(March 2018: All of the following applies only to the SmartThings Classic app. If you purchased your hub after March 1, 2018 and are using the new “SmartThings (Samsung Connect)” app, creating rules works differently.)
You’ve got your hub. You’ve got some devices. Now how do you schedule what happens when?
SmartThings doesn’t have a rules engine/scheduler, so there’s no one tutorial for how to do this. But it’s an open platform, and there are about 12 different ways to set up various kinds of schedules. Some require custom code, some don’t.
A “scheduler” in this context is anything that causes a networked device to perform an action, even if it’s just to toggle on or off immediately. (Network engineering definition, forgive me. )
(Note: as of April 2017, the original author of this FAQ lost the ability to add updated screenshots as VoiceOver capability was broken in the official SmartThings mobile app and has not yet been fixed. Anyone who wants to update the screenshots or any out of date information should feel free to do so.)
SECTION A: SCHEDULERS/DEVICE CONTROL METHODS THAT DON’T REQUIRE CUSTOM CODE
- THE DASHBOARD
When version two of the mobile app was first released, the dashboard, the first screen you see when the mobile app opens, was completely empty.
Now when it opens you will see one option, the smart home monitor. This is a wizard that let you set up various notifications for things like gates being left open, motion on a specific motion sensor, etc.
(Note that at the present time smart home monitor does not have the ability to monitor whether doors are locked or unlocked. Hopefully that will be added soon. )
We have been told that eventually SmartThings will add other options to the dashboard, so we’ll just have to wait and see what those will be.
The three vertical dots (or three horizontal lines, depending on the app version) in the upper right are called the “context menu.” The options available when you tap this will vary depending on where you are in the app.
Migration note Version one of the mobile app had “shortcut groups” like “lights and switches” and “Damage and Danger” that appeared on the dashboard. If you upgraded from version 1 of the mobile app you will still see the shortcut groups you had in version 1, but you will not be able to add any more of them, and when you delete the last device in any shortcut group, that group will go away forever.
- OFFICIAL SMARTTHINGS MOBILE APP THINGS TILES
You can control any individual device through the THINGS panel.
When you open the mobile app and tap on the “My Home” icon at the bottom of the page, that takes you to the Rooms View.
In the rooms view, you can either look at the list of Rooms that you have set up, or you can look at the list of all your devices together under Things, or you can look at the Scenes you have created.
You can toggle a device on or off by tapping its control icon at the far right of its entry.
If you tap on the name of the thing ( just the name, not the icons on the left and right of it), it will take you to that thing’s detail screen.
From there you can see its current state, recent activity logs, associated SmartApps, and other details.
Routines (formerly called hello home phrases) are another scheduler available in the official app. These are limited option scenes. They allow you to have different devices perform different actions based on the same triggers. You can’t get to all features of all devices, but still very useful.
These are pretty self-explanatory once you find where they are. Open the SmartThings mobile app. Tap on the checkmark icon at the bottom of the screen to go to the Automations view, then choose the “routines” tab. This will show you a list of all the Routines you currently have. Tap on “add a routine” at the end of that list to add a new one.
To change any one routine, just tap on the tiny gear icon next to it.
needs new screenshot
The routine tiles are listed in alphabetical order. If you want to control the order in which they appear, try numbering them: “1. Good morning” “2. Home from school” “3. Good night” etc.
The colors of the tiles are based on key words (morning will be yellow, night will be blue). Gray is used if the system doesn’t recognize any keywords. It doesn’t seem to be a published list of what the keywords are, though
A Mode is a “behavioral filter” that can be used to restrict which routines and automations run when. For example, when my house is in “night” mode, the bedroom motion sensor turns on the overhead light. But when my house is in “asleep” mode the same motion sensor turns on a soft nightlight low on the wall.
Support has 4 or 5 official articles on using Routines And Modes in the following section:
And the following FAQ tell you how to add custom modes, so you can include them in your Routines:
In addition to turning on individual devices, routines can also activate scenes, which are set of presets for some specific lights and switches. This is the way that you would have a routine turn one light onto 25 percent, and another light on to 50 percent, for example.
3B) SMART LIGHTING
“Smart lighting” is a scheduler wizard that is provided to you by SmartThings. It will let you schedule all kinds of events and devices, not just lights. It’s quite easy to understand once you actually open it up, it’s just hard to find to begin with.
Before you can use it for the first time you have to “install” it from the marketplace. This is a one-time step.
Installing the Smart Lights Wizard for the First Time
Tap on the marketplace icon (colored asterisk in the lower right of the mobile app), then tap on the “smartapps” tab and you will find it in the “SmartThings recommends” category. Just follow the directions.
Creating a new Automation
After you’ve done the one time install, it will be available under the name “Smart Lighting” on the list of SmartApps available from the Automations view. So from now on, whenever you want to set up a new rule to schedule something through smart lights, tap on the checklist Icon at the bottom of the screen , then tap on the SmartApps tab, then tap on “Smart Lighting.”
Now you will be able to set up a new “automation” which means a new rule to schedule something.
Changing an Automation after You’ve Created it
Once you have set up an automation, if you want to change anything about it, tap on the “My Home” icon to open rooms view, find a device that is associated with that automation on the Things list, and tap on its name to open its detail screen, tap on its SmartApps tab, and you will see the automation listed there under the name you gave it in the smart lighting wizard.
Tap on the automation name and you will be able to make changes to it. The device in the following screenshot is the “Guestroom Nightstand.” The automation is called “Guest room Lights.”
Or you can go directly to the automation by tapping on the checklist icon at the bottom of the screen and choosing the “smart apps” tab to see the list of all your automations.
Official support article on SmartLights:
- Smart Home Monitor can be used for notifications for devices in particular device classes. There’s one for smoke detectors, one for sensors used to check for intruders, and one where you can set up custom alerts. This has been a rapidly evolving feature so it’s best to check the official support article to see the most current options:
SmartThings officially provides widgets for the IOS notification screen. It is also available for the Android version. Each widget can trigger one Routine.
- IFTTT CHANNEL
SmartThings has an official IFTTT channel/service which will allow you to control some devices (although not all).
(If you use the IFTTT Do app you can also have Do button widgets that control a SmartThings device. This could also be a virtual switch. Since you can have one switch trigger others, the Do button can be used for a group of lights by combining a virtual switch with Smart Lighting or a similar SmartApp.)
If you are unfamiliar with IFTTT, the following is a good tutorial:
- VOICE CONTROL
SmartThings provides official support for limited voice control through the Samsung Gear S watch. Basically you can speak any Routines you have set up.
There is also an official integration with Amazon Echo which provides excellent voice control for many SmartThings devices:
Or you can choose the official integration with Google Home:
There are also a number of other voice options that give you limited control without custom code, including through the IFTTT channel. For more information on voice options, see:
- HARMONY HOME HUB UNIVERSAL REMOTE
SmartThings has an official integration with the Harmony Home Hub universal remote. ($150). It allows control in both directions. You can include SmartThings devices into harmony activities, or you can have SmartThings trigger harmony activities.
If you already have the Harmony device or are considering buying one, see:
- OTHER OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED HANDHELD REMOTES
SmartThings has official support for the Aeon Minimote and the Aeon Key Fob. The SmartThings term for these is “button controllers.” You can assign individual devices or a Hello Home Action to a button on the remote.
You will find these, along with all the other officially supported devices, listed on the “works with smart things” list on the ST website.
There are also a number of button controllers that are not officially supported but that work with community-provided code, including a tiny $15 three-button key fob. See the following topic for many of these:
- OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED SMARTAPPS
There are many SmartApps that have been created to increase control over your devices. Ones that are officially supported by SmartThings can be installed through the official mobile app under the Marketplace section (colored asterisk in the lower right of the mobile app). Note that even though this is called “marketplace” most of the SmartApps here are free.
Also note that there may be differences between the marketplace list for the US and the UK. Make sure you have selected a location for your hub in the mobile app, or the marketplace will be blank.
- ActionTiles DASHBOARD
SmartTiles is a very popular third-party dashboard app developed by a community member and now offered for officially supported installation and updates. (Formerly called actION, and then SmartTiiles, you will find it frequently mentioned in the forums.) there is a license fee of about $30 per hub.
There are also some community – created free alternatives, although action tiles remains the most popular. To look at the alternatives, go to the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki, look in the project reports section, and choose the “dashboard” list. You will also see discussions there about various hardware options for use with the dashboards.
SECTION B: THIRD PARTY SCHEDULERS
Some members have created third-party rules engines for SmartThings. These are not officially supported, but are very popular. You will find information about WebCORE and SmartRules there, for example.
We should particular call out webcore for anyone with a technical background. This is essentially a scripting language for SmartThings and will allow you to create very complex rule sets, including stacked conditionals. It has a very active help forum of its own as well. Both the code and help are provided free by community members.
SECTION C: CUSTOM CODE OPTIONS
First, an overview of when custom code might be needed:
- SmartApps created by other community members.
Many members have created SmartApps for their own use that they then make available to others. This will require copying the code, using the integrated development environment (IDE) to paste it into your own user ID, and then publishing it to yourself. These apps are very popular, but are not officially supported by SmartThings.
You will find many of these in the following category.
You can quick browse these by starting from the links page in the community – created wiki. That way you could browse just the smart apps that deal with lighting, alerts, security, etc.
Or look through the entire set:
- SMART DEVICE TYPES (also called smart device handlers) created by other community members.
A “device handler,” or “device type,” is like a printer driver: it sets SmartThings instructions into the exact format that the device expects. Sometimes when a new device comes on the market, it has features that were not previously included in the standard smartthings device handler. For example, the standard lock device handler can lock and unlock the smart lock, but may not have code to support setting individual user codes. Or the existing device type for a smart bulb may not have a way of specifying color temperature. Or it may just be a device that hasn’t been addressed previously.
Because SmartThings is an open platform, it is sometimes (although not always) possible for community members to write custom device types which will address these additional features. Most community members are happy to share these.
You will usually find these discussed in the “connected things” section in the forum.
And if you just want to go straight to some of the devices that community members have created device types for, there’s are quick browse lists for that:
To use a custom device type, you will have to at a minimum copy the code and use the integrated development environment (IDE) to paste it into your own user ID before adding your device to your network.
However, there may also be additional steps such as assigning the device type to your device through the IDE, changing parameters in the device type code, using the IDE to “configure” the device, or physically doing something with the device itself like setting switches, so you’ll need to follow the author’s instructions either in the “read me” file for the device type or in the forum topic that discusses it. But just ask in the forum topic for the device type if you get confused, and someone will help you.
- CREATING YOUR OWN SMARTAPPS AND/OR DEVICE TYPES
SmartApps are written in groovy, a Java variant. On the generation 1 smart things hub, everything is run in the smartthings cloud. The new generation 2 SmartThings hub offers some local processing as well, although limited to the official smart lighting feature at present.
Here is the link to the developer documentation:
You can find more information and help on writing code in the Developers category of this community.
You will also find information and examples on writing custom code in the developers section of the smartthings website. This is also where you will find the link to the integrated development environment (IDE).
If you still have any questions about how to get SmartThings to do something specific, just ask in the SmartApp Ideas topic and someone will help you.
Also check out the official support section of the ST website. There’s a lot there, including a chat window in the Troubleshooting section for individual help: