ST Presence sensor a little slow and unreliable


(Marc) #1

Hi, I just got a Smartthings Presence to keep in my car for the purpose of using the ridiculously garage smartapp. Previously, I was using my iPhone as my presence sensor and it worked pretty well. However with the ST sensor it’s a little delayed and causes me to sit my car in front of my garage for a minute before it registers I am home. I am assuming this is because unlike an iPhone it’s not phone home over LTE networks to see it’s current location. Anyone else have a way to speed up their ST presence sensors?

Also, tonight it keeps saying I am not home and home and swapping back and forth. It’s been sitting in my car door for past 2 hours.


(Jack Rabbit Slim) #2

You can increase the size of your Geo-fence. It will give your system more time to react. I’ve done this withe Android phone presence but not the fobs so I don’t know how much cushion it will give you.


(Marc) #3

It’s double edged sword because then it takes longer for your garage door to close leaving it unattended for potentially 3-4 minutes…


(Ben Edwards) #4

Yeah - the SmartSense Presence sensors default to checking in every 150 seconds or so. You can change it to be 120 seconds or higher if you have hub firmware version 11.603or higher. (if you don’t you can ask support to push the update to you) - that may help with your problems but we currently don’t support checkins that are shorter than 2 minutes.


(Marc) #5

Thanks. I assume I change the “update presence timeout” from default to 2?


(Chrisb) #6

@mbhelfman,
A number of comments:

First, it should be noted that the Presence sensors are not real quick in terms of when you leave as well. It’s possible that this can be improved with the changes in settings that Ben was talking about, but generally I get a minute or two away from home before I get notification that my garage is closing. So when you’re talking about the double edged sword bit of extending your geo fence, you might have that same problem with the presence sensor.

Second, remember that if the sensor is checking in more often that it’s going to be using up the battery more. (Ideally it would be cool if you could specify times to check in more frequently… like 5:00-6:00pm, but then check is less often other times of day. Of course, this would mean keeping a clock on the device which would probably use more battery as well.)

Third, there are somethings you can do to help with the signal acquisition. For example, I used some command strips to stick my sensors right on the inside of my windshield up at the top. Way up there it doesn’t block your view at all while driving, and the less “stuff” the signal has to go through (car doors, etc), the sooner it has a chance to get noticed by the hub.

Likewise, if you have a SmartSense motion sensor that can be positioned in such a way as it’s closer to the road/driveway than your hub, this will help extend the Zigbee range (if the sensor is plugged in), and increase the outer range of when the sensor is seen. For example, I have a motion sensor taped into an upstairs window that faces the road. My sensor will at times trigger when I’m two houses away from my garage.

Four: The sensor coming and going is a known issue that SmartThings hasn’t been able to completely solve, but again, there are things you can do to help. This is a case where the Zigbee signal just isn’t communicating with the Hub well. The presence sensors use a relatively low powered radio to prolong battery life, but of course this limits their range. Again, a SmartSense Motion sensor, plugged in, in the garage can really help to increase the signal strength. Like wise, move your hub away from your Wifi router if you can manage it. Zigbee and Wifi use the same frequency so some distance helps make the signals clearer. Finally, I know there are some channels of WiFi that cause more interference with Zigbee, but I forget which ones… contact support for help with that.

So there is definitely some tweaking you may need to do to make this work well for you, but once you have them going, they’re pretty nice. I love just driving home and having my door open for me. And I love (using the app you referenced) have it unlock my side door, and then after I open and close the side door, having it automatically shut my garage.


(Marc) #7

Thanks for your detailed response. I actually did try channels 1 or 11 on my wifi router for the range issue and that didn’t help. I currently have a Belkin Wemo motion sensor in my garage, and a Smartthings Motion Sensor (not plugged in) downstairs as well on the first floor outside of my garage. I can add power to the ST motion sensor which should help with range as I currently don’t have any powered zigbee devices in my house. I wish I can swap and put the ST motion sensor in my garage, but I need it to control my Belkin Light Switch which is very flakey in ST. (it’s considered Beta and there are known issues according to support).

I ran into the same signal issues in my garage and outdoors with zWave and ended up buying a repeater.

I might try your Windshield idea as well once I have the range issue worked out as it’s a catch 22. Need to fix range issue before affixing the ST sensor to my windshield.


(Chrisb) #8

[quote=“mbhelfman, post:7, topic:2757, full:true”]I might try your Windshield idea as well once I have the range issue worked out as it’s a catch 22. Need to fix range issue before affixing the ST sensor to my windshield.
[/quote]

Yeah, definitely some trial and error to get everything worked out. I’m lucky in that I live on a dead end road so I only ever approach my house from one direction. I can just focus on getting a powered device sorta facing that side of the house. Once you get this worked though it should be rock solid for you.

Unless of course someone unplugs your motion sensor that you have in your garage to help relay signal to the hub… in which case you mysteriously get known issue of your tag coming and going all night long… which also wouldn’t be terrible if you use the Garage Door app as it has a delay on it… but it is an issue if you have Ubi announcing when you come home and it does it repeatedly all night long. Yeah… the wife approval factor dropped a bit that night. :smile:


(Marc) #9

Funny you mention that because my wife by accident opened the garage door at 3:45am from the ST app and she was not too happy as I had to run down because I thought my automation went bad! What exactly does the False Alarm Threshold settings in the garage app do?


(Chrisb) #10

It basically prevents your door from opening/closing if the sensor just momentarily disappears… like what you mentioned it was doing in the first post. If you set that to 10 minutes the tag needs to be gone for ten minutes before the app will respond to it arriving again.

So if the signal is just lost for a minute, and then comes back the app will ignore that “tag has arrived” and won’t open your garage door.

The down side is if you leave and come back too quickly your garage won’t open. I set mine to 15 minutes to be extra safe, but occasionally when I run out for pizza I’m back before 15 minutes… then I have to manually trigger my garage. I feel like such a caveman when I have to do that. Ugh… the manual labor involved! :slight_smile:


(Marc) #11

Haha! Well looks like your windshield idea helped my range issue. However, I just think the ST mobile presence is not a good option for a garage opener. The way I understand it is you have to be within your house geofence AND your wifi network and the you can wait anywhere up to 2 minutes. Do I have that correctly?


(Marc) #12

I think I have to go back to using my phone as a presence sensor as I can’t afford to have my garage door open for 2-3 minutes after leave. It’s not the end of the world because even when I come home from another method via wife’s car or friend, I go in through garage anyway.


(Jack Rabbit Slim) #13

To bad there isn’t a way to have your garage door automatically close after about a minute or so.


(Chrisb) #14

Well, there is… I mean you can set the garage to auto close after x-number of minutes. You just risk issues of it closing when you don’t want it too! :slight_smile: