Turn Your Home into A Smart Home with SmartThings

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smart home


You’ve heard about lights automatically turning on on timers or when you enter a room.  You love the idea of pressing one button for your lights to dim and music to come on.  And wouldn’t be cool if your fan or heater automatically turns on for you when the room reaches a certain temperature?  Or get notified when someone is at your door or opens your door?

What used to be a dream is now happening in homes all across America.  A smart home is much easier to create yourself than ever before – no need for a professional installer, you can do it yourself!

There are many ways to automate your house.  These are the top 4 protocols (think tech languages) used today:

  1.  WiFi – as good as your WiFi signal in the home.  Can control devices outside of your home.
  2.  Bluetooth – usually a strong signal but items needs to be within 60 -100 feet of your app to control.  Cannot be controlled outside of the home.
  3.  Z-Wave – excellent protocol, compatible with 1,000’s of devices.  Can be used outside of the home.
  4.   Zigbee – another excellent protocol.  Compatible with 1,000’s of devices and can be used outside of the home.


Based on the sheer number of products available as well as my own experience, I recommend going with the Z-Wave or Zigbee protocol.  Companies manufacture products that have either Z-Wave or Zigbee in them, but not both.  However, they do make the same product in Z-Wave or Zigbee.  

So, for example, I could buy the same Kwikset deadbolt in Z-Wave or in Zigbee.  When I began building my smart home, I used a controller that could only speak to Z-Wave products, so I chose only Z-Wave devices.

I’ve used Z-Wave for over 5 years for my lighting and door locks.  It’s a great tool in making my smart home.  We installed all GE Z-Wave light switches in every room so we could control the lights.  We also installed Kwikset Z-Wave deadbolts on all of our doors.

But to connect these switches and locks to an app, you first need a “hub” or a brain that can control them.  


A SmartThings Smart Home

For the past several months I have been testing SmartThings.  What I like about SmartThings is that it unleashes you from the necessity to stay loyal to Z-Wave or Zigbee.  The SmartThings Hub actually can read both Z-Wave and Zigbee.  This is a great news.  Now it doesn’t matter what you buy as long as it has Z-Wave or Zigbee protocol in the product.

SmartThings, owned by Samsung, connects a wide range of smart devices and controls them to make life easier for you.  SmartThings, in essence, is the brain of your smart home.  You can connect all sorts of things to SmartThings…

Things You Can Hook Up to SmartThings

  • Lightbulbs
  • Lightswitches
  • Thermostats
  • Locks
  • Outlet Plugs
  • Cameras
  • Doorbells
  • Garage Doors
  • Irrigation
  • Remotes and Buttons
  • Sensors
  • Smoke Detectors & Alarms
  • Speakers
  • Vents (smart ones)
  • Blinds & Shades


Brands That Work with SmartThings

  • Alexa
  • Google Voice
  • Wemo
  • Ring
  • Honeywell
  • Netgear
  • Samsung
  • GE
  • Leviton
  • iHome
  • Sylvania
  • Philips
  • Bose
  • And More


smart home

I tested SmartThings with a number of different Z-Wave items I have around the home.  Here is a list of some of them in my SmartThings app.  You can see all of your connected devices under “Things” or see them classified by Rooms, as you have categorized them.


SmartThings Smart Home 1 (4)

Once you have included all of your compatible devices to your SmartThings app, you can create various automations to make life easier for yourself.  The SmartThings app comes with these four settings shown above.  For example, for Good Night! you can program SmartThings to turn off all your connected lights during the night.

You can also create your own Routines with settings that are customized to you.  Think Party, Excercise, Quiet Time, and more.


A La Carte Smart Home

What I love best about today’s smart home technology is the ability to build your smart home one device at a time.  In the old days, you’d have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have a home automation company come out to automate your house.

But now, you can start with a hub like SmartThings and add connected devices as you buy them.  You can add as many or few as you want.  


The SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit Includes:

  • The SmartThings hub
  • 2 multipurpose sensors to let you know when a door, window, cabinet or garage door is open or closed
  • 1 motion sensor to sense movement
  • 1 outlet to control whatever is plugged into it


Let me show you how I used these SmartThings devices…

SmartThings Smart Home (22)

I used the SmartThings outlet to control this lamp in our hallway.  I have it go on each night at sunset so we don’t need to fumble for a light when we walk around here.


SmartThings Smart Home (17)

This is the SmartThings motion sensor.  It sits on one of my shelves and faces the door that goes into the house from our garage.  It is set to sense movement anytime after 7pm, when the sun typically sets around here.  Once it detects motion, it will turn on the lights in our room automatically.  This is super handy, no more reaching for the light switch when my hands are full.


SmartThings Smart Home (24)

As I mentioned before, we installed all GE Z-Wave light switches throughout our house.  I paired this light switch with SmartThings so I could control the lights.  So, using the sensor I showed you above, I can control this GE Z-Wave light switch to turn on the lights in the room.



SmartThings Smart Home (2)

My teenage daughter loves to turn on her lava lamp at night.  At $19.99, it’s not a light that I have a lot of faith in, safety-wise.  I plugged the lava lamp into a Wemo Mini-Plug and connected it to my SmartThings hub.  Now, I can control it either through my Wemo app or SmartThings.  I set it on a timer to go off after 3 hours.  If she turns it on during the day, I can turn it off remotely.


SmartThings Smart Home (13)

Most parents have a liquor cabinet…and most are unlocked.  Now, I’m not necessarily worried about my own children getting into our liquor cabinet, but you never know when a “friend” may press them to open it up, “just to see what’s in there.”  By adding the multipurpose sensor on the cabinet doors, I’ll be notified every time this cabinet is opened.  

You can see the sensors in this photo, there is a white piece of the sensor on each cupboard door.  When the cupboard doors are closed, these two white sensors meet together and they are closed.  However, once they separate, “open” pops up on my SmartThings app.  I am also notified on my phone.


Adding a Sensor to the Liquor Cabinet is Helpful Because…

  1. My kids know the sensor is there, so the temptation to even “look” goes away
  2. The kids can tell their “friend” there is a sensor on the cabinet and they will be found out if they open it (which takes the pressure off of them)
  3. I don’t need to add an unsightly lock to the cabinet
  4. For fun, I can even automate lights to come on and loud music to play when the cabinet doors are opened for a little added scare.


SmartThings Smart Home (1)

Here’s the screen on the SmartThings app that shows me this particular sensor, on the Liquor Cabinet, is closed.  It also tells me the temperature inside the cabinet at the moment.  Once opened, I can set off a number of alerts and notifications to ensure I am aware.

Now you may be thinking, what if it’s you that opens the cabinet, you don’t want to be notified, right?  You can set up some parameters that if SmartThings doesn’t sense you are home (because you have taken your phone and left the home), then you want to be notified if the liquor cabinet is opened.

This is the beauty of SmartThings, you can be very precise if needed in order to accommodate your needs.

The flexibility sounds great, but a bit overwhelming too?  There’s a section in the SmartThings app to help you figure out how to automate your smart home more easily.  


SmartThings Smart Home 1 (3)

For example, under the Safety and Security section of the Marketplace app, you can see how you can set up notifications and actions with easy programs.  For example, if you add a connected door lock, choosing the Enhance Auto Lock Door  “recipe” allows you to automatically lock the door after it’s been closed for 10 minutes.  

Or while SmartThings is in Away mode (everyone is out of the house), you can receive a text when someone has opened the door.  There are a lot of great ways people are already using smart home technology, so SmartThings created easy changeable “recipes” to help you customize your devices for what works for you.


The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is available through Amazon for $217.99 with free shipping.  



A Mom’s Perspective

There are so many smart home products in the marketplace today, it can get overwhelming.  The key is to pick products that will work together, not a disparate solution that only suits one home automation purpose.

There are literally thousands of smart home products that work with Z-Wave or Zigbee, so be sure any products you buy follow one of these protocols.  You can then use the  SmartThings Hub and app to control and coordinate your smart home devices under one umbrella.

Start simple, like with light bulbs first.  Then after you see the potential, add sensors to sense movement and turn on lights.  Then try a door lock.  Then install a thermostat.  Eventually, you’ll be able to see how you can automatically turn on lights, music, and adjust the thermostat once your smart home realizes you are home.

Try adding security cameras to automatically record someone at the door…or even in the house…when you’re not home.  You’ll be able to review the video footage on your phone.

SmartThings is easy to install and is backed by Samsung, so you know it’s going to continue to thrive and innovate in the smart home industry.  SmartThings currently is on sale for a special price through Amazon, at the price we listed above.  Dive in, you’re going to love the customization and experience of a smart home!







*I was given a SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit for purposes of evaluation.  All opinions are my own.

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