I’ve read some discussions in the forums (for example here) regarding feasibility of using SmartThings as a security alarm system and the arguments can be summarized as follows:
- SmartThings is relatively inexpensive comparing to traditional alarm systems, no monthly fees.
- SmartThings is easy to install and can be gradually expanded.
- SmartThings is flexible and customizable (some programming skills required).
- SmartThings requires live Internet connection to work. If the Internet connection is disrupted, the alarm is effectively disabled.
- SmartThings “cloud” is sometimes sluggish, resulting in events being delayed by significant amount of times (delays from few seconds to several minutes have been reported).
I agree that reliance on live Internet connection is a problem and for this reason SmartThings is no substitute for a traditional hard-wired monitored security system. However, if you can accept the risk of your alarm system being disabled due to occasional Internet outage, then SmartThings may be just what you need. After all, any security system is definitely better than no security system at all.
With this in mind, I looked at the “Smart Security” app included in the smart apps directory and found it grossly inadequate. First of all, it relies on motion sensors to detect both the intruders and the residents. That means that I’d have to designate certain motion sensors (and therefore certain areas of my property) to detect “residents”. This doesn’t seem practical to me. Also, arming/disarming is based solely on detecting the “residents present” condition. What it means is that an intruder could safely climb into my basement window, for example, while “someone is present” in the upstairs bedroom.
Another issue is how do you disarm an alarm? Let’s say everyone’s left the house, so the alarm is armed automatically after 3 minutes of “no resident motion”. Then my daughter comes home from school, opens the door and triggers the alarm. Yes, you could disarm it by tapping the smart app icon, but that means that all kids would have to have smartphones with the SmartThings app installed. That’s not an option.
So, what I need is a better security app which works more like a traditional alarm system:
The alarm should have three operating modes - “Disarmed” (no alarms), “Armed Away” (any sensor will trigger an alarm after optional delay) and “Armed Home” (any sensors other than motion will trigger an alarm immediately).
The alarm should arm/disarm itself automatically by following particular home “modes”, for example changing home mode to “Away” arms the alarm in “Armed Away” mode, changing home mode to “Night” arms it in “Armed Home” mode and any other mode disarms the alarm. Since the home mode changes can be triggered by presence sensors this solves the problem of disarming an alarm without a smartphone.
Multiple security zones. Each zone can include multiple sensors (motion, door/window, smoke, moisture, etc.)
Each security zone can be individually set to one of these modes: active (will trigger alarm when armed), bypass (will not trigger alarm when armed), alert (will always trigger alarm, whether armed or not).
Any thoughts anyone?