My insurance company has asked me to install a 24/7 monitored burglar + smoke alarm.
I am not considering SmartThings as an alarm system.
I need a “real” alarm system, but I would like to be able to have as good an integration as possible. In the perfect world, I would be able to see each alarm sensor in SmartThings. But that’s probably wishful thinking. I’m guessing that I’ll end up having to suffice with an IFTTT integration. But even for IFTTT there must be huge differences in what the integration allows.
I have full house Wifi as good as it comes.
I would at the very least want to be able to arm / disarm my alarm via SmartThings, and know if the Alarm goes off. Hopefully I could also trigger my alarm via SmartThings.
ADT, Ring, Scout, Arlo, … and probably a lot of other ones seem like candidates.
Would love to hear recommendations from the community.
Unfortunately, these are exactly the two features that most security systems do not expose to third-party systems. Including IFTTT, Alexa routines, even HomeKit. In particular, they won’t allow you to disarm from an outside system as that would be considered a huge security hole for any system which was not itself UL certified as a security system.
IF THE ALARM GOES OFF
To tell if the alarm went off, you normally have to treat it as a physical event and then try to capture recognition of that physical event through something that communicates with smartthings.
That could be a relay wired into the security system. It could be an acoustic sensor that hears the siren go off. But nothing super simple.
A number of people have use the wired relay method, so I’ll leave it to those who have actually done so to comment on that. But you can do it with Konnected.Io and Noonlight, for example.
It’s often easier to trigger from a text notification from the security system, and you can do that with IFTTT, for example.
There’s no good software way to arm or disarm any of the UL listed security systems. The one thing you can do is use a “robot finger“ to physically push a button on a key fob or keypad. The security system won’t know the difference between that and a person pushing the button, so it will accept it. Switchbot is a Device of this type which does have a smartthings Integration, although you do have to get their mini hub in order to get the integration. These are nice little devices and I do use them in my own home, but Integration is Cloud dependent so I don’t know if you really want that for arming or disarming. But you could do it.
There are a few security systems where you can get some integration through Alexa by directing an echo device to speak the security system command to a second echo device. You’ll also need a pin code at least to disarm. This is doable, but pretty Hacky and it does mean that anyone who’s in your house will hear your security pin. So while it’s doable, I don’t know of anyone actually using this method.
Also remember that smartthings is in the middle of transitioning to an entirely new platform, so anything written in groovy will no longer work once that transition is complete unless you find a way to host it yourself. So before going all in on any custom solution, make sure you find out whether the authors intend to support it for the new platform or not.
Does anyone have experience with Ring Alarm > Alexa > SmartThings.
Alexa can see Ring Alarm, arm/disarm. Maybe can be integrated with SmartThings via virtual switches?
Also Ring Alarm support First Alert Z-Combo smoke detector
Alexa can see all of the individual Ring sensors, and since you can use a voice command from echo to arm/disarm ring, you can use the hack I mentioned where one echo device speaks to another for that.
But ring does not tell Alexa if it is activated. So you have to set up a separate Alexa routine for each of the ring sensors and then you can have a “that“ which turns on a virtual switch for any one of them.
However… If someone presses the panic button or uses the ring keypad to trigger the alarm, Alexa won’t know that happened.
So it’s only a partial integration, and very tedious to set up. And you have the vulnerability of having to have Alexa speak the pin code aloud to disarm it.
You’re right, they pretty much opened up everything in their Ifttt channel. Interesting.
Once upon a time, about four years ago I think, there was an official integration between scout and smartthings, but then it was discontinued in favor of the ADT integration, which was then itself discontinued about three years later.
Note that in order to get the 24/7 monitoring that your insurance company wants, you’ll have to pay $20 a month, (plus potentially a fee for Ifttt if you have more than three rules you want to set up there.)
That’s the same fee as the new ring protect plan, which also includes video recording if you have any ring cameras.
Both offer a slight discount if you pay by the year instead of by the month. Ring is $200 per year and scout is $215. Neither require a long-term contract.
The savings on my insurance premium will be larger than the monthly fee.
My video system is already separate.
This seems like the right solution for me. I must be able to use the Scout for core alarm. And I can optionally augment the alarm system with SmartThings, to e.g. disarm it when I enter my home with my RFID tag, or trigger it from SmartThings on e.g. some sensors that I might not want on Scout for whatever reason (e.g. NEST smoke alarm).
Makes me think the next gen SmartThings HUB ought to have a SIM card for when the Internet is down.
That, or connection to a landline, IS a requirement for a UL listed security system. That is, notifications can’t be only Internet-based. But ST has not shown interest in becoming that. Heck, their app can’t even talk to the hub if the Internet is out, even if they’re on the same WiFi. For that matter, even their own WiFi mesh router models won’t provide WiFi if the cloud is not available! It just hasn’t been in their design DNA. But you never know what the future will bring.
IFTTT lag can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, and does vary. Scout does note that on their website:
Why did my IFTTT reaction take such a long time after the trigger occurred?
Since IFTTT is a free service, there is no guarantee that the reaction will occur instantly every time. During periods of high volume, your applet may be queued until the other reactions can occur in line ahead of yours. IFTTT does a great job most of the time, but sometimes it can be a little slow, mostly due to their server capacity. If you set many triggers during peak hours, then you may receive all of your notifications at once when the server load begins to drop.
Note that “peak hours” definitely includes “when most people are getting home from work.”
So I’m not sure it will fit the use cases you describe unless you’re willing to doublecheck the Scout security system (not just an ST device) before you enter each time to make sure the disarm processed.
Also, I would take particular note of the fact that events in either smartthings or a IFTTT can be delayed and then run minutes or even hours later. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it can happen, and the consequences can be significant for a security set up. Imagine that you started to leave, but you forgot some thing, so you go back to the door. You use your RFID tag and expect the system to disarm. But ifttt has unusually long delays, and the request gets cued up to disarm, but doesn’t yet run.
You disarm the system some other way, go in the house, get whatever you forgot, and leave again, arming the system as you go.
25 minutes later, IFTTT finally gets around to running your original request and disarms the system.
A warning about Scout;
I was in love with Scout Alarm. I currently have the alarm installed. It does just about everything I want and the IFTTT integration allows me to do so much between Alexa and Smartthings. However, while getting help with another issue I came to find out that the Z-wave devices aren’t being tracked correctly as far as the battery and offline status. Long story short, even when the battery dies the devices still show online. I’ve literally taken the batteries out of my glass break sensors while watching the scout system and the app still shows they are online days later. I discussed this with their support and they confirmed this and said it’s been something they have been having trouble with and were looking with a solution. So basically you could have multiple zwave devices that are offline and sleeping comfortably each night thinking you are safe but half your house is unprotected. I really wish they would get their crap together because there are so many possibilities for this alarm but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get sued sometime soon for charging people to protect their homes while not informing them that they are not really secure if they have zwave devices.
A couple other things to consider:
I have the ZSMOKE smoke detectors and I verified they worked with scout before buying. I installed them and they worked fine. 2 years later I decided to move their locations and I Excluded them so that they could remap. When I tried the inclusion process it didn’t work and support told me they weren’t supported, that they only supported the ZCOMBO ones. It took a year of complaining and showing them that their site says they support all First Alert Zwave devices to get them to correct this.
I also found out that, if you arm your scout alarm while a sensor is not “ready” (eg. battery dead, door is currently open, or some interference is temporarily preventing scout from seeing it) it still arms but if the sensor comes back online or the door gets shut, scout never brings that sensor back in the mix. Maybe they all do that but I would think that shutting the door should include that sensor back into the system for the remainder that it’s armed. At the very least, it should warn me that the sensors aren’t going to be included.
Lastly, and this probably applies to most alarms with smart home integration, Scout doesn’t show the different reasons that activated an alarm. I want to be able to unlock all of my doors and turn on the lights if there is a fire (environmental alarm). I don’t, however, want to unlock all the doors if someone is breaking in (intruder/burglar alarm). Scout doesn’t show the difference in their api, just that the alarm was triggered so you can make automations for the different situations.
Hope this helps and if anyone knows a system that can offer all these things that scout is lacking then I’d love to hear them. Currently, I am looking at abode. I bought it and then immediately returned it because they claimed something that didn’t turn out to be true, but I can’t remember what it was unfortunately. I’m thinking they said they supported my smoke detectors but didn’t.
Thanks Nick, really appreciate that. I’ve actually experienced the exact same problem on SmartThings ~3years ago. Had a home alarm based on it, and a sensor could be offline for weeks exactly like you describe. I also recently experienced that precise same problem in a standard alarm system delivered and installed by an alarm company. One of my motion sensors had been offline for ~2 years, and all lights were green.
Your commens were super helpful, thank you. I’ve gone ahead and ordered the Scout but now I know what I’m getting into.
If you want a “real” alarm system, you are talking about something like DSC or Honeywell (and ADT). Don’t know if it’s still the case, but for a long time a lot of mid-level new home construction came pre-wired for these systems (so they could sell the install & monitoring services to you later!). A wired system is really the way to go if you’re serious (kind of like security cameras). You need every window and door covered as well as motion, smoke and co sensors.
Of course you can have it monitored, but you can also get an inexpensive 3rd-party interface to connect a DSC system (for example) to your home LAN (newer models may already have this) and there is 100% integration available with SmartThings via community projects. I can monitor my DSC system zone & panel status, get alarms, arm, disarm, set up automations, etc. - all from analogous devices in the ST mobile app.
Sounds like this is not a new construction situation, so going with a wired system may not be feasible for you, but they do have wireless sensors as well. I can’t vouch for how these ‘legacy’ alarm systems compare to the newer stuff from Ring, Scout, etc.; all I know is they are pretty darned hardened and have stood the test of time.