Mailbox Vibration sensor - recommendation?

Continuing the discussion from Voice announcements:

Hi, Dan @ogiewon. I didn't want to take @april.brandt's topic off on a tangent. But I'm curious about your mailbox vibration sensor. I've been struggling with this for more than a year.

I started with an ST device (don't recall exactly which one) that worked well for awhile but eventually it became too sensitive with false positives. Next up was a monoprice vibration but it ate through batteries at a rate of one every 1-2 weeks. Recently have been trying to use an Aqara vibration sensor, but the Xiaomi drop issues have proven to be insurmountable. I even moved a dedicated trådfri outlet to my little-used ST hub and put the Aqara there but it just won't stay connected.

All this to ask you what sensor is working for you? Thanks!

Not to your question but it made me think, I wonder if a motion sensor at the rear of the mailbox (interior) would work?

PS I live in New England so a vibration sensor might work unless they are plowing snow....then repeated false positives.

I am using an original SmartThings SmartSense Multi Sensor. It uses 2 x AAAA batteries (not a typo...that's Quadruple 'A'). I got a pair of these with my original SmartThings starter kit back in 2014. I have had very few false alerts using this sensor (one time a large truck drove by and set it off.) I have it mounted under my mailbox, to protect it from the weather and to make sure it stands a chance of staying connected to my Zigbee network which is probably ~70' away. I have quite a few repeaters to strengthen my Zigbee mesh. So far, so good.

SmartSense Multi Sensor

SmartSense-Multi-Sensor.jpg

  • It has a sticker on the back that says, “SmartThingsTM SmartSenseTM Multi”
  • Requires two AAAA batteries
  • Dimensions: 2.3" x 0.8" x 1.45"
  • Manual: SmartSense Multi Sensor User Guide

Recently, I put one of my Iris motion sensors (3326-L) bought off eBay for effectively $5 each into the back of my mailbox. My mailbox is over 100 feet from the house and I have only a small number of powered Zigbee devices. Yet, it works incredibly well.

My concern is that in the winter with freezing temperatures, it will not be practical as the batteries will die quickly in the cold.

Is your mailbox metal or plastic?

If you can, install Lithium batteries more $$ but do well in cold temps.

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Ah yes, I should have mentioned that because that makes a big difference. Mine is plastic.

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My mailbox is metal, and is provided as part of our HOA. So I cannot change it to plastic even if I wanted to. But, I am happy with the current result. I was using an Iris v2 contact sensor previously, however I had trouble getting the magnet positioned in a way for reliable notifications without rapid-fire duplicates.

I use this method in my "package box" for USP/FedEx delivers. I also have a button mounted inside the box where it is not easily seen.

My rule is such that

Motion with no button push = package delivery
Motion with button push in 1 minute of motion = package picked up.

The logic being the delivery guys don't push the button but the wife and I do. All this is output to a follow me dashboard display, so I know when there is something in the box and when there is not. Works great! box it plastic.

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I should have mentioned my box is all metal.

I'll look around for one of those. My first attempt was with the ST "Multipurpose Sensor" (with the CR2450 button battery).

+1 :hot_face:

How about a wired "dry contact" sensor inside to watch the door, with the wire routed through a small hole in the bottom or back to a transmitter module located on the outside? I have a few spare GoControl Z-Wave contact sensors with "dry contact" wiring terminals, and thought about doing exactly this with one of them because my armor-plated steel mailbox is comfortably within Z-Wave range.....

@CAL.hub I use an Iris contact sensor under my metal mailbox with a small rare earth magnet on the dirk (vs the magnet that comes with the sensor). It’s been working great for at least a year now. You can see a picture in this post:

I chose this setup because my postal delivery person often stuffs large boxes in the mailbox which would knock off anything mounted in the opening. I also felt a vibration sensor would pick up wind coming down my street as I live at the end of a cul-de-sac.

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to use a vibration / accelerometer. If it is located near traffic sometimes heavy trucks/buses or those running booming bass woofer speakers may set it off.

The Iris motions do very well in cold temperatures; I've had several outdoors for years now in temps ranging from -15F to near 100F; I usually get >1 year battery life with these (probably quite a bit longer; I usually replace them every autumn regardless).

I used to use an X10 motion sensor in my mailbox back in the day; it worked well except quite often when the garbage truck went by it would trigger... weird; it must have created a big enough heat signature to get through the openings somehow.

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