have to reset a few sensors to allow repeaters to connect if you have already max’d out the direct connection limit. Powering down the hub for 10 minutes (can anyone confirm) should force all zigbee devices to find a new best path to the hub, hopefully adopting the new repeaters you added. There are other threads on this forum that go into much detail about this.

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Thanks. I’ll see what I can find. Yesterday I re-added my closet door sensor and less than 24 hours later it’s stopped responding. My only concern is why would this suddenly become a daily issue? It works well with issues only every 3 months or so then all of the sudden it’s daily? Seems something changes but I’ve not done anything in this house.

Unfortunately google WiFi does not allow control of the channel broadcast. So I can see them (I have 4 ap) on a WiFi analyzer but can’t change what channel it’s on. Google knows best I guess

So my first stab at this is to get some repeaters. Do Samsung SmartThings devices count as repeaters if they are powered? For instance the plug? I see you all seem to like iris and Sylvia is. Would you recommend them more? When it comes to multipurpose sensors do you have a brand you recommend or is ST good enough?

Many of us “oldtimers” in ST years use Iris likely because it was one of the first and easy to find (Lowes). It also has a zwave repeater but it is hidden and while you can use it, I believe it just caused issues… Plus my zwave mesh network is very dense so no need for extra repeaters. If you have use for plug in outlets then the ST ones are likely an excellent choice. I don’t like to rely on Zigbee bulbs for repeater functionality as there is always a chance they get switched off from the wall… And boom there goes your repeater. It is a bit easier to “train” your family not to unplug stuff even though I’ve been working on it with my wife for at least 4 years :wink:

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Yes, pretty much any mains powered zigbee device should work as a repeater, with the exception of a few bulbs.

For zigbee repeaters I and many others have had good luck with the Tradfri pocket sockets and bulbs from Ikea. They’re really cheap, work well for their intended purposes, and work great as zigbee repeaters. They even repeat well for Xiaomi/Aqara devices, which a lot of other repeaters don’t. I prefer the pocket sockets over the bulbs for the reason Alex mentioned above. Most of my smart lighting uses smart switches and dumb bulbs rather than the other way around.

How far from your google WiFi nodes is the SmartThings hub?

Ha! Indeed. It’s been a long road for me, but my whole family has stopped switching off lamps. We exclusively use Minimotes, but more so Alexa now.

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My guess here is WiFi is causing some of your issues. Things are smooth for a bit, then a client gets busy on a WiFi channel that is on top of your ZigBee channel and causes issues. You re-add the devices, no WiFi activity, and all is good for a while.

When mine were being problematic, it turned out that even though my ST hub and ZigBee devices hadn’t changed/moved in a while, what did change was that I had changed around my 2.4GHz channel assignments on my APs. The AP that was closest to my ST was sitting on Channel 6 now and causing me all kinds of issues. I changed that AP to Channel 11 as well as added in a couple of repeaters and don’t have issues anymore. I have since replaced my APs (went from one to three) so I can better control the power output and channel selection to avoid interference.