System High Availablity


(Joe) #1

I am in the market for home automation. I really feel like Smarthings is the way to go, but my only concern is the use of the cloud. Granted I haven’t lost my internet connection except during a power outage, and a UPS can help me mitigate that problem. How likely is it that the cloud will be inaccessible? Many posts say they’re using Smarthings as a security system, and if the cloud is inaccessible, doesn’t that your alarm system down? Has anyone come up with a creative solution to ensure they have high availability with Smarthings?


(Ben Edwards) #2

We do have a status page: http://status.smartthings.com

You can check out the number and duration of our previous outages. We expect this to get better (in fact we have been focusing a lot of efforts on this in recent weeks).

We are developing a second version of the SmartThings Hub that will facilitate the running of some local processes without sending to the cloud. However, we think there will always be a cloud component for full functionality.


(Geko) #3

In my experience, SmartThings definitely got better as far as frequency of service interruptions and general responsiveness. Its biggest selling point is simplicity and ease of use. Some users value these qualities more then anything and are willing to accept the risk of their security system being compromised due to internet service interruption or ST cloud down time. I won’t argue with their choice, it all depends on your specific requirements and expectations.

As far as good practices, if you’re going to use ST as your security system, I’d recommend:

  1. Have your Internet modem, router and ST hub on a separate UPS. Power outages happen more often than Internet outages.
  2. Make sure to test your security system with mains power turned off. There may be corner cases when not all sensors have direct connection to the hub and will stop working when intermediate nodes are off-line.
  3. Use secondary security system to protect key areas. A cheap stand-alone alarm system with a loud siren and a few motion sensors may be enough as a back up in case of Internet outage. Most alarm panels can be armed/disarmed using a wired contact, so that your secondary alarm system can be armed/disarmed by the SmartThings using for example Linear Z-Wave Isolated Contact Fixture Module.

(Troy Kelly) #4

Great advice @geko!

One other suggestion I would make is to use a router with 3G/4G fallback, and put a cheap SIM in there to help alleviate ISP related issues.

Here in Australia our ISP’s seem to have a serious aversion to uptime - and there are at the very least several hours per month where a link may be up but traffic can’t properly route. To that end, make sure you configure your router to not just switch to mobile data on loss of primary connectivity - but that it does a ICMP or some other test to ensure that there is an actual data path in place.

Alternately - I would recommend having a security system to do security, and an automation system to do automation.

It will not be very long (please help me out here @ben :wink: ) before sockets are available on the Hub, which means that the more advanced systems (like the Elk M1 etc) will be able to interface nicely with the ST environment.

This would mean you do not have to duplicate sensors, PIR’s, Reed’s etc could all be attached to the security system, and the Hub just interrogates their values via the high level interface to your security panel.

We have done this for several installs (not with ST automation - but with other solutions) because in Australia a security system / fire detection system has very specific requirements - and an automation system like this is not designed to meet them.


(Joe) #5

Do you know if the Isolated Contact Fixture will work with AT&T Digital life?


(Joe) #6

I like your Idea. What secondary alarm system works with ST?

I was going to have AT&T digital life installed but I am terrible about setting alarm systems. Unfortunately I don’t think AT&T digital life has a way to tell if you’re home or not, so you have to remember to set the alarm system. If I could use ST to arm the system this would work as well. Is there a way I can tell if AT&T digital life will work with the Contact fixture module?


(Geko) #7

I’m not familiar with AT&T system. There’s a lot of activity around DSC PowerSeries integration:
http://community.smartthings.com/t/dsc-alarm-integration-and-alarms-in-general/

But any alarm with programmable input and output (dry contacts) can be potentially integrated with ST.


(Geko) #8

A good example would be GE SimonXT. They sell on eBay for $70 new or < $30 used. It’s an integrated (all-in-one) alarm panel and has two programmable I/O ports that can be wired to FortrezZ MIMOlite Z-Wave I/O module. When the alarm panel is armed, the programmable output wired to MIMIlite input is activated and causes ST to switch to armed state. Now if ST detects motion, door/window opening, etc. it can trip MIMOlite output wired to the alarm panel input and set off an alarm.


(Joe) #9

I really appreciate the information. We just had AT&T digital life installed yesterday and the alarm system is a CISCO DLC-100. Since I have very little experience with alarm systems, how can I tell if this system will support MIMOlite? Is there a specific connection I can look for?

OR maybe something I can google for? I am not even sure what search criteria I should be using.


(Troy Kelly) #10

The really short (and not entirely correct answer) is yes.

The longer answer is - it depends on how open the digital life platform is.

I can’t find a lot of documentation on it - but what I have read is that only “authorised” devices can be connected to the system - and at the moment those are only AeonLabs devices.

I have no idea how that is enforced or even if it is accurate.

Do you have any documentation that came with the system, about pairing devices or limitations of the system?


(Joe) #11

Yeah. I have a bible they gave me. I’ll look at that in more detail. Should I focus on the pairing part of the book?


(Joe) #12

Thanks for being so helpful. Does the FortrezZ MIMOliteUS - Z-Wave Multi-input/output Dry Contact Bridge just trigger the alarm to turn on and off or will it actually give smartthings the ability to get the state of each sensor?


(Joe) #13

I’ve decided to return Digital life. I didn’t realize how much of a pain it would be to have to keep calling them every time I needed to change a configuration in my alarm system. It took me nearly an hour to find someone who understood what I meant when I asked to have a contact sensor listed as a device that wouldn’t trigger an alarm. They kept telling me it wasn’t possible. ugh…


(Troy Kelly) #14

Apologies I didn’t get back to you earlier @Keo. I’ve basically given up on SmartThings for now.

The platform here isn’t ready for anything useful so I haven’t put too much energy in.

It’s sad to see you had to return the system - it is so frustrating knowing the potential of something, but then having a roadblock that just won’t budge.