New to Smartthings - how to automate?

Hi all,

I am new to Smartthings and got the Hub and 2 multi- sensors and two outlets. I got it because Amazon was having a sale and I want to automate a few things in the house, but don’t know where to start.

So far the multi sensor are being used and from reading this forum I was able to add the sonos to play a siren when the door opens with the sensor installed.

I want to be able to control my lights in the kitchen, foyer, living room and bedrooms. Using the outlet feels like a waste for a lamp and I am thinking of returning them, unless you guys can tell me how to make the best use of it.

I also bought google home and want o be able to voice control the lights to turn on or off. I don’t have dimmers, but but would also like to dim the lights in certain rooms.

How can I do all this and also what else do I need to buy? I have seen a few videos on youtube where they even turn the tv on? how?

Do I have to buy Philips hue bulbs, which may be expensive for me to replace all the recess lights.

I would also like to set up a camera to view the outside and monitor inside as well, would like something can record locally and not have to pay for cloud service and be able to watch live stream of the video to check on pets etc.

Looking for suggestion from owners who currently have similar setup.

To save me searching the forum how did you incorporate a siren into Sonos?

You go to marketplace and then music and sounds and select speaker notify with sounds. You can select the built in sounds from there.

Re the bulbs, if you don’t want to change your switches, you could get smart bulbs instead. I have cree bulbs (the 5000k version as I prefer white light) which costs about $14.50 each and are dimmable using the smartthings app and should be via Google home as well and they connect directly to the smartthings hub. You will need to leave your switches on and just control them via the app or Google home though unless you get smart buttons or a smart remote like a minimote to control them. They work great for what they are but ultimately changing your switches are a better bet and more convenient.

Not to threadjack but do you have a model # for those cree bulbs??? I can’t find them. I like the white lights also. Do you know if they can be programmed to come on slowly? For example, in the morning so you can kind of “wake up” to them.

Cree BA19-08050OMF-12CE26-1C100 Connected 60W Equivalent Daylight (5000K)
A19 Dimmable LED Light Bulb

Yes it can work with gentle wakeup to fade on though I find 1% brightness
to not be as dim as I’d like but it fades up to 100% nicely.

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thank you. I appreciate it.

Searching and reading a few posts here, it looks like the Hue gets recommended more than anything else, however, its very pricey.

I would need 1 foyer light, 1 living room light, 2 bedroom light, and 9 recess lights in the kitchen, and thinking of getting some strip lights for under the cabinet.

Giving all this, do you still suggest cree or osrom or should I slowly just get the hue? Can the hue be connected to the Google home for voice command. I seriously don’t want to use my app, just want voice control and also when I leave home or come home, want the lights to be turned on automatically.

Also I see the hue 2 gen on sale, should I get the 2nd gen or the 3rd gen if I do decide to go with the hue?

To turn the TV on, most people use the Logitech Harmony hub. It’s typically on sale for around $130. The harmony by itself is a universal remote and it happens to be one that smartthings can talk to.

As far as lights, you don’t need to replace all the bulbs, you can just replace the switch in many cases. A typical smart switch costs between $35 and $75 depending on the features it has. A typical white smart bulb costs $15 and a typical multicolor bulb costs about $60. So it just depends on each application as to which one is more cost-effective. At my house, we use some switches, and some smart bulbs, just depending on the specific use case.

You might want to take a look at the “get started” quick browse list in the community – created wiki. It has links to topics like “the 10 best things to do with home automation” and “what device should I buy next?” That might give you some good ideas. :sunglasses:

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If you have a not so technology inclined significant other, I would highly recommend getting smart switches instead of bulbs for your ceiling lights. This one is popular and currently on sale for Black Friday

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JDRoberts, so I can install the smart switch for the kitchen and control the recess lights without changing the bulbs with ST and google home? that would be ideal for the kitchen, can it also be programmed to turn on an doff when I enter or leave the house?

prjct92eh2 - thanks for the GE smart dimmer recommendation and link, how easy is it to install this. I am not very hand and worry that I may mess things up, haha, significant other would not like to control lights with apps etc, a physical switch would be great.

BTW, there are many of them listed , which one should I get?

I just added a new welcome FAQ… It has links that will answer many of your questions, including the one about which switches to consider. :sunglasses: ( This is a clickable link)

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Difficulty of installation…it depends :slight_smile: If you have an older house without neutral wires, it’s impossible without running new wire. Also, 3-way switches are more difficult (if you have 2 switches that control the same set of lights). If you live in a newer house and there is only one switch, it’s not too bad. there are a few youtube videos you can watch and see if you think it’ something you can handle.

Which one to get: there are two “styles”, rocker and toggle. rocker is the big wide switches, toggle is the “nub” style. Not sure how else to describe it haha. for each style there is an on/off only, a dimmer and an add-on for 3-way circuits.

Smart Switches have been the best approach for me. I found LED (dimmable) for as low as $1.15/bulb. Most fixtures in my home have 3-4 lights. GE switches for $33-42…

Harmony for all things remote.

Iris smart plugs.

Iris contacts.

It is a newer home with only 1 switch to turn the lights on and off atleast in the Kitchen. I will try a few youtube videos.

For the foyer and 1 of the bedrooms, I think I can just get the smart bulbs, should I go with the Hue white bulbs, I am concerned that if I go with hue I will have to buy their hub as well, What’s the second best option.

This community is great with so many great ideas and helpful posts…so wanted to say thank you to all the great people here.

I came across a thread which talks about SmartTiles, now since I have Google home, I would want to control everything with voice, but this will look so cool so I want to know how to get this working.

I have a ipad mini, can I use that? what else would I need to do.

@tin369 - Welcome!

At my home I opted to change the switches rather than filling the house with smart bulbs.

Here are a few PROS and CONS on Smart Bulbs based on my preference/opinion/experience:


  • I love the ability to change the warmth of the light (setting it at 2700K [warm] Vs 5000K [cold])
  • I love the ability to change light color! Sets a great mood!


  • Most smart bulbs I have seen have inferior light output (lumens not quality!). I love brightly lit rooms and finding smart bulbs that have the desired lumens output is nearly impossible so I typically pick the brightest LED bulb I find that fits the application and then I dim as needed… this gives me more flexibility.
  • In order to use smart bulbs in automation, you need to leave them always powered (light switch always on). This is annoying as you will often find them switched off (it’s easier than pulling out a phone, can’t blame who does it!) and thus your nifty “turn my light on when I enter my home” automation will not work… sucks! Oh and asking Alexa or Google will also fail.
  • Finding smart bulbs that fit all applications from a single vendor is nearly impossible so you will end up with a number of hubs, apps, and functionality differences that will just be annoying to deal with. I picked HUE for my mood lighting (not main lighting!) and try to stick with their products where I want to add mood lighting. One hub, one app, and consistent behavior/integration with ST.
  • Power outages… tadaaaa your lights come on when power is restored! Put them in your bedroom and you will love waking up 3 or 4 times during a stormy night because the lights go on. I have a mood light in my bedroom and this is a real life example… I could not even ask Alexa to turn them off as she was booting back up and announcing to the world she was connected. Between Alexa, the wait to turn everything off, and the Hue light turning on several times that night - I GOT NO SLEEP. There are entire threads on how to deal with this as there is no default setting to tell the bulbs to “stay off, if off, after power outage”.
  • Cost? In many cases smart bulbs are more expensive…

I meant to write way more PROS but they just did not pop up in my mind. I am sure others will chime in with a more positive view.

Security Cameras - I got a cheap LG 7" tablet and use TinyCam Pro to view 6 ethernet cameras via RTSP. Works great and it was a cheap solution with no monthly fees as everything is stored locally (SD cards and NAS). I also had SmartTiles running on the tablet but found that controlling stuff using Alexa was faster and easier. I would use SmartTiles just to have a more customizable view of the few hundred data points (battery levels, open/close status, leak detected, temp, humidity, etc). I too installed Tasker and “Motion Detector” so that the screen turns on when I walk by.

Good Luck!

I think I will try the LIFX color bulbs and see how they work and go with the Smart switch for the recessed lights in the kitchen. Now the GE smart switch that was recommended is that really good and recommended? or is there something better, just want to make sure that I pick the most recommended and reliable based on user recommendation here.

I have a Verizon fios router and how can I check how many connection it can handle for wifi devices before I go ahead with the LIFX bulb purchase.

Also, with smart switch can I control the lights to come on when I enter the house and turn off when I leave?

How do I find if I got the hub V2 or V1. On amazon page it says release date as 2015. Anyway to confirm, if the ST hub is V1 then I want to return it and get the V2.

There’s no one “best” light switch, or really any other device class, because different people have different needs, preferences, and budgets.

The GE switches are very popular because they are inexpensive and widely available. Definitely not the best engineered switch, but a lot of people don’t want to pay more for one that is higher quality.

There’s a known issue with the current GE models (it’ll be about two years before we know whether it’s also true of the brand-new zwave plus models), which is that a fairly high percentage of them, maybe 15%, fail a few months after they come out of warranty. You can find lots of discussion of this in the forums, or really any home automation forum as it doesn’t have anything to do with smartthings. It’s just the switch. They aren’t technically “defective” because it’s after the end of the warranty period.

Many people feel that they are willing to replace 10% of their switches or so after two years because they will still have saved money on the overall project. But it’s just something to be aware of.

And the time factor is also something to be aware of, because anyone who tells you that they have lots of GE switches and they’re working great but who hasn’t had them for at least two years may well be completely unaware of the issue unless they did a lot of research first.

Anyway, you can read all about the different features that zwave switches may have and why you might choose one over the other in the following thread. The discussion on wall switches starts around post 35. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb:

Yes you can turn them on/off based on presence. If you just bought the hub it’s the V2.

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Thanks Robert and prjct92eh2 for the responses and I apologize for so many noob questions.

I just bought the ST hub, but is there a way to verify its indeed a V2?

I have a couple more questions

  1. I have Ecobee3, and have linked it to ST, but can I control it through google home?
  2. for sliding door, which sensor would you recommend?
  3. I added my sonos play 1, and added speaker notify with sound, and when I remove home from system changes mode, the siren does not work, but selecting all, away, home and night mode make the siren work.

I don’t want the siren to go off when I am home and opening and closing the doors. Any idea why this may be happening.

For the foyer light, it will be cheaper to have a smart bulb instead of smart switch or dimmer. Why do some people prefer switches that control single light instead of smart bulbs (based on cost bulbs will be much cheaper).