Earlier this year I became fascinated with everything that is going on with DIY smart home products. There really are some great things coming out and the future is bright when it comes to smart homes. I started researching what was out there and where would be a good starting point for someone like me that wants to dabble in it but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.
There are a few options out there for getting started but based off reviews, the momentum of the product, and what other products could connect with it, I settled on the Samsung SmartThings platform.
In March 2016 I purchased the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit and overall I have been really impressed. Before I go off and tell you all the great things about it I will say that bought the kit when it was on sell for about $50 less than what it retails for. I still think the price for a lot of systems and devices are too high.
I bought the system through Amazon and when I got the package, a lot of the pieces were spread throughout the packaging. There were also two of the devices that malfunctioned and would not connect to the system, which was a huge let down for me because I was eager to get it all setup.
I contacted SmartThings about the issue and they gave me the option to return it all to Amazon or they could replace the individual parts. They were professional and quickly sent me the parts. I then returned the defective ones with a pre-paid label. Ever since then, all the parts have been working with no problems.
My next complaint is with the mobile app and knowing what rules you set up. The flexibility to set up rules and events is great, the problem is when you want to come back to the rules and review them or change them there is no easy way to see the overall settings. You have to drill down into each menu to see the settings then back out of the menu to go back, each step you have to wait for the app to save the information. I’m assuming it is saving every event and sending it back to their server which takes a couple of seconds. Even though the mobile app is great and has a lot of flexibility, I’d still like to see some web interface where I could go in and set the rules and events.
Now for the things I love
The setup was really quick and easy. It was a matter of downloading the app, creating an account, and pairing the device. Once that was done you could use the app to connect all the other devices in the kit and you were off and running.
Like I mentioned before with the app, there is a lot of flexibility to creating an event or rule. The events that I wanted to happen could all be done using the app. I can have my porch lights come on at sunset and turn off when I go to bed. I can have the motion sensor turn on a hall light, only in the evening, when I come down the stairs and automatically turn off when there is no movement. I can be alerted when my garage door is left open and when I’m away from the house, I can click one button to arm everything so if something triggers, I can be alerted.
The thing that I really love about the SmartThings system is connecting it to any other Z-Wave or ZigBee device. This is really where the power comes in. Currently, I have an Amazon Echo, Ecobee3, the Linear garage door opener, and a couple of GE switches connect to my SmartThings system. There are hundreds of other devices that can connect to it as well. SmartThings made a good choice in keeping their platform easy to build upon so other products could connect to it.
I am glad that I went with the SmartThings system and I look forward to adding more devices to it. The support and community behind it are also a strong point and it is good to know there are a lot of other crazy DIYers out there. If you’ve been on the fence about getting a system, do it, you won’t regret it.
As a side note, my reviews of the devices I have connected will be coming soon but just as a quick heads up on my thoughts of them:
Amazon Echo: Great device, I would recommend it for any smart home setup.
Ecobee3: Great device and plays nicely with the SmartThings system. I would recommend it.
Linear garage door opener: Wouldn’t waste my money on it. It took a lot of hacking and frustration to get it set up.
GE switches: These make a nice addition to the SmartThings system and I would recommend them.