Best Practice recommendation: ST, and other hub/devices with Alexa and/or Google Home

I have a rather complex or growing Smart Home setup. Just coming off Wink. I have other hubs and camera in my house. (i.e. Arlo hub, SmartThing, Phillip Hue, Ring, SmartBot hub, Wyze hubs and several Wemo and SmartLife, Lifx devices). Along with these, all integrated with Alexa and/or Google Home.

My question is, in assistant devices; such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Each of these products can be integrated using either their own vendor Skills or Link gateway. Or via SmartThing’s integration (if added to ST Hub). So, which is the best approach? Using ST hub integration or the individual product links?

Of course, one can use both but will end up with duplicate devices in Alexa and Google home as one will have the devices native support and ST hub integration. Which becomes a mess rapidly.

So here’s my debacle. Which is best; The SmartThing hub approach or the native support on each assistant devices? And why?

I truly will like to understand what’s best under these situations. I will also asume having ST and native support generates additional and probably unnecessary devices/network chatter.

1 Like

This has been discussed in the forums quite a bit, and different things work for different people, but many people prefer to use the device’s native skill integration for the voice assistants just because it usually has more features than the smartthings integration for that device will. Also, then the voice assistant will still work with that device even if smartthings is being flaky or is offline for maintenance or whatever.

The exception would be if you are using one of the advanced custom smartapps like EchoSistant or AskAlexa. Then you will use that skill and the setup will be different. Both of these can do much more than the official echo features, but are quite complex to setup and require an Amazon developers account. So I think most people don’t feel that they need the extra features these provide, but choice is good, and they are very popular with power users who feel frustrated by the limitations of basic echo. :sunglasses:

EchoSistant and Ask Alexa

1 Like

Choice is good and I suggest you read everything JD said. That said, here’s my personal approach…

Everything to ST First.

Why? Because I use webcore for almost ALL of my automation. It’s the engine behind making things work. Smartlighting and local device handlers where I can and webcore for everything else. With this approach I can do very advanced automation based on many conditions and states. With this configuration, including Ask Alexa, EchoSpeaks, GCal Search, and Rooms Manager the detail and options are awesome. In this context you then can use Google home or Alexa as a voice response trigger tool and they are basically interchangeable. My automations are also basically in one or maybe two places and I don’t have to wonder what triggered something.

If I relied on the native integration for each skill, I may have better features on each individual skill but they operate as individual devices instead of one cohesive system.

1 Like

Everything to ST First.

If someone is not using askAlexa or EchoSistant, but does have all of their devices added to smartthings and then separately added to echo through their native integrations, what would they lose when using Webcore? As far as I know webcore can still do everything you want it to do with those devices. But maybe I’m missing something. :sunglasses:

1 Like

If you’re hooked to Alexa or Google first usually you can’t control the device from ST. If you hook to GH or Alexa AND ST at the same time (which is entirely possible) then you create a horrible spaghetti mess of device naming.

Going to ST first and not hooking up the native skill unless you have to keeps all the interfaces clean and I can control everything in WebCoRE…

I link everything to ST first so everything is in webCoRE, the ST apps and ActionTiles. Then I link everything to Google Home that has native support which in my case is Arlo, Hue, Logitech Harmony, Denon HEOS and of course ST. When linking ST I exclude every device already linked with native support to avoid duplicates.

I find this works well and “hey Google turn on the garden lights” for example switches
on Hue Iris spots and string lights powered by Fibaro dimmers in ST.

Naming conventions for rooms and c. 180 devices keep me sane.


This is what I’m trying to get too. Avoiding the spaghetti mess! Lol

I do use webcore, but as I stated in my original post I’m just coming off Wink and still learning ST. The first little frustration for me with ST is the two apps (classic vs modern). The new app indeed has a better handle on automation but there’s still a lot of flexible settings that only works on the classic side. As for third party integration I’ve been using Alexa routines as it has nice control with ST native sensors and those that do not work I create virtual devices. So I’m using Alexa for most of my annoucement of my ST activities. Google Home just doesn’t offer that flexibility. And, while I do have an old Radiant R1 speaker. It was a pain to get it setup in ST (thanks to Google WiFi) and I actually do not like the TTS engine voice and tonality. Alexa is just more realistic.

I’m just trying to have a better understanding of what should I integrate via ST vs. Skills. But I’m learning rapidly that there’s no one best practices rule. It seems to be what works best for each case.



What I’ve learned is no matter how you go about it. Try to:

Avoid unnatural naming, and make sure whatever taxonomy you choose works. Personally I use (room name-whatever my wife calls this thing). It usually results in names like Kitchen overhead light or living room fan and my not necessarily be what I would have called something but I’ve never had her complain about what something is called nor has she had problems with voice commands.

Don’t unnecessarily complicate your system. Just because you CAN add something doesn’t mean you should. Half my devices have skills in Alexa or GH but I haven’t installed the skills because doing so creates another device that complicates the device naming… I have a Fireboard thermometer for my barrel smoker. It’s linked through Alexa and does what I need very well. I originally thought I needed an integration to ST. But thought why? What would it do for me and then didn’t do it. The corrilary has also happened… I have my Xbox in ST with a Harmony activity but then needed to enable the Alexa skill so I could login to the Xbox with voice. (and a weekend of comedic device renaming ensued)

Try to keep your automations in one place.
Some (like me) love webcore and others hate it. That’s fine. Just pick one format and stick with it unless you have a specific reason. Trust me. Nothing sucks worse than trying to figure out why a device is doing something when you have automation for 200 ‘things’ spread across seven automation platforms.

Don’t be tied to local, but plan for it.
No way around it, ST is a cloud system. Sometimes the internet is not available. If. You haven’t planned for the eventuality, one day you will get a phone call from your wife when she can’t disarm the security system… You don’t have to move off the platform to something like Hubitat to avoid these issues but it does take a lot of planning.

Avoid unnecessary hops…
With cloud to cloud integration possible you could setup really complex chains of things tied together with things like SharpTools or IFTTT… That’s great, just remember each integration has its own potential issues and difficulties troubleshooting. Reduce the number of hops to the absolute minimum to keep consistency.

Thats just a few, but I consider them every time I’m adding something new.


We are three roommates, and use echo groups to put the same device into different groups with different names. So we have one small room that one person calls the office, another person calls the den, and a third person calls the study. We just have three groups with those names and the same devices in it and everything works fine. :sunglasses:

1 Like

That’s very cool @JDRoberts. I’ve been wondering about how hard it is to setup multiple Amazon accounts and the voice profiles with ST. It’s on my list of things to setup, however helping me with my ‘smarthome crap’ is not high on her list of things to do, so…

I’ll probably get to it sometime after I add the solar panel to my backyard camera, and install the new DSC alarm panel with AlarmServer and replace the 2 GE switches that crapped out during my last lightning storm…

But first… I have a friend who likes to play with my setup when she comes over… I’m writing a piston that shuts off all my voice activation when she comes over. Priorities, yknow. :slight_smile:

This is all just with The vanilla echo set up. We just made multiple groups with different names and then put the same devices in each group. So that way everybody can use the name which is most natural to them.

Echo let you put the same device into multiple groups, which is how that works. I don’t think Google assistant does, it didn’t the last time I looked at it.

It’s also very useful if you want to have zones. So we might have one group called “kitchen“ and another group called “downstairs“ and we could put the same light in each group. :sunglasses:

Or if you want to have functional groups. I have a group called “bedtime“ which turns on one light in the hallway and one light in my bedroom so it creates a path for me. then I can turn just those lights off by saying “turn off bedtime.“

It just gives you more options. choice is good. :sunglasses:

1 Like