Is a smartthings hub really needed?

Hello everyone,

I ordered a smartthings hub (v3) few days back which is still in transit. Meanwhile I started setting up everything (smartthings app, smartapps, github integration, webcore, automation, ST community installer, etc.). I have never owned a smartthings hub before.

I was able to add some unsupported devices using IFTTT. I also setup some basic automation (mainly based on time) and they are working fine. I don’t have any zigbee or zwave sensors as of now.

I started to think, do we really need a hub if so much can be achieved without a hub? What is the benefit of having a hub? Also, I am curious to know where do smartapps get installed - server or hub? Also, do I need to transfer everything that I created to the hub when I receive it? If yes, then will it break the existing integrations and do we have an easy way to do it?

I know some of these questions are really dumb, I tried to search about these, but didn’t receive any definitive answers. Please help me with these questions, thanks a lot in advance!

If you ever plan on adding any hub connected device like a zwave or zigbee sensor/switch, then you will absolutely need a hub.

If you want to have local control over devices, like those zwave/zigbee devices, you’ll need a hub, but only if the device handlers for those and smartapps support local execution.

Most all are cloud, especially custom ones. The exception is Smart Lighting by ST, but to leverage local execution every device must support local execution, and that still doesn’t mean it will still work.


Hope that helps a little, and I’m sure others will chime it too.

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SmartThings is a cloud based system and it is perfectly feasible to operate it without a hub if you use it with devices that can connect directly to the SmartThings cloud over the internet, or connect other cloud based systems to it, as you have found.

When you may need a hub is if you want to connect devices that use ‘personal area network’ protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave, and also some wi-fi/ethernet devices that don’t connect to a cloud service. The hub does also have bluetooth and USB capability but that has never been enabled. So the hub essentially acts as a bridge to the SmartThings cloud.

The hub does have the capability for some local processing but this is limited. Basically the firmware includes some of the stock device handlers, and can implement the rules used in the Smart Lighting app, but that is pretty much it. There are moves to increase its capabilities in this area but this will largely be achieved by implementing a ‘Rules API’, which already exists in embryonic form in the cloud.

If you do get a hub, things will come out in the wash without you having to do anything in particular. Things that can be run on the hub, will be.

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See the first post here which explains when/where you need a hub and how SmartThings works: