I think you can officially call it an obsession now for me. I’ve been suggesting a smart doorbell sensor for awhile now in the Must Have Home Automation Devices page as a means to receive phone notifications and trigger other actions when your doorbell is rung, but I keep running into issues finding the perfect product to suit my needs.  My preference is to be able to have this notification capability, while keeping my existing door chime and doorbell button.

In this post, I will attempt to quell my doorbell obsession and provide a quick overview of my findings and impressions while briefly testing the new SAGE Zigbee Doorbell Sensor by Hughes.

I’ve looked at relatively complex and expensive doorbells out there such as SkyBell and Ring that include cameras and two-way communication, but I really do not care for how bulky and obtrusive these devices are. I would like my home entry to be clean and welcoming with a simple door bell. I still may have a discreet security camera in the corner of the entryway ceiling, but it doesn’t scream “I’m watching your every move” to friends and family as does a camera-equipped doorbell.

There are many roll-your-own options out there, but ideally, I would like to use a dedicated device that was designed specifically for this purpose rather than going through the effort, expense and potential, albeit unlikely liability issues of repurposing a device that is not quite designed to handle typical doorbell voltage. I could add a dry contact bridge relay to the mix, but frankly I haven’t been willing to invest the effort to create such a one-off Frankenstein custom device.

I’ve examined both the Aeon Labs Aeotec ZW056 doorbell and the Nexia DB100Z Doorbell Sensor Z-Wave devices, and ran into issues with of these products, making them less than ideal for me as a doorbell sensor – although I did ended up being somewhat impressed with the Aeotec Doorbell speaker for use as a generic Z-Wave speaker for playing MP3 clips based on events that take place in my home or relayed via IFTTT.

The SAGE Doorbell Sensor by Hughes

I just received the device yesterday, and have very little time with it – but so far, so good.

The SAGE sensor is a Zigbee device manufactured by Echostar for Hughes. To receive doorbell press notifications, it requires a smart home automation controller such as the Hughes SAGE or the Samsung SmartThings Hub (see the DarwinsDen.com Best of the Home Automation Controllers round-up and the SmartThings Hub review).

At 3″ x 1.5″ x .7″,  the SAGE doorbell sensor is reasonably compact – at least compared to a dry contact bridge and relay. The device is similar in design, but slightly smaller than the Nexia Z-Wave Doorbell sensor. Both the Nexia and the SAGE sensors are battery powered, and both are designed to be installed within or discreetly around the doorbell chime housing.

The main difference between the SAGE and Nexia, aside from the Z-Wave and Zigbee interfaces, is that the SAGE sensor also supports distinct notifications from a second doorbell for those that have two doorbell buttons connected to the same chime assembly.  My only complaint so far is that just as with the Nexia sensor, I wish there were an option to power this device using the low-voltage doorbell transformer itself, for those with easy access to the doorbell power source. The cable on the SAGE sensor is also a bit shorter and thicker than the Nexia sensor making mounting a bit more of a challenge than it should have been.

The SmartThings SAGE Doorbell Device Handler

SAGE-Doorbell-SmartThings-Device-HandlerAlthough the SAGE sensor paired fine for me with the SmartThings Hub, it was not able to receive notifications or battery status using any of the available SmartThings device handlers that I tried – and so I ended up writing a custom SAGE doorbell SmartThings device handler.

Details and download information on this SAGE doorbell sensor SmartThings device handler are provided below. I’ve only had a chance to briefly try this out with just a few doorbell presses. So far, though, with minimal testing, this device does not appear to suffer from the same “quick flick” missed button press issue I experienced with the Nexia sensor. The device handler provides a two button ‘pressed’ notification supporting the SAGE’s two distinct doorbell notifications capability (eg. front door/back door).

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to get battery status from the device, so this the battery status field currently shows as blank. Please let me know if you run into issues. There may be some oddities when used with different doorbell types and buttons. Any and all suggestions and updates welcome. I will continue to focus on getting battery status information from the device.

Please let me know if you run into issues with this device handler. There may be some oddities when used with different doorbell types and buttons. Any and all suggestions and updates welcome. I will continue to focus on getting battery status information from the device.

Device Handler Download Location:

The initial Alpha SAGE Doorbell Sensor Device Handler for the SmartThings Hub can be downloaded from:

Installing the Device Handler:
  • Login at http://graph.api.smartthings.com
  • Select “My Device Handlers” and select “Create New SmartDevice”.
  • On the “Create New Device Handler” page, select the tab “From Code”, and paste in the code from the above GitHub link into the IDE editor window.
  • Click the “Create” button at the bottom.
  • Click the “Save” button above the editor window.
  • Click the “Publish” button and select “For Me”.

The SAGE Doorbell Sensor device handler is now ready for use.

Performing SmartThings actions based on doorbell button presses

You can set up different notifications and simple automations for each of the two doorbell buttons supported using the stock SmartThings Button Controller SmartApp and the stock Smart Lighting SmartApp. Or if you are adventurous, you can use CoRE (the SmartThings Community’s own Rule Engine) to do pretty much any SmartThings supported action you can envision.

Example: Sending SMS and Push notifications using the stock Button Controller SmartApp

I’ve been asked to detail out this process a little more, so as an example, here are the steps for triggering text and push notifications using the stock Button Controller SmartApp:

  1. Select “MarketPlace” from the bottom panel of the mobile app
  2. Select “SmartApps” from the top panel
  3. Scroll down, and select “More” from the selection list
  4. Select “Button Controller”
  5. Select “Tap to Set” under “Button”
  6. Select your SAGE Doorbell Sensor
  7. Select “Next”
  8. Enter the actions for the 1st doorbell button (green wire connection)
    1. Scroll down to “Custom Message”, select Tap to set, end enter your custom message for button 1, eg “Front Doorbell Pressed”
    2. Scroll down to the “Push Notifications” section, and select “pushed”
    3. Scroll down to the “Sms Notifications” section, select “pushed” and enter the phone number for receiving SMS text notifications
  9. Select Next
  10. Enter the actions for the 2nd doorbell button (yellow wire connection)
    1. Scroll down to “Custom Message”, select Tap to set, end enter your custom message for button 2, eg “Back Doorbell Pressed”
    2. Scroll down to the “Push Notifications” section, and select “pushed”
    3. Scroll down to the “Sms Notifications” section, select “pushed” and enter the phone number for receiving SMS text notifications
  11. Select Next
  12. Select Next
  13. Select Done

You should now receive both push and text notifications for each doorbell. Note, although the Button Controller app can trigger lights, this app only toggles them from off to on or vice versa. If you want to add a lighting automation, to say to turn on your front porch light, you’ll likely want to use the stock SmartLighting SmartApp or another smart app, such as CoRE instead of the button controller app.

 

SAGE-Doorbell-Sensor-Mounted2

The SAGE Doorbell Sensor mounted using the included double-sided tape

SAGE-Doorbell-Sensor3

The SAGE Doorbell Sensor is powered by a single Lithium CR2 3V battery

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SAGE Doorbell Sensor (left) as compared to the Nexia Doorbell Sensor

Visit the DarwinsDen.com reference pages for an overview of which controller hubs and devices may be best for your specific system needs:

 

Reference these DarwinsDen.com Feature Comparison Tables: