The Internet of Things, home automation, and smart homes are buzzwords that are a big part of the conversation in today’s tech space. Everything from light bulbs, thermostats, and even coffee makers, smart locks, complete home security systems, and full-blown connected gyms can now be controlled with a tap on your smartphone screen. Numerous devices and as many apps can quickly become difficult to deal with. And that is where Samsung SmartThings is hoping to make a difference.
Here’s everything you need to know about Samsung SmartThings!
What is Samsung SmartThings?
Samsung SmartThings is actually a broad, all-encompassing name that covers both the software and hardware aspects of home automation. The biggest selling point of the SmartThings system is Samsung’s attempt to provide a single point of control for all your smart-home devices. It does so by not only offering really good smart devices itself but by also supporting an impressive number of third-party products.
SmartThings makes it easy to set up all these devices and create various automation routines to fully take advantage of your smart home.
Samsung SmartThings devices
Samsung Galaxy Home
Let’s start with a product you can’t actually buy, but that you just might want to! The Samsung Galaxy Home was announced in August of 2018 as the first Bixby-powered smart speaker. The device plans to offer superior sound compared to products like the Google Home and Amazon Echo, while pairing it with an integrated Samsung SmartThings hub.
We don’t know a lot about the Galaxy Home yet, but it holds a lot of potential. You can learn more about the Galaxy Home here.
SmartThings Hub, Samsung Connect Home, and Connect Home Pro
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is the most important piece of the Samsung SmartThings puzzle and is the one thing that is used to run the whole home automation system. It connects wirelessly to all your smart-home devices and lets you monitor and control them using a single app. The Hub needs an active internet connection to work and has to be connected to your Wi-Fi router via a wired ethernet connection.
Related: Here’s a look at the best smart hubs.
If you don’t want the inconvenience of a separate hub and Wi-Fi router, Samsung also has some options for you there.
Last year Samsung introduced the Connect Home and the Connect Home Pro, which combine a Wi-Fi router with a hub. The Connect Home is an AC1300 mesh Wi-Fi system and is available as a pack of three. On the other hand, the Connect Home Pro is a single AC2600 unit that allows for heavier bandwidth usage and can be set up with other Connect Home devices to create the mesh network.
Of course there’s also a third, newer option for those looking to combine their Wi-Fi and hub experience. Samsung’s Wi-Fi mesh network system was recently announced featuring many of the same features of the Connect but with intelligent AI that can better determine what devices in your network need greater bandwidth priority, built in parental controls, and more.
There are a few different types of Samsung SmartThings Sensors that Samsung has available to help you get started on your home automation journey.
The Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor is, as its name suggests, an all-in-one sensor that can detect vibration, orientation, tilt, temperature, and when things open and close. You can place it on doors, drawers, windows, cabinets, and more to find out when they are opened and closed. The fact that it senses vibration means that it can also differentiate between when a door is being opened and when there is a knock on the door. You can set up alerts for all these activities, and anything else you can come up with.
The use of the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor is self-explanatory. You can set it up to receive alerts if there is any unexpected movement in your house or in a particular room. Keep children out of off-limit areas, and of course, make sure that nothing untoward is happening when no one is supposed to be at home. You can also connect it to smart lights to have them turn on or off when there is any movement.
The Samsung SmartThings Arrival Sensor lets you know when people approach or leave a specific area or room, and you can trigger different actions in this situation, like turn on the lights in a room, and even have the doorbell ring when someone comes to the front door. You can also set it up to receive an alert if someone doesn’t arrive home by a certain time.
The Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor sends an immediate alert at the first sign of excess water. You can set it up to trigger a light or sound an alarm if water is detected where it doesn’t belong. If your house has a sump pump, you can also place the sensor next to it and receive a notification if the pump fails.
Samsung SmartThings Outlet
The Samsung SmartThings Outlet is basically a wall adapter that lets you control lights, electronics, and small appliances with your smartphone. You can set it up to turn lights on and off when you enter or leave a room, save energy by restricting electronics and appliances from staying on all the time, or receive alerts if you have accidentally left a light or appliance on.
Another very useful feature of the SmartThings Outlet is that it also works as a Zigbee Repeater. It can be used to extend the range of your Zigbee devices. That;s useful, as all the SmartThings devices from Samsung and some third-party products are Zigbee devices.
As mentioned, one of the biggest selling points of the Samsung SmartThings system is its compatibility with a slew of third-party smart devices. This is a great move on the part of Samsung to ensure that users aren’t entirely locked into a single ecosystem of products and gives. It gives consumers the opportunity to find the device that best suits their needs.
There are over 200 products currently listed as “Works with SmartThings.” These include smart lights and switches, security cameras, doorbells, outlets, door locks, thermostats, speakers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water valve controls, vents, garage doors, irrigation systems, and so much more. You can find the full list of officially supported devices here and also find a full list in the Marketplace section of the SmartThings Classic app.
Kits and bundles
It can get pretty hard to keep track of what devices you need to get started with your smart home. To help out, Samsung has created a couple of useful kits and bundles.
The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit comes with one SmartThings Hub, a Motion Sensor, two Multipurpose Sensors and an Outlet. You can set everything up to trigger different actions in different situations. Of course, with the Hub, you can also set up various other smart devices like bulbs, cameras, and more. The main advantage of buying this kit is that you get all of them at a discounted price, as compared to buying these products individually.
Samsung has also collaborated with the security firm ADT to create an ADT Home Security Starter Kit. This kit comes with the ADT Security Hub, two ADT Door and Window Detectors, and an ADT Motion Detector. The ADT Security Hub comes with a seven-inch touchscreen panel, built-in siren, and features battery and cellular data backup. It also works like the SmartThings Hub and offers control over various third-party smart devices as well.
A useful but optional extra is a subscription to the no-contract ADT professional monitoring services that include police dispatch to offer that little extra peace of mind.
Finally, there are the Samsung SmartThings Lighting Kit and the Entertainment Starter Kit. Both these kits come with a SmartThings Hub, a Motion Sensor, and two smart bulbs. In the case of the Lighting Kit, these bulbs are the dimmable Sengled Classic LED bulbs, while the Entertainment Kit comes with two SYLVANIA Color LED bulbs that let you change the color of the light to one of the thousands of options. These are some fun starter kits to get your hands on.
Getting started — Setting up the Hub, adding devices, and more
The SmartThings app(s)
There are now two apps that can be used to control your smart home setup. Samsung recently released its own SmartThings app, previously known as Samsung Connect, that consolidates over 40 of Samsung’s various smart home and smart device apps into one. Apart from controlling your SmartThings products, the new app also lets you manage other Samsung devices like Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, and more.
The app that everyone has been using so far is now called SmartThings Classic. This app will eventually be retired, but the good news is that it probably won’t happen for a while. Samsung is still working towards a seamless transition between the two apps to allow users to easily transfer their existing setup, routines, device lists, and more to the new app. Further, new ADT customers will still have to use the Classic app as all ADT features aren’t supported in the new SmartThings app yet. The SmartThings Classic app also seems to be more beginner-friendly.
Basically, it’s best to use the SmartThings Classic app to set up your home automation network for now, unless you have a lot of other Samsung smart products or are setting up your network for the first time using the Samsung Connect Home Hub instead of the SmartThings Hub. In the upcoming examples for adding devices, and setting up routines, we will use the Classic app.
Setting up the Hub
- Connect the Hub to your Wi-Fi router using the Ethernet cable (one should be provided).
- Plug in the Hub to a power outlet and turn it on.
- Download the SmartThings Classic app. You will need a Samsung account to log in.
- To set up the Hub, you will have to type in the Welcome Code that can be found on the back of the box that holds the instruction manual.
- Follow any on-screen instructions, and it should take only a few minutes for the Hub the initialize.
Adding a device
- To add a device, open the My Home tab at the bottom of your screen.
- Three tabs will come up — Things, Rooms, and Scenes. Tap on Things.
- Tap on Add a Thing. You may already find some smart devices pop up here, which means that no additional setup will be required for them.
- Something to keep in mind is that when you are first trying to add a Thing, keep it close to the Hub. You can move it to the desired location after the setup process for that device is done.
- The first-party Samsung SmartThings products may not need to be added using the steps above and should automatically be recognized by the Hub and show up in the app.
- While it is possible to add non-SmartThings devices (Z-Wave devices), some additional steps may be required. There are too many different devices to list instructions here, but you should be able to easily find them on Google.
Setting up voice control
- Amazon Alexa — Samsung SmartThings is fully compatible with Alexa. All you have to do is go to Alexa’s Skills store, search for SmartThings, and enable it. Then go to the Smart Home screen in the Alexa app and tap on Discover, which will show you all the devices that can be controlled using Alexa.
- Google Assistant — You can use the Google Assistant via your smartphone or Google Home. In the Google Home app, go to Home Control -> Devices, tap on the plus sign at the bottom right and tap on SmartThings. Log in to your Samsung account and tap on Authorize.
Advanced features — Routines, Smart Apps, and more
Everything is set up and ready to go. However, for now, you still have to individually control all the smart devices that you have around the house. This is where the automation part of “home automation” comes in. SmartThings offers a few different ways to achieve this.
Routines are basically single-line commands that you can set up to have the different smart devices function together in various ways when certain conditions are met. As a simple example, you can have all the lights turn on in a room if a motion sensor is triggered. Routines can be set to trigger when something happens or at different times of the day. The possibilities are practically endless, depending only on how many and what kind of smart devices you have and your imagination. Routines can be added via the Automation tab in the SmartThings Classic app.
Routines can be difficult and confusing to set up, especially if you are a beginner who is just starting on their smart-home journey. This is where SmartApps prove to be a big help. No, SmartApps aren’t more apps that you have to deal with. Instead, these are common tasks that the smart devices are capable of that you can enable with a tap. A great example is “Ready for Rain,” that warns you if doors and windows are open in case there is poor weather on the way. Assuming you have the right sensors of course. There are numerous SmartApps options created by SmartThings as well as third-party developers. SmartApps can be found in the Automation tab in the SmartThings Classic app.
IFTTT is a service that allows users to create their own automation routines that can involve smart devices, other web services, social media, email, and a lot more. IFTTT lets users set up events that just won’t be possible with Routines or SmartApps. There are some great examples here, like receiving a call when someone opens the liquor cabinet, or get a phone call when the main door is opened during sleeping hours. You can find a full list of Samsung SmartThings and IFTTTT recipes here.
SmartThings isn’t for everybody. Some amount of technical know-how is recommended. Even though there is an attempt to make it as simple as possible, the not-so-tech-savvy may struggle with the more complicated aspects of the system. And it can definitely get complicated. Everything above is just a broad overview and a very small part of what SmartThings is capable of. Not to mention the fact that this can prove to be a very expensive habit the deeper you dive in.
However, smart homes appear to be the next big thing, at least in the technology bubble that we live in. Samsung SmartThings certainly has a leg up in this space, courtesy of the incredible support that is available for third-party smart devices. If “smart everything” really is the future, SmartThings is offering up a great way to get there.