ST as an alarm, your input

I haven’t been around here in a while but everything has been running fairly well.
I know using ST as an alarm is not recommended but I was curious who was using it as an alarm, what you are using and how you arm/disarm.
I am currently running Smart Alarm but only have it text me when there is an alarm…no siren yet. I was using a keypad (not very often) from eBay but that stopped working after the batteries died and will not turn back on with new batteries.
I am debating on picking up one of the Lowe’s keypads but was curious if that would make using ST as an alarm a little more reliable.


Mine works well! I arm manually when we go to bed and automatically disarm at 7 am. Then use presence sensor to arm and disarm and it works flawlessly. Use my sonos as a siren and it turns on exterior lights and Arlo cams record.

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I am also using ST as a supplement to my old alarm system. I have 2 keypads and use life360 for presence. Training and plenty of visual are the 2 keys. I went through all the scenarios for false or real alarm and how to disable it. Right now I don’t have the siren enable. Just the strobe light, lights on and notification. I have hue color at my doors so we know the state of the alarm when we go close to the door. Yes, both inside and outside with motion sensors. Red = armed, white = disarmed and no light = assume bulb not working and system armed. We still do have false alarm due to the reliably of ST and exit delay but I think we are close to the real alarm.

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Same exact way I am using ST and working great so far. Have gocontrol siren setup and outlet switch with lamp that goes on when alarm is triggered.

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Smartthings Home Security (SHM), a POSITIVE review.
I have had monitored security for the last 25 years. When I built my last home, (2002), it was prewired for an alarm system and I opted for monitored security with an established regional company connected via a landline. The basic package came with, 1 motion, 3 doors, siren, and keypad. I added another keypad, 2 motion, 1 glass break, fire alarm, and voice response….that cost me $679.00 along with a $35.99 monthly fee (5 year contract). So, for 14 years it has cost me just under $7,000.00.

My SmartThings setup is, ST Hub, 2 motion, 3 in jam doors switches, fire/CO2, siren, Minimote, and one electrical outlet….about $400.

I live in a two story house in a small suburb just outside of a major city….not rural, but certainly in a neighborhood with “close homes” and low crime. I looked into the ST setup because I wanted to eliminate my landline, and the monitoring company was going to charge for installing a cellular connection along with a monthly increase.

My thought, (probably get some criticism here), is that I’m not overly concerned with what happens when me or my family is away…I have insurance, and personal valuables are in a safe deposit box. What I am concerned about is someone coming in while we’re asleep, or that one of us might walk into the house with an unwelcomed guest already inside.
All of my doors have sensors, and there is a motion sensor at the bottom of each staircase…bedrooms are all upstairs. So yes, if someone breaks in and immediately runs upstairs in 10-12 seconds, I may be in a jam….but if it takes them over that, then I’ll win the confrontation. With ST/SHM notification and text messaging I’ll know if I’ve had an intrusion prior to entering the house.

So far, (about a month), arming/disarming is at most a few seconds. I’ve not had any false alarms, I do test it occasionally, and it has passed every time. I keep a Minimote by the bed and it arms and disarms using the standard buttons app, executing a smart routine. I can also give my neighbors the remote should I need them to check on the house when I’m out of town. The only other thing I’ve done is to add a receptacle in the garage hooked to a small red light that gives me a visual conformation that the alarm is “armed” when I pull in.
Considering my perceived needs, the investment, and ease of setup,

I am thrilled with how it’s working….and more importantly so is my wife.

One final thought, is that I am trying to stay away from any “custom code”, (not that it’s a bad thing), but since I purchased this to replace an alarm system….not necessarily the home automation side of it.
Sorry for the lengthy post, that’s just my $.02.


I’m also more interested in an alarm for intrusions when my family is home than when we’re out/away.

Since the platform stability upgrades after that total meltdown this spring, my SHM has been working pretty well. Alarm arms on schedule at 11pm basically every night for months, and disarms in the mornings when motion detectors in the living room sense we’re up and moving around. I have Iris keypads on the front and back doors to manually disarm SHM if I need to take the dog out late at night, and I have a rule machine conditional trigger that still works pretty reliably to disarm the alarm with phone presence if I come home after 11pm.

I actually have an aeon siren as part of my setup, since notifications sent to my phone obviously won’t scare an intruder away when we’re home. Hasn’t really been a problem with false alarms for months now.

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I have been using it as an alarm since May and have mixed feelings. It has taken quite a bit of troubleshooting to make it stable. So far I have Aeon Labs door/window sensors for my doors, I purchased 2 GoControl Z-wave kits with 3 window sensors, a motion sensor and siren, and it is all controlled with a Lowes IRIS keypad using a custom DTH and version of SmartAlarm. I also have a Cree Zigbee Smart bulb that flashes with an alarm and 2 First Alert Z-Wave smoke detectors. I think once I iron out the kinks it will be a really sweet system. But until I get more familiar with the platform, it will continue to be frustrating.

Forgot to mention, I also have an 8 camera DVR and blink cameras with RBoyApps integration. I am currently working on setting up an IP video server that will stream 4 of my cams to SmartTiles dashboards I have on wall-mounted kindle fires.

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False alarms are what I have to try to eliminate as much as possible…hence no siren yet. I just picked up a Iris keypad and am playing with that now. I am using mainly Presence but want the keypad for backup purposes or someone who’s Presence is not setup.
Have to do some more testing but it seems to work good.

I do have a siren but don’t have it connected to Smart Alarm. I figured if we all were out and I get a notification, I can check the camera real fast and trigger the siren manually if I have to. I also showed my daughter how to trigger it from the app if she is home alone and needed to.

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Seriously. I love SmartThings at least as a concept. But look at the number of people having problems with basic operations and let me as you a simple question. Would you trust your homes safety to it? Its cloud based…if you loose your internet connection what next? Can you even sound a siren or turn on a light.

Granted I’m on first generation hardware…but the reliability is about 95% and for the past week has been almost unusably slow through the app.

I’ll stick to my old skool alarm that uses wires, sirens, and a landline backed up by a cell phone. Home automation just isn’t there yet and unless things change dramatically I’m not sure it ever will be. These are not competing technologies, they are complimentary. Don’t use a unicycle when you need a tank.

I agree that a cloud based systems have inherent problems especially when it comes to home automation but when it comes to security even old technology systems must communicate to the outside world. The term “cloud” is such a general term that using it to define system really does nothing. It is about how the system is implemented IN THE cloud where it takes on more meaning.

In the old days security alarm systems used copper pairs directly connected to alarm centers, then it changed over to direct dialers using touch tones, then to dial up modems and in many cases today, 3G cellular,. Even if you still have a POT (Plain Old Telephone) connected to copper wire your calls are most likely already in the cloud within 500 foot after leaving your home. The old mechanical phone switches of decades ago were much more reliable than the phones of today but of course are totally impractical for the way we communicate today.

I trust SmartThings for home safety but only to a point. I no longer use traditional home security, (the ones you pay money to every month) but I also use other systems in parallel (one being video) to complement security. I don’t put ALL my trust in SmartThings. I have been with SmartThings since day one and have experienced many failures of different degrees. Nearly all of the failures are due to some type of automation. Example; Not properly changing modes, or not activating a light, or a siren. For security I only use SmartThing’s ability of notify of a possible problem. I always verify it using another system such as video.

Is SmartThings there yet? Not yet, not even close, but the idea of what it is capable of is certainly worth pushing towards. Should they have developed their idea to be mostly cloud based? Probably not. Nearly all of the problems have stemmed from capacity issues caused by poor implementation. Had they developed the system putting most of the load on local hardware then we wouldn’t be having the same problems as we do today. V2 hub was a reaction to the problem, not a solution and from what I have observed, it probably has made matters worse. I am still on a V1 hub and will stay there because I don’t suffer more problems unique to V2

For the time being most people should probably stick with their monthly paid security systems.

Just a quick note why in my case having a paid security system is important to me. I used to do a lot of photography work which involved a lot of travel cross country and internationally. Often I would go camping in the mountains for a week or more. Even when I worked as a vendor for grocery stores I found that there were many dead spots in stores where I could not get phone reception. In all of these cases where there was no phone reception, I had peace of mind that someone would notify the police if there was an incident at my home that needed immediate attention.

It used to be that you could trust your neighbors, but it seems these days that your neighbors might the ones that are after your valuables.

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I think the key for me is I am not willing to shell out a monthly fee, right now. We have never had an alarm system before so what ST does for me is “OK” along with all the HA stuff. I too agree that a separate video system is a great compliment to ST for security purposes. Security should not be a convenience thing but for me it is because right now I am not willing to get a separate system I have to pay monthly for.
Fortunately for me it has not come to needing a security system although I would like to have one one day.

Luckily the most exciting thing that has happened is the back door was not shut all the way when we left and the wind blew it slightly more open which triggered a text to me. We were able to get home in time to shut the door before the cat ran out…SCORE! That and a few leaky sink drains that saved me $$$'s.

I agree that ST, unfortunately, is not a great replacement for a dedicated alarm system but as long as you know what to expect from it then it’s great.

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