Is my understanding of SmartThings correct here?

I’m looking to get more into home automation past google home, hue and a few custom embedded devices I have lying around the house. I’m looking for a central device to manage all this and to allow me to buy cheap generic sensors that’ll all play nicely together.

It seems I can either use something like home assistant with a zigbee controller but I’d rather not spend the time required in upkeep and configuration of the software (I’ve tried it a fair bit but just don’t like it) or I can buy something like SmartThings which from what I’ve understood will do what I want.

I think SmartThings will do everything below based on my research but if someone could just confirm I’m correct in thinking all this that would be great!

  1. Can I just buy any generic ZigBee device and pair it? For example could I get a cheap door sensor from AliExpress and have the same functionality as the much more expensive Samsung door sensor? From what I understand it needs a handler but there seems to be plenty out there for cheaper devices?

  2. Is it possible to link up something like the ikea Tradfri dimmer switch to trigger a local API call easily enough from SmartThings? I have my blinds connected to a micro-controller that’s running a small API. It would be good to send commands to that via a cheap remote.

  3. Can you use Google home to trigger internal automations? For example could I ask google to trigger an automation that will call a local API on my network? At the moment I have IFTTT doing it but it does mean I need to open a port on my router to the device as google/ifttt can’t resolve it locally after google has processed the command in the cloud. It also means I’m unable to chain together a few actions from the one command easily.

Sorry if these are obvious but I don’t want to end up with another device in the draw! Thanks.

Hi @Adam93, I don’t know of anything in the DIY space that’s a one stop shop, so based on your 3 items I’d level set your expectations. SmartThings can/may do everything you want, but the real answer is “it depends”. You should expect that at some point you’ll have to get involved with custom handlers or SmartApps, depending upon how complicated you get.

It depends. Some newer Zigbee 3.0 devices will join, but more than likely you will need to change the DTH to one of the stock handlers afterwards, but that doesn’t mean all the capabilities of the device will be available.

Also, some devices are just not as plug and play as they market themselves to be. Been there, done that.

I’ve purchased some of the sensors you can find on Aliexpress and Gearbest, like the latest Xiaomi Mijia Smart Light Sensor, but I’ve had to put together my own handler for that device. All I can say is you get what you pay for, so be careful, and keep an eye on Amazon for really great deals on sensors. I find a lot that way, including ST sensors.

Again, that depends. IKEA’s stuff works well, and works with SmartApps and automations within ST. If you’ve written a SmartApp to connect to your API, or you’re using a Connected Service built by a vendor/company, then you shouldn’t have an issue. If not, you’ll need to write something that will allow ST to work with your API.

I don’t have Google, but I have Alexa triggering tons of ST devices and Scenes (not automations), as well as using ST devices in Alexa Routines. I have tried Google once, so I’m sure it does the same from what little I’ve done with it.

Again as above regarding your API, it depends.

The short answer to all three of your questions is no. I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding as to what Samsung smartthings platform is. It is not A processor that allows you to make local calls and upload your own code onto that processor.

Instead, smartthings is still mostly a cloud-based system. The optional hub is basically a plastic box containing a zigbee radio running the zigbee 1.2 HA profile ( and in newer models, that also runs the zigbee 3.0 profile but without touchlink capability), A zwave plus radio, an ethernet connector, a Wi-Fi radio in some models, and a low power CPU capable of running some local automations which are created by Samsung, downloaded from the cloud, and distributed to all customers.

As of this writing, all custom code runs in the cloud. There is no way to send local commands to anything except via the stock code for the specific devices that Samsung has approved for use by their customers.

So none of your three scenarios will work as you describe them. :disappointed_relieved:

If you are willing to use webhooks instead of local calls, you can create cloud to cloud integrations which would have a similar outcome in all three cases but would have to go first to the smartthings cloud then to whatever webserver you were using to receive the webhook and then to your local device. But this adds both complexity and some latency.

If you are interested in discussing this further, we can, but I didn’t know if that met your requirements as among other things it does require having good Internet connection 24/7.

If you want to look for some alternatives, which do run locally, I would look at both Hubitat and home assistant. Both are a better match to what you’ve described in your first post.

Those cheap zigbee devices

One more point… Some of those cheap Zigbee devices will work with smartthings and some won’t. And some will work but be problematic. (The first rule of home automation: “the model number matters.“ :wink: )

See the following FAQs to explain. (The topic titles are clickable links.)


You can write custom code for this, but it won’t run locally at the present time. They’ve been promising more local processing since 2015, but so far what has been delivered will not meet the scenarios described in the OP’s first post. :disappointed_relieved:.

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Google home cannot run anything locally at the present time. And also they are significantly behind Amazon in terms of routines options.

Alexa has a very limited amount of local processing features, but it only applies to Zigbee devices using an Alexa device as the primary Zigbee coordinator.

At present all google home and echo integrations with smartthings are a cloud to cloud integration. Nothing local. So it would be essentially the same as using Ifttt, although you could create a chain of multiple commands more easily with SmartThings in the mix.

Yeah, I didn’t pick up the local requirements. That always gets past me since it’s not on my radar anymore.

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Big thanks both for your comprehensive replies! It doesn’t quite feel like ST is quite where I need to be at the moment.

I thought the hub brought a bit more local processing but it does sound like it’s mainly just the addition of the antenna that it’s used for… I was hoping something “simple” like “If I click this Zigbee button, send a basic PUT request to this internal URL” although I understand that’s maybe not that common a use-case. I also have a couple of devices pushing to a local MQTT broker running on a Pi that I’m guessing ST also can’t use (home assistant is quite happily just sat watching it atm).

Perhaps my best bet for the time being is to buy a Zigbee dongle for my raspberry pi and just try and get on with home assistant if they’re both going to need quite a bit of configuration, at least it sounds like I’ll have a little more flexibility for my needs with home assistant (Pi already running 24/7).

Ah I was hoping I’d ask Google to trigger a ST automation that would then come back to the hub and run locally (avoids me port forwarding a lot of individual devices, and hoped would be more secure) but it seems my understanding is off there sadly.