In our fast-paced world, you might be hearing more and more about smart homes. Depending on where you place yourself on the Technology Gadgets spectrum, you may already have turned your home into the smartest home in the land. But for others who are just dipping a toe into the smart home pond and feel a bit out of their comfort zone, this article is for you. A basic foundation for a smart home is the hub. (Read this article for more information about complete home automation systems, including popular hub options.)In this article, we’ll walk you through the setup process for the Samsung SmartThings Hub starter kit. As beginners into the smart home realm ourselves, we hope you find this article useful.
When you purchase your Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit (which is a starter pack), you’re going to get a box like this. It’s not large, maybe about 6” or 8” squarish.
When you open it up, you’ll find the SmartThings Hub nestled in on the left, and the accessories on the right. Accessories to the SmartThings starter kit include (as I’m sure you noticed when you ordered it) one outlet, two multipurpose sensors, and one motion sensor.
Remove the Hub from the box and find one side with places for the power adapter, ethernet cable, and two USBs.
Underneath the Hub is where you’ll find all the plugs you need to set everything up.
It’s probably reassuring, to a beginner like yourself (as it was for a beginner like myself) to find a list of a few short steps for setup. The good news is: Samsung isn’t lying. Setup is super easy.
The only glitch that we came across (and it was minor) is that, in the app store, the SmartThings app isn’t branded with Samsung. We searched quite a bit to find the “true” Samsung SmartThings app, but this Lifestyle one is actually The App. This would’ve been nice to know upfront, for reassurance that we’re not installing an imposter app, so we’re passing this discovery onto you. You’ll follow the app setup process, which is straightforward.
Then the time will come for you to connect your SmartThings Hub. Plug the ethernet cable into your Hub, then into your router. Plug the power cord into your Hub.
Plug the power cord then into your regular power source (e.g., power strip, wall outlet, etc.).
You’ll notice that there is a small LED light on the front of your SmartThings Hub.
The instructions mention that there are “lights” (plural) that will light up.
We only ever saw this one LED light, but it does cycle through some different colors during the connection process. This step can take a while, so don’t worry if you’re watching the pretty light colors for more than 5 and even 15 minutes. Once the LED light stays green and you receive notification on your SmartThings app that the Hub is ready, you can move onto your first accessory.
We chose to install the outlet first. It looks like this – a little larger than a typical power adapter plug, so beware that you’ll need a little more space than normal around your outlet.
The outlet really has a huge number of possibilities. Basically, it will communicate with your SmartThings Hub to do any number of things – you can manually turn it on or off with your phone, or you can program what you want it to do when you’re home or away or asleep, or you can schedule certain activities. We opted to use this outlet, for now, to plug in a few strands of Christmas lights in our basement, which previously required us to remove a cubby full of games to plug in and unplug. (Yes, it was as tedious as it sounds, but that’s the kind of thing you do during the Christmas season, isn’t it? Not anymore!)
First, we just plugged the outlet into the wall.
The connection LED light turned blinked blue a few times, so we thought we were good to go.
So we plugged in our triple-outlet of LED Christmas lights strands.
And looked, expectantly, up at an affected mini Christmas tree. Nothing.
We unplugged the lights from the smart outlet and plugged them back in again. Still nothing.
We then read the SmartThings outlet instructions (there are individual instructional books for each accessory) more carefully and found that, if the outlet doesn’t seem to connect after simply plugging it in, you can do the following: Hold down the button while you plug it in, wait for the light to come on, then release the button (while the outlet is plugged in).
After doing that method, our SmartThings app immediately recognized the device and gave us options.
We then plugged the LED Christmas lights back in.
In the SmartThings app, we had the immediate and obvious option to “Turn On” the device, which we did.
And it worked beautifully – the lights turned on when we gave the command through the app, and they turned off through the app as well.
Explore a little bit around the app, and you’ll find places to schedule how you want your outlet to behave. This is a fun way to spend a few minutes, and it won’t take you too long to realize…your house is now smarter.
You may love one or more of these accessories so much that you have a variety of uses for them. Instead of purchasing an entire starter kit, you can buy the SmartThings accessories separately.
This supplemental smart outlet was paired nicely with our Christmas tree in the living room for the holiday season; now we don’t have to climb back behind the tree, knocking ornaments off with every pass, just to plug in and unplug the lights every day. Smart outlets can also work great for lamps, fans, or anything else that you need to function easily and convenientlywithin arm’s reach of your phone (or voice via Alexa).
The next two smart devices that come with this particular home monitoring kit are the motion sensor and the multipurpose sensor. This is the motion sensor, shown here. The sensor is that circular bit that protrudes out the top of the case ever so slightly.
Because the motion sensor and the multipurpose sensor are installed in the same way, we will just walk through installation of the multipurpose sensor. However, there are key differences in their operations. The motion sensor, shown here, detects motion and can be set up to extract a response from another smart device, such as a smart light, an alarm/siren, a smart door lock, a home security camera, etc. The multipurpose sensor uses a magnet to let you know when a door or window opens or closes. This sensor, too, can be connected to other devices through your SmartThings hub to complete a satisfactory home automation system.
Begin with the two pieces of your multipurpose sensor – the sensor itself and the smaller magnet piece. While you’re within a short distance of your hub, remove the pull tab to begin the connection process.
Next, you’ll want to remove the coverplate so you can access the wall-mounting plate to remove it. To remove the cover plate, press in the two buttons and pull off the cover evenly on both sides. This will expose the battery as well as a small blinking blue light with a white button. You can press this button to establish a wi-fi connection with your hub later, if you have problems connecting on the first try; touch “Add a Thing” near the bottom of your home screen and follow the steps for syncing.
Next, you’ll need to remove the wall-mounting plate so you can either use it to mount the sensor on a wall or remove it altogether to mount with double-stick pads (included), used to attach both the magnet and the sensor.
You can use the included template to mark your screw holes for the mounting plate, then use the included screws to actually install it. You can simply press the sensor onto the mounted plate and hang the magnet in the same way. But that comes a little later.
With the cover plate removed (and the wall-mounting plate off), and after you’ve checked to ensure that the sensor syncs with your SmartThingshub, it’s time to put the cover plate back on. At one end of your sensor, you’ll see a picture showing you which way the cover should be replaced back onto the sensor; essentially, the line on the side of the cover plate face needs to align with, eventually, the line on the magnet face.
When you’ve done it correctly, the two lines (one on the face of the sensor, the other on the magnet) should touch. As you can see here, there is magnetism, but it’s not terribly strong. This is good for sensing the opening and closing of doors or cupboards or windows, because the opening of those things won’t be made harder due to a super-strong magnetic pull. In fact, when you install the multipurpose sensor and magnet, they don’t need to be touching to still communicate as “closed.”
When you open up the sensor in your SmartThings app (we recommend renaming it), you will be able to see that the multipurpose sensor communicates that it is, indeed, closed when the two magnet lines are close (I believe it’s anywhere less than 0.4”) or touching.
When the magnets are separated, the app shows you that the sensor has been opened (meaning, the magnet has been separated from the sensor, which signifies an opened door or window). The motion will report activity in a similar way through your app.
With your sensor working, it’s now time to install. Peel off the liner on one side of your double-sided mounting pad.
Press the sticky side down onto the back of your magnet or sensor.
Determine where you want the magnet and where you want the sensor. You can put either component on the door itself and the other component on the door frame. Some people, myself included, prefer to keep the actual sensor more stable, so we mount the sensor on the door frame, line side-out to align with the magnet. Be sure the sensor doesn’t protrude into the door’s opening pathway.
The magnet goes directly across the sensor, line side closest to the sensor.
The multipurpose sensor has such a huge variety of uses – drawers, cabinets, closets, doors, windows, the list really goes on. In this case, we chose to mount ours to the door of a backyard shed (not too far from the SmartThings hub) that doubles in the late winter/early spring as a greenhouse. This sensor will be useful here because it will not only let us know if children are going in and out of the shed when they shouldn’t be, but also it will alert us to any extreme temperature changes in the shed, which is critical in the early stages of seed starts and beyond.
This multipurpose sensor is pretty unobtrusive. I like its simple, small design. If you’re thinking about using one even for your front door, it doesn’t stand out too much.
Same goes for the sensor. It seems to blend in with the trim…especially if it’s white. If nothing else, we hope this article has helped you get a feel for how easy it is to begin creating a smart house (it really is), and that you will enjoy playing with your new smart “toys” instead of feeling intimidated by them. The SmartThings hub and starter kit accessories, in our beginner-hood experience, have been very intuitive and user-friendly. The app is one of our favorites as far as functionality and ease of use go. Good luck and, most of all, have fun!