Smartthings vs. Iris for home security

(Buddha34) #1

Hello all, new to the forum, and HA in general. Seems like a great community is developing.

Just exploring my options in terms of home security and HA. Was initially leaning towards Iris but SmartThings is giving me second thoughts.

One particular issue that I am considering, is practical management of an alarm system. Specifically, is the presence device robust enough to reliably turn the system off/on when leaving/departing?

Also, how are folks approaching contractors/housekeepers getting in? Iris’ keypad takes care of this but I cannot think of a good solution with SmartThings and the available hardware. Seems like I would have to manually turn the system off for them that day.

Would appreciate any thoughts.

(Col Hack) #2

One problem with SmartThings that makes it questionable as part of any alarm/security system is its total dependence on the Internet connection. Unlike other home automation systems that give a user ability to control and monitor system status over the Internet in addition to local control, SmartThings does not permit local control at all. What it means is that even if you are 10 feet away from your motion sensor or a light switch, the command you send from your mobile phone would have to travel to SmartThings server thousand miles away from your home first, then back to your SmartThings hub over the Internet and only then to your light switch. So if either your Internet connection is down or the SmartThings server is busy or down for maintenance, you’re completely cut off from your Smart Things. That does not sound very smart to me as far as home security is concerned. It may be acceptable for other non-mission-critical applications, such as turning your porch lights on and off, but I wouldn’t recommend it for security applications.

(Buddha34) #3

Thanks Col. Hack. This is a fair point that I had considered. Fortunately, I am not trying to build a fortress here, only adding an extra layer of security & peace of mind. If I can create a system where it would take a major lining up of the “swiss cheese holes” (ie server failure + break-in simultaneously) to cause a failure, I will be satisfied. I suppose any security system could be subject to failure, but if I can create a system that is even 95% reliable, someone would have to break in 20 times for 1 miss. I can accept that.

I suppose a determined bad guy could cut internet service to the house. If someone is going to this amount of trouble to get in, I may have a hard time stopping them.

As for my allowing a cleaning person to come in question, could I create an IFTTT with a private google calendar, so I could at least schedule it in advance (or with recurrence) without having to turn it off manually? In a certain sense, this keeps things a bit more secure as I would not have to share a “security code” that could get someone in anytime they wanted. Similar to the PIN on the smart lock idea, I guess.

(Col Hack) #4

I bought ST to experiment with it and personally would not trust it as my main security system, but your requirements may be different. So as long as you’re aware of its limitations, ST may be just what you need. It integrates with IFTTT quite well.

(Buddha34) #5

Thanks for the insight. May do the same thing as an “experiment”. The lack of service/commitment fees make it appealing as such - hate to put $600+ into hardware for Iris and then be permanently stuck with the $10/mo fee because of my up-front investment.

(Carl Aydelotte) #6

For what its worth, I go to my local Lowes and buy the Iris light switches. They work well with the ST system. I have not tried any of the other devices.

(Col Hack) #7

I looked at Lowe’s Iris gear and for one thing it’s much less expensive than ST: door/window sensor - $20, key fob - $20, motion sensor - $25, smart plug - $30. Does anyone know if they are Zigbee or Z-Wave? Have anyone tried pairing one with ST?

(Wamble J) #8

I have had the Iris system for about two months now. I am going on 2 weeks with ST.

The lowes system has some great features. I like that it has a keypad with the feel of a standard alarm system. I like that it chimes when I open and close doors. I like that the “dumb” part of the door sensors is very small. I like the price of add on devices. It uses pass codes and makes more sense when arming and disarming the alarm.

When I have accidentally set off my ST alarm I have been confused as to how to properly turn it off (I guess just push the button for siren in “things” and then change the mode to home). It just does not seem as straight forward.

Smart things is superior in a few aspects. It is much more customizable. Because of this it is also a more complex system. The Multi sensors sense vibration which the lowes don’t which works for window breakage and can be used for many other functions. Smart things customer service is much much more helpful.

The lowes system has been declining in reliability since I have had it. I often have devices that lose connectivity with Lowes. There is also delay in the notifications. I have had some come in hours later. Lowes also seems to go many months between updates that add devices or features.

Both systems use a cloud based system and are not fully functional without internet connection. Lowes charges $10 per month for many features that I feel should be included.

Neither of them is a perfect alarm system. At this point I prefer ST based on options and customization. I will likely return the Lowes since it seems to be less reliable each day (but I really do love the $25 motion sensors).

I think smart things is continually improving and adding compatibility with other devices. I look forward to continuing to add to my smart things setup.

Sorry if my reply is too repetitive or jumbled.

As a side note: If anyone knows how to add a “chime” to my system when opening doors with smart things that would be awesome. Maybe a short chirp or something from the siren?

(Carl Aydelotte) #9

I have already been broken in to and robbed once before, that’s why I had the ADT system installed. The newer systems use cell phone technology to contact their monitoring stations, so cutting a phone line will not defeat the system. I would not be surprised if someday the SmartThings hubs use something similar and are not entirely dependent on the in house internet connection to work. But that’s someday down the road.

I have also seen homes where the phone lines outside are covered with a protective metal tubing of sorts… at least its something to help protect the phone line outside the house.

But for now, I think the idea of the SmartThings system centers more on home automation and is not concentrating on being an alarm system. It has alarm type features that work well for me… but like any system that is available, there are ways to defeat them. Any system.

(Jim Beletti) #10


How about this for your chime?

  1. Use a Remotec ZFM-80US or similar device that can provide a Z-Wave controlled output (isolated relay)
  2. Use a single-note door entry chime like this. You might be able to fit 1) above inside the chime housing
  3. Connect the door bell button circuit of the door chime system to the relay outputs of the device in 1) above.

Looks like a $60 project.

You can use a ST app* (maybe “Close My Garage Door”) to send a virtual momentary button press to the device used in 1) above and it will in turn ding the chime.

  • A better app may exist now or later and a Dashboard solution may be available too.


(Gray) #11


I looked at Lowe’s Iris gear and for one thing it’s much less expensive than ST: door/window sensor – $20, key fob – $20, motion sensor – $25, smart plug – $30. Does anyone know if they are Zigbee or Z-Wave? Have anyone tried pairing one with ST?

This comes up every month or so. Lowe’s has an Iris display/section on their website which contains both standard devices that will work with ST and non-standard devices that will not. The stuff that is specifically Iris branded like what you mentioned above falls into the latter category. The smart button, fob, door sensor, motion sensor, etc. uses some proprietary stuff and will not work with ST (or other non-Iris hubs, for that matter).

They also sell GE outlets and switches, which are just the standard GE/Jasco outlets and switches and work well. I appreciate that I can order them online with free shipping but also retain the ability to return them easily if needed.

Oh, and there are some other items. I can vouch for the flood sensors they sell, which are just Everspring flood sensors. I have the box for one of them here and can see that it says it’s standard Z-wave, which explains why it works fine with ST. They also sell some thermostats. I saw a thread elsewhere noting compatibility of one type. Again, I would check the box to see if it claims standard compatibility in addition to Iris compatibility. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many of their cheap devices.

(Sean Daniel) #12

With the ST unit it actually has to be connected to the internet to work not just your home network?

I realize I would not be able to receive alerts when I am away, but if in my own how and connected to the network can I control items?



With the current (generation 1) ST hub, you must be connected to the Internet at all times, most of the processing takes place in the cloud.

The second generation has been announced, but no delivery date yet. It will have some “local processing,” but as yet we don’t know any details.

Most mass market home automation hubs in this price range are cloud based, including Iris and Wink. The current exception is Staples Connect, which does have local processing. However, it only works with a very limited set of devices, for example no zigbee except a few light bulbs.

So it just depends on your priorities, and whether you need something right away.

All of that said, since this is a security topic: I personally use a completely separate security system as I have minimum requirements for a system dealing with life and death emergencies that none of the inexpensive home automation hubs meet, with or without local processing: