GEO Tracking sucks!

I’ve been home all day and it just get this notification via my HA automation “Daniel leaves home”…


I have not moved!

The location of the person is only as reliable as the underlying device trackers used for location tracking.

you will need to figure out which one of those is reporting you as away.


I was using the HA App and Life360. I’ve removed Life360 so we’ll see. I’ve also changed the automation to only trigger after away for 00:01:00…

Hmmm… It was the HA app that triggered it:


Yeah it’s not great.

I can rely on the HA app to detect when I’m nearing home (in my driveway) to trigger a coming home automation, and to detect if I’ve left home without arming the alarm, but that’s it.

There’s no GPS inside (obviously) and cell tower reception is so bad that triangulation of my location drifts by up to 500m when inside.

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GPS sucks for home/away.

Why? Well, inside a building accuracy is low, so you can get an update that puts you outside easily enough, and outside your home zone radius without too much difficulty unless you make that radius unreasonably large. Then there’s the whole it may take many minutes to update problem leading to laggy updates.

WiFi isn’t great since many modern mobile phones will turn off their WiFi when in deep sleep mode (not charging, left alone for an extended period of time). Some behave differently, some allow you to turn that off, and some routers handle it better by having insanely long timeouts (hours in a few cases).

Bluetooth seems to be the ideal solution, particularly when done with monitor or even room assistant. Bluetooth has near zero battery life impact (less than GPS by far), isn’t turned off when the phone is in deep sleep, and the choice of integrations gives you significant control.

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I was thinking of installing a GPS repeater until I realised it would only cover one room, or one floor at most.

I use 2 Device Trackers and with combination it is pretty reliable. I use he App and that does a fair job of telling me when I am in another zone, such as the park but found it did not always report when I returned home. So I also use my router which knows home or away based on a WiFi connection.

One thing to I would suggest is to increase the size of your home zone which might help to eliminate the errors your getting.

I used BLE iBeacons in my home to trigger the HA App and Owntrack that I’m home. Seems to help with the GPS issue, but it’s not rock solid…

I use 4 methods of presences and even with that it took me a while to resolve the inconsistency issues I encountered.

  • OwnTrack
  • Home Assistant Companion App
  • Apple HomeKit (Home/Away toggles input_boolean)
  • BLE Beacon on my keychain

I use these and the device_tracker.see service to create “fake” device trackers for the ones that are not already device trackers and then assign them to the appropriate person.

Basically good presence detection can be moderately to extremely hard. It really depends on the accuracy you want and sadly potentially factors outside of control like phones flipping between 2 cell towers reporting home and then away randomly. I have this problem, the BLE iBeacons help to resolve the flipping towers.

All My automations based on home/away has wifi ssid as condition.
The app seems very solid with that.

I don’t think I have ever had an issue with GPS and wifi in combination

This is the thing I’ve seen time and time again in my home automation history. Currently, my phone and my wife’s phone are fairly accurate (tracking within a minute or two), but my daughter’s is execrable (tracking sporadically and only “accurate” plus or minus a couple of hours). It’s likely something to do with shutting down things when they’re “not in use.”
The point is, it hardly matters which methods we use to track (HA built-in, SmartThings, Life360) because they all rely on the device’s GPS. I have multiple zones that show up in my presence tile and I recently had to enlarge one of them because GPS positioning was less accurate in that area. I’m not sure why.
WiFi connection is somewhat more timely, but also reports you “not home” if the WiFi disconnects for any reason.

I’m using Places for couple years, stable and accurate.

Personally I use Google Maps for myself, wife and kids. Have been using it for 18 months and, while not to the minute accurate, it’s close enough for what I use it for.

Keep in mind, I’m not turning on lights and such when I walk in the door (have motion sensing light switches for that) - more for ‘run the robot vacuum if both wife and I are gone and it hasn’t been run for 3 days’ - or turn on home office air freshener if M-F at 8am and wife is home, etc. Nothing ‘precise’.

Personally, I’d love to find a Bluetooth solution that could help more with precision and what room we’re in, etc. to get more granular - but, taken with a grain of salt, this is working well for me.

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I have both the HA app and owntracks device trackers in addition to Unifi, and have so far had zero “drift” or incorrect zone presence detection issues for the past year or so now. I check sometimes to see which one of the two with GPS data is “winning” in my person object, and it varies from time to time.

I considered BLE and room level tracking but 1) there’s just too much interference in the 2.4Ghz spectrum already, with active wifi and Zigbee networks (although I can at least adjust those – bluetooth has no knobs to turn), and 2) TBH I just can’t be bothered to always carry some device around with me everywhere I go just to enable some extra automations. Asking anyone else my household to do #2 is also a non-starter.