ST for home security questions

(Wideload) #1

I’d like to use ST for home security but am struggling with some basics here

  1. Are there any decent quality alarms? The only common one seems to the Fortrezz which has pretty bad reviews

  2. IP camera integration. I’d like to be able to view a camera on my smartphone if a motion detector goes off or window opens (etc). However, I’m not seeing anything that is really fully deployed in this arena. There’s the foscam stuff which appears heavily beta and very little else.

I think ST is more geared towards home automation but it just seems like it would be super easy to also utilize this as security. But, the lack of alarms and cameras is concerning. Should I just wait for more products? Am I trying to force the system to do something it’s not really designed for? Are there alarms and cameras that i’m just not seeing?

Any help appreciated, really love the fundamentals of ST.


(Ben Edwards) #2

We think SmartThings i a great security setup for most people. We get a lot of peace of mind just having better knowledge of the state of our homes and the whereabouts of family members, pets, and cars. Many of us internally are using several different cameras including the Foscam, Dropcam, and others. We haven’t officially released support for these as we are still testing. As far as the Siren goes, there aren’t many Z-Wave or ZigBee devices out there with those capabilities. On Amazon it gets 4 stars but some reviewers do point to inconsistency. I can only point to my and others in the company’s experience. While we are always nervous that it will go off - that is more to do with how dang loud it is than anything. I have never had a false alarm - though I do mount them outside to limit annoyance to dogs should they go off and to have them be an early deterrent for would-be no-gooders.

(Igocontrol) #3

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:

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. Multiple security zones. Each zone can include multiple sensors (motion, door/window, smoke, moisture, etc.)

  4. 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?

(Sean) #4

I would personally like to see ST integrate with traditional alarm systems (DSC/Honeywell) by communicating with gateways such as Envisalink < I would then use ST to augment my security system capabilities with mobile notifications, additional sensors, system/zone status, arm/disarm, etc.

I know the Veras can work with the EnvisaLink, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before someone figures out how to make it work with ST.

(Dan) #5

There is a difference between monitoring and defense. The ST system is excellent at monitoring and is not designed for defense. Only automated response systems ($$$) can provide a sense of home defense.

Internet systems are no more or less vulnerable to down time. All have physical limits. All systems have equal vulnerability to electrical, cable, cell tower, phone line interruptions, software problems, etc.

Hard wires are inconvenient to install and limit, without great effort, areas for installation.

Integrating ST with other alarm systems adds an additional layer of vulnerability and complexity. Traditional alarm systems have ST features just at a steep cost.

And that is the difference. I can now inexpensively monitor my home and decide, per incident, the level of defensive response necessary to defend the home. My monitoring is no more or less susceptible to down time then any other system since all systems use computers, electricity, and humans. The latter being the weakest link.


(Mike T) #6
Cons: – 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’m using Smartthings as part of a home security system and I’d add 3 more drawbacks:

  1. it needs not just internet, but power. If a burglar turns off the power to your house then the system is disabled. At the very least make sure you have a lock on your fusebox.
  2. The presense detector(s) are unreliable. I started using the Smartthings presence fob but even sitting on a table 20 feet from the hub it would cycle between reporting itself present and away. If you have interior motion detectors and the system arms itself…
  3. so I switched to the virtual presence device on my Android phone. Unfortunately it is less than automatic, because it only manages to arm itself about 50% of the time. Many times I arrive at work, miles away from my house, only to find the system wasn’t able to figure out I had left. So now I have made a habit of arming it myself once I’ve left; I just hope I don’t get a ticket for violating the CA handsfree laws! Also on the flip side it isn’t that good at detecting when I arrive back home, so you are likely to trigger your alarm when you return.

I’m sticking with it, its better than nothing, but if you want a more reliable system then you might consider a traditional alarm (at traditional costs, too).

(esung) #7
1) it needs not just internet, but power. If a burglar turns off the power to your house then the system is disabled. At the very least make sure you have a lock on your fusebox.

Very much agreed. For this reason I considered using a UPS backup battery and a separate mobile device, such as mifi or an old iPhone with minimal data plan dedicated for ST communication. (assuming it’s connected to ST somehow.) I’ll probably hook up a backup battery soon but not a mobile device with recurring monthly fee, but my point is that there could be a workaround for ST’s cons as a security system. (OK, we would probably never get a 24/7 call center for burglar alarm but I’ll settle with phone notification.)

(Joylove) #8

Hi all,

This is my first post and I’m here after running a search.

I’m looking at starting up buying Home Automation components. I like Smartthings approach, I like the app and it looks to support my Hues and NEST, I like the number of compatible reasonable priced sensors.

My wife has asked me to locate and install camera(s). I’d like to achieve the following

  1. Security: Recording of incidents over the last 7 days without a subscription fee to cover unoccupied burglaries and occupied home invasions
  2. Modern aesthetics
  3. Minimal coding required - been there done that with homeseer and X10 and don’t want to be forever debugging my own code. I can import some python but I don’t want to be the bug monkey when I’m at home.
  4. With one eye on integration into the home control (for lighting)
  5. Snooping on my pets - pretty sure they are on my bed all day

I have available to me for video storage

  1. iCloud storage (50GB)
  2. Windows Home Server (always on, 6TB)
  3. Router with USB host

Can someone please recommend a camera?


(Joylove) #9