The alarm feature on my X10 system has gone unused for years and the home automation feature is only used to turn on a couple of lights. Upcoming changes in my schedule have motivated me to find a replacement for the X10 system. I’m looking for a DIY wireless alarm system that can be self-monitored with my smartphone but, ideally, has the capability of being professionally monitored if ever desired.
My research keeps bringing me back to SmartThings but the recent problems discussed here are a concern. In reading the forums it seems like problems are more likely to occur with larger, more complex systems but my system would be relatively small with a dozen door/window sensors, a couple of motion sensors and a siren. So, I’m wondering if SmartThings would be a good fit once Samsung irons out the wrinkles. Has anyone here successfully used SmartThings as an alarm system prior to the recent problems?
“Once it works out the wrinkles,” sure, but judging by the last 15 months, that could take a long time.
It’s about a year since the company CTO posted in these forums that they were going to make reliability a top priority, that they wanted SmartThings to be the last thing you thought of if you wondered why something didn’t work. Hasn’t gotten there yet.
(Note the date on the following–one year ago. We should also note that the local processing that was promised in March 2015 is not what was delivered in October 2015. At the present time, very little can run locally and the “round tripping” described is still taking place one year later even for something as simple as turning on a Hue light at the same time every day.)
When it works well, SmartThings is my favorite home automation system. However, since last October I have yet to go 10 days without an impactful SmartThings failure.
I use a completely different system for home security, however, one for which I pay a monthly fee. Even when it’s working well, the SmartThings design just doesn’t need my own personal requirements for a security system. And my home security system has had only two false alarms in about 10 years. But everyone has different needs for peace of mind.
If you search the forums for security you’ll find lots of discussions. But if you just read the following thread, which includes comments from SmartThings engineers, you’ll find that there is a current platform instability issue leading to database corruption that they don’t have a fix for yet. I do expect it will get fixed eventually, but meanwhile you might want to look at one of the purpose-built security systems like piper, Scout, Abode, etc.
I would wait until SmartThings has been stable according to forum feedback for at least 90 days before considering it for a security system. It’s not just a question of whether they can fix a particular bug. It’s a question of whether the company really has committed to a philosophy of reliability first. And I think that can only be judged by actions, not promises or marketing materials. JMO
On paper, SmartThings is a perfect match for your requirements. Professional monitoring is even available via Scout. Unfortunately (as you have read), the reality does not match the advertised functionality.
Your second statement however, I believe to be incorrect. Small/large, simple/complex really doesn’t have much to do with it. The problem lies within the ST platform itself. If anything, a larger system would be more reliable because it would have a more robust mesh network. The system might be there someday, but that day is not now.
Anything that uses IFTTT will give you at least some indirect integration with smartthings, although how much varies a lot.
Scout and SmartThings have an official integration, but it’s kind of strange. They can’t see each other’s devices, it’s just that SmartThings can send an alert to scout and then you’re using scout’s monitoring services. But right now it’s tripped up by all the SmartThings issues.
Z wave sensors that are used by piper could also be used by SmartThings, but not at the same time.
So any one of these might work for you or might not, it’s just going to come down to the details of what you need and what you’re willing to stop using if SmartThings ever gets its act together.
There are a lot of choices out there. The three I would probably look at for a limited investment DIY security system right now would be piper, scout, and abode. They work very differently from each other, and they all get pretty good reviews. But there are a lot of other good candidates as well.
Thanks JDRoberts… your reply was very helpful! I was considering Piper (and still am) but happened to be in Lowe’s and saw a display for the Iris system. They had a special - buy the security kit for $99 and get the hub free. You have to pay $10/month for the bells & whistles but basic service is free so I’m giving it a whirl. I came up with a “hack” to make the basic service a little less basic and it’s Z wave compatible. The security kit came with 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor, and a keypad and, so far, everything works well. I believe these components all use Zigbee so I should try out something that uses Z wave before my 90 day return window is over. If Z wave works well, I can add more sensors and convert to ST when/if they get their act together.
Many of the Iris second generation zigbee sensors (in the purple boxes, not the clear clamshell cases) can also be used with SmartThings, they are very popular because of the price. But the first generation zigbee devices are not ST-compatible.