New to Smartthings - how to automate?

@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).

The question of why people prefer switches over bulbs is covered in the FAQ on that topic:

But the short answer is usually one of the following 3 Reasons:

  1. Smart bulbs need to always be on power. So you have to figure out what to do about the switch to keep people from manually turn the bulb off. There are a lot of different ways to handle this, including smart switch covers which fit over the existing switch and then give you buttons you can push for on and off. But that means buying an additional device which adds cost. If you live alone, it’s not usually a problem. But as soon as there are visitors or kids or even just other family members who want to have a switch on the wall, you have to address the issue.

There is an FAQ on This:

FAQ: Philips Hue and Other Smart Bulbs - What sort of light switches to use with them? (Long FAQ)

  1. they have an existing fixture which doesn’t work well with the available smart bulbs, such as a fluorescent tube fixture

Three) if you have a power outage, most smart bulbs will come on to full brightness when the power is restored . smart switches will usually go back to whatever state they were in before the power outage, or they may stay off, depending on the exact model.

This behavior really bugs some people, and doesn’t bother other people at all. Personally, I like to be awakened if there was a power outage and the power comes back on, since it alerts me to check the house for any problems. Other people would prefer to sleep through.

There is a smart app that one community member developed that will reset all the bulbs after a power outage so basically they were just blink on and go off again. That solves the issue for some people, but not everyone.

For sliding door, there’s a new Z wave sensor, the sensative strip, which works really well with smartthings and a number of community members have it and like it. It is just 3 mm thick, so it fits very nicely on most sliding doors. It’s also weatherproof and can be painted.

The big issue is the cost. It’s about twice the cost of the regular box sensors. However, it has a built-in 10 year battery, so you would get some of that cost back by not having to replace a battery every year or so.

So not for everyone, but if your budget can manage it, the strips are worth considering. :sunglasses:

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V1 hub:

V2 hub:

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Also, there should be a model number on the back of the hub. :wink:

I think I have the V2, from the pic posted above.

and those strip look great, but too expensive, any other cheaper alternatives?

As far as bulbs, my house has the regular bulbs which look yellowish, are whites better or the warmer yellowish? or is it just personal preference?

for a white smart bulb, which would you guys recommend, in order of brightness and reliability

GE link, hue, LIFX, Cree

I like the Iris V2 contact snesors. light color is personal preference. Cree tend to be the most reliable, but there are many pros and cons

LIFX are the brightest.

For quality and versatility, I would recommend the hue bulbs connected to the hue bridge. :sunglasses:

I haven’t heard any reports of the Cree being more reliable than the Hue. Just a little less expensive.

*most reliable for being connected directly to the hub :slight_smile:

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How much are the hue whites for, on amazon they look pretty expensive compared to GE or Cree.

the Iris V2 sensor, can this be added to ST?

[quote=“tin369, post:30, topic:65139, full:true”]
How much are the hue whites for, on amazon they look pretty expensive compared to GE or Cree. [/quote]

Hue has two different white models. The plain “Hue White” should cost about $15. It’s always that price at Best Buy, and usually that price at target and Amazon.

Amazon also sometimes has it in a three pack for $40, which drops the price to $13.33 per bulb. :sunglasses:

This bulb has a round top like a regular incandescent shape.

The “Hue white ambiance” is a bulb that can change color temperature from warm white to cool white. That’s the one that costs more. It has a flat top.

Also, don’t get the GE link bulbs. They have a lot of problems. That’s why they are not on the official “works with smartthings” list.

So the hue A19 without the flat top is comparable to the GE Link and Cree and those also cant change color temperature.

only the hue white ambience and lifx can change color temperature.

Also, reading a lot of argument about switches/dimmers vs. smart bulbs. In a room where a switch controls multiple lights, I can understand going with dimmers, but for rooms where there is only 1 light for the switch, that becomes expensive, doesn’t it?

it does, but you also have to factor in ease of use. Bulbs getting turned of manually at the switch means they no longer respond to automatons since they don’t have power. bulbs also come on at full brightness whenever you have a power blip.

With the Hue make sure you factor in the cost of the hue hub (or whatever it is called).

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Hue bridge. :wink:

You can regularly get the hue bridge plus two Hue white bulbs for $70, and you may be able to find some on sale from time to time.

One bridge can support up to 50 bulbs.

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