Smartthings Buttons = Very bad first impression of Smartthings

Hi everyone,

I’m very new to Smartthings and I just recently decided to pull the trigger and get the V3 Hub, some Smartthings bulbs and some Smarttings buttons. I got 6 buttons to begin with.

First things I did was setup the hub and light bulbs. All went really well and I have no complaints. Then it was time to unbox and setup the buttons. 1st button, follow the instructions to pair it and no go. I don’t get the expected lights sequence (red, green, red, green, red, green). I think it just flashed red a bunch of times and then that’s it. I ended up having to go online and find the instructions on how to reset the buttons and I still couldn’t get it to pair with the hub. Not a good start but I could have made a mistake during the setup since this is indeed my first time with these things. So I unbox the next one… Same thing. not the expected pairing behavior, I have to reset and I still can’t pair to my hub. Unbox the 3rd one… Same thing. Unbox the 4th. It works… everything happened as expected. Unbox the 5th… no go. then the 6th, It works.

Anyhow, I manage to get a couple more to pair within the next couple of days, but it’s very unstable and I keep losing connection and it’s very unreliable. ( kinda hard to convince my wife that this is going to be a great system when she was already skeptical to begin with) Anyhow, I need more buttons so I bought 4 more. 2 buttons out of the next 4 are DOA again.

Am I doing something wrong? This was getting really surreal. I’ve never had such a hard time with what seems to be a very reputable tech company. Oh and I have 20+ years as an IT technician in case anyone is wondering if I’m just not technically savvy.

Add on that the Samsung Hub one day lost all my Zigbee and virtual devices… the only thing that remained and has been the most reliable so far are my wifi devices… I had to individually re-add every device to my hub. at least it was able to remember the name and locations of the devices but I wasn’t able to find re-add the virtual devices, which are still listed in the IDE but are no longer showing in the Smartthings app. Oh and now I have triplets or even quadruplets of all my devices in my google home.

All this has been way too much work for what I really expected to be something that would be easy to implement in our lives and keep trying to improve it as time goes on… Not start off with a major rebuild right from the start… Couple this with the social distancing and the kids at home 24/7 and no time to play with lights that everyone depends on while their in the house.

I was thinking… could there be something wrong with my Hub perhaps? Is the V3 hub usually this unstable? are the ST buttons normally unreliable?

Anyhow, I think I’m just very frustrated and I really needed to vent about how bad my experience has been. but honestly… I’m really hoping there’s a solution to all this and I just head some kind of freakishly weird patch of bad luck… I’m really excited about having automation in my home… But just as long as it makes my life easier and not the other way around.

If anyone has any insight about my issues, I would love to hear it…

Thanks in advance…

Sylvain.

Are you leaving power always applied to the bulbs? (I.e. never turning off with the physical switch). Is your hub at least 5 ft away from WiFi routers and usb cables?

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I’m sure that’s very frustrating. :disappointed_relieved: The buttons are zigbee end devices. They can’t contribute to the mesh because they don’t repeat messages for other devices.

The smartthings lightbulbs are Zigbee, so they can act as repeaters, but only when they are on power, as @prjct92eh2 mentioned.

If The bulbs are not available as repeaters, it may just be that your buttons are having a hard time reaching the hub. It might also explain why pairing was difficult.

Start by reading post 11 in the following FAQ. After that, go up to the top of the thread and read through it and that will give you a good idea of how the SmartThings mesh architecture works. (The topic title is a clickable link)

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Also, the reality is that the smartthings buttons are cheap electronics devices, and like all cheap electronics devices you do get a bad one from time to time. That’s not enough to explain all the problems you were having obviously, but it may be one of the factors. Where did you buy them?

I purchased 2 of the ST buttons and neither one will stay online for any length of time. IMHO they are trash. I threw them away. I could not rely on them.

@prjct92eh2 Yes, I do have some “mesh” repeaters around the house but they’re low powered and are not close to any zigbee device or the Hub itself. Unfortunately, yes, some of my bulbs do get powered off every once in a while but not all of them, just a couple out of the 22 devices. This is due to not having a reliable “alternative” to turning the lights on or off so my family members just default to what they know works, the light switch… lol … Can turning off a just a couple of devices be very disruptive to the overall Zigbee mesh?

@JDRoberts they are indeed Zigbee bulbs and I also have some Sengled bulbs in the mix 22 in total at the moment.

triocketman: Have you tried to return/exchange your buttons? How receptive are Samsung when it comes to device support and exchange?

@JDRoberts I think I read your guide previously. Thanks for that, it’s very helpful. I have done the Zigbee heal process a couple of times. I think it probably did help for a period of time but then the buttons just start to get disconnected… Though the bulbs have always been very reliable. (with the exception of the time I lost all my zigbee devices) Also, I bought all my ST branded devices at Newegg.ca (Hub, Bulbs, Buttons, Motion Sensors)

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Sengled bulbs are not repeaters, for themselves or anything else. That’s unusual, but it was a decision made by the manufacturer to keep people from damaging their mesh when bulbs were turned off at the switch. I think it’s a weird decision, but obviously it’s up to them.

With regard to reliable alternatives to a wall switch that cuts the power, these days there are lots. :sunglasses:

See:

FAQ: Looking at a good Wall Switch for my Hue Bulbs (2018 Short FAQ) ( also applies to other brands of smart bulbs)

In short, yes. Since SmartThings now displays the routes in the Groovy IDE, you could make sure all bulbs have power, perform the zigbee heal process and then check the IDE for what route the buttons are taking. That will tell you how detrimental cutting power to a bulb is to your mesh.

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Just my 2 cents, try not to turn lights off, technically they need to be on 100% of the time, especially when they are repeaters. Sengled lights are fine since they are not repeaters.

I only have one SmartThings button but it never gives me any trouble.

If your family can’t remember not to turn switches off, try one of these lol:

Light switch guards from Amazon

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Unfortunately, these days Newegg is just a marketplace for many different individual sellers, like eBay. No guarantees that you aren’t buying from someone who bought a joblot of defective devices or even counterfeits. So I would not be surprised to hear that the individual device failure rate was higher than if you purchased from an authorized retailer.

It seems to depend on the country you’re in, but in the US and Canada as Long as you bought from an authorized retailer and you’re within the warranty., they’ve generally been very good. Unfortunately that won’t apply to items bought off of eBay or from NewEgg. :disappointed_relieved: You have to go back to those websites if you can’t get satisfaction from the seller themselves.

“Sengled bulbs are not repeaters, for themselves or anything else”

I had no idea, I just checked all my devices and I just noticed that they are all connected directly to the Hub. I essentially have no Zigbee mesh network whatsoever except for the few ST bulbs I have installed, All my devices are end devices. I still have some ST bulbs that I haven’t installed yet. Maybe I should spread them across the house as much as possible in hopes to have some kind. Hopefully this will make my buttons a little more reliable?. I’ll just have to deal with making sure those bulbs don’t get turned off the old fashioned way.

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All of this is making me kind of regret getting into smartthings a little too hastily. I had a few Wifi plugs and switches and I found that my wifi network was starting to degrade and become unreliable as well… I have almost 50 wifi devices in my house (PC, Repeaters, Android TV, Google homes, switches, smart plugs etc…) and I thought, either I upgrade my network to something like ubiquiti, or try to offload some devices on to ST. I didn’t really have the money to go for the full on Ubiquiti network so I went with ST since I was able to find decently priced Zigbee devices such as the bulbs and buttons. the Hub wasn’t even that expensive at all either… but I’m starting to understand that if you want a reliable network, or reliable home automation, I’m going to have to invest some serious cash in the system. And I’m just not there right now. I have a feeling this is going to cost me a lot more in the long run than if I would have made a “bigger” investment to begin with.

Lessons learned I guess. Now if I can just convince either NewEgg or ST to exchange or return my faulty buttons, I might feel less cheated.

Thanks a lot for the help guys. You guys really helped add some clarity on my situation.

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Another factor would be zigbee interference, what’s your WiFi channel and your st zigbee channel?

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It depends on your definition of serious cash… There are some relatively inexpensive “reliable systems, including Apple HomeKit, the hue bridge on its own, even Amazon echo.

My own reliability requirement is an MFOP (maintenance free operating period) of at least six months and preferably 12, because I have to pay someone else even just to pop the batteries in a device. (I’m quadraparetic.) Smartthings doesn’t meet that, But HomeKit, the Hue bridge, Lutron Caseta, and Echo all have. :sunglasses:

Here’s the project report on my home with budget if you’re interested:

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This certainly won’t hurt. It’s certainly possible to get a reliable Zigbee network for your buttons without what I would consider “serious cash”. I only have one ST button, and it works first time every time, but I also have at least one zigbee device that repeats in every room.

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