Non-Cloud Presence Sensing - What's Best?

What's the best way to do presence sensing not involving the web?

I have a completely Z-Wave system, so far, and an Android phone. It might be 70' to the hub from the farthest garage bay.

I've read of the ST Arrival sensor, which apparently needs a battery every couple of months, or an auxiliary battery pack grafted on. Zigbee.

Then there's the xbee, which would be a little project. I figure if I go slow and follow the directions, maybe I'd be successful. Zigbee, long range.

How about something on my phone that would sense that my home wifi is in range? I can get wifi just about to my gate, maybe 250' away or so. I like this concept. If WIFI is turned on, on the phone, there should be a way to programmatically know it's hooked up to my home WIFI, you'd think. This wouldn't require any internet connection (could have a separate standalone router).

I'm not a programmer.


Check out the iPhone WiFi presence sensor:

It works with android phones too. Just keep in mind that depending on your phone and its battery optimization settings, you can get false ”away” events while the phone is sleeping if it drops the WiFi connection. iPhones are known for this.


I have been using the ST Arrival Sensors with the battery hack for about 8 months. I have three. They perform flawlessly. It was very easy to do the battery hack


Which version of the ST Arrival Sensor is best? I understand there are several revisions.

I'll check it out. I like the range of the WIFI, and this shouldn't cost anything to experiment.


Don't know. I have a V2 and a V4; they both work well.

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I just tried it. It worked. (edit: I turned off wifi on the phone and it reported not present in exactly 3 minutes)
But, the instructions say:
"Set "IP Address" to the local static IP address of the iPhone."
Does this mean I have to re-learn how to mess with my router to do this?
I just used the IP address as shown in my wifi properties on the phone.


If you don’t set a dhcp reservation for the phone in your router’s settings, then the presence sensor would stop working if the phone’s IP address changes.

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I have both as well, can't tell any difference


You could also look at an iBeacon with an app like locative or Geofency.

My MotoZ2 also falls asleep, but stays awake when plugged in. So if you drive around with your phone plugged in anyway,...

I figured I'd try an old Samsung S4 I had lying around. My thinking was I could keep it in the car plugged in. Alas, the Hubitat app wouldn't install because it's on Android 5.01 rather than the 5.1 the app requires.

Ordered a couple ST arrival sensors to fool around with.

Well, yesterday I drove 30 miles to the Best Buy that one ST Arrival Sensor in stock, and been playing around with it today. I think it has potential, once I beef up the Zigbee; the arrival sensor was my first Zigbee device.

Getting good signal out to the garage and driveway could be a problem; both the overhead and side doors are metal clad. Will entail experimenting with placement of the outlets I ordered.

I put a repeater (@iharyadi’s environmental sensor) on the garage ceiling, centered about 4 feet from the overhead door.

Works really well. Also, I’ve modified the sensors to use two AA batteries instead of the button cell.

Is your garage door steel? I had thought of plugging in a zigbee outlet at the middle bay's opener outlet, but was concerned that the steel door would shade the radio waves from the driveway. I do have an outside outlet with a cover that has line of sight to the driveway, and the overhead outlet in the garage would provide good coverage inside the garage.

Is this more convenient than pushing a car remote? I don't know. But maybe the fob, carried, could also trigger some other automations.

It is a steel sectional door. There repeater didn’t work too well from ~10 ft away on the ceiling. But works really well from ~4 ft away on the ceiling. I had to run a new outlet.

A little specific, but some TP-Link routers can trigger one of their devices when a MAC address connects to them. I have their Deco M5 mesh system and it has this. Previously they supported IFTTT and I was triggering presence that way. They dropped IFTTT like most manufacturers are starting to, and so I needed a local solution.

They added automation capability to the Deco M5, but the catch was I would need one of their devices to trigger. What I ended up doing was buying their 3 outlet Kasa power bar, but I could have simply bought one of their Kasa Plug-in Smart Plugs for $10.

I sense presence like this:

  1. When our phone MAC addresses connect to the router, their automation turns on the Kasa outlet (no device plugged into that outlet).
  2. I'm using this community driver, but since there's a possibility of lag on the hub from auto refresh, I have that disabled.
  3. When we approach the door, my motion sensor (which is used as part of my presence detection rules) starts refreshing the Kasa driver every 1.5 seconds for 10 repetitions and then stops.
  4. The brief refresh of the driver is enough, and that ON status is my presence indicator.
  5. After 1 minute the TP-Link "Smart Action" turns the switch off again.

While the mesh router itself requires a cloud connection, I don't think the control from the router to the outlet uses cloud. Maybe some components of it do, but it's far too fast to be pure cloud. I do think their Kasa app on my phone does use pure cloud though, as it's a little bit delayed in controlling it.


I can see the angle being a lot better for driveway coverage. I hate the thought of trying to fish the wire. Maybe an extension cord is in the offing, lame as that might look.

Really like this, has been spot-on for me:


Agreed - I’ve been using OwnTracks for about a year. But the zigbee presence detectors work really well for monitoring vehicles.

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