Continuing the discussion from Introduce Yourself!:
Welcome to the forums! I pulled out the presence sensor question because I’m sure it will generate a lot of comments.
One my favorite sayings is “all home automation is local.” Which means what works at my house might not work at yours and certainly what I would like to see work at my house might not be what you would like to see work at yours.
The smart things Zigbee presence sensor works very well for some people, not at all for others, and somewhere in the middle for still others.
It’s using a different technology than a phone presence sensor, which can be good or bad depending on the exact set up at your house.
RANGE: 500 FEET MINIMUM OR 50 FEET MAXIMUM?
The most obvious difference, is range. Because the phone is using a combination of GPS and Wi-Fi, it has a minimum range of 500 feet. The zigbee device is just making a very short range connection directly to your smart things hub. Its maximum range is about 50 feet.
THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Either the phone or the zigbee device might drop off the network for one reason or another. When this happens smart things will assume that you left the house. If the phone or Zigbee device then reconnect on their own, smart things will assume that you returned to the house. This is the biggest problem for the people who have this problem, because it makes presence detection unreliable.
However, many people never have this problem. It’s more typical to have this problem with the phone then with the zigbee device (as long as you leave the zigbee device at least 10 feet away from your WiFi router).
IS IT WORKING?
One of the nice things about the zigbee device is that it’s really straightforward. Either the device can connect to the hub, or it can’t. Really the main issue it runs into is issues of local interference. But if it works for you, you’ll probably be able to tell right away. It’s easy to map out where it connects and where it doesn’t because the range is so short anyway.
In my neighborhood, perhaps because of the big DSL box on one side of the street, it’s much better at detecting when I come from the east then when I come from the west. But it’s consistent in that every time so I know it’s going to happen.
You can improve the range of the Zigbee device by using a repeater which will about double the range. So many people put a repeater in the garage, so that as they drive up, the connection is made with the smart things hub a few seconds faster.
TRY IT AND SEE
For someone who doesn’t have a smart phone, my suggestion would be just to get the zigbee device and try it. That’s exactly the situation it’s intended for. If it works for you you’ll know it right away. If it doesn’t work for you you can return it.
The phone is often trickier to fine-tune anyway. And you may not be able to tell if it’s working the way you want it to immediately.
If it turns out the Zigbee device does not work for you, there are some other options you can try without a smart phone, but the easiest thing is just to try the zigbee device first.
AT MY HOUSE
I am quadriparetic, in a wheelchair with limited hand function. I have health aides who come in and out. Many don’t have smart phones, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to give them The app anyway. The Zigbee device works very well for me in this situation. I give it to an aide who would have a key anyway, so there’s no trust issue. I have been very happy with it for that purpose.
On the other hand, I haven’t been able to make one work for me because of the timing issue. My doorlock is self locking. And the 50 foot range means all too often I get to the door and it has already relocked itself.
The problem with the phone is even worse because of what I call the “bus stop problem.” It can take the driver several minutes to lower the wheelchair lift and get me off the bus. In that time, inevitably the door has relocked. That’s actually a good thing, because I don’t really want it to unlock until I’m close enough to see it.
So at my House, presence detection is working for one person and not for another, no matter which method we try. “All home automation is local.” Your experience may be very different but that’s why I think it’s worth trying the zigbee device to see how it goes. It’s certainly the easiest way of solving the use case you describe if it does work.