SmartThings Presence Sensor Device--Working Well for Anyone?

I wonder if it sleeps less when it’s been out of range of the hub for awhile. I know some tracking devices do that, but it’s not the most common programming. Someone at SmartThings might know.

@Tyler ? Does the zigbree presence sensor sold by SmartThings stay active (and therefore use batteries at a different rate) if it’s been out of hub range for an extended period? People report dramatically different battery burn rates on these.

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@danielccm interesting… our sensor is with the boyfriend. He is out of town M-F and only home on weekends… just wondering…

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No, the SmartSense Presence sensor does not alter the rate at which it pings if it hasn’t seen the hub in a bit.

I just want to say that I don’t have any data on the matter. I didn’t check battery levels over time. Its just the way it feels.

OK, so that’s not it.

Any other ideas why some people find batteries last less than a month and others are getting 8 months and up? Mine look on track to last a year, which is about what I’d expect, but other people report very different experiences.

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You could put an open/close sensor on you gate and tell the door to unlock only when your presense sensor is within range and when the gate opens. Although you’d probably need to trigger a mode change once your home, so that if you are home and somebody opens the gate, the front door does not just unlock for them.

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That’s an interesting idea! The gate sensor would essentially shrink the geofence to the actual perimeter of the property, by not checking the presence sensor until I reached that point. Combined with the zigbee presence sensor, that might solve both the bus stop problem and the chatty neighbor problem.

I understand your point about the mode change as well. I need to capture the “arriving home” moment vs “being home.”

Thanks, I’ll try it! :blush:

Edited to add: the more I think about this idea, the more I see multiple possibilities with different kinds of devices, such as a motion detector, a pressure mat, the open/close sensor you detected, etc. Once one of these is combined with both a presence indicator AND a special “transitional” mode, I can get some very precise geolocation triggers. So I can switch from Away to JD Arriving Home to Home.

Or Home to Yard to Home again.

It’s going to take very careful tracking to make sure the modes work just the way I want them to, but this may solve a couple of use cases for me, both the bus stop problem I’ve mentioned previously and the dog in the yard issue I mentioned in the topic I link to.

@Tyler had suggested I solve the second set with custom code, but while I can code, I don’t want to. (Even cut and paste is a pain when you’re reliant on text to speech technology.)

But with your approach by combining a presence sensor, a second trigger device, and a transitional mode, I think I can do everything I want with Hello Home Actions. :slight_smile:

With the understanding that if I’m not really careful setting up the mode changes, I might run into an unexpected failure to fire.

Thanks again, I’ll have to play with this a bit and see how it works out in practice.

OK, using @digitalm0nkey 's idea, I have now worked out a new occupancy identifier system, but requires multiple modes and devices. Still, it should solve the problem of momentary drop offs.

I must say since this thread started with my (newbie) question, That I have learned a lot from your comments…and hope to begin my Presence Sensor experience soon.
I have also learned a great deal about Z-Wave vs ZigBee mesh networking.
Thanks again.

Honestly, neither the presence key fob nor the smart phone GPS+Wifi presence behavior work reliably enough (at least these days) to be useful for automating alarm activation/deactivation. I don’t know what has changed in the past couple weeks but it’s gone from being marginally okay enough not to be too annoying to we’ve-set-off-the-alarm-nearly-every-day-for-two-weeks annoying. The key fob works sort of well enough but eats batteries like candy. Our phones, on the other hand, no longer disarm the alarm reliably enough to make this tolerable.


@ jtavan. I agree completely.

I agree with jtavan. In the last few weeks relying on presence for anything useful has been totally useless, but it was much more reliable before that.

I have four mobile phones, two Android and two IOS and all of them have regular bouts of vanishing. They’re on, at home and connected to the home WiFi, but Smartthings doesn’t see them, or more annoyingly we leave and the St thinks one of the phones is still there and never arms the house.

I also have two of the smart sense fobs and they work well, but also have started to drift over the last few weeks. They have good battery levels (+70%), but will just roam for a few minutes every now and then. Sometimes for just a few minutes, other times for more than an hour, leaving me getting all kinds of notifications from the “armed” house that is convinced no-one is home.

I’m just glad I’m not using it for locking and unlocking doors yet.

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I was also having these issues with the fob, but switched to the occupancy method a couple of posts above where I now also use a zone sensor like a contact sensor to verify that I have actually physically left or arrived. This keeps the random drop offs from triggering events at the house. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it was.

I totally gave up on presence sensors and manually arm the house.

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I know the presence detector works great for a lot of people. Since those people might have a hard time understanding the issues that others can run into, I thought I’d share a screenshot from this week.

I’m mostly homebound. which means my days are pretty much the same. We do have other people coming in and out, but as far as what equipment is in use and where, it’s all pretty similar. If the weather’s good, I do go out once or twice a day with my dog. And of course some days I do have things to do outside the house.

Anyway, this last week I was home every day for most of the day. However, apparently my presence sensor left often! But this was totally random. Some days it was perfect. On Thursday, I left the house once, but the presence sensor showed me leaving eight times.

I have no idea what’s causing this. The zigbee mesh is strong, and even if it wasn’t, you shouldn’t see this kind of variation from day to day. The battery is over 75%. And, like I said, events inside the house are pretty much the same from day to day. So it was perfect on Wednesday and on Friday, and totally bonkers on Thursday. The sensor was in the exact same place in the house on all three days. This is why I am now using the occupancy method.

Updated to add Several discussions with support, no joy.

I start to suspect intermittent interference from one of the neighbours’ WiFi networks, or perhaps some overlapping configuration. If I check, I am within range of about 7 different WiFi networks, only one of which is mine. That obviously makes debugging very difficult.

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Can anyone tell me if there is a minimum time (or some other event that must occur) before the presence sensor detects that you’re away? I just got one and set it up with SHM. It seems to detect my arrival just fine, but when I walk down the street to a point about 4 houses away, it doesn’t detect my absence for several minutes. And it seems to coincide with me refreshing the SHM tab on the iphone. I’m showing 3-4 bars cell strength at the time. When I come back, it detects me right away (with no refresh) at the front porch. I have the delays set to zero, and the presence timeout on the IDE at default. I guess I should be happy that it “half” works. Ticket item?

It shouldn’t have anything to do with the mobile app, it’s just as a zigbee device connected directly to the hub. Assuming we’re talking about the arrival fob.

Definitely talk to support, they can make some adjustments in the time before it recognizes itself as away.

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I had a chat with support but they were unable to resolve the issue. One suggestion was to change the Presence Timeout on the IDE and reboot the hub, but that wouldn’t work for me. My changes would not stick, and it kept reverting back to “default.”

Support did say they have set the “away” detection to default to 4 pings to prevent false triggers. And that the pings happen every 30 seconds. One suggestion was to use the mobile presence feature, but it’s my understanding that it would use an even greater distance from the hub.

I’m reminded of the Eagles’ Hotel California…“programmed to receive…can never leave!”

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I use ibeacons now for geoboundary detection. Works very well for me, since I can really fine tune the distance.

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@JDRoberts From what I’ve read, you are currently using both the ST presence sensor and iBeacons, so I thought you might be able to shed some light for me within the context of local operation potential.

I thought with the ST presence sensors, the detection (home/away) was determined at the hub level by pinging the device. This would indicate that “local only” use could be a reality with these devices, albeit at some point in the future. However, with the beacons, the detection is independent of the hub and there is no local communication between the hub and the iphone; notification is sent from the phone to the cloud (ST, IFTTT, etc.), which could be via wifi or cellular. This would indicate no possibility of local operation until ST hub offers beacon support directly. Is my understanding correct?

Yes, that’s right, at present the only way to interact with smartthings and and I beacon is through the cloud. There are several options: using the IFTTT maker channel, or Obythings, for example.

Because the V2 hub will have a Bluetooth antenna, there is a potential for eventual local operation with smartthings, but the Bluetooth antenna is not being turned on at launch, so who knows when.

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