SmartThings Home Automation Guide

Samsung SmartThings is a powerful, customizable smart home hub offering both Z-Wave and Zigbee compatibility.

Unlimited possibilities of automations, triggers, devices, and custom smart apps make Samsung Smartthings the most versatile and user-friendly smart home hub offered today.

SmartThings Hub 2018 Release ATB
Samsung SmartThings Hub

These are 2 different radio protocols, Z-Wave and Zigbee, which can work simultaneously, creating a mesh network throughout your home – exclusively for your smart devices to communicate on. One of the benefits of using Z-Wave/Zigbee, instead of WiFi is reduced network congestion and response lag.

SmartThings is one of the most popular, and widely adopted, home automation platforms because of its easy setup, maintenance, and huge selection of compatible devices. Almost all Z-Wave and Zigbee devices can communicate with a SmartThings hub – however, some devices not natively-compatible will require about 15 minutes of manual integration using custom device handlers.

Don’t let this intimidate you! It’s super simple, and once you get the hang of it, you can add nearly ANY Z-Wave device to your home.

Introduction to Z-Wave Devices

With SmartThings, you can use sensors, buttons, actuators, switches (our favorite buttons and sensors) to trigger actions, scenes, etc. throughout your home. Below we’ve listed some of the essential started devices to help you get started with a new SmartThings hub.

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Look for these logos to see if a device uses Z-Wave

For beginners, it’s best to start with natively compatible devices. This means the box/packaging/website must include the “Works with SmartThings” badge. Only products with native Samsung support will have a badge; the badge designs change periodically, but we’ve provided the past 4 badge designs below.

Variations of Works with SmartThings logos for Z-Wave Devices with Native Compatibility

Adding New Devices to SmartThings

Now comes the fun part, adding devices to your network to create automations and triggers.
There are 3 core device categories to explore:

With buttons (aka “momentary switches”), you can press a physical button to trigger 1 or more actions on your SmartThings hub.

Most newer buttons also include the ability to trigger different actions if ‘pushed once’ vs. ‘pushed twice’ vs. ‘held for X seconds’. Most buttons shown here are natively compatible with SmartThings and will be a breeze to setup and pair with your hub. Alternatively, you can click here to check out all SmartThings branded devices on Amazon.com.

Sensors are an important component to automate your home, particularly helpful for lighting automation.

Use SmartThings to Control Your Garage Door

The garage door is a common roadblock for home automation, because garage door openers are “dumb” and expensive. With Z-Wave and SmartThings, you can add remote control to open or close your door for under $100!

Chamberlin MyQ Garade Door Controller ATB
Chamberlin MyQ Garage Door Controller

There are 2 components you’ll need to get started controlling your garage door from your phone:

  1. First, you’ll need a z-wave device that can send the Open/Close signal to your door.
  2. Second, you’ll need a tilt-sensor to report back to SmartThings if the door is open or closed. The tilt-sensor is technically optional, but we’ve found it necessary for seamless operation.

SmartThings Compatibility – Native vs. Network

When a device is natively compatible with SmartThings, it means you can access and control 100% of the device’s functionality directly via the SmartThings mobile app. This means the developers of the SmartThings app (employees of Samsung) have reviewed, approved, and published all the device’s handlers to all SmartThings hubs in the world. i.e. Anyone with a SmartThings hub can turn on a natively compatible device, out of the box, and add it to their smart-home network in seconds.

If a device is not approved and supported natively by SmartThings, but uses the Z-Wave or Zigbee communication frequencies and protocols, it is considered ‘network compatible’ (not ‘native compatible’). How do you control a device that is not natively compatible or supported by SmartThings? WebCore.

WebCore is a 3rd party ‘engine’ that anyone can install on their hub, and increase the functionality and compatibility of their hub – free to download, and hopefully free forever – thank you WebCore team! (Jumping from the Beginner’s Guide to technical WebCore implementation is not recommended, but you can still read more about WebCore for SmartThings here.)

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