SmartThings Completely Unreliable

So for the past couple weeks smartthings has become completely unreliable. Every single day I’m having issues with multiple failures. All types of events, scheduled, timed, status change based, no rhyme or reason. The only thing I can count on is that it won’t work properly. Locks will randomly open and close because presence will suddenly go berserk… I’m very nearly ready to completely jump ship because I’ve always had problems and instead of better they only get worse. What’s going on?

I’ve learned to live with the shortcomings of ST after a few months of using it. Like you, I’ve had the front door unlock at night because the presence left and came back. If you’re the tinkering kind, you can make the coming and going a little interactive by using some third party apps if you’re on Android, no idea on the iOS platform.

Tonight, I had a timed event not fire off, I’m not sure why it didn’t. I just make sure not to rely on critical parts of the home being completely automated by ST because I know in the next few days or so it will fail.

Well… The periodicity (the time between Topic threads about unreliability almost uncannily identical to what you just wrote) has gotten longer and longer, indicating that quite likely the Platform is steadily improving.

That wasn’t just a lame attempt at humor…

Browse the threads, old and more recent, and note that SmartThings is adding engineering, operations, and support resources massively, and soon releasing a new Hub V2 with distributed workload, and it all adds up to sunny skies on the horizon! :sunny:


The current presence sensors and/or mobile phone / SmartThings App GPS zone presence is known to be unreliable and not recommended for any critical use (I wish SmartThings would publish this, but check with in case I’ve over generalized, and others here may have positive experiences).

The Community has come up with some decent workarounds, but, you’re correct that this takes some effort and patience to try out.

The lesson to takeaway is that certain parts of the product / platform are undeniably unreliable and those problems are experienced by a lot of Community members; but… If you avoid those feature for the time being, there’s plenty of value in the system – much more than anything at a comparable price.

The value depends on the person’s needs, which will vary. For me, SmartThings provides good value because of the IFTTT channel, which give me workable voice control, and essential in my house because I’m quadriparetic.

For somebody else for whom reliability is the absolute number one priority, Staples connect could be a better value.

For someone who had to have a wider variety of fully functioning features on some specific devices, including camera support, Iris might be better.

There are a lot of different choices out there, but nothing that’s perfect in this price range. So it’s just going to vary from person-to-person right now as to what’s the best fit.


I’m using an occupancy approach to remove the problem of events triggering because the Geo presence mysteriously comes and goes. It’s working well, but it does require the use of additional devices and can be tricky to set up.

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Actually after searching I see that about two weeks ago they announced reliability and stability improvements yet that’s about when things became auto fail central. It’s like every time they say it’s better, it’s actually worse.

Not one single thing works 100%. To work around it would be to manually perform every single automation. So then what’s the point?

I have 135 devices and about 40 SmartApps. Most rooms in my house have motion activated lights. All of this works at about 99% reliability most of the time, with sub-500 millisecond response times 99% of the time. The other 1% something randomly doesn’t work. Plenty of value there, and the point is that it does work and is getting better over time.

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I’ve been using the key fob presence detector since the beginning and I stopped having presence issues after I stopped using the app for presence detection. The only other time I have presence issues after killing the app for presence detection is when I have my keys in my pocket and I’m laying on that side. If your not using the fob… Use the fob. If you are using the fob then you may have too much interference from your wifi. Keep your hub away from your wifi router and try changing the wifi channel to something different, try to stick to wifi channel 1,6 or 11. Something in there should work for you…


Or, like me, instead of continuing to post they’ve learned to live with it until something better comes along.

Motion and presence sensors are still working well, but thermostats (due to status update issues), schedules, and most other things dependent on polling are problematic. So is sending SMS to my GV number, which doesn’t work at all.

So for me, more things shaky than settled.

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This is a known issue on Google Voice fault, not SmartThings. The fraction of Customers that use GV for text alerts is most definitely too small to justify changing bulk messaging service providers.

Voicemail and SMS
SMS from application providers (e.g. Skype, Bank of America, etc.) are not working.
This problem is caused by an issue with SMS interoperability, not Google Voice specifically. However, we’re looking into it and appreciate your patience.

Unless, like me, it appears to be your neighbor’s wifi that is interfering with the fob.

I worked with support on this. They’ve made some adjustments on their side, I’ve done a lot of things on my side, it doesn’t matter. Several times a week my Zigbee fob just randomly drops off the network. Usually multiple times over a several hour period. Then the next day everything will be fine again.

Inside my house, there are six detectable Wi-Fi networks, only one of which I control. So there’s not a lot I can do about the fob’s issues. (Support tells me it’s the only zigbee device they sell that doesn’t use amplification, likely the reason it’s the only thing affected.)

Sometimes there’s just not much you can do except recognize the problem and move on to something else.

We all have different setups and points of interference. I happen to live in a condo in Austin, TX, a city that’s big on tech. At any given moment I can detect 8 wifi networks from my cellphone (my laptop sees over 20). For me just to have stable wifi in my 1000 sq ft condo I have 2 access points on channels 1 and 11 because everybody and their mom is on 6. As my SmartThings hub picked channel 14 for zigbee I’m interning with myself, but my presence sensors still work well because I have smart power outlets near both the front and back of my unit while my hub is stationed near the center. It may seem like overkill for such a small space but then again I don’t have problems with presence either, and due to all the interference, I’m only detected about 15 ft from my front door. So yes my setup works for me… But only barely. As an added bonus I turn off my smart power outlets when I leave and back on when I come home so I’m not paying for the vampire power when I’m away. I’m sure this saves me a few cents every month on my power bill ;).

Presence issues when you are using the fob is easily fixable by anyone, it just takes the right hardware in the right locations with the right configurations. To me figuring all of that out is half of the fun of home automation. So if you are using the fob and you are still having issues you can always beef up your zigbee network with a couple (maybe more) smart power outlets or plugged in motion sensors.

When you are using the app for presence you are at the mercy of the OS and GPS hardware on your phone, your ISP, your cellular provider all having their equipment setup correctly and behaving correctly to even have a shot at accurate in app presence detection. Even SmartThings has very limited access to improve this situation, due to all the variables and players involved.

Agreed, if the only problems are random drop offs, throw enough time and money at the problem and you can probably fix it.

Because I had the problem of both the perimeter being too broad and drop offs, and I’m on a fixed income, I chose to go the occupancy route. Added a contact sensor that also acts as a doorbell and repurposed one motion sensor and solved both problems. Since Best Buy had both on sale for $20 each, it was a quick and relatively inexpensive fix, if not necessarily “easy.”

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From what I can tell on this forum, you’re the exception. I have 43 devices and only a handful work without any issue at all. Time events are pretty hit or miss, especially. Switching modes at a specific time is a crapshoot whether it’ll actually perform the required actions or switch mode. And where’s the value if the automation saves me 45 seconds of time from doing manual things every day but costs me days and days of troubleshooting and programming and setting up. It’ll be a decade before I see any actual “time” saved and with the excessive battery suck and cost of these devices, I’ll never see energy savings. For me, it’s more of a hobby then a real life changer. Nothing is actually simpler than it used to be because it constantly is a fight to get it to work.

Sorry to hear of your poor system experience.

I wish we had statistics for the overall customer satisfaction. Amazon is holding at a 3.8 Star rating. The media gives far too favorable reviews due to insufficient testing. And some of us really feel the 5-Star potential due to the lack of programmability of competing systems.

No, I’m not the exception, I’m the rule!!

Only a tiny fraction of ST users ever show up here. If you see lots of complaints on the forums, you’re seeing the complainers. There are several of us who have been around for a while, and it’s always the same: there’s a lot of complaining about failures when they occur, which is often enough for it to be a drum beat. Ya, it fails frequently. What else is new? But, most of the time it works.

My sunset events failed last night. I didn’t bother to write to support, because, frankly, they don’t have a clue about most things. There are times that I do write to them, when it’s something new and I can add significant information to help identify a bug. When a scheduled event fails, what do you realistically think is going to be done about it after the fact?

All you can do is delete the event, and redo it. That usually works. There will continue to be failures for reasons we users can only speculate about. Meh.


I have 159 devices and (knock on wood) all pretty much work when and how they are expected to work. I see the occasional lag and once in a while a scheduled on command gets missed. Mode changes work as expected. Presence works for the most part (when it doesn’t there are patterns to it, so the issue can be reasonably avoided or fixed). Everything has improved greatly over the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, there are issues. Things (i.e. Harmony, etc.) that are labeled labs (where they seem to ferment forever) don’t always work reliably (and never seem to make it out of that state). Some of the cloud to cloud integrations (i.e. Ecobee, etc.) are a little fragile. Most of these issues are platform dependent. I’ve re-written some of the SmartApps for my use to try and account for some of the limitations that I could identify. Once in a while a device fails to respond, I’ve found a reasonable method to fix it without deleting and re-adding.

I have periods of extreme frustration with ST at times, but for the most part, I think it’s great. But it’s not for the weak at heart. And it probably requires more tech skills than a normal consumer product would ever require. Should it be this way? I don’t know. Some of my SmartApps are pretty involved to get things to do what I want, when I want, and how I want. Was it worth it? Yes. I’m happy with the outcome.

Things are improving. It just takes a little time and (unfortunately) sometimes troubleshooting.


This post is long and probably belongs somewhere else as well, but this thread put a spotlight on the issues that I’ve been dealing with and now I realize that it’s not all a result of my lack of knowledge and experience.

I wish I had stumbled on this thread about a month ago. At that point I was disappointed with what Apple had announced around HomeKit; disappointed with Piper and Canary and wondering what to do to solve my HA needs.

I’m a snowbird, traveling between Maine in the summer and Florida in the winter. I always have one home sitting empty, and usually for four to six months at a time. Last summer I pre-order a Canary, planning to install it in my summer home so that I would have at least a simple degree of monitoring and security. Maine has been our legal residence and our primary home. Most of our records are stored here as well as most of the physical things that have some sentimental value to us.

But shortly after placing my order Canary announced that they wouldn’t be shipping before the end of the year and I knew that my plans weren’t going to work out. I dithered and ended up not doing anything until early December when I was already in Florida. By that point I had done enough research that I understood the major difference between Canary and Piper was the ability of Piper to control ZWave add-on devices and went ahead and ordered a Piper, along with a door/window sensor and two GE plugin switches. That seemed like enough to get me started.

So Piper and my stuff arrived and it was easy as pie to get set up. I had a few minor complaints with the software but nothing that was impossible to live with. Piper worked like a charm and I was happy.

We always spend Christmas with our daughter and her family in Boston. And this past Christmas my wife had scheduled a medical test for while we would be back in the area. A couple of days before Christmas we took off up to Maine, the wife had her test, we went to lunch at our favorite Chinese place and then swung by the house to pick up a couple of things and make sure that everything was ok.

It wasn’t. We had been broken into and many of my electronics were gone. All of our TV sets, the BluRay player, Rokus - all gone. And I was really pissed - if Canary had met their original delivery schedule, I’d have had mine up and running and while it might not have stopped the breakin, at least I’d have gotten an immediate alert and the police would have been notified. Instead, I walk into my house and discover we’ve been violated - probably weeks ago and now there’s nothing we can do except call the police and file a report.

When we got back to Florida, I set to work to make sure that this couldn’t happen to me again. That house was already protected by my new Piper, and door sensor, but I vowed that over the coming summer I would make the Maine house invulnerable, impossible for anyone to do this to me again. In Florida I acquired an Aeon Labs MultiSensor and tried to pair it with my Piper and that was the beginning of my loss of faith in Piper. I quickly discovered that while there are a bunch of ZWave devices out there, if your system doesn’t support them in their app, you’re pretty much out of luck. And Piper isn’t supporting much at this point. A few switches and door sensors, but that’s about it. No locks, no thermostats, no relays or low voltage stuff. So I started learning more about the Home Automation and the Internet of Things market.

Nothing interesting was announced at CES, but it seemed certain that Apple would make good on the HomeKit announcements that they had made at WWDC the summer before. So I did some more research and more waiting. I came to the conclusion that while there were a growing number of products on the market, most of them suffered from one of two problems:

  1. a proprietary communications infrastructure that locked you into buying from that manufacturer and no one else (like Insteon)
  2. an open system infrastructure but a limited implementation of device support that limited your selection from the available devices supporting that open architecture. Piper is just one example of this problem but there are a number of others.

WWDC 2015 came and went and yes, there were a few HomeKit products announced but as we all know, nothing from Apple themselves. HomeKit looks like it may be the solution to both of the issues that I sited above, but apparently Apple hase’t been able to devote enough time to developing any products of their own and hope that third party developers will keep the operating system alive for them while they attend to other, more important priorities like the Watch.

So the one company that seemed to offer a solution that addressed both of my issues is SmartThings. Open architecture support for both Zigbee and ZWave and an operating system that has been built out to the point where it seems to support all of the many device categories that you might want. Or at least most of them.

I bought a Hub, a pair of door sensors, switches, a Hue Starter Kit, a bunch of Aeon Labs MultiSensors, an Aeon Siren and before I knew it I had duplicated all of the functionality of my Piper, plus a little more. And yes it cost me more than the $300 I had paid for the Piper set up, but not much more.

Until I ordered the Scalage FE599 lockset and EcoBee3 Smart Thermostat. Those two alone added $425 to the total tab. Today I received my third lockset. The first one was mechanically defective and I returned it to Amazon who replaced it. The second one I cannot get to pair to my Hub no matter what I try. To the point where Scalage support shipped me a new one. I probably won’t be able to start trying to pair it for a few days and I’m really hoping that this one works.

Next week I’ll work on getting the EcoBee set up with my Mitsubishi heat pump Comfort System and I am undecided whether or not I’m going to try to integrate that into the ST system or not. At least for right now. Maybe when Hub 2 is released and has had a little time to get the initial bugs out. And I bought the HomeKit Enabled version, just in case. Nothing like hedging your bets, you know?

But now I understand why i keep finding my Hub in a different mode than I left it in. And why lights come on at 4 in the morning and wake everyone in the house up. Had I found this thread before I started down the ST path, I might have held back a little bit. Who knows?

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