Inexperience with SmartThings

Just bought the hub and finished getting most of my connected switches and lights installed and working. So far for me the hub has been fine and the community/openness has been great. I had the Wink and returned it as I like my Belkin light switches and there was no support for them with Wink and I didn’t want to use several different apps to control the different devices. Other than that the Wink worked fine for my setup.

Now the problem I’m having is how the app is difficult for my wife to use. I can already hear the “is this stuff really necessary” when I put the app on her phone and show her how to use it. She liked the wink app as it was very easy to use. Open the app, click a button to turn on/off a group of lights, slide your finger around the button to dim all the lights, etc. It was easy and intuitive for the not so tech minded. It made sense and all the functions were right there at your fingertips. You never needed to do more than tap to turn on/off or slide to dim.

Now for the SmartThings app it seems more cluttered and unintuitive. The dimming functions are poorly thought out in my opinion. Is there any way to get the lights grouped on a shortcut to dim together without having to go into “things” and click the tiny settings icon on the tile then slide the dimmer? The scenario I have is 3 GE Link Bulbs in the bedroom, one on each nightstand and one in a floor lamp. I have grouped all these bulbs into “Bedroom” and when you goto “Lights and Switches” they turn on and off easy and intuitively. Now to dim I have to try to explain to her that she needs to go into “Things,” click Bedroom, then little click the settings gear icon for the master bulb, and finally move the slider back and forth. Seems excessive… Is there any way to dim these three bulbs from the lights and switches dashboard that’s more intuitive and touchscreen friendly?


Use the Action Dashboard for your wife. That is what I do. Search for the thread and welcome to the jungle!


Is that the web based dashboard?

I believe he was referring to this. It’s an user submitted app :smile:, it’s pretty awesome to use.

Welcome to the community and SmartThings! :slight_smile:


Dang, April is on top of it. I would agree that ActiON Dashboard is an easier way to access everything on a single page. Easy to setup and Alex responds really quickly to questions.

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I’d also recommend the Action Dashboard works on any device, yes it’s a webpage. You can authorize specific devices that they’d care about controlling or viewing the status.

If she has Android you could also use SharpTools Android App by @joshua_lyon it’s basic features will allow you to authorize devices for control and viewing. The app is much quicker and cleaner than the SmartThings app.

My piece of advice about Smart Homes and family, solve problems for them with your install and they will be more open to change. These may be problems they don’t even know exist. (mail, laundry notification etc.)

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The reason I started down this wormhole of connected devices/smart homes was because she came home to the garage being open twice while I was out of town. She swears she closed it but we’ve never had an issue with it before and I think it was just absent mindedness and she forgot to close it or possibly snow got underneath the door and it triggered the safety function but either way she didn’t like coming home at night to a house with the garage door wide open. I bought the Chamberlain IQ garage door thing. Then of course I wondered what other connected devices for the home I could get into and so it begins…

Also any SmartApps that are a must have for a new guy? I already have tinkered with the DimWithMe app and I changed my GE Link Bulbs to the My GE Link Bulbs V2 device type.

Also what are virtual dimmers and switches and how do they integrate into the app and the home setup?

This is such a loaded question and varies so much for each person. I’d say to read through the community some. Also try to think of problems you may have like your garage door and I can almost guarantee you’ll find an answer to solving them in the community. For me, it’s auto locking and unlocking (with notifications for security reasons), turning off lights where there is no activity in a room, thermostat programing based on presence, time of day and of course room temperatures.

Water leak worries, movement of certain items (guns, meds, safes etc), people coming and going, audible notifications (sono’s vlc etc), these are some popular community things I read about often.

Virtual or Simiulated devices are devices that generally connect to multiple devices or SmartApps to solve a problem.

An example would be lets say you have multiple lights in a room on different switches and you want to shut them all off at once. You could create a Virtual Switch named XXX Room, then use a SmartApp like the big switch to tie that one virtual switch to all those lights so you could turn them all on or off at the same time. The same could be done with multiple dimmer switches that are in one area. I should note there are other ways to accomplish this too.

Another example would be lets say you have multiple temperature sensors in one part of your house, lets say upstairs. You could have a virtual temperature sensors that grabs all of those temperatures and shows you their average.


Some members of my household do not even carry smart phones. Try and make the house as reactive as possible. Certain things like changing light colors are going to require some kind of control device, but most of the things should just happen automatically. Pulling out your phone just to turn on a light is the opposite of user friendly and way more cumbersome than just hitting the switch.

All of the common areas of my house are controlled by motion sensors. The living area and all bedrooms have tablets mounted on the walls to control the various aspect of each space. In the common areas I try and keep the tech as invisible as I possibly can.

Bathrooms and bedrooms are the places where you want control. If you want to infuriate the members of your household, have the lights turn off while they are taking a shower, or have them come on automatically when they roll over in bed.


It is this specific reason that I lean towards switches instead of wireless lights. We often have lots of people over. They (and my wife) need an “interface” to interact with things. The interface I give them is a combination of motion/door sensors and zwave switches. Some rooms light up when you go into them (motion), for example. Sometimes we want to dim the lights a bit (zwave switch) - instead of someone having to get me or my wife to turn them down with the app.

Basically, I decided I did not want us to have to use our phones for everything in the house.

Action Dashboard is great. I don’t have a tablet mounted yet, but I may. One really great thing about it is you can have as many instances (dashboards) as you want. So, you can have a “simple one” and a “more complex one”…the sky’s the limit on how you could arrange it.


I am quadriparetic, wheelchair dependent without much hand function. I have personal aides who come from an agency. Usually they have a regular schedule, but sometimes a substitute is sent. Many don’t have smartphones, even if I wanted to give them access. So between that group and my roommate’s friends, I need obvious, non app device controllers at least for light switches.

There’s some discussion of control devices other than phones here:

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I’ve certainly been learning this the past few months. Almost everything that I have is now controlled by a switch except for 3 table lamps.

This probably isn’t the place to discuss electrical issues but I’m having trouble getting a dimmer put into my living room’s fan fixture. Currently have a “dumb” Lutron dimmer on it that works fine but twice I’ve tried to put a smart switch/dimmer in it’s place and it won’t work. I returned the first one thinking it was defective but since the second one doesn’t work I’m guessing something is wrong with the neutral wire or there is something screwing it up due to the fan and the lights draw power from the same source and it’s interconnected.