Added 2 SmartSense presence sensors to my SmartThings network

There are still a couple of things I would like to automate in my house. For one when everybody leaves the home the home should switch to ‘away’ mode. The other one which would be nice is if I get home with the car the garage door opens automatically or closes when you leave the house.

First thing I tried was setting up the Windows Phone from me and Sandra to use as a presence sensor. You can do this through the SmartThings app. But after some experimenting this isn’t a reliable way to detect if you are at home or not. Not sure what the exact problem is but I don’t think this is a Windows Phone 8.1 app using geo-fences. One of my friends uses his iPhone and that is pretty accurate.

So I bought to SmartSense presence sensors on Amazon (they ship in days, when I order at the SmartThings website it takes much longer for the same price!?)


First experiment was putting these things in the glove compartment of the cars. I added the 2 devices to the network (just follow the instructions it’s easy)

When driving away from the house it takes around 5 minutes before it detects I left the house. (little over 1 mile away). That’s not good enough to close the garage door automatically since it will be open without me being there for some time. It looks like it polls only so many minutes (when I check the log). Not sure if that’s true or not.

Detecting when I am home is a bit spotty too. When I drive to my house it detects me or Sandra is home when we park the car in the garage. So it’s not good enough to open the garage door automatically. You can set an amount of minutes you are not present before an action triggers. This is a good setting because you sometimes get a false message about one of the sensors not being present.

I found out the sensor is usable for setting the house to ‘away’ automatically. I connected the sensors to our keys (which we bring with us all the time). So when Sandra leaves the house on her bike or walks Lisa to school it also works. It’s not bound to just the cars.

I programmed the ‘away’ mode in the app to automatically go to away when everybody leaves the house. I also changed the ‘I’m back!’ to automatically when ‘somebody arrives’, together with the motion sensor this works really well.

The scenario for the garage door might work together with your iPhone or Android phone. My friend had a problem with this the garage door also opened automatically when he returned from walking the dog. If you combine this with 2 sensors in both cars you could program the ST hub to automatically open the garage door when arriving (with your phone) and your car is not present. That would be accurate enough to make it really convenient. I hope ST updates the Windows Phone app some day to make this scenario workable. At that time I will buy a automatic garage door opener and sensor to detect if the door is open or closed.