SmartThings V2 for Home SecurityBy - 09/02/2017
Samsung’s SmartThings is one of my favorite hubs, not only because of its low $99 price tag, but also because of its features and the value it adds to your automated home. Now on its second version, SmartThings is getting even smarter and savvier when it comes to protecting your home.
Without a hub, there is no SmartThings system; however, choosing a hub isn’t as simple as one might think. The original hub (version one) lacked battery backup, Bluetooth, and USB, among other things. The current hub, version two, adds in all of those missing features and sells for $99. It connects with more than 200 different sensors, cameras, home automation products, and appliances. It supports Zigbee, Z-Wave, and local internet connected devices as well as cloud-to-cloud connections. It also features two USB ports and Bluetooth.
One of the hub’s greatest features is that it can continue operating even if you lose power or internet. It has a battery that can charge the hub for up to 10 hours while it continues to run certain functions locally. For example, your Routines (more on these later) will work even during an outage.
You can purchase the SmartThings v2 Hub here.
SmartThings Hub in a Router
Besides the official SmartThings Hub, Samsung also sells Connect Home, a mesh router that can act as a hub.
As a mesh router, it has decent specs that can compete with Google Wi-Fi and eero. As a hub, it’s inferior to the SmartThings V2 Hub. Although it can connect with all SmartThings-compatible devices via Zigbee, Z-Wave, LAN, Bluetooth, and cloud-to-cloud connection, it uses a different app: Connect Home.
Samsung describes Connect Home as a light version of the SmartThings app. Not only does it have limited features, but if you’re an existing SmartThings user, you’ll have to disconnect all your smart home devices before pairing them with Connect Home.
If you’d like to learn more about the Connect Home router and how it compares to SmartThings V2, you can do so here.
Samsung SUHD TV As A Hub
Samsung promised to integrate their 2016-launched SUHD TVs with SmartThings, promising to turn your TV into a hub.
Besides letting you enjoy the normal features you get from a SmartThings system, you would have been able to use your TV remote control and an on-screen interface to control and monitor your smart home.
Why the past tense? Well, because 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, which never materialized and the launch date is still TBD. Understandably, users who bought 2016 SUHD TVs in anticipation of this feature are furious.
Though technically not a hub, the app is an essential component for the SmartThings system.
The app works with Android, iOS, Apple Watch, and Windows Mobile as well Garmin smartwatches. Take note that even though there is an app for Windows devices, SmartThings no longer updates it with new features.
The app is your primary means of controlling SmartThings. It will guide you through the setup process and even help you discover your devices using the Marketplace, a page that lists all compatible devices. After adding devices, you’ll be able to group them based on which room they’re in.
The app’s main function is control. You can use it to see the status of your lights, appliances, and other devices and control them individually. You can also use the app to automate your home. You can create Routines and establish rules for your Smart Home Monitor.
Routines are a collection of commands that you can conveniently activate at once using the app. For example, instead of turning on lights individually every night, you can create a 6 PM Routine that when activated will turn on all lights. Or you can create a Leaving Home Routine that turns all lights off, locks your door, and arms your sensors.
The app’s Smart Home Monitor feature is an easy way to configure, control, and monitor your home’s security. This 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 or by triggering your siren or lights. Of course, you can also choose all of the above.
After you choose a hub, you’re going to need Things. Things are sensors and devices that work with SmartThings. They sell both their own line of devices and third-party compatible devices.
Samsung SmartThings Things
SmartThings has created their own lineup of devices that work with their hub. They sell a PIR motion sensor, a water leak sensor, an arrival sensor, and a multipurpose sensor.
- SmartThings Multi-Purpose Sensor– monitors for open/close movement, temperature, vibration, and orientation.
- SmartThings Motion Sensor– monitors for motion
- SmartThings Water Leak Sensor– monitors for moisture
- Samsung SmartThings Outlet– makes any outlet a smart outlet so that you can control appliance and lamps remotely, set schedules, and create an energy friendly setup for your home.
- Samsung SmartThings Dimming Outlet– automate lamps using on/off and dimming commands.
- SmartThings Arrival Sensor– a geofencing type device that tells your system when you leave home and arrive home.
- SmartThings Temperature and Humidity Sensor– monitors for temperature and humidity.
- FortezZ Siren Strobe Alarm– a siren and strobe device.
Works With SmartThings
SmartThings is also compatible with hundreds of devices from third-party brands. Of course, we’re going to focus on the ones that can improve your home security.
SmartThings is compatible with three voice assistants.
First is Samsung’s equivalent to Siri: Bixby. This AI is built into new Samsung smartphones and is capable of controlling SmartThings devices, routines, and scenes.
Second is Amazon Alexa, Amazon’s AI who resides inside devices such as Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Tap, Ecobee 4, and more.
And last but not least, Google Assistant via the Google Home smart speaker.
SmartThings also works with IFTTT, an internet service that lets you create automation rules. IFTTT is a good way to make SmartThings talk to devices that are not directly compatible. You can even set up additional security alerts. For example, if your SmartThings MultiSensor is left open, IFTTT can trigger a phone call alert. On the other hand, SmartThings can also be the reaction. For example, if there is a tornado nearby, you can ask IFTTT to trigger your SmartThings siren.
In addition to IFTTT, SmartThings works with Stringify, a service similar to IFTTT that allows you to create more complex strings of actions and reactions.
You can learn more about IFTTT and Stringify here.
Halo Smoke Alarms
Halo is a smoke alarm that uses a combination of six sensors including photoelectric, ionization, temperature, and barometric pressure in order to detect home fires. Halo+ is another smoke alarm that’s the same as Halo but also features Weather Alerts.
Both Halo and Halo+ are fully compatible with SmartThings. Using the SmartThings app, you can monitor the status of both smoke alarms. If there’s a fire or carbon monoxide leak, you can take action directly from the SmartThings app. From the app, you can trigger lights or sirens connected to the hub, or even notify your local authorities.
|Samsung SmartCam Pro||Samsung SmartCam Plus||Netgear Arlo||D-Link (SmartThings Labs)||Ring|
|Clip Recording||Notifications Only|
|Works With||Hub V2||Hub V2||Hub V2 and V1||Hub V2||Hub V2|
|Motion Sensor Within SmartThings|
|Number of Cameras Supported||4||4||15||4||4|
SmartThings also lets you add cameras to your system. There are both officially supported and unofficially supported cameras.
Officially, SmartThings works with:
- Samsung SmartCam HD Plus in Black and White
- Arlo Wire-Free HD, Pro, and Pro 2
- Arlo Q HD and HD Plus
- Ring Video Doorbell and Doorbell Pro
- Skybell HD
The SmartThings system is also compatible with D-Link, though the cameras do not officially Work with SmartThings which means that performance may vary and they won’t provide support. However, if you’re a D-Link fan, you can add the following models: DCS-2132L, DCS-2310L, DCS–2330L, DCS-5222L, and DCS-5029L.
Should we make things even more confusing? Perhaps we should. The cameras above all work with the V2 hub. If you’re still hanging onto V1, your only option is to choose an Arlo camera. And then there are the “really unofficial cameras.”
That said, using your cameras with SmartThings isn’t entirely free, at least for now. Live streaming is and will always be free. However, users are currently enjoying a free trial of clip-based recording; something SmartThings plans to charge for. Eventually, clip recording will cost you $4.99 per month. For this price, you will be able to store an unlimited amount of 2-minute clips in the cloud for 30 days. The service also includes intelligent buffering, which allows recording to start 10 seconds before an event occurs.
Really Unofficial Cameras
So yes, D-Link is officially unsupported, but there are also integrations made possible thanks to the SmartThings community. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can often find ways to connect cameras to SmartThings even if they aren’t supported. The community has created unofficial integrations for cameras like Blink, Blink XT, certain Foscam cameras, Amcrest IPM-721 & IP2M-84, and more.
You can learn more about using Arlo with SmartThings here.
One limitation to using SmartThings for home security is that it’s a self-monitored system. However, if you aren’t comfortable taking the lead, you can pay SmartThings to do it for you.
SmartThings now supports professional home security monitoring. In fact, you will soon have two monitoring services to choose from: Scout’s monitoring service 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. In fact, Scout equipment is not compatible with the SmartThings system. Instead, you will use your SmartThings’ equipment and app to create a complete home security setup.
Canopy is ADT’s latest home security service. It’s aimed at attracting 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 their partnership with SmartThings as well as other well-known smart home companies. Though you can currently purchase an LG camera with ADT Canopy, the availability of ADT Canopy plus SmartThings is still TBD.
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! 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.
However, we don’t currently recommend using Smartthings for anything beyond self-monitoring. Like most smart home gadgets, SmartThings has its quirks and attaching a police-dispatch service to something that isn’t proven to be 100% reliable is a bit of a risk.
SmartThings Hub v.2 can be ordered now.
Last Updated 09/02/2017
Complete rewrite of the article.
Read Previous Updates
05/28/2017 Added Halo
2/25/2017 Added Ring information.
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