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Getting started with Samsung SmartThings

Here's everything you need to know about getting started on your smart home journey with Samsung SmartThings!
May 5, 2019
Samsung smarthing light bulb

Your smart home journey can begin with something as simple as buying a few smart bulbs and changing the ambiance of a room, and go to a point where you can control everything in your house without physically interacting with anything. Choosing between hundreds of products and figuring out the right ecosystem can quickly get very confusing. Samsung hopes to alleviate that confusion by providing a singular point of control for all your smart home products with Samsung SmartThings. Here’s everything you need to know!

What is Samsung SmartThings?

Samsung SmartThings is actually a broad, all-encompassing brand name that covers both hardware and software. The biggest selling point of the SmartThings system is Samsung’s attempt to provide a single, unified point of control for all your smart home devices. It does so with not only its own devices, but by supporting an impressive number of third-party products that can all be managed with the SmartThings app. Samsung also makes it very easy to sort through and find the best smart devices for you.

Best Samsung SmartThings devices

Samsung has quite a few devices on offer that come under the SmartThings brand, but the biggest selling point of SmartThings is its compatibility with a slew of third-party products. Apart from ensuring that you won’t get locked into a single ecosystem, this wide compatibility also means that you won’t have a hard time trying to find devices that suit your needs.

There are over 350 products currently listed as “Works with SmartThings.” These include everything from smart lights and switches, security cameras, doorbells, outlets, door locks, thermostats, and speakers, to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, water valve controls, vents, garage doors, irrigation systems, and so much more. There are way too many really good options to list them all, but here are some of our favorites.

Samsung SmartThings Hub and SmartThing Wi-Fi

samsung smartthings wi-fi hub

The Samsung SmartThings Hub is now in its third iteration, and serves as the foundation of the smart home system that you’re building. This is also the one device that is essential for you to build a Samsung SmartThings 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.

Of course, if you don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of a separate hub and Wi-Fi router, Samsung has you covered with the aptly named Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi. This is an AC1300 mesh Wi-Fi router that doubles as a hub. A single router provides coverage for a 1,500 sq. ft. area, but you can add more for larger homes.

The Samsung SmartThings Hub will set you back $67.99 while a single SmartThings Wi-Fi router is priced at $117.99. You can also pick up a three-pack of Wi-Fi routers for $249.94.

See also: The best smart hubs you can buy

Best Samsung SmartThings sensors

Samsung SmartThings multipurpose sensor
Samsung SmartThings multipurpose sensor

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 an all-in-one sensor that can detect vibration, orientation, tilt, temperature, and when something opens and closes. You can place it on doors, drawers, windows, cabinets, and more. The fact that it senses vibration allows the sensor to differentiate between when a door is being opened and if 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.

Philips Hue smart bulbs

philips hue wite bulbs

The Philips Hue is probably the best choice for anyone looking to get into the smart lighting game. A hub is required, but that’s what the Samsung SmartThings hub is for. The wide variety of lights that Philips has on offer can all be controlled by the SmartThings app. If you have a smart speaker, these bulbs can also be controlled using the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices.

When looking at buying options, you don’t need to get a starter kit, as the Hue Bridge won’t be required. A pack of four white bulbs will set you back $40.99, but if you’re looking to add some color to your life, a single premium smart bulb (with 16 million colors) is priced at $37.

Ecobee4 thermostat

ecobee4 thermostat compatible with samsung smartthings

If you’re a fan of the Amazon Echo, you’ll be happy to learn the Ecobee4 has Alexa built in for easy integration into your smart home. More importantly, in this case, it is compatible with Samsung Smart Things. Included with the thermostat is a room sensor (and you can buy more) that lets you check and prioritize which rooms need heating or cooling. You can control everything with the SmartThings app even if you aren’t at home. The Ecobee4 thermostat is priced at $198.99.

Schlage Connect Doorlock

schlage smart doorlock

Better home security is one of the best reasons to invest in smart home products, and the Schlage Connect doorlock is a great place to start. You can lock or unlock the door remotely using a smartphone and the SmartThings app. You can also set who can or cannot use that door by providing access codes that can be entered via the touchscreen. The Schlage Connect doorlock is priced at $199.99.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

ring video doorbell pro

Along with a smart lock, another way to bolster your smart home security is with a video doorbell. Leading the way is the Ringe Video Doorbell Pro. It lets you see, hear, and talk to anyone who shows up at your door by using your smartphone, tablet, or even a smart TV. It supports up to 1080p video and provides crystal-clear video at night as well. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is priced at $249.

Arlo Pro 2 wireless security cameras

Netgear Arlo Pro

The final product that should help cover most of your home security needs is the Arlo Pro 2 camera. These wireless cameras are designed to work both inside and outside your house and feature night vision and two-way audio that will let you scare off intruders. You can watch live video streams remotely and also access up to three days of recordings. Two Arlo Pro 2 cameras are priced at $349.99, but you can take advantage of significant discounts with larger multi-camera bundles.

Amazon Echo

You may have noticed that a lot of the smart devices mentioned above offer voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant. While Google is doing a great job to catch up with Amazon, the number of Alexa-supported devices is incredible, and includes everything mentioned so far. It’s not the best speaker in the world in terms of sound, but it will get the job done. If you’re looking to get some type of voice control with your SmartThings system, getting the Amazon Echo is a great way to go about it.

Getting started with Samsung SmartThings

The SmartThings app

Samsung introduced the SmartThings app last year, 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 devices like Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, smart washers, and every other smart product that Samsung currently offers.

The SmartThings app has improved a lot since it was first released and is a lot more capable now. If you’re new to the SmartThings world, I’d recommend getting acquainted with the new app from the start. However, if you’ve been using SmartThings for a while, you probably have everything set up with the SmartThings Classic app already. It’s completely okay to continue using the older app in this case. In fact, the Classic app still has a few features that haven’t made it over to the new app yet.

For the guides below, we’ll be taking a closer look at the new SmartThings app first. Once you download the app from the Google Play Store, you will have to sign in with a Samsung account. If you have a Samsung smartphone, smart TV, or other smart devices from the company, you should have an account already. If not, all you need is an email address and a password to create one.

Setting up the Samsung SmartThings Hub

  • Connect the Hub to the Wi-Fi router using the ethernet cable that is provided. If you get the new 3rd generation hub, you can also wirelessly connect to the router. This step won’t be necessary if you get the SmartThings Wi-Fi.
  • Launch the app and tap on the large plus icon (Add device button) to get started. You will see a list of compatible Samsung devices and another section that houses third-party brands.
  • In the Samsung section, tap on “Wi-Fi/Hub.”
  • A list of hubs will pop up. Tap on your device type and follow the on-screen instructions.

Adding a device

  • Plug in and turn on the smart devices that you want to connect to the SmartThings hub.
  • Launch the app and tap on the large plus icon (Add device button).
  • You can tap on the “Auto detect” button to let the app quickly find compatible devices. Keep in mind though that this doesn’t always work as expected. Luckily, the manual mode is pretty easy to use if the auto detect function doesn’t work.
  • On the devices page, find the brand of your product and tap on it. For example, to connect the Ring video doorbell, tap on “Ring,” then tap on “Doorbell,” and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Rinse and repeat for all the smart products you want to add.

Setting up voice control

  • Amazon Alexa — Samsung SmartThings is fully compatible with Alexa and is the reason we recommend getting an Echo device for voice control. 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.

Setting up Scenes and Automation

  • Launch the app and open the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines icon on the left side). Tap on the relevant section and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Scenes — Scenes lets you set up multiple devices to function together with a simple tap on your phone or a voice command. For instance, you can set up a scene where all the lights and your smart TV turn on in the living room.
  • Automation — Automation takes the concept of scenes one step further. This lets you create “if this then that” scenarios. So, with a motion sensor on a bedroom door, you can have the lights turn on automatically in the room every time the door is open. You can set up conditions based on time, device status, user location, and more.

Setting up SmartApps (SmartThings Classic app)

  • Launch the SmartThings Classic app. You will need to sign in with your Samsung account if you haven’t done so already.
  • Navigation to the Automation tab to access Routines (the same as Automation in the new app) and SmartApps.
  • SmartApps — Routines can be difficult and confusing to set up if you’re a beginner. This is where SmartApps prove to be a big help. 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, there are numerous SmartApps options created by SmartThings as well as third-party developers. Go to the SmartApps section, find the devices you have, and you’ll be able to find all the SmartApps that are available for it.

Is Samsung SmartThings for me?

Unfortunately, SmartThings isn’t for everybody. Samsung has done a great job with trying to simplify the setup process so that everyone can do it. However, some amount of technical knowhow is recommended, especially when (not if) you have to troubleshoot problems. As great as the final result is – having multiple devices perform various functions at the touch of a button – setting everything up can be a long and tedious process. The SmartThings app isn’t perfect either, and there are quite a few bugs and glitches that need to be fixed.

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.