Buying First Hub 2021

Hello everyone!

I’m preparing to buy my first SmartThings Hub and unsure what is the best way to go considering the upcoming changes. I have used the app for some time as most devices in my home are Samsung. Currently I have a few smart home devices mostly Wyze and Echo. Been waiting to take this next step for awhile but I have also been watching the announcements so I have held off. It looks like it may still be some time before a new ST Hub come out, if there even is one so for now should I go with?

ST V3 Hub W/ seporate Mesh Router

Or

ST Wifi Mesh router/Hub combo.

Thanks

You will get a lot of separate opinions on this… Here’s my take.

Most WiFi router/access points generally last 3ish years before obsolescence forces new equipment.

IoT hubs on the other hand. 5+ years is not uncommon and its a massive pain to migrate between SmartThings hubs.

Given thise points, why would I want a combination device that obsolescence of one of the devices purposes force me to perform literally the most painful actions in SmartThings (migrating to a new hub)

Get a good quality router/Wifi AP… heck, go Wifi6 now at this point. And get a standard Aeotec / ST v3 hub.

2 Likes

Neither. :sunglasses:

Samsung has decided they no longer want to make smartthings branded Home automation Devices, so they are turning that over to partner companies. Samsung will continue to provide the app and the cloud platform.

You didn’t say what country you were in, but the new partner for both the United States and Europe is Aeotec. So that’s the hub you would get.

Here’s the announcement about the partnership strategy. The topic title is a clickable link.

Here’s the Amazon link for the US:

As far as Wi-Fi mesh, I agree with @nathancu , get a different brand of router. The smartthings brand is weird: if the Internet goes out, your local Wi-Fi goes out as well, which is not how most mesh routers work. Also, they have not updated the firmware on those as frequently as the other hubs, and since Aeotec has not announced that they are taking over those models, I’d be very concerned that they may be discontinued quite soon. They haven’t announced that, but with no future support path defined, I just wouldn’t take the risk.

1 Like

Thanks guys! @JDRoberts @nathancu

First off, I’m in the US. I had a feeling going with just the Hub and different Mesh was going to be the way to go but I having read conversations here for a bit now I figured it was worth asking you guys first, especially with the uncertainty of things. For my home I could probably get by with our Alexa devices but I want to fully learn about automations and figured ST would be my best opinion for it. Even if it dies off in 2 years it will still be worth the experience and knowledge I gain from it. You’ll probably see more of me as I learn.

Thanks again

1 Like

I’m not sure now would be the time to get into SmartThings

2 Likes

I’m with @mvevitsis on this.

If automating things is your main reason for adding a SmartThings hub, you’re going to be coming in right in the middle of a total recreation of Samsung’s entire backend. And, as @JDRoberts has pointed out, right after they’ve entirely abandoned the hardware side.

I bought a V2 hub about 3 years ago and started replacing most light switches with Z-wave devices. Until I hit serious problems with, probably, the SmartThings implementation of Z-wave. For about the last year I’ve started adding only Zigbee devices.

If I was starting from scratch now, I’d take a hard look at the Echo devices that provide a Zigbee hub and use Alexa routines for automation.

If you dig around here, you’ll find a lot of folks questioning the long term viability of Z-wave. Getting invested in a large number of Z-wave devices is probably not a good idea even if you do decide to get a SmartThings hub. Cost of devices will quickly grow so is harder on the budget when they need replacing.

2 Likes

@HalD ’s is one well reasoned possibility for the future.

There are two other alternatives. The first is that Amazon’s significant investment in zwave (that’s what the ring security system uses) and a very large number of long contract home security systems that use it for lighting management, including ADT and Vivint, are an indication that Zwave is likely to be around for a while. Both Z wave and zigbee have pros and cons, but some of Zwave’s advantages are that it doesn’t get knocked off line by Wi-Fi interference, it’s UL listed for security (Zigbee is not), and it has much longer range than zigbee.

Another hypothesis is that since Zwave already has “Zwave over IP” (Z/IP) as part of the standard even though no hub manufacturers have adopted it since beagleBone went out of business, they could probably quite easily fold themselves into project CHIP if that proved necessary for survival. nobody has said anything about that officially or publicly, but it’s a technical possibility.

At this point there’s no way to say whether one of those three options is more likely than the other two. Any of them could happen. Certainly going with @HalD’s idea is the safest, but I myself am leaning into the second these days, the idea that the protocol does have some specific advantages that are likely to keep it around for at least a few more years. But then I myself buy everything assuming a three-year replacement cycle, even the hub, so I may look at this differently than someone thinking longer-term than that. :thinking:

1 Like

This is definitely one good option. And I would throw in that an annual subscription to IFTTT’s pro level service would give you additional opportunities to learn complex Automations and even paying for IFTTT for two years would cost less than most hubs. :sunglasses:

There are several other alternatives that are more stable than smartthings right now. Hubitat arguably is, and is very similar in code capabilities to smartthings.

If you already have an iPhone, HomeKit is well worth looking at. The shortcuts feature supports quite complex Automations. And if you really want to jump in to the deep end, you can set up homebridge which allows you to combine a lot of otherwise not HomeKit compatible Devices in your HomeKit automations. And even without HomeBridge many devices support both Alexa and HomeKit integrations, including the low-cost meRoss and aqara brands, so you can use both Alexa and HomeKit with many models these days. That’s actually what I do in my own home for the majority of devices.

Home assistant is a free system which many people use, although you have to buy the hardware for it of course. But then you’re definitely deep into the technical side of automations, so it may not be what you’re looking for.

If your primary interest is to learn complex Automations without actually programming, I think I would keep what you have and see how many of your current devices if any will work with IFTTT, and if enough do, get the pro subscription… At least for six months or a year. After that, you will probably be in a better position to make a longer-term hub selection. And by that time, maybe smart things will be done with the migration to the new platform and to be more stable. We can hope. :relieved:

But there are many different ways to do this. Different ones work work for different people depending on exactly what you’re looking for. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

3 Likes

One more option I forgot, and this is embarrassing because it’s actually the one we now use at our house, is to run smartthings initially in a “hub optional“ configuration.

You don’t need a smartthings compatible hub unless you want to use zwave or zigbee devices connected directly to that hub. But there are many devices, typically Wi-Fi but some other protocols as well, which communicate with smartthings “cloud to cloud.“ This is actually how echo devices work with smartthings.

You can use the free Samsung smartthings app without needing to have a hub. You get access to all the same automation capabilities. (And, unfortunately, do suffer many of the same instabilities, although not all.)

There are lots of devices that integrate with both Alexa and smartthings.

So again, if your goal is just to learn more about using advanced Automations, you could do that without getting the hub right away. And you may find that some of the devices you already have have manufacturer-provided smartthings integrations already.

You do have to remember the first rule of home automation: “the model number matters.“ For example, you can download the smartthings app right away, tap the + in the upper right, choose “devices“ and see a list of brands that have smartthings integrations. However, just because you see a brand there doesn’t mean that every model they make has an integration. So you do have to do some additional research. But that might be a very good way to start and just see what you can do between smartthings and Alexa routines. A year ago I would’ve suggested also adding IFTTT, but now that they have gone to a paid subscription model, you might even want to postpone that.

So that’s just another option. I like Meross WiFi devices because they have models which work with homekit, smartthings, and Alexa all at the same time, which gives me a lot of flexibility. And I know that even if my more sophisticated Automations aren’t working because smartthings has a glitch, I will still have basic functionality through the other integrations.

So just one more possibility. Because smartthings is primarily a cloud-based system, the hub is really just a box of radios at present. ( they are promising more local operations in the future, but it’s not here yet.) So if you don’t have devices that need those particular radios, you may not need a hub at all. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

2 Likes

I didn’t know about Aqara devices. MeRoss do work very well (love the dual plugs and how it works with HomeKit and very cheap to boot).

1 Like

You can use an Aqara G2H camera as the HomeKit compatible base station, which uses homekit secure video, very nice. Each camera can support up to 64 additional Aqara Sensors and Devices.

https://www.aqara.com/en/g2h_camera_hub.html

It’s available in white only so far in the US, but also comes in some other colors in Europe and Asia. It’s not a tilt and pan camera, so for things like checking on the cat it’s not my favorite. But for a fixed position, it works fine, and the Zigbee sensors are excellent.

Price varies a lot even sold by Aqara direct through Amazon because they run promotions all the time. Right now it lists at $75, but is $10 off, and there’s another $10 coupon on the page, for example. we got one for about $50 and one for 55 I think.

They don’t work with smartthings, but they do work with homekit so again it just depends on what your own needs are.

2 Likes

Nice… a new thing to learn about! I have a lot of Wyze stuff (cams, contact sensors, etc.), but I don’t like how there isn’t any support for ST or Homekit, and there are limitations with Alexa support for them. I mainly use ST and Alexa routines for my smart home, but looking for more integration with Wyze or replace them altogether (which Aqara seems to be an interesting candidate).

1 Like

I was in your exact shoes about a month ago. I decided to take on making my house what I would say medium level of automation, especially with the devices. I am not a full blown technical person, developer or coder. So after reviewing the major players and despite the concerns regarding the future support and continued development (by someone/company) I decided to go with ST. I spent the past couple of weeks installing over 25 smart devices. I’ve had little issues with the devices integrating with ST and Alexa except for a couple not offering any native integration. If you are a non techie like me try to buy only devices that work with ST and Alexa because many do not and then you are forced to go through the learning curve of SmartApps if you want them integrated. I went with TP-Link Kasa for my wall switches and plugs (wifi), Sengled for bulbs (zigbee), ecobbe for my thermostat (wifi), Kwikset for my smart locks (zigbee), and 2 wifi devices that do not have native integration with ST or Alexa (myQ garage door and Orbit b-hyve for irrigation). I do plan on adding a few zwave devices soon as well. About a week ago I was quite frustrated with why everything quit working on the hub (decided to send it back and go with Hubitat, my second choice) but first called Samsung support and they immediately advised me of my rookie error, so I am proceeding with ST and just now researching the many resources and hopefully start learning on how to advance my next level of automation (beyond the simple process provided in the app/hub for supported devices) and adding devices that do not natively work with ST. I also second the comments regarding not installing a combined ST/router for all the reasons better stated than I can. I installed an eeros 3 node mesh as the first thing to establish a good network from which I could build from. For people like me this is certainly a journey, not a sprint to the destination :slight_smile:

3 Likes