What would you recommend?

(Paul) #1

I’m very new to this community, so I’m fine if you tell me to look at some other posting(s).

I have a log cabin about 60 miles away that I’m starting to rent out a lot. As a result, I’d like to have a lot more information about it than I can now.

Here are the items that I want to monitor and what I’m asking is what are people using (specific model and make) and why they chose that. I’m somewhat technical, but not interested in doing programming or deep integration tasks. I basically want to control the SmartThing Hub from my web browser from home. I have a Windows Mobile Phone, and I’m glad to see that there is an app for Windows Phone (not usually considered) but I mostly just want to work from my computer.

Here are things I want to be able to do:

Change the door entry code from afar! I have new renters and want to have a code assigned to them that only works for the time period of their rental. Schlage? Kwikset? Yale?

Turn the heat up or down It takes 12 hours to heat the place up and the cost of heating when no one is there is incredible. I simply want to know the temperature, and turn it up or turn it down.
Do I use NEST? Honeywell? GE? I have a simple “White-Rodgers” thermostat now with a standard furnace, blower, etc. Do i have to worrry about wiring or anything?

Turn off some appliances in case the renters don’t Bunn coffee makers, the water pump (in case a pipe freezes and bursts which has already happened 3 times), turn off / on some lights remotely to make it lived in, etc. I seem to like the “plugs” that plug into an outlet already as re-wiring outlets isn’t too interesting to me, but is this the right way to do it? What if I have it programmed to “off” and the renter wants to turn it on and the power outlet is turned off by me?

Are all the doors closed? The front door I’d like to know is closed and locked (see changing codes above) but there are 3 other doors, two are sliding doors that we lock with a piece of PVC pipe, one is a conventional type door (glass) and the final one is a garage door. I was just going to use the SmartThings SmartSense multisensor, is that the best choice?

Can I see who came to the door? I’d like to see who came to the cabin door, whether they entered or not. I’d like to have it recorded and notify me if someone is there. I’ve read alot about cameras, but it doesn’t look like SmartThings was the right hub to buy for this? I’ve got wireless Internet and of course would like to use that, much easier than dragging cable, but I’ll do it if that is the only way.

This is a lot to ask I know. Any or all responses would be greatly appreciated.


I’ll leave the device discussion to those much more expert, but legally in all jurisdictions I know of renters have an expectation of privacy and you cannot use cameras in the interior during their time of occupancy without their written permission. Which they are very unlikely to give. Talk to a local lawyer or check www.nolo.com on landlord law, to be sure.

In many jurisdictions a landlord can have security cameras on the outside of the property, but again you need to check to be sure.

(Ron S) #3

Would strongly suggest to consult lawyer regarding the camera part. On a lighter note… People do rent log cabin for you know what… :wink: :wink:

(Darryl) #4

Wouldn’t suggest NEST. Love my ecobee smart thermostat.

(Paul) #5

Pulled the inside camera part of the post, don’t want to get into the legality of the issues.

(Marc) #7

For the thermostats, I have 3 Nests and I am adding a 4th because of an extension I am doing. I strongly considered getting a Ecobee 3 instead of a Nest as I was having major issues with them going offline since their 4.0 software came out. They finally gave me a replacement for one of them and the other 2 now seemed to be fixed by software updates and I am happy again. I heard the Ecobees are great, but I was turned off that I emailed their support before possibly purchasing and I NEVER got a response. Also, depending on if you have a common wire, you will need to do some wiring at your boiler panel, which wasn’t appealing to me.

For open/door sensors, I use the SmartThings Multi’s and they work great.

For locks, I have Kwikset but door codes aren’t natively supported. There is a SmartApp that someone wrote that will do it, but it’s not intuitive and my battery level wasn’t reporting properly with it. I would look into the others and perhaps someone else can comment.

For appliances, the best way to do it is use switches and outlets as opposed to the external adapters. You don’t want someone to easily unplug/steal those. With switches and outlets, it’s more transparent, but yes, more annoying to install.

For camera’s, I would be shocked if you can’t put cameras on the outside of your property(check with your local laws), but Dropcam is the only official supported model by SmartThings and that is in Beta. You can buy an outdoor enclosure for it. You can also look into Foscam as others here have gotten them working. Both Dropcam and Foscam have cloud storage options.


There are some recent wireless camera releases that might do what you need. None of them are integrated with ST, but you can achieve notifications with their own apps and automation in other ways.

Take a look at Arlo (http://www.arlo.com), and Homeboy (https://www.homeboy.com).

I am using Homeboy successfully with IFTTT. I wish I could use ST in the mix to auto-arm Homeboy with Hello, Home phrases, but haven’t been able to figure that out yet.

(Paul) #9

I use Nest thermostats, mostly because I had them long before I had Smartthings.

That said, I’ve been very happy with them. Now that I have integrated them with ST, I get all the benefits of geofencing and remote motion detectors from ST, with all of the ease-of-use of Nest and the Nest app. When we have houseguests, they never have any issues changing the temperature etc…

The Nest app is a great backup to have when ST is having platform problems.

Another great Nest feature: you can set hard limits on temperature so your tenants can’t set the thermostat to 80° in the winter without a password.

One thing to keep in mind: you’ll definitely want some battery backup for your hub, router & modem… and possibly a backup cellular connection. The recently-announced ST Hub 2.0 has some of that built in. Don’t know what your timeline is, but you might want to wait for that.

(Paul) #10

This has been very helpful, thank you very much

(Tenzing Sherpa) #11

my experience is with kwikset lock. i have kwikset 912 lever. The kwikset has worked really well for me soo far. I can see which codes are entered to install the property, as well as near instant status updates, and also can see if door hasn’t been closed right causing mechanism jams. Now I am also interested in schlage lock reviews because most my other locks are schlage. Anyway I do know that kwikset locks are very popular for renters because of its smartkey techhnology that lets you rekey the locks after tenants leave. A handy feature because presence detection using key fobs, etc are not reliable yet, and if you give tenant a key then you can rekey the locks yourself after.

for knowing when doors are open/close I would say make all your “smart things” work together to get most reliability out of your smart things setup. So I will describe what i mean using my setups. My setup consists of zwave locks, zwave open/close sensors, zwave dimmers and on/off light switches, zwave outlets,zwave relays and zwave motion sensors. Now with my setup each and every zwave switch and outlet and relay I install acts as a repeater meaning your zwave networks is extended and strenghtened. The zigbee smarthings multi is a great sensor and I love the smart things motion sensors however I like my “smarthings” to work together and not speak different RF as much as possible and finding zigbee outlets, switches and other zigbee smart items are rare if non existent.

just my experience ymmv. good luck