SmartThings v.2 – Better Approach To Security and AutomationBy - 09/28/2016
Samsung’s SmartThings is one of my favorite hubs. Mostly because of its low, $99 price tag. But, also because of its features and the value it adds to your automated home.
SmartThings promised us an upgraded hub during last year’s CES. After 8 months of waiting, the hub has arrived. And since its arrival, it has only gotten sweeter.
Like the old hub, the upgraded SmartThings hub connects with more than 200 different sensors, cameras, home automation products, and appliances. It still supports Zigbee, Z-Wave, and local internet connected devices. The hub now has 2 USB ports and Bluetooth compatibility to prepare support for future expansions.
Beyond the addition of Bluetooth and USB, there are other major changes. First, the new hub supports video streaming. Video streaming is supported for a short list of cameras including the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, Netgear’s Arlo Wire-Free, and certain D-Link cameras. The supported D-Link models are DCS-2132L, DCS-2310L, DCS-2330L, DCS-5222L, and DCS-5029L. A single hub can support a combination of any 4 cameras and will allow you to live stream video for free. If you want to record video, it will cost you $4.99 per month. For this price, you can store an unlimited amount of 2 minute clips. Clips will remain in the cloud for 30 days. The service also includes intelligent buffering, which allows recording to start 10 seconds before an event occurs.
Second, the new hub has the ability to continue operating even when the power or your internet goes out. The new hub has a battery backup that can last for up to 10 hours. It can also run certain functions locally so it can continue to operate even without an internet connection.
SmartThings sensors also received upgrades…
- SmartThings Multi-Purpose Sensor– a sensor you can place in cabinets, drawers, jewelry boxes, doors, windows, garage doors, and practically anywhere in your house that you need to monitor. It alerts you when things are opened, closed unexpectedly, or left open after you leave. It also monitors the temperature, vibration, and orientation.
- SmartThings Motion Sensor– a sensor that can do much in home automation and security. It monitors your home for motion and can trigger different action in response, like turning the lights on or off, starting video recording (when subscribed to Smart Home Monitoring service), or adjusting your thermostat.
- SmartThings Water Leak Sensor– a sensor that’s always on the lookout for excess moisture or water. You can place it under the sink, in the basement, under old pipes or in other leak prone areas at home. When excess moisture is detected, it quickly notifies you to prevent things from getting worse.
- SmartThings Smart Outlet– for home automation, energy management, or home security. Just plug lamps, electronics, and small appliances to this outlet so you can control them remotely, set schedules, and create an energy-wise setup for your home.
- SmartThings Arrival Sensor– is a small device that can be placed on backpacks, in your car, on your pet’s collar, or as a keychain. This announces your arrival at home and notifies other members of your family that are connected to the hub. It can also trigger actions, like turning on or off the thermostat when you arrive or leave your house.
- SmartThings Temperature and Humidity Sensor– a sensor that keeps your home safe from extreme changes in temperature and prevents further problems. It sends you notifications whenever temperature or humidity fluctuates to unsafe levels and can trigger actions on your thermostat, A/C, or heater.
- FortezZ Siren Strobe Alarm– a Z-Wave device. It emits a loud siren and bright strobe light when unexpected motion, tampering, or entry occurs. You can set which actions would trigger the siren using the SmartThings app.
The New App Experience
The SmartThings app available to Android, iOS, Apple Watch, and Windows Mobile users was also updated. The latest version has an easier to navigate interface, better design, and better features. Here are some of the updates:
- Pairing instructions added during your first setup.
- A better design.
- Easier navigation. The interface is updated to make it easier for you to use, control, and monitor your home.
- Equipment is sorted by room. Easily find and control the appliance you need by selecting the room where it is located. Rooms are configured upon setup of each product. For each room, you can also set a primary device.(e.g. connected light in the living room)
- Create shortcut routines to easily set all your appliances to the desired setting as you sleep, wake up, leave, come back home, etc. (e.g. turn down thermostat, turn off lights, lock doors, and activate sensors when leaving)
- The Marketplace is updated to make it easier for you to discover and setup new devices.
Another exciting feature added to the SmartThings app is the Smart Home Monitor. Smart Home Monitor is an easy way to configure, control, and monitor your home’s security. The Smart Home Monitor can be configured from the dashboard in the app. This new feature lets you remotely arm and disarm your entire system and also allows for the creation of rules. You can set it to notify you by sending a text or email, triggering sirens, alerting you with lights, or all three.
More Compatible Devices & Services
Amazon Echo and Google Home
SmartThings has added additional compatible devices. One of the first compatible devices to be announced was Amazon Echo, a.k.a Alexa, a personal voice assistant. If you have an Amazon Echo, you can pair it with your SmartThings hub and enjoy controlling your smart home with your voice. Simply say “Alexa” before stating your request, and SmartThings will respond.
Soon, you will also be able to control your SmartThings Hub using Google Home.
Samsung Smart TVs
Samsung will also integrate their 2016-launched SUHD TVs with SmartThings. The integration with SmartThings will allow the TV to become your smart home hub. Why? Why is a great question. Why replace one hub with another? The answer is simple. Integrating your TV into your smart home gives you more than device control.
Besides letting you enjoy the normal features you get from your SmartThings system, the integration will allow you to use your TV remote control and an on-screen interface to control and monitor your smart home. You can watch live security footage on your TV, check out motion alerts, lock and unlock your door, control lights and speakers, and more.
Of course, connecting your hub and your TV isn’t as simple as putting them in the same room; the connection requires a SmartThings’ Extend USB adapter (the pricing is TBD).
SmartThings has unveiled that all BMW vehicles with the ConnectedDrive Service feature will be integrated with the SmartThings hub. This integration will allow you to control and monitor your smart things from your BMW’s in-car display. You will be able to trigger Routines, see who’s home, and receive important notification alerts about your home through the Smart Home Monitor feature. Your BMW also senses when you are nearing home and can open the garage door automatically. Right now, these features will only work for Android users by updating your app to version 2.0.7. An iOS version will follow shortly.
BMW is also developing a second set of features with regards to their integration with SmartThings. It will include enabling you to access your BMW as a “Thing” within the SmartThings app. You will be able to see important features like your car’s mileage, range, battery charge state, location, and whether any car doors are open. You will also be able to control some of your car’s features using the app, like turning on the air conditioner, locking/unlocking the door, honking the horn, or turning on its lights. It will also enable you to include your car in your Routines or SmartApps.
SmartThings works with the Arlo Wire-Free camera to help you monitor your home visually. The integration allows you to view live videos straight from the SmartThings app. You can also add Arlo to your Smart Home Monitor in order to incorporate it into your routines and rules. For example, you can set the camera to record when your SmartThings sensor detects an intrusion. On the other hand, you can set Arlo to trigger your siren or a specific routine if it detects motion.
And Professional Monitoring
SmartThings now supports professional home security monitoring. In fact, you will soon have two monitoring services to choose from — Scout’s monitoring services with police dispatch, and ADT Canopy.
Through a partnership with Scout Alarms, SmartThings offers 24/7 monitoring with police dispatch for $19.99 per month. The service is contract free which means that you can add monitoring and remove it based upon your need. Though Scout is a third party, the service does not require Scout equipment. You can use your SmartThings’ equipment and app to create a complete home security setup.
Canopy is ADT’s latest home security service. It is aimed to attract customers who prefer DIY security systems rather than systems that require professional installation, contracts, and cancellation fees.
Here’s how it works: You buy and install ADT Canopy compatible devices then subscribe to one of their professional monitoring services. You can subscribe to the service for as long (or as short) as you want. If you want to cancel your subscription, no problem. There are no contracts so there will also be no cancellation fees.
ADT has already secured partnership with SmartThings as well as other well-known smart home companies. ADT hasn’t offered up details on pricing and availability yet, but the information will be available shortly.
Is It Worth It?
One question is left to answer: should you buy it? If you are new to home automation, and you want to start building a smart home for yourself, then the answer is yes, definitely! It is one of the most inexpensive yet useful hubs on the market. Beyond being fun to use and offering home automation, it can protect your home from burglaries, fires, and flood. They have even partnered with professional monitoring services, which makes your home more secure.
SmartThings Hub v.2 can be ordered now.
1/4/2016 Updated to add TV compatibility information and professional monitoring.
1/7/2016 Updated to add BMW and ADT Canopy compatibility.
9/28/2016 Updated to add Arlo Wire-Free compatibility
10/03/2016 Added Google Home