Just Starting: advice needed

Hi all,

I am looking to get into the home automation and have been holding off because it seems really hard to break into it. So much information and options, that it seems overwhelming.

Anyway, I was thinking I wanted to start with Thermostat and Front Door lock.

My main concerns are:
One phone app that runs everything. I guess its ok if not every feature is available for every device, but I dont want 4 different apps on my phone. I just want one. This is what brought be to SmartThings is the app. So I need confirmation that one app can do it all.

I have amazon alexa and it would be nice if all the capability was available via Alexa. This means I can tell Alexa to turn up the heat or lock the door. Shouldnt matter if I am standing in kitchen or using my alexa mobile app.

Be able to add things as I go. I already use ADT for security, but willing to move away from it as this grows. SmartThings seems to have a great array of items available, so this also seems like a plus.

Now… as I have read, it seems the ecobee 3 lite is good thermostat choice, and I have yet to research door locks. Any insight to any of this would be helpful.

Thanks all…

PS. I am guessing the "latest’ hub is also needed?

Welcome! :sunglasses: very smart to do your research first.

First things first: I am assuming since you said you have ADT for security that you are in the US, but could you please confirm that? This is an international forum, and the devices and features available do vary somewhat by region.

Second, unfortunately it’s just not possible to have only one app on your phone unless you choose a single platform which has a restricted list of devices. In most cases, you will be setting up the device for the very first time using the manufacturers app. After that, you will use the smartthings app to add it to your SmartThings account. From then on, if you want you will probably be able to use only the smartthings app and the Alexa app in combination to set up your rules and do every day actions. But you still have to have the other apps. The other apps are also Usually how you will get updates to the individual devices.

While it’s true that this can lead to having a lot of different home automation apps on your phone (I have 21 :scream:) you can stick them all in one folder called “home automation“ and then leave the smartthings app separate for quick access.

So just wanted to be clear that there’s no way at present to get around having the manufacturer’s app for most devices unless you buy an all in one restricted system so you only use the devices that come with that system.

What smartthings is good for is allowing you access to devices from many different manufacturers for every day control through a single app. But the other apps will still be on your phone somewhere.

As far as the “latest hub,“ as of mid 2019 smartthings is now a “hub optional“ system and if you stick to cloud cloud integrations and some Wi-Fi devices you won’t need a hub at all. That’s typically someone who has a fancy expensive Samsung television or smart appliance and a Phillips hue bridge for lights. But you can add more to it than that. Smartthings themselves just introduced a Wi-Fi camera and plug in pocket socket and light bulb which will work hub optional.

If you get a lock which communicates from a Wi-Fi bridge you could use that and the ecobee (which is a cloud to cloud integration) without needing any ST hub at all. But if you do need a hub yes, you should get the newest one.

The device classes which are normally missing from a hub optional configuration are battery powered sensors, whether they are open/close sensors or motion sensors or standalone humidity sensors. Wi-Fi just uses too much power to be a good match to most small battery operated devices, so those typically Use Communication protocols that need a hub.

This is great information, I appreciate your time to type it up. It clarifies a lot, but not quite sure I follow you on the hub vs non-hub.

The term “WiFi bridge” is new to me. Maybe best to just have a few examples.

ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat, 2nd Gen, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06W56TBLN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_ZCs5Db378N8Z9

Kwikset 99100-078 SmartCode 910 Traditional Smart Keypad Electronic Deadbolt Door Lock with SmartKey Security and Z-Wave Plus, Satin Nickel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F3FBRXB/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_oFs5Db11BNJ5E

Do these require a hub? And how can I tell by researching which need a hub and which can do without?

Also, assuming all these will work in smart things app.

If the lock uses zwave or zigbee, it needs a hub.

Hub is a physical device that sits in your home and contains radios that are used to communicate directly with other home automation devices in your home like sensors and light switches. The hub also does network management functions, but those will probably be invisible to you. The hub itself will typically have a way of communicating with the Internet so it can reach its own cloud for additional functions. This is true of the smartthings hub.

In a cloud to cloud integration, such as the ecobee thermostat, the end device also has a way of getting to the Internet, typically through Wi-Fi. So the end device talks to its own cloud, That cloud sends a message via Internet to the smartthings cloud, and the smartthings cloud talks to your smartthings hub. And vice a versa. Your smartthings hub talks to the smartthings cloud over the Internet, The smartthings cloud sends a message to the ecobee cloud, The ecobee cloud sends a message to the thermostat at your house. :fire::snowflake:

In a hub optional configuration, you don’t have a smartthings hub. All you have is the app on your phone. The smartthings app talks to the smartthings cloud. The smartthings cloud then uses the Internet to send a message to individual devices at your house or over to the other devices cloud as in the cloud to cloud integration. This configuration is most common for someone who has one of the fancy smart appliances or televisions from Samsung and just wants to add a camera or some lights. They don’t need a hub.

Did that help?

Note that even with zigbee and z wave devices, most smartthings messages have a cloud component. They didn’t have to design it that way, but they did.

p.s. I don’t type, I voice, but that’s another conversation. :wink:

Also, on locks with bridges, see if this helps:

Thanks again…

I have read that, and a few others that were linked.

Feeling like a hub is the way to go, so I can expand easier.

Guess just need to decide on which lock to get now :slight_smile: Thanks again for all the help.

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