- Exceptional smartphone support
- Great security and home automation devices
- Regular sales
- Amazon Echo and Google Home integration
- Limited items in the starter kit
- No outdoor cameras
- No smart thermostat
Samsung SmartThings aims to bring the era of smart homes one step closer to you. The company understands your need to keep an eye on your home when you are away, and for this very reason it has provided the opportunity to not only see the status of any home security alarms but also enact changes like turning on the lights or opening the door without a key. SmartThings is a system that marries home automation and home security together. The stepping stone is the Home Monitoring Kit, which includes both sensors and smart home devices. After installing the main hub, the sky is the limit: everything can be integrated together, from doorbell cameras and water leak sensors to smart lighting, making your home smart and protected.
Home Monitoring Kit
Homeowners who are unfamiliar with smart solutions might want to consider giving the Home Monitoring Kit a closer look, which perfectly blends the security and home automation solutions. The package includes a set of devices necessary to run a smart household, but the system serves as a springboard for further customization by adding extra sensors, cameras or locks. The heart of the system is the appropriately named SmartThings Hub, a small white box that fits anywhere in the living room. It needs to be connected to the power source and your router, but it houses four AA batteries as backup for an unexpected power outage. The hub communicates wirelessly with the other devices, constantly monitoring their status and allowing remote control over them.
The kit also features three kinds of smart products: a motion sensor, two multipurpose sensors and a special outlet. All of them are cordless, therefore their placement is completely up to you and your imagination. The pair of multipurpose sensors should be placed on your front door or window so that, after being armed, they will send an alert every time someone moves the object they are attached to. Even better, they sense vibration, doubling as a glass break sensor.
The motion detector should be put somewhere with high foot traffic, such as the main corridor or entrance of the living room. It sends a notification when someone enters the field of vision, but it can be set to soft mode in order to monitor children or guests, so the alarm system won’t go berserk when the kids get home. The smart outlet enables the home automation part of the package. Just plug it into a normal outlet to smarten up any connected electrical device, as such allowing you to remotely switch on and off the coffee machine, or simply turn on the lamp before bedtime.
Although Samsung SmartThings doesn’t offer cameras as part of their kits and it is impossible to place an additional order for them, there is still a list of supported devices that can be integrated to the system. The current selection is restricted mainly to NetGear cameras. There are two NetGear Arlo Wire-Free cameras (a standard and a pro with HD) that are weatherproof but recommended for indoor use. The NetGear Arlo Q and Arlo Q Plus are strictly for indoor use, but in exchange they provide a higher quality video resolution and a two-way talk feature. Interestingly, there are no strictly outdoor cameras, but they make up for their absence with a doorbell camera that comes in two flavors (standard and pro). This presents an opportunity for homeowners to check on any guests and talk with them remotely. All cameras listed above connect seamlessly to Samsung’s SmartThings app.
The company placed its stake on smart self-monitoring, meaning that there is access to a multifunctional app to review alert notifications and manage all the wireless devices in your home. As a result, the app is available for all the relevant platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and even Apple Watch. Through the application you are one touch away from activating electronic devices, scheduling the lights, opening locks, and reviewing security history. It’s also possible to set up a geofence and issue certain commands that are carried out every time your phone enters the main hub’s designated range. However, smartphone control is just the tip of the iceberg. Samsung SmartThings works hand in hand with Google Home and Amazon Echo, substituting finger-gestures on the touchscreen with more convenient voice commands.
Once the smart hub is yours, it’s simple to upgrade it by adding SmartThings compatible home automation devices. We’ve already touched on this subject with the power outlet, but there are other products in Samsung’s arsenal, too. Most of them are related to lighting one way or another: whether you have hard-wired, LED or CFL lighting, you’ll find an appropriate smart switch that brightens or dims the lights to your will. This is more than just a novelty, though, since smart switches eliminate the constant worry of leaving for vacation with the lights on, not to mention the large savings on the energy bill. Samsung also has different packs of SYLVANIA smart light bulbs; some of them are even multi-colored. These are the ones linked to you motion sensors, turning on and off whenever someone enters the room.
But when it comes to home automation it’s a real heartbreaker that there are no smart thermostats available, since those are typically the main pillar of the technology. Instead, they provide a water leak sensor, an arrival sensor and a smart lock. The arrival sensor relies on the same geofence that can be set up for your phone, marking every occasion someone moves into or out of the building. However there’s only one type of smart lock – which is from Yale Assure – and completely deprived of a handle or keyhole, leaving you with only keypad or Bluetooth identification.
Samsung promises great freedom for homeowners when shopping at its virtual storefront. The SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit, which is essential in smartening up your home, costs $249. However, the kit includes only the bare minimum required to protect your home. Unless you plan on guarding only one room you’ll definitely need more sensors and even some cameras, which must all be purchased separately.
Extra sensors come for $39.99 each and they charge $249.99 for the Yale Assure smart lock, while light switches and smart bulbs are between $30.99 and $58. Samsung SmartThings provides a standard 30-day money back guarantee, plus free shipping everywhere in the U.S. But it’s most important to visit the site regularly if you’d like to save as much as possible, since the company often creates limited-time sales with selected devices discounted up to 20%.
Samsung SmartThings has a very well-designed website, and it’s a pleasure to browse. The FAQ is informative and there are videos here and there that also help you to learn about the service. The customer support team is eager to help you, too, proven by the three different channels presented. You can contact them via email, over the phone or by initiating a live chat session, although this option is only available between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.
Samsung SmartThings is an interesting collection of smart devices. On one hand, the security and home automation devices are very well designed. They are small, stylish and most importantly connect wirelessly to each other, allowing homeowners to use their smartphone as a remote controller. The app is compatible with all major operation systems (even Apple Watch), and not to mention with the most important mobile operating systems Android and iOS. But even though the product quality is high, the home security solutions are a bit lacking from what you might have come to expect. The most glaring issue is the lack of cameras: there are only indoor and doorbell cameras, both without night vision or motion detection. As for home automation, it lacks a smart thermostat, which is a must-have for any smart home. The home kit is also a bit slim, and so you’ll be forced to buy additional sensors for any larger house.