Confused about SmartThings Hub

I am a N00B when it comes to Home Automation but pretty experienced in Home Theater.

I have a Google Nest Mini and a Harmony Elite and Hub on the way. I know that between these two, you can give voice commands to Start an Activity on the Harmony Hub such as “Watch Cable” or “Watch A Blu-Ray”.

I am interested in Phillip’s Hue lights and integrating it into my Harmony by having them dim when I start “Watch A Blu-Ray” and back on when I shut it off. From my understanding, with a Hue Hub and bulbs, you can do that without having to purchase a SmartThings Hub?

If so, then what exactly would a SmartThings Hub be used for? Can you do triggers and “if this than that” on google nest with devices that are google nest compatible?

I’m just confused as to exactly what would the SmartThings Hub be used for in a home with all Google Compatible devices.

I am asking because out of ignorance, I ordered a 3rd gen SmartThings Hub, but then realized I may not need it with the Harmony and Google.

I do want to further automate in the future.

It’s a very good question, and the answer at this point is that if you use smartthings you are able to create much more complex rules than you can with the other systems you described. And you can also add Zigbee and Z wave devices if you were interested in that.

But if the combination that you have does everything you want it to, there’s no reason to add a smartthings hub.

See the following FAQ for more details. (The topic title is a clickable link)


I see. That post helped me out a lot, and thank you. It looks like I wont need it because Harmony Hub, google and Hue lights all work together seamlessly.

But since I ordered SmartThings anyway…maybe I can integrate it somehow. Like maybe when I’m close to home, turn the hall light and t.v. on

I guess the only limit would be what I can think of huh

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SmartThings can use the hub, but SmartThings is not the hub. I say this because the hub is primarily the tool used to allow SmartThings to control Zigbee and ZWave devices in your home. If you dont have any of those but still want to use the automations etc. , you can absolutely use SmartThings without a hub. The scenario you describe integration between cloud services such as Google, and Harmony could be setup with SmartThings even if you dont have a hub.

Now, If you want to add a ZWave or Zigbee smart switch, or bulb etc… Then the hub becomes required.

Does that help?

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There’s a local integration available for the hue bridge and a smartthings hub. :sunglasses:

I’m not sure about harmony, it’s gone back-and-forth a couple of times.

The Google integration is cloud to cloud.

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I don’t believe you can add Harmony hub to ST at this time

No local integration for the Harmony hub, but if you used the KuKu Harmony, it would connect tonthe Harmony hub using REST calls to the Harmony hub in developer mode. That said its a very advanced and complex setup and not typically something I see as a first attwmpt at integration.

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You can @jkp but you have to do it from the Harmony side. It adds the Groovy smartapp when you set it up from Harmony, then you gonintonthe smartapp and setul the activities…

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Ah, I see. So any Zigby or Zwave devices do not need a hub if I have a SmartThings hub, because the ST hub can natively control them?
Is that correct?

Most. There are exceptions to every rule of course… But generally speaking yes, any industry standard Zigbee or ZWave device. Some devices may require custom code to make them work properly but you’re heading down the right idea.

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Zigbee has multiple profiles and only some of them will work with smartthings. Short answer is those using the zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2), or the newer Zigbee 3.0 profile. (But not devices which require “touch link commissioning“ or “Zigbee green power” neither of which are supported by the smartthings hub.)

See the profiles FAQ (the topic title is a clickable link)

Hue devices are Zigbee 3.0, but should still be used with the hue bridge.

FAQ: Do I need the Hue Bridge/Hub to Use a Hue Bulb with SmartThings?

If a zwave or zigbee device does work with smartthings, then you will not usually use its own hub/gateway. (Again, Hue is an exception because technically it’s a bridge, not a hub. It forms its own mini Zigbee network and then communicates with other platforms, like smartthings, by LAN or cloud to cloud.) so for example if you get IKEA Tradfri Zigbee Devices, you would connect them directly to a smartthings hub rather than using the IKEA Gateway. The same with Xioami zigbee devices.

Let’s see, what else. :thinking:

Z wave “local scene” controllers will not work well with smartthings. There aren’t too many of these around anymore, it’s an older technology. Z wave “central scene“ controllers will probably work with smartthings, but may need custom code.

Most Z wave devices will work at the “basic“ level for on/off/Dim, but may require custom code for more advanced features which are an optional part of the specification.

One more thing: smartthings has never been very good at “multi endpoint“ Devices, whether they are Z wave or zigbee. So if you are looking at multi button devices, always check the forums first to make sure that particular device works unless the manufacturer has specified that the device works with smartthings.

To be honest, it pretty much all comes down to the first rule of home automation: “the model number matters.“

While the smartthings hub has both a zwave radio and a zigbee radio, that doesn’t mean it will work out of the box with every Z wave device or every zigbee device, or that it will have access to all the features of those devices.


So, this may be a bit of a stretch…

But if I purchased a compatible motion sensor, would I be able to program smartthings to activate google home and give a verbal weather report when I walk by the sensor on only work days marked on my google calendar during specific times (when I wake up normally to get ready)?

That scenario would require some custom code including the Gcal Search community smartapp (to read the Google calendar) but yes, its do-able. Not easy, but doable

That’s probably way too advanced for me at this step.

What if I minus the calendar part and just do it if the motion sensor detects motion on any day between certain times, have google give a weather report.

Would I be able to do that on ST without all the extra stuff? Lol

I will defer to someone else on googles capability to trigger a weather report based on seeing a motion sensor (you would use a Google routine for that, unsure im an Amazon person) but the ability to report a motiom event from st to Google is easy.

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Amazon echo is much more advanced in the features that its routines offer than Google is, so far. I expect google will catch up eventually, but they are definitely not there yet.

So it’s relatively easy to set things up so that you can make echo devices themselves do quite a few different things. Including speak a weather report, make a custom announcement, Ring a chime or play a barking dog audio, a whole bunch of other things. This is done through “Alexa routines,“ (not smartthings routines).

Google so far has not opened up the Google assistant devices to similar third-party controls.

Google assistant routines can do most of the same things as the “action“ In an “If This, then that“ format. The problem comes with the “if,” or “trigger.” So far, you can only trigger google assistant routines by speaking a custom phrase or from a scheduled time of day.

In contrast, Alexa

What is a trigger? A trigger is the event which makes the Routine start. It can be a voice command, an alarm, a scheduled time, smart home device interaction, geolocation, or Alexa Guard. This is the event Alexa needs to detect to know to start your Routine.
What is an action? An action is the thing you want Alexa to do. It can be almost anything you can do with Alexa using your voice like asking for the weather, playing the news, controlling compatible smart home devices, reading out your calendar, checking your emails, making a call - you’re only limited by our imagination.
What is a custom action? Custom actions let you type in anything you can normally say to Alexa as an action in a Routine. Custom actions need to be the last action in your Routine. Learn more about Custom Actions.

So it’s easy to set up an Alexa routine which is triggered by a motion sensor. But right now there is no official way to do that with a Google assistant routine.

There are some workarounds you can try, but they still don’t offer as many features and they require all of that additional setup you wanted to avoid.

Again, though, it does seem likely that Google will add more kinds of triggers eventually.


So with Alexa and SmartThings, I would be able to have Alexa give a weather report when I pass by a motion sensor only during times created by events in a calandar?

Yes, but the calendar part would require using Webcore or some other complex rules support.

If you just want to put it in certain time windows on a regular schedule, you can do that with the official features.

In other words, it’s easy to have it do it only Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 AM. But if you want it based on specific calendar events, you’d have to add in the additional coding.


Okay, I see. I definitely dont want to do any coding whatsoever. So theres no device I can purchase to make this integrate?

What about ifttt…I guess that’s the only option huh?

The way you describe it - not really.

The problem you’re running into is there is no single service that has all of the capability. And because no one automation fits the needs of all users, the services that do have the capability don’t even TRY to solve it for you - they just provide the user the tools to build the automations they want. (People don’t realize no matter how cool Home Automation is - it’s still in its infancy. You will find more you CAN’T do without jumping hoops than things you can do natively - that goes for all platforms.)

The part that causes custom code is that part that says, OK, I just got a motion alert. Should I let Alexa / Google know? Let me look at this calendar and find out. ok yeah I should -trigger alert-

  • Google has the calendar - great. Voice response yeah - but voice response based on calendar doesnt exist and it can’t (generally) connect the devices natively unless they’re wifi direct connect devices. if they could do the devices, they still don’t have the advanced logic capacity so you’re stuck there.
  • SmartThings could be the interconnect for the device, and has the logic capability - with custom code but does not have a voice engine
  • Alexa or Google could be the voice interface, we’ve already covered Google - but Alexa like Google doesn’t have advanced logic in its routines. I can trigger weather based on a sensor I can even limit it for time as JD said - but no conditional logic. you need something else for that.
  • You need a platform for the ‘brains’ something that can provide an advanced rules / logic engine. (Which your ask is not trivial, btw)

Google / Alexa simply don’t have the logic capability right now to make those conditional choices. They are simply voice input, and voice output based on simple triggers. and very basic conditions. So no matter which way you look at this, or what platform you choose to drive the logic portion of this, be it SmartThings, Home Assistant, Hubitat or anything - you’re writing some kind of automation to make that determination.

Additional unsolicited advice:
People love to play around with triggered voice. It gets REALLY old very quick. The novelty will wear off in a couple weeks, then it turns into annoyance. When I was new at it, I literally spent DAYS going through various things to make Alexa ‘speak’ when various items happened in my home. It lasted a month and I was told by my spouse in no uncertain terms it all needed to come out… I didn’t mind because by then I was tired of doors and windows and things causing Alexa to say stuff… The only announcements that remain in my system are an announcement if someone’s on my front porch at night or if the garage doors are open after dark. So if you were to ask me how I would do it - my VERY FIRST question is why are we doing this and is it really necessary?

So, lets assume it is - the easiest way for me to do it right now: (Don’t worry about the how - these are just the big blocks)

  1. SmartThings Virtual Switch - let’s call it weather announce.
  2. Alexa Routine to speak weather to my chosen device when the virtual switch is ‘on’
  3. Google Calendar
  4. My favorite motion sensor in SmartThings
  5. The GCalSearch SmartApp configured to read your google calendar for an appointment named (insert name here)
  6. SmartTHings Automation to turn on the weather announce virtual switch if motion is detected and the GCal Search virtual device created in step 5 are both on at the same time.
  7. SmartThings Automation to turn off the weather announce virtual switch after it is turned on.