Still happy with your Smart things Purchase?


(Tommy Rayburn) #1

My wife and I just bought a new house, with my mother wonderful enough to take note of my desire to make it a smart home, buying me the Iris SmartKit. I will probably be bringing back the Iris system, with my objective of transferring that money spent towards a SmartThings hub and compatible items.

People on the Iris said are wishing they had a SmartThings, are people on this side happy with their purchase of SmartThings?


(Korban Hadley) #2

I will not be going to Lowes ( or where ever it is sold) to buy a Iris system. If that helps. I have looked at both and many others. Smartthings seems to have the best community and an ever growing following.


(swanny) #3

I am happy with my purchase. There is room for improvement, but I hear the same or more for other solutions as well.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #4

It certainly has the most potential (although not realized yet). While I am ok with it at the moment, I find it very difficult to recommend to others due to its squirrely nature and big learning curve. I came to SmartThings from Indigo and a number of some self-created utilities. While the brains always worked, the devices (x10, Insteon) didn’t.

With SmartThings it seems the exact opposite. I think the devices are more reliable, but their cloud situated brains are far from reliable, with numerous ongoing issues including scheduling delays, AWOL polling, and sluggish performance in general. I have a reliable, low latency net connection with 80Mbs down and 25 up and I often wait for 10 seconds or more for the app to connect after launch. This makes it incredibly inconvenient to use to turn something on or off.

It is also a bit frustrating how long it takes to get new device integrations, and how bare bones the ones we have now are. Quite a number of them (Hue, locks, some switches, etc.) are incomplete, and remain that way. If I didn’t create my own device-type for my Venstar thermostats I have no doubt I would still be waiting for them (despite me being a total newbie to Java, and accomplishing it in a few hours once I finally got some documentation on a couple of things).

The open platform is clever, and very nice to have, but poorly documented. You can’t use Groovy’s documentation (which is also half baked) because you’ll soon be trying to use some tokens in the language that are missing from the SmartThings implementation. The learning process is frustrating, and mostly by trial and error.

And then previously mentioned, there is this community, which mitigates some of the above. I would have returned my original SmartThings purchase had it not existed, and been so helpful. And I have tried to pay that forward as much as possible.

So… if you and your wife are Android guys, instead of iOS; if you accept the experimentalism in exchange for the tweakability, SmartThings may be for you. But if you expect it to “just work”, and are sorely inconvenienced when it doesn’t, maybe not.


(Tommy Rayburn) #5

My wife has an Android and I will be after my next upgrade.

I am a semi-tweaker, while my wife wants things to just work. If I can play with it on my side and it work on hers, then all is good.

Thank you extremely for your responses.


(Beckwith) #6

@tommy_rayburn

If I were asked what platform I would recommend for home automation, I would enthusiastically recommend SmartThings.

Having said that, I also would temper any expectations. This is nascent industry in my opinion. Progress sometimes feels like two steps forward and one step back so to speak. But I’ve been able to do things that I’ve always been wanting to do but until now just wasn’t possible. And there is more I want to do that isn’t quite there yet but seems like on the horizon.


(Convinced ST will never be unbroken…) #7

You can play with it to your heart’s content; it is one of the most compelling arguments for the platform.

But there ARE gonna be days when a schedule doesn’t fire, a mode change doesn’t happen, or things just don’t work at all for a period of time. And remember, if your internet goes down, nothing works.

This means things your wife may expect to happen… won’t. Hopefully she’s ok with that. If not, maybe look at something that is executed locally like Indigo, Vera, or Universal Devices.


(Chrisb) #8

I haven’t really played much with any of the big box systems, so take that for what it’s worth… but so far I’m loving ST. I haven’t experienced the performance issues as much as others have, but then I’m also relatively bare bones in terns of what I have: 99% Z-wave or Zigbee devices, which are directly connected to the Hub. I don’t use Sonos, or Hue or TCP lights, so I don’t really have any cloud to cloud communication (the exception being Ubi). That might be why I have fewer performance issues.

I really enjoy the SmartApp aspect of ST. While I haven’t really done any programming in more than a decade, I was able, without too much difficulty, pick up the groovy language and write my own apps pretty quickly in ST. I’ve been able to modify a number of canned apps and even write some nice apps from ground up to meet my specific needs. If would definitely want this in any other system I got. No system can reasonably expect to meet EVERY users EVERY need. But with the SmartApps aspect built in, I can always get what I want the system to do.


(Joe) #9

I tossed my Iris system, but kept the Z-Wave devices that work with ST. I like that I do not have to create an account to monitor my smoke detector. The Iris First Alert Z-Wave combo smoke and carbon alarm work great with the ST system. I never got hooked on the Nest system.

I was also looking at the Vera system, but when I looked at their Community Forums, it looked like only certain folks where getting answers from their questions. The ST forums really helped and gave me more Ideas on what can be done in my home other than just turning on lights.


(Wallace McClure) #10

I’m still happy with my ST purchase, although I would be happier in some ways. I will note I am planning on expanding my implementation.

What I like about it – I’m a tinker too, not a developer. I’m experimenting with home automation to figure out things that will help in areas – but I’m not quite ready to dive into device integration and programming, yet.

What I’ve found – ST is a good way to start. I’ve made 2 separate purchases of sensor and switches, and am planning on making more. I started by simply replacing the timers on lights in the house with smart programmable ones. That allowed me to test implementation and experiment with implementations and “if then” type logics. I’ve since added several sensors (doors and temperatures), and am now adding dimmers. So far my wife and family are very happy with the implementations – they find it transparent to what they want to do, with some added functionality (knowing the garage door is open or closed, if the shed we use for storage is too hot, ability to force a light on or off, etc.) Next step will be replacing more existing dimmers with existing ones, adding a smart wall receptacle of two (did we turn the coffee pot off??) and perhaps some motion sensing in the house. Cost to implement this has been reasonable, and I like being able to buy a yard at a time, instead of the whole cloth as I figure out what I want to do. We have a wired security system, and ST and it operate just fine together – although I’m not planning on having them interact.

The ST app is fairly good – runs fine on my iPhone, but I’ve not been able to get it in any way on my Kindle (which would be useful). Adding devices is fairly simple, once you figure it out. Adding schedules and apps to activate/ deactivate devices is fairly easy with a bit of fiddling, and notifications that a door is open/ closed has been simple.

What isn’t good is that I’ve had some flakiness in the app. I’ve had one sensor flaky bad out of the box, and some unknown incidents – the hub went down about 40 minutes one night for now apparent reason, and some schedules have changed for no apparent reason, and some devices didn’t activate for no apparent reason. I suspect this is due to the cloud-based approach from ST. As such I wouldn’t recommend this for critical functions in the house that need to be very reliable quite yet – such as an alarm system, or activating a garage door or a door lock which opens a path through the security system, etc.

What I haven’t been able to do… I would like to be able to add some basic additional sensors into the house, simply. Things like weather data, pool/ spa temperature, pool water and chemistry levels, fan on/off sensor, etc. I’m not heartbroken that ST doesn’t have this – you can kludge some solutions to these I believe. But as the devices and development community grows, these are the things I would like to see.

Would I buy ST again? For what I want to do – which has a lot of experimentation in it, absolutely. Would I recommend it to a friend? Depending upon what they want to do – yes.


(Elijah) #11

I am happy with ST and would buy again hands down. I came into ST with the notion it would take time to fill out my system, and may have to tweek things, learn new things, or build something for it, or take something apart, however that is exactly what appeals to me.

Would I recommend it for my mom, prolly not, her microwave clock still blinks 12:00
Would I recommend it to my friends, yes, & I do.


(DLee) #12

No regrets at all. It’s awesome at its core and it is a mostly open platform. Most pain comes when you push the limits by building on top of the core. If you focus on its core which is home automation, not a security system and wall screens with manual controls, it does the job. The rest of that will come in time. But for now it is really flexible and mostly reliable with easy setup of automation. The Android app isn’t great but it is not required for true automation except when setting things up. (Mobile presence has been working fine for us over the past month).

Our lights are automated to turn on and off, we don’t use switches much. Our doors lock if we forget. Our garage doors close if we forget. So automation also helps with security but I wouldn’t recommend it to implement as a security monitoring solution. It is an automation solution in the end. Security monitoring will probably be a worthwhile effort down the road… Devices turn off when we go to bed or exit the home. Thermostat warms when we are home, backs off when we leave. All that works well and reliably except for the once or twice a month system instability issues that should decline over time. When unstable or ISP outage, the only impact is we have to press light switches, or lock doors manually or adjust the thermostat manually. No big deal. Otherwise it just runs in full automation, no human interaction required unless I want to customize something. You can just leave it be and let it work.

Smartthings nailed automation. Pains come when you try to expand on top of that. And they offer an open platform for you to build on top of the core. You can push the limits and create and tweak stuff and suffer as much as you choose to.


(Ron S) #13

Good, bad or ugly. I am with ST thick and thin. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. Frustrated at times… But I believe in ST and this community which of course includes @ben and all the geniuses are awesome and the most helpful.


(DanG) #14

I have shown many people what the platform can do and they are all quite amazed but I tell them it isn’t ready for the average user because of the ongoing issues but overall it has been a pretty good experience. I just wish they would get their act together before the competition rolls over the top of them. There is so much for them to do and after a year it still has a mountain to climb.


(Tony - SmartThings Unpublished Contributor ) #15

Are you asking us, or Samsung???


(Acastal) #16

There is help for that:

^-- humor attempt


(Jay Adkins) #17

Couldn’t agree more. I will take a stable and redundant backbone over new device integration any day. Does anyone know what cloud service ST is running on? Amazon Web Services? Maybe a question for @Ben?
I know Amazon Web Services has been known to have sluggish router peformance, frequent hiccups in service, as well as security issues.


(Ben Edwards) #18

Yes[quote=“jadkins, post:17, topic:5359”]
Does anyone know what cloud service ST is running on? Amazon Web Services?
[/quote]

Yes we run on AWS. Believe me we know there are point of that system that require upgrading and we are doing a lot of that over the past few months and next few months. There are entire infrastructure components being swapped out for better systems that should ease some of the burden on the servers and speed things up.


(Jay Adkins) #19

Ahh. Ok that makes sense then. Stability first, then upgrades and device additions!

Being a Cisco guy, let me know if you need any assitance there.
I know Cisco released their Cloud Services Router earlier this year to mitigate a lot of the issues with AWS router instability.


(Scottpsu) #20

I have to agree. I can’t help but feel like I’m getting less than the maximum potential and utility out of my SmartThings setup because of its squarely nature. DropCam integration, for example, is very disappointing. No full-motion video is a real bummer.