Thinking of using Smartthings as a home alarm system


(Danny Smith) #1

Hello!

I hope you don’t mind me asking a question, I haven’t purchased any Smartthings components as yet but I wondered if you wouldn’t mind giving me your opinion / advice on the system.
I’ve been looking at putting an alarm system at home, it had to be wireless, then I started looking at smart alarms. The Yale one caught my eye, it allowed me to know whats going on when I’m not at home, I could arm / disarm the alarm remotely etc, cost around £300 for the system but I was happy to pay that.
I later found out that they use a cloud-based server for the app to connect to and they were only guaranteeing it until 2018, it could go offline and leave me high and dry! So I dismissed it.

I saw the Smartthings sale at Curry’s, £159.99 for a starter kit, I was thinking of adding another motion sensor, window/door sensor and an internal / external alarm, would all cost around £300 aswell. It’s since rocketed back up to £200, so I think I’ll wait for another price drop before I pull the trigger. In the meantime I was wondering if this could be an effective home alarm system, it seems like a very flexible system and I love knowing whats going on at home whilst I’m away. I just wonder how reliable it is.

If anyone has any experience of using it in this manner, I would appreciate their thoughts on it.

Many Thanks!

Danny


#2

From what ive read and my own recent experiences i would say no its just too unreliable to trust it alone for something as important as security


(Brian Harding) #3

@dannysmith43 - Hi Danny,
There are many posts on this site regarding using Smartthings as your primary home security system. With so many burglaries going on these days you need to assess your personal situation and make a strong plan for defense of your home. Look at all the places that a burglar could enter your home and plan appropriately. You cannot totally prevent an intrusion but you can slow the crooks down and be notified when an intrusion occurs. Firstly, just as in the military, you need to have a good perimeter, ie, outdoor cameras and motion detectors to spot them before they enter. Secondly, your doors need to be strong and secure with open/closed sensors, glass break sensors, motion detectors and indoor cameras to try to identify the crooks so that they can be taken off the streets.
Smartthings is half a Home Monitoring System which can notify you when things happen in your home, and half a Home Automation System.but it is NOT a Home Security System. It has no cellular backup so if your internet wires are cut, the crooks find and unplug your modem or the internet is down, you are out of luck. Due to its popularity and rapid growth many changes are happening almost on a daily basis. Setting up Smartthings to do exactly what you want requires a lot of experimentation, thus causing many false alarms. For various reasons devices can go offline at any time. So even if Smartthings is 98% reliable for you that 2% could be your downfall. Although things are improving in the camera area, the choices are still quite limited.
That being said, I recommend that you purchase a true Home Security System first and purchase Smartthings as a backup to do the things that your security system can’t, such as setting up lights to turn on/off with certain events and to control cameras, etc.
I have found my Smartthings system to be between 90 - 95 percent reliable but notifications can be very slow, especially with geofencing.
Good luck.


(John Crighton) #4

Some may consider this foolhardy but prior to ST I had no security system, and in several decades of living I have not experienced being broken into/burgled.

I do often ask myself why someone would pick me, and I do take steps to make sure I’m not an obvious target (don’t leave any packaging of new/expensive items in the recycling/make sure bedroom blinds are closed if going away/let the neighbours know, etc). Usually burglaries are targeted, i.e. somebody knows you have something specific and they want it. There is no value in second hand TVs or DVD players that everyone has.

In fact on a few occasions I’ve left the front door to my house wide open, and returned a couple of hours later to realise. But the fact is, nobody looking to rob a place would touch a house with an open front door as this suggests occupancy (not that I’d ever leave it open on purpose of course).

ST does a good enough job, for me, of letting me know when there’s activity going on in my house, allowing me to control stuff remotely, and letting me look at a few places in the house with cameras (which also record when motion is detected and I’m away). I would never, never hook up an audible alarm to ST though. Too many false positives. Also I think that in general they do nothing but annoy people.

That said, I don’t think anyone would sell you ST as all the security you’d ever need for fear of litigious comeback.


(Danny Smith) #5

Thanks for all your replies!
I’ve never had a security system before also and never had a break-in either. In any instance, I will be buying a dummy siren just as a deterrent and if anything, have an internal siren. If anyone was to break in, I think the internal siren would cause a moment of shock and send someone running anyway.
I’m still a bit torn, I may purchase a cheaper “dumb” alarm system like advised but also a few smartthings sensors to add the “smart” part manually.
It’s a shame that it’s not really that reliable with false positives, is it the components at fault in these instances?

Thanks again all.


(John C) #6

Concur 100%.

That being said, I’ve been pleased that ST has alerted me 100% with every entry into our second home condo when we’ve been away (our friend checking the place, the exterminator, etc.) and provided us with remote temperature and humidity readings/alarms.

But automations fail and ST depends on an Internet connection and cloud processing. YMMV.


(James Yeo) #7

Steps can be taken to improve the reliability to some extent… like adding UPS to the hub and/or cameras, as well as a router with cellular failover to stay on the network. That adds cost, of course. But for folks who like to tinker, it’s another thing that can be done.

Still, you are at the mercy of the ST infrastructure when using the system. In the end, ST is probably better than having NO alarm system…


(Ben) #8

The contract for my home security system was nearing an end, and I wanted to take total control of it (not happy with current provider). I had purchased ST to replace my system, and fortunately decided to renew my paid security contract for an additional year (stopgap measure).

Now that I’ve had ST for several months, I can wholeheartedly say that I’m glad I didn’t completely drop the security provider, and at this juncture it looks like I will not be able to. ST, as fun and frustrating as its been, just isn’t reliable enough.

Sometimes “better than nothing” just isn’t “good enough”.


(Wayne) #9

I think the best use of smartthings in relation to security is to get a couple of volt free connections from an existing alarm system to monitor when the alarm is set and another to show when the alarm is activated. Then use a universal binary sensor to tell smartthings of both status so that you are able to IOT your existing ‘legacy’ alarm system.

Relying on smartthings alone for security is just not good enough.


(Ben) #10

@a4refillpad All of which is well beyond my very limited scope of knowledge, and hence the reason I truly appreciate the community here.


(EinarS) #11

There is nothing that could prevent a break in in reality.
ST can alert you in so many ways as long as it has power and internet.
Any regular security company could not even get close to the possibilities you have with a ST.
What keeps your house less interesting is a sign on the outside.
PS not working for any security company :slight_smile:


#12

This.

Smartthings is good, but also cloud based, and not nearly as reliable as a proper alarm system. Let the alarm system do its job, the one it was primarily designed for. Then if possible, take some output from that alarm and feed it into your smartthings.

There are alarm systems that have the ability to be connected via wifi to your home network, which you can then interact with, and no doubt with the use of IFTTT, Alexa and smartthings you would be able to do all sorts of clever stuff, but if all that clever stuff fails for whatever reason, your alarm will still do its job. Have a look at the systems available from Texcom would be my suggestion.


(Paul Ockenden) #13

Completely agree with what others have said. For me, SmartThings complements my existing alarm system. I can’t see it ever replacing it.


#14

ST is far to unreliable to use for an alarm system, and you will also get lots of false positive events.
Don’t do this - it’s cheap compared to real security systems, and there is a reason for that.


(Brian Harding) #15

I was the victim of a home break-in last year so I am very sensitive on this subject. I did not have an alarm system. I am retired, live in a small house in a pretty decent neighborhood and stay home about 95% of the time. My house is no different from any other house on the block from a burglar’s point of view. I have lived in this house for almost 10 years with no problems and I thought my neighbors had my back. I left for two hours and in that time the burglars cleaned me out for about $18,000, From what they took, etc. it had to be neighbors. The police wrote up a report, but that was the last I heard from them. With no fingerprints, no video and especially with no alarm system they were not very interested in trying to solve the case. Fortunately nothing was taken that would compromise my identity. I learned a very bitter lesson.


(Brian) #16

I personally believe video is the best security.

ST is better than nothing but half of a real alarm system. No one can tell you what is right for you, do a LOT of research. You will find the answer.


(Dale C) #17

You just described SmartThings Hub!

Seriously, I wouldn’t plan on SmartThings as a stand alone security. ST is home automation trying to add on security features. It is a good idea but rather poor implementation at this point. SmartThings is better suited for home automation as long as your are willing to put up with lots of tinkering. If security is what you are after I would look to wireless systems dedicated for security.


#18

I would also echo the comments of @bridaus in that video is the best deterrent. Along with light. Burglars do not like lights - they get seen.

So automatic flood lights and some CCTV cameras would be the way to go. CCTV can get expensive however.

That being said, burglars will break into houses. You just need to make sure they would rather pick somebody elses house instead of yours. If you are with a bunch of guys in the woods being chased by a bear, you dont need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun one of the other guys.

If your house has some CCTV stickers, just one or two cameras and a couple of floodlights - chances are the opportunist thieves are going to walk on by and pick a house without those.

Alternatively a great big dog.

Or why not get smartthings to play the noise of a great big dog through a sonos amp and some big speakers when it detects motion in a particular room between certain times…

You get the picture though. I wouldn’t trust an alarm system on its own to deter thieves, and if you have cctv but the thieves cant see it or dont know its there, then all it is good for is catching them after the event. The key is to make your security obvious enough to prevent the event in the first place.


(Brian Harding) #19

I agree about cameras being extremely important because if you can’t identify the crooks the odds of finding out who did it and bringing them to justice are extremely slim. I also want to say that a lot of advice pertains to a random act of burglary and you might possibly scare the potential intruders off, what about your neighbors? They know your schedules, they probably know what you own, etc. In my case I have heard that my neighbor has a terrible gambling problem, although he is very friendly and you would never know he had a problem. Also in my case the items taken plus other factors strongly point to them. To protect yourself from questionable neighbors you have to be a lot more crafty than you would with a random break in.