SmartThings Custom Automation slower than Smart Lighting?

I am running SmartThings Connect (not the classic app). I have a fairly simple lighting automation that I have implemented using the SmartThings motion sensor and GE Smart Toggle Switch. I have implemented in two ways, but with two different results:

  1. Using a SmartThings app custom automation that has an IF for motion, and a THEN to turn on the switch. With this solution, there is approximately a 1-2 delay from when I know the motion sensor saw me, to when the switch toggles. By that point I am halfway through the mudroom.

  2. Using the “Smart Lights” app that is in the recommended listing of the new automation screen. With this solution, there is almost no delay from when the motion sensor saw me to when the switch toggles.

I really want to use the custom automation for everything so it’s nice and consistent, rather than having to open the Smart Lighting app and then configure from there. But the delay is annoying. Any insight into why this would be? I mean I am using the same hardware for both solutions, and neither solution is going out to the cloud (e.g. IFTTT or Stringify) for anything. What gives?

custom automations do for now

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Last time I checked, the custom automations in the new app, like those in the classic app and routines in the classic app, run in the SmartThings cloud. They do not run locally.

Smart lighting in both apps is able to run locally as long as the devices are eligible to run locally.

So if that’s still true, it would explain the difference you were seeing.

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That would definitely explain it! Wish the hub had some local storage and processing to do this.

The hub has the technical specifications to be able to do it. (For example, see a competitor, hubitat, which does almost everything locally.)

The problem is the design of SmartThings cloud platform. They have been promising more local processing for over three years. But with their present “cloud first” design, they have told us that from an engineering standpoint anything which is going to be run locally currently has to be distributed to every single customer who has that same model hub as a firmware update. That caused a lot of issues, so they decided to limit local processing to the official smartlighting feature which is distributed to every customer.

With the release of each new hub since V1 they have said they are looking into more local processing for the next model, and indeed, they do have many more stock device type handlers which are eligible to run locally then they did a couple of years ago. But they have not yet solved the issue of distribution for the automations. But it’s not because of the hardware specs on the hub. It’s because of the cloud platform design.


Makes complete sense…but also unfortunate, especially for these types of automations where response time is paramount. Seems like they could maintain their cloud ownership of the user experience, authoring, configuration, and inventory of all the devices out there. But at the same time when an automation is saved, then push a “compiled binary” of some type down to the hub for fast offline local execution. If they want stats on usage, then send that back up to the cloud in the background. Ok…off my soapbox :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

This was the vision of retired SmartThings CTO @Jeff_Hagins - and he shared this in public conference call(s).

Why they failed to implement it is… unknown. There are plenty of ways this could work; and plenty of challenges they could have run into.

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After even more issues with SmartThings randomly turning on/off some cree bulbs in our bedroom at night, devices showing as “disconnected”, and even more latency in my motion automation…I got fed up. I purchased a Hubitat C-5 hub, and oh my word it is incredible. It is flawless, instantaneous, and so configurable.

The Rules Machine app can do anything I want it to, and more. It even lets me control my Sonos speakers! ST could see my Sonos too, but it was limited to start/stop playing. I can literally configure Hubitat to play a specific track.

Hubitat also controls my dimmer switches much better than ST. I have some GE toggle dimmers, and ST would take FOREVER to turn them on and get them to 100% when motion detected. Hubitat lets me turn them on right to 100% immediately, or fade them up slowly if I want to.

And I love the dashboards feature to deploy a simple interface for my wife to use. Who cares if it doesn’t have a native mobile app!? The web app is just as easy to use, and let’s me deploy simply dashboards with just the controls I want on them. This is exactly what I have been craving for my home automation. I’ve barely scratched the surface of Hubitat, yet I am already light years beyond where I was with ST. To anyone out there considering a go at Hubitat, I highly recommend it.