Very new to home automation

Hi all, I have looking in to home automation for a while now and after having an echo for Xmas, I decided to buy 3 Sonoff wifi switches. initially these worked fine but now they keep dropping connection.

I have been looking at Smart Things and Wink 2 for a while now and I am leaning toward ST due to online reviews etc. My concern is that reading through various forums, it seems that there are allot of issues with all systems. These system are designed to make life easier but does it if it needs constant fiddling with. I see there are many people who are not happy with some of the ST items like door sensors, which go off, or show false readings etc.

I may just be reading the bad bits and not focusing on the good. My belief is that if I buy a ST hub and stick to ST items, Hue for lights etc, I should never have many issues, as they are designed to be compatible. I see recently support for a one brand of cctv camera has been withdrawn, this could happen overtime to other brands?

I would like to know the opinions of people who have ST items and how their systems behave on a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that tech isn’t always 100% but as my Sonoff have spent more time offline than on, it begs the question shall I just turn it on myself.

Thanks for reading, I look forward to your opinions.

It’s more of a hobby than a fully working/reliable system.

If you want to spend £1000’s and have your house professionally wired for a smart home system it will be a lot more reliable.

I’ve been using SmartThings in the UK since it’s was released over here and gone through quite a few changes since my initial setup.

Personally I love Philips Hue. It’s been rock solid, integrates well with SmartThings and can be controlled independently if you have an issue with SmartThings. It is however a little pricey compared with some other manufactures.

SmartThings branded sensors I am slowly throwing out, they aren’t the best (my opinion here). SmartThings themselves can’t even report proper battery level on their own devices - they just state near 100% forever. This has been a problem for maybe a year?! I’ve personally moved over to the following:

AeonLabs Multisensor 6 for Motion/temperature. Although expensive (and take more expensive batteries). They are fantastic and yet to let me down. They can even be USB powered if you have a good location for it.

Sensitive Strips for contact sensors…again rock solid and get this…10 year battery life. Granted you have to throw them away at this point (you can’t replace it) that’s more than long enough for me. And you can paint them, and they’re big enough to sit inside the door frame so are invisible. One problem again - little pricey and don’t do vibration or temperature. But I can live with that.

Here in the UK we are a little left out on most devices and certainly feel left out on SmartThings Updates (99% of their new features, offers and the like are all US only).

Most (not all) of the SmartThings shortcoming have been worked around by the community so if you do have an issue, have a search if these forums and I’m sure someone will have found a fix/Work around.

One word of warning: once you start, you won’t be able to stop!!

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Great advice thanks, rather than buying the starter kit then, I may just start with the ST hub and add bits like the Aeonlabs you suggested. I

I did look at Openhab via a Raspberry pi3 but the coding and installation sent my head in to a spin.

What happens to Hue bulbs if there is no wifi, is the function performed on the hub locally or is it cloud based? I have loads of spots so it will cost big £ but may just start room by room. Have any of your bulbs blown yet as quite a few of my LED’s have after 3 years??

Are these the door strips Sensative SENE1110 Strips Guard.

it seems to me that Samsung have a QC problem then with some of the devices. Why is it a massive company like this are not able to produce such a simple device that works and stands the test of time? They must be aware of these issues so do they not realise that if they produced quality hardware, people would buy their items instead of being let down and source alternatives? Samsung are bound to elaborate over time and add additional hardware?

I’ll chime in…

I initially started out on the HA path with the Wink 2 hub. It was fine, but I kept running into limitations on what I could do with it. I also found that it wasn’t a very open system. Not anywhere near to what’s available to ST.

I also have some Hue lights and I love them. They are pretty cool and they really just work without issues. They are each a smart bulb, so depending on how you would normally control them is going to determine whether or not they would continue to work depending on what is out.

So, if you normally would tell the Echo to turn them on and your Home WIFI is out then that’s no longer going to work as there’s no way for the Echo to go out to the cloud and figure out what you just said. However, you can go over to the wall and turn off the switch and turn them back on (which will do a reset of their settings) but at least you’re not stuck in the dark. They will continue to work just fine if ST is down for whatever reason as long as you’re not using a ST only way of turning them on (like with a mini-mote for example).

To me, it seems like there are many companies racing to produce this stuff and sell it for as the lowest possible price. Which unfortunately means that some things are not going to be very reliable as everyone pushes the envelope to reduce the cost of their items. However, one good thing about this community is that you can find out from others what they have and what’s working for them.

I’ve got many Hue bulbs, many GE switches and those work great for me. I’ve also got one of the Sensative strips coming later this week so I’ll be able to get some feel for how that device works, but I would not have purchased it had I not heard some good reviews from folks in this forum.

BTW, this is the one I got… Not cheap, but comes with a free motion sensor. Have fun…and like has been said, this can get addictive.

No, thank you for chirping in, all feedback is welcome. I think I will go down the hue light path but as I have so many spots, I was going to replace a few at a time when the current ones blow.

One question if I plugged in a hue bulb in, will it work normally like an ordinary bulb, when I flick the switch, obviously I know it won’t be smart until connected to a hub.

Can I ask why your getting GE switches if you have smart bulbs? Also if say your internet goes down, do smart light switches still work or are they cloud based?

Just to clarify, if you switch the lights on via the old switch, they go back to default settings?

You don’t want to do that. Smart bulbs want to be “hot” all the time. So if you walk around your house, all the places where you’d have smart bulbs and wall switches, those switches would need to be in the ON position (even when the bulb is off). So for the most part you’re using some other means of turning them On and Off (app/Alexa/routine, etc.)

Bulbs are expensive, switches are cheap. So for areas where I don’t want or need color bulbs, but I still want automation, I’m just changing the switches. If the Internet goes down they still work manually. But depending on what device type they are using (that’s a long explanation) they may or may not work in smart routines or the like. They absolutely will not work with Alexa if the Internet is down, as again, the Alexa needs to send what you said to the cloud.

If we’re talking about Hue bulbs, then yes. But, they do not like being power-cycled. They want to be powered on all the time and controlled by other means (motion sensors, hue remotes, Amazon echo, SmartThings app, wall remotes, smart routines…just to name a few). It’s a shift in how you turn on and off the lights…and there are several threads on here if you want to do something different with the old light switches rather than just leave them ON all the time.

I’ve been a SmartThings user for a year in the UK and I have to say I’ve had no real problems at all. The cloud service is reliable and the hub and ST sensors have all been faultless.

I have a number of ST sensors along with a few additional ZigBee sensors. I have a few smartplugs and a good number of IKEA Tradfri bulbs connected directly to the ST hub. I’ve also made a few ST_Anything based DIY units for various tasks.

Control is done with Echo devices and ActionTiles (and the ST apps).

Very happy with my setup and have never been in a situation where I’ve not been able to operate.

So in my opinion - very happy with ST!

Matt

I will chime in on the Hue Bulbs only. I prefer having a boat load of color options in the house so I have 35+ A19 color bulbs and a couple of Light strips. I use LIFX for my BR30 bulbs because at the time, the Hue BR30 color spectrum didn’t come close to the 16 million colors of the A19 Bulbs. I believe the 3rd generation of Hue BR30 is available now which does have the same color spectrum.

None of the bulbs are ever switched off at the switch (if you do that, you will shorten their life span). So all of my bulbs in all of my rooms are controlled either through Routines, Smart Lighting or in webCoRE ( these terms will become familiar when you begin your SmartThings journey), or if I need to turn off one light or all of the lights in a room, I have several Echos throughout the house that I just simply say, “Alexa, turn off the lights” and depending on which room I’m in and which Echo heard me, the lights in that room will respond. I haven’t had a single bulb go out on me in a year, not one. Knock knock knock, wheres the wood. :grin:

With that being said, the biggest point I wanted to make and should you go with Hue, is BUY the Hue Bridge. You will see a lot of other posts / topics about people pairing their bulbs directly to ST versus having the Bridge and although people have their bulbs working, when they have issues or need to remove the bulb or add another bulb, they have all sorts of issues, so if you go down this path, save yourself any future issues by spending the extra $ and get the Bridge. This also gives you a much cleaner and streamlined way of creating scenes for all of your bulbs within the Hue App itself and if the SmartThings Hub goes down, you will have 0 issues controlling your bulbs via Hue App or Alexa. Just my .02

Thanks all a great insight to peps setups. I’m certainly getting bit more know how now. Not heard of webcore, I assume that similar to action tiles??

No, it would be similar to creating a Routine inside Smartthings but injected with a ton of steroids to allow you create Pistons with complex IF THEN ELSE qualifications / Statements allowing you more control of devices and what to do with them with little to no restrictions.

ActionTiles is a web based Dashboard that consists of Tiles that represent all of your devices in Things (SmartThings app) and allows you to control on/off, open/close, arm/disarm capability by pressing the Tile. Allows you to view video feeds, run your existing ST Routines, access to weather forecasts, etc.

I have both and they are 2 of the most powerful and complimenting SmartApps in the SmartThings world but serve two entirely different purposes, both I believe which are necessary for a successful and happy marriage with SmartThings. One is a Rules engine and the other is a web based Dashboard for display and control of all your SmartThings, devices, Routines, Modes, SHM that almost eliminates the need for using the SmartThings Mobile app, with the exception of adding new devices, maintenance, scene creation and things like that.

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I honestly did not know you could do that. I have three Echo’s myself in three different rooms and I had been using the “long way” to get them to turn on the lights. Until today that is… Now I have the rooms grouped up and “Alexa, turn on the lights” works in all of those rooms. Good tip. Thanks.

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With three of them can you play music through all at the same time or if you want play music one one specific echo?

Yeah, all that works. I can even tell the one in my office to play music on the one in the living room too if I want.

You can group them up however you like…but each can only be in one group at a time, which is a little wonky…but a big improvement from a year ago when none of that was possible.

Cool, this is far cheaper than buying speakers though the sound quality won’t be as good. I find the echo to be very good though and adequate for my needs.