Brand New - Recommendations?

Hey guys, I’m Shane. Brand new to the smart home revolution and plan on getting the SmartThings this Christmas. I’m starting from ground zero, with nothing smart in my house whatsoever, so I’m looking for recommendations and what YOU would do if you could start brand new. The only devices I have are the Blink cameras, two indoor and one outdoor.

My main focus is to automate my garage, it is just a standard Chamberlain Liftmaster opener so I will need to purchase either a relay or the GoControl Linear device. Kitchen lights will follow with a Dimmer Switch. I have played with IFTTT and not afraid to do If/Then programming as I am a mechanical engineer, but my software knowledge is limited.

So below are a few questions:

  • How would you automate your garage? Is GoControl the easiest setup?
  • Alexa or Google Home? I have seen more interest in Alexa, but seems like Google Home is starting to have more HA features? We have an original chrome cast, but mainly use a Fire Stick for Kodi/Prime Video
  • Best dimmer switch? Seems like most go for the GE Zwave?
  • I have seen a few posts on Blink and hope there is a way to help reduce all the outdoor notifications :). My wife and I currently use Life360 and IFTTT to turn the cameras on and off.

No pets and it is just me and my wife! Any input of cool ideas to get started on are always appreciated!

Thanks and hopefully this was posted in the correct sub-forum.

I’ve found Google is better at answering questions and Alexa is better at home automation. I really don’t need my HA interface to tell me who won the game last night. I want her to turn on lights correctly.


Welcome! :sunglasses: Sounds like a very exciting project. (I’ve moved this to the project section so you can get individualized responses based on your own needs and preferences.)

You’d probably enjoy reading some of the topics on the “get started” quick browse list in the project reports section of the community-created wiki. That has topics like “top 10 things to do with SmartThings,” “What device should I buy next?,” “What are you using IFTTT for?” And the device class features FAQ: “Bulbs, Switches, and Sensors, oh, my…what to buy.”

You’ll find the discussion of light switches starts around post 40 in the device class features FAQ.

As far as the GE switches, they are a good budget switch and popular because of the price, but not the best engineered switches available. But again, you’ll find the details in the device class features FAQ.

You might also enjoy the topics on the “impress your friends” list – – a lot of very creative stuff there. :wink: :tada:

Welcome again!

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Regarding Amazon echo and google home, both are good devices and different people will prefer each. See the following FAQ (this is a clickable link)

This is extremely accurate.