Smartthings reliability and suitability for commercial applications? (2019)

Ive seen a lot of posts about the reliability of the SmartThings platform and recommendations against commercial use (in hotels, offices, etc) due to the reliability issues. Most of these posts are 2-3 years old and older. Personally I’ve been using the platform for maybe 2 years now, and once I saw in this community that the hub should not be close to the router, I haven’t really had any problems so it seems to me reliability has improved significantly.

My question is, are the opinions the same as it was a few years ago. Would you community members still not recommend SmartThings for commercial use? If not, is it still due to reliability issues or something else?

There have been at least three of these threads in the last few months, and, yes, my opinion at least is the same. Smartthings is not designed for commercial use and is not suitable for commercial use.

Their own product usage guidelines have not changed,

  • Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed. Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests. For example, because temperature readings may vary significantly from reading to reading on an individual device, between devices, or over time, those readings should not be used to control heating and cooling in environments where food spoilage, health risks, or damage to physical goods could occur. Alternately, presence data from SmartThings devices or mobile/Smartphones can vary in accuracy, and therefore should not be used to control access to secure locations without secondary authentication.

Unlike Lutron, Leviton, Philips, and even Amazon echo, they do not have a commercial services division, which is usually a big clue. :wink:

There continue to be random bugs of the “this has been working for months and now it just stopped working“ Variety, including one just this week where integration with the Phillips hue bridge stopped working for a number of people. And another where the smart home monitor “disarm” tile disappeared from the app for a day or two. (Note that both of these were officially recognized as bugs and resources assigned to fix them, but they never appeared on the official status page.)

Hue integration stopped working (27 June 2019)

Arm & Disarm tile missing (SHM disappeared from V3 app 26 June 2019, had been working fine)

They continue to push out firmware updates that can be neither delayed nor denied.

There are still no network mapping utilities and still no easy way to manage multiple locations/hubs.

Smartthings staff has told us many times in this forum that their typical customer has 15 or fewer devices and never uses any custom code.

It remains an interesting candidate platform for DIY residential installs for people with a high tolerance for minor glitches who are extremely budget sensitive on a per device basis.

But whether you are looking for a security system, Home Automation system, or just lighting controls, it just doesn’t yet meet the reliability required for commercial operations.

JMO, of course. :wink: (Well, mine and Samsung’s: again, see the product usage guidelines link above.)


Since I know someone will ask, Amazon actually has multiple Echo divisions servicing commercial interests:

As do Phillips and Lutron. :sunglasses:

Control4 also has multiple commercial services divisions:

But not SmartThings. Just sayin’…


Thanks JD for the comprehensive response. There were some things there I hadn’t realized or thought of.

My thoughts re: commercial applications are quite basic: turn off lights and a/c units in empty rooms (meeting rooms/bathrooms/store rooms/etc) for small offices and stores. So pretty much light switches, motion sensors and IR blasters. I would stay away from large corporate buildings as I just think those needs more established solutions like Control4 as you suggested.

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If a small business has an office in a large building, it’s quite likely that the large building already has automation options that they could use.

If they have their office in something like a strip mall, as many real estate brokers and dentists and CPAs do, the landlord probably doesn’t provide anything.

In that case, for the kind of set ups you’re describing, it’s usually easiest just to get a dumb Lutron system. These are extremely reliable, work very well, and will generally cost less than a SmartThings setup. For example, I have an $18 lutron dumb occupancy switch In my laundry room. Anytime someone walks into that area after dark, the light comes on and it stays on until there have been several minutes of inactivity. It works really well and I don’t need it integrated with anything else. :sunglasses:

As far as the air-conditioner, it depends on the brand and model, but there are a lot of options, which again would not require a SmartThings.

One of the important issues to remember is that commercial buildings have significant liability and regulatory requirements that DIY residential products do not. Air-conditioner controls will have to be ADA compliant, just as one example.

If the lights in the bathroom go out unexpectedly and someone slips and falls, the business is going to be liable for hundreds of times more dollars than you might have saved by putting in an inexpensive residential system. Remember also that commercial buildings generally have lots of people coming through them who are not particularly Familiar with the building Layout or the operational controls.

Because of these issues, It’s quite likely that any automation system you’re putting in will have to be approved by the business’ insurance company for liability purposes. A commercial lutron system will likely already be on the insurance company’s list of approved systems. A SmartThings system definitely will not be. (The system may possibly also have to be approved by the landlord, since they have some shared liability with the tenant.)

So if you’re talking about the US, it’s just not very likely that a SmartThings-based system will be a good fit to a commercial building, and there are already lots of other competitors that will be.

Are you thinking about this for a business that you yourself operate? If so, talk to your insurance agent and check your lease.

If you’re thinking about providing this as an installer product, again talk to your own insurance agent, but I just don’t think it’s viable in most jurisdictions.

This would be for a Caribbean Island, not the US. I had spoken to an electrician about installing smart switches in commercial spaces, he didn’t bring up any of the concerns you mentioned, however it is worth further exploration. I also don’t think air condition units with motion sensors are popular here, at least not yet.

You’d have to check with your local jurisdiction, I am no idea what the various codes are there. And of course I assume that some vary from island to island.

Separately, it’s very rare to use a motion sensor to control an air-conditioner because it’s challenging to get the timing right since the air conditioner itself will tend to trigger many motion sensors. Making it seem that the room is occupied even when it isn’t.

Ecobee gets around this with the sensors that come with their thermostat by only checking the room every 15 minutes. But their assumption is that the temperature will reach the setpoint and the air-conditioner will turn off itself before the next motion check. That’s not always true in a tropical climate.

Most geopresence based systems Simply change what the set point is based on whether the phone is home or away. But of course that doesn’t work with a commercial building where people are coming and going who don’t have individual Geopresence registered with the system.

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