Smartthings hub v2 capabilities when the Internet is down


(too-much-coffeeman) #1

So I replaced my smartthings hubs because the v2 was supposed to be able to do some basic tasks like turn lights on and off when offline.

So what does that mean exactly? Last night my Internet went out before I was going to bed. My phone was connected to my local wifi, but the app was completely unable to do anything, it would only pop up the error box with options to logout or retry. The rest of my local network was working fine,

I understand the ins and outs of the cloud apps, and the limitations when offline. But how exactly does the user contol the hub when offline? The limited features of the off-line hub must have some way to use them, otherwise they might as well not exist.

So tell me how to use these off-line features, how do you talk to the hub at all when the Internet is down? I would assume if there is supposed to be any off-line capability of any kind at all, that the app would have some way, even if limited, to talk to the hub. But ok, so the app is useless when the Internet is down, what local communication capability is there to do simple things like turn the lights off so I can go to bed and sleep-off the Internet downtime.

I have noticed that the v2 hub seems to work a bit better than v1, when the Internet is up, but there is not much improvement when offline.

The odd thing is that I haven’t noticed this before since upgrading to V2. My ISP was off-line at least an hour every week on the v1 hub, but since I got v2 a year or two ago, I guess my ISP has been better, and I’m just now noticing this capability gap. Obviously I need to spend some time digging into this issue and develop some method to access the off-line capabilities. I would assume that there has to be some form of local communication, otherwise local processing is meaningless.

(Dan) #2

If your devices are running locally, and you are using Smart Lighting, then those apps will run locally and perform their regularly scheduled on/off routines. For example, let’s say you have a motion detector whose device handler runs locally on your V2 Hub, and you have a GE Z-Wave light switch whose device handler runs locally on your V2 Hub, and you use SmartThings’ Smart Lighting app to tie the two together, then that automation will run locally on your hub. The Aeon Minimote Z-Wave button controller also runs locally and can be used to turn on/off lights via the Smart Lighting app. (That’s about all that runs locally, except for a few pieces of Smart Home Monitor.)

Without the internet, your phone cannot talk to the hub.

ST seems to have given up on local processing on the v2 hub. Seems like they could offload so much processing from their cloud servers if they allowed more things to run locally, and users would be much happier with the responsiveness and up-time, but those items do not seem to be a priority for ST.

(too-much-coffeeman) #3

So there are some old threads that talk about using third party hubs and non-smartthings remotes to control lights when the Internet is down. But all of that is a smartthings bypass. So just to be clear in this thread, I’m not looking for a bypass option, I just want to know how to talk to my smartthings hub to turn lights on or off.

I do have some two button remotes around here somewhere… I lost interest in using those because 2 buttons is not enough. Is that the answer here? If I need to control 6 lights, I should buy three 2-button remotes and nail them to a board to create a 6 button remote? I looked for remotes with more buttons before, but all I found were devices to bypass smartthings, is there something out there, or do I need to make that thing?

(Dan) #4

The Aeon Minimote has four buttons. Each button can create either a “pushed” or “held” event to the ST v2 HUB via Z-Wave. Inside Smart Lighting, you can use each of these 8 events to trigger a lighting automation. Again, this assumes your lights are using ST native Device Handlers that also run locally on the hub.

This is not a workaround. The Aeon Minimote is one of the few button controllers that runs locally on the v2 hub, and has since the day the v2 hub was released.

(Dan) #5

To see what is running locally on your hub, take a look at this post from ST.

(too-much-coffeeman) #6

Yeah, so I guess they over-sold the off-line capabilities. I always understood the caveat of off-line being limited, but I assumed there was some human UI capability in the local processing feature. After all, this is all about the UI, or it should be anyway,

As for the minimote having 4 buttons, yeah I’m getting senile I guess, I remember it didn’t have enough, but clearly it has more than I can remember before I’ve had my morning coffee. And I have a lot more than 6 lights… Think I’m up to 15 now… Yeah, I’m just in a bad mood because I have become too reliant on using my phone for /everything/. I have 5 other cloud based control systems I use, and I’m mulling over running a local blynk server to see if I can migrate some of it to a local cloud. It would be nice if smartthings used blynk and let us build our own cloud…

(Ron Talley) #7

I am doing everything in my power to do the total opposite! I really don’t want to touch my phone for anything other than making rules. I want the house to be truly automated and I must say that I am doing a darn good job.

However, Alexa and my 13 enabled Alexa devices do play a big part in the hands free experience.

But just like your concern, once the internet goes down, all bets are off. I am just glad that I went with all GE Smart Switches and slowly converting all of my contact and motions sensors to Iris as they also run locally so even if the internet goes down, many of my “no hands” automations would still work. For those that run in the cloud, things would just go back to the days where the house wasn’t so…Smart.

(Dan) #8

In Smart Lighting, you can have one button event perform a “toggle” on a group of lights. So you really don’t need 1 button per light. I have a button configured to toggle all of my outside lights, for example. I have another one for all of my inside light-bulbs, in case the power blips and we lose the internet, I can turn off all of my GE/Cree bulbs that default to “ON” after a power blip.

I wonder if there is anyway to build a custom device that emulates/mimics a z-wave minimote? This would allow it to run locally on the v2 hub, and you could build a LAN-connected front-end with whatever type of display you like. Or, you could just hack open a minimote and hard wire another controller to “press” or “hold” the buttons. That is probably the lowest cost solution!


I agree, if you have to pull your phone out constantly it is not true automation.

(too-much-coffeeman) #10

Yeah, I was wishing for a “single pane of glass” solution, but that just puts everything in the single point of failure realm.

But honestly some of this is me being silly… I’m trying to avoid spending money on bypass solutions, and expensive switches, so that I can go spend money on other gadgets to tinker with. I have yet to buy any of the ge switches, mostly because I can’t find a number of them to buy that would make me happy without buying at least 25 or 30 of them. What are they, around $40 bucks a pop? Spending $10 per smart bulb just seemed like a better way to go. Yeah, every dollar saved is something new to complain about.

(Ron Talley) #11

Lowe’s have them on sale quite often. They are branded Iris at Lowe’s but same thing. We were getting them at 30% off plus $15 off of $50. Most of my switches are in double and triple gang boxes and some are 4 gang so I ended up needing quite a bit of Fan Controllers, Dimmers and Switches. All done now with about 6 in a box left over for a future Home Theater project.

Were also getting the Iris Contacts and Motions for about $11 each. Again with Lowe’s crazy 30% off with buy 2 get 1 free on top of that and plus $15 off of $50!

(Dan) #12

What type of smart bulbs are you using? If they are direct connected to the ST hub, they may already be running locally. All of my GE Link bulbs are running locally. My Cree bulbs are running locally now that I changed their Device Handler to be the GE Link DH.

You mention running 5 other cloud-based control systems… Seems like you are already VERY susceptible to problems when the Internet is down. Another option would be to add a backup Internet solution (cell phone based) to your home’s router to keep everything running.