DIY home automation made easy.
The Samsung SmartThings hub is the brains of your Smart Home. Connect all of your Smart Home devices to the SmartThings hub and you can build all of your DIY home automation ideas with the SmartThings App.
This is where the magic happens!
New SmartThings Hub Update
In August 2018, SmartThings released V3 of their smart home hub and devices. At this time, I recommend staying with the V2 hub if you already have the device for the following reasons:
- The V3 hub does not have battery backup
- The V3 hub has half the memory of the V2 hub
- Migration from V2 to V3 requires removal and re-creation of all devices, smart apps and routines
The V3 SmartThings Hub is still a good choice if this is your first SmartThings hub. I also recommend the new motion sensors, multi-sensors and water sensors, which are compatible with the V2 hub.
Control All of Your Devices with the SmartThings App and Hub
Many people start to build a smart home and end up frustrated. The products require a separate app for every device and using those products becomes less convenient than a traditional approach. The Samsung SmartThings App solves this problem. First, you connect all of your smart home devices to the SmartThings Hub. Then you can control all of them from one location within the Samsung SmartThings App.
Better yet, the SmartThings App allows you to automate your devices using scenes, routines and other Smart Apps. Automating your smart home is the ultimate goal for experiencing the “incredible convenience” you want from your project.
Automating your smart home is the ultimate goal for experiencing the “incredible convenience” you want from your project.
Compatible Devices with the Samsung SmartThings Hub
The SmartThings Hub integrates with almost every smart home device. Technically speaking, the SmartThings Hub uses the major home automation protocols found in most products: Z-Wave and ZigBee. It also links to some devices through your local network or Cloud to Cloud connections over the internet.
Here is a list of DIY home automation devices that you can use in your Smart Home:
- Voice Control Assistants (Amazon Echo, Google Home)
- Light Bulbs and Hubs
- Light and Ceiling Fan Switches
- Outlets / Plugs
- Motion Sensors
- Open / Close Sensors
- Movement Sensors
- Water Sensors
- Tilt Sensors (for garage doors, etc.)
- Smart Garage Doors (I use MyQ and Alexa to close the garage by voice)
- Door Bells
- Door Locks
- Thermostats (Z-Wave Thermostats and Wi-Fi Thermostats)
- Speakers (the voice of your Smart Home)
- And More – Other products and categories are constantly added
The SmartThings App allows you to control or monitor the status of all of these devices within one app. The app also allows you to organize your devices by room so you can quickly find what you need. This is very handy once you smart home device list starts to grow.
DIY Home Automation with the SmartThings App
The biggest benefit of the SmartThings App and Hub isn’t the ability to control all of your devices from one place (even though it is a huge benefit). The biggest benefit is the ability to create DIY home automation scenes and routines through built-in functionality or other Smart Apps.
The key feature and primary reason to buy the SmartThings Hub is to automate activities in your home.
The key feature and primary reason to buy the SmartThings Hub is to automate activities in your home. You can use Smart Apps and the built-in scenes and routines to create the automation that you will use every day in your smart home. Automating your devices is the only way you will experience the magical, “incredible convenience” of a smart home.
What are Scenes, Routines and Smart Apps?
- Scenes – Custom settings for a group of lights and/or devices for a specific purpose. For example, a scene for “Relax” could close the blinds, turn off the primary room lights and turn on accent lighting and lamps to a 40% dim level.
- Routines – Perform actions such as turning on/off lights, locking doors, or setting the home temperature when an event or trigger happens. For example, when everyone leaves the home (the event or trigger) then turn off the lights, lock the doors and set the Smart Home Monitor to armed.
- Smart Apps – Applications developed by SmartThings or other SmartThings users that provide greater DIY home automation control and customization. The most useful Smart App is the Smart Lights app by SmartThings, which can control the lighting automation in your home. For example, between sunrise and sunset, turn on the family room lamp when motion is detected.
I will show you exactly how and when to use each of these automation controls in your smart home. After you follow our DIY home automation projects, you will become familiar with the SmartThings App and you will be comfortable creating your own custom automation.
SmartThings App – Scenes
Use Scenes to create the perfect lighting you want based on the activities that are happening in your home. Scenes can also control other smart home devices such as blinds or speakers to add just the right touch for the moment. Phillips Hue light bulbs are a perfect companion to SmartThings scenes because you can control the color (blue, red, etc.), color temperature (warm to cool), and the brightness of the light.
Example Scenes with SmartThings:
- Watching TV – Create a “TV Lighting” scene to turn off all the main lights and set your lamps at a 40% dim level with a blue hue.
- Study Time – Create a “Study Time” scene to turn the lights to a 100% brightness level and change the color from a warm white to a bright white.
- Dinner Time – Create a “Dinner Time” scene to turn on the kitchen table lights and turn on some background music.
Scenes in the SmartThings app can be customized endlessly so you can create just the right mood for your needs. The favorite scene my family uses is called “TV Lighting”. Once we have finished dinner and we are ready to relax and watch TV, we tell Alexa to turn on “TV Lighting”. SmartThings immediately start the following actions:
- Shut off the kitchen island lights and the kitchen table light
- Shut off family room lights
- Turn on under cabinet lights in the kitchen (so we can see to make popcorn)
- Set the family room lamp to blue at 40% dim level
- Set the fireplace can lights to blue at a 40% dim level
This setup creates the perfect ambiance to watch TV and relax for the night (I love having the blue Phillips Hue lights).
Control lighting scenes with your voice to get that magical experience with your Smart Home.
Creating Scenes in the SmartThings app is easy. After you setup your scene, you can activate it directly from the SmartThings app. Want a more convenient approach? Turn on you SmartThings app scenes with your voice using Amazon Echo devices. Controlling lighting scenes with your voice is the most convenient approach that gives you that magical experience with your smart home.
SmartThings App – Routines
Use Routines when you want to perform multiple device actions, change your Smart Home Mode (home, away, night, etc.) or change your Smart Home Monitor status (Armed Home, Armed Away, Disarmed). These actions are performed when an event or trigger occurs.
What? Here are some SmartThings definitions.
Smart Home Mode – Modes represent a status for your home, which can be used to determine how your smart home operates. For example, you might want to create a “Guest Mode” so lights don’t come on in the middle of the night when someone is sleeping on your couch. You can create as many “modes” as you like for your smart home.
Smart Home Monitor (SHM) – The SmartThings app has a built in solution for monitoring security, leaks, smoke and other issues in your home. The app allows you to determine what should happen based on the SHM status of the home. For example, if a door is opened when the SHM status is “Disarmed” then nothing happens, but if the SHM status is “Armed Away” then a text or notification is sent to alert you that a door was opened.
The SmartThings app has several different events or triggers you can choose from to start your routines. The list below contains some examples of commonly used triggers.
Common SmartThings Routine Triggers:
- Someone Arrives – triggered when any single person arrives
- Everyone Leaves – only triggered when everyone leaves
- At a Certain Time – time based trigger
- At Sunrise or Sunset – triggered based on the sunrise/sunset time of your location (great for front porch light timers)
- When Things Start Happening – motion detected in specific areas and time frame
- When Things Quiet Down – no motion detected in specific areas and time frame
A perfect example of how to use Routines is a “Good Night” routine. My “Good Night” routine automatically starts “When Things Quiet Down”. In my house, this happens when no motion is detected on any of my downstairs motion sensors for 9 minutes after 10 PM at night. When this happens, the “Good Night” routine in my SmartThings App closes the blinds, sets the Smart Home Monitor to “Armed Home”, locks the front door, closes the garage, and changes my home mode to “Night”. It’s both a scary and a good feeling when my wife and I settle in for the night and get a notification that SmartThings closed the garage door for us.
It’s both a scary and a good feeling when my wife and settle in for the night and get a notification that SmartThings closed the garage door for us.
SmartThings App – Smart Apps
Smart Apps provide the greatest level of home automation customization in the SmartThings App. You will find Smart Apps that are developed by SmartThings, by companies such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, and by other SmartThings Community users. You will find devices that are not “officially” supported can still be integrated into your home with Smart Apps developed by other users.
Commonly used Smart Apps:
- Smart Lights (by SmartThings) – This is the first app you should install. Your lighting automation should be built in this Smart App.
- Amazon Echo or Google – These Smart Apps will appear after you add an Amazon Echo or Google Home device in your SmartThings App. After the device is added, you can choose what devices, scenes and routines can be controlled with your voice.
- webCoRE – Short for web Community’s own Rule Engine. This is a Smart App developed by the SmartThings community that allows for extremely complex DIY home automation. I will share with you how I use this app to build automation rules that take your home to the next level of convenience.
This is a good time to mention the SmartThings Community. There is a highly active community of SmartThings users that are willing to help you on this journey. Many of the users are very talented programmers and developers that publish Smart Apps that you can also use. The SmartThings Community is one reason why I recommend the SmartThings Hub as the automation controller for your smart home.
The SmartThings Community is one reason why I recommend the SmartThings Hub as the automation controller for your smart home.
Is the SmartThings Hub Perfect?
No. SmartThings is not perfect, but it is one of the most reliable DIY home automation hubs available. I just reviewed my text history and in one month I received 5 notifications of platform outages or other issues being investigated. Most of these issues were quickly resolved and in many cases I didn’t even notice an issue in my Smart Home.
As we rely more and more on our connected home, stability becomes increasingly important. I hope to see the SmartThings platform invest as much in stability as they do in new features.
One other area I would like to see improved in the SmartThings App is advanced automation. As previously discussed, SmartThings users rely on community developed Smart Apps like webCoRE for complex automation. I love that the platform is open so these Apps can be created, but I would prefer to create my core DIY home automation projects in the base SmartThings App.
Overall, I believe the SmartThings Hub is most stable and most customizable DIY home automation controller on the market. The combination of stability, security and features is why I recommend that you use the SmartThings App and Hub as the brains to your smart home.
The SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is a great value and I highly recommend it. It is perfect for starting your Smart Home or adding to your existing devices. The Home Monitoring Kit includes the SmartThings Automation Hub, 2 Multi-Sensors, 1 Motion Sensor and 1 Smart Plug.
The SmartThings Automation Hub can be purchased alone if you just want to consolidate, control and automate your existing devices in one app. However, I recommend the SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit in most cases because it is a great value. You can always use more home automation devices!
P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!