Smartthings Hub v2 vs. Harmony Hub Extender

Yeah, if you literally just think of this as an extender to harmony, and not a competitor to other home automation hubs, what does extender give the average person who doesn’t want to code at all?

And the answer is obvious: sensors as triggers for activities. Motion sensors, and a few contact sensors. Open the closet door, your Hues come on. Nothing complicated. Contact sensor becomes a switch. The Hue bridge doesn’t have that right now, although it will get it through HomeKit. But it will get it cheaper through the Harmony hub extender.

If you want more than that, you look at the Harmony/smartthings integration. But if you just want a few sensors, this is a good way to extend the Harmony system.

I don’t think the extender has to be more than that to be successful within the Harmony framework for now.

It just comes back to the use cases. First decide what you want to do. Then look for the tools that help you do it.

Judge a Tool in Context

Really really famous engineering school story. Every engineer has heard it. I still love it. It’s about customer-facing design.

So this design firm comes in and has a meeting with a new client, a big luxury hotel chain. And client says “we want a cutting tool.”

The design team goes away and they have a bunch of meetings and they do all kinds of research and evaluate all kinds of technology. And they come back to the next meeting and they are so proud of themselves. They walk in with this battery-powered chainsaw. It is gorgeous. Every bell and whistle, Wi-Fi notification, safety features, you name it. And it’s a great price too! And they added a custom panel on the side in the hotel chain’s logo colors. I mean this thing is beautiful. :wink:

They put the chainsaw on the table, and they stand in front of the clients, and they’re beaming. And the project manager says, “Now, what do you want to cut?”

And the client says, “butter.” :cow:

Now it’s not just that a butter knife costs four dollars and the chainsaw costs $400. A butter knife is a better tool for the job. Appropriate technology. You can’t cut butter for the dinner service in a 4 star restaurant with a chainsaw. The results are not beautiful.

So, customer-facing design. Start by defining the use case. The tool can only be judged in context. :hammer:


If you need notifications, you can forget about Harmony then. They do have the ability to use trigger based automation. For several months I used motion based triggers to automate Lutron Caseta switches, which are not supported by ST. The fact that I could merge several cloud operated hubs into one attracted me to Harmony at the very beginning of my home automation adventure. I had Smartthings hub, Lutron hub, Hue hub all connected and operated by the Harmony hub. But slowly I started using ST more and more, until I pulled the plug and ditched the Lutron in favor of z-wave switches. The automation limitations with Harmony and their lag just pushed me away. But what really killed it for me was lack of support and the fact that with every bug fixes they pushed to my hubs, they managed to brake every home automation activity, which led me to believe that home automation wasn’t a priority to them.

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The majority of the consumers don’t care because they don’t know better. Take my wife for example. Totally against automation, Ive heard every argument against it from waste of money to security to trouble in the sky. But overtime I noticed a shift in behavior from we don’t need this, turn it off to this is malfunctioning, could you please fix it. No one needed a smart phone, until they got hooked on one. Same goes with home automation.

Possibly, but this is not the home automation they’ll seek. It must go well beyond the “I swear if it was working you couldn’t live without it” state of today to the point that we don’t think about it being there because it always works and brings perception of value. That day is a long way away for the scale you’re talking. It could surprise me by the pace, but right now I think it’s years. As a tech fan I would like to see faster adoption, but right now I think it’d hurt the industry if that happened.


I bought the presence pack tonight. I haven’t installed them all, but I’m already bummed they won’t work with my Keurig. I didn’t purchase them with that in mind, but it was still disappointing.

A little more about the extender:

The harmony is really just adding on/off capabilities for Z wave and Zigbee devices to their existing button remote paradigm. You can put things on timers, and you can trigger activities from sensors, but you can’t turn on a zigbee switch and have a zwave fan go on.

And you can’t dim anything except Hue bulbs.

And there’s no way to do any of the kind of “motion detector turns the light on unless the light is already on and somebody is home” kind of logic.

Again, maybe Zuli will bring something more with it eventually.

I was able to turn lights on with ST sensor from Harmony activity, are you saying that the extender doesn’t allow extender devices to be added as triggers for activities at set time or sunset/sunrise or always?

Sensors can be triggers, switches cannot.

It’s the same way with the current home devices if you don’t have the extender, try it.

If you only have Harmony and you don’t have SmartThings, activities can be triggered by:

Selection from the harmony remote

Selection from the Harmony app

Stored schedule

sensor action from one of the approved sensors

IFTTT channel for some devices

But not from any other physical device on your network, like a switch.

Update October 30, 2015:

Logitech has now confirmed that zwave support in the extender is limited to only a few device classes.

If you use it on its own:

It’s known that sirens, smoke/CO detectors, cameras, energy management devices or moisture, brightness, sound and glass break sensors will not currently work with Harmony.

Their recommended solution if you need these device classes is to use SmartThings or PEQ or Vera.

Bummer, but expected. Was really contemplating on getting one as a back up for my motionless lights this week. I guess I could still create actions in Harmony that run a minute behind ST just in case the runin() times on ST get behind again…

Looks like they can do motion sensors and open/close sensors. But no notifications. And I’m not really sure about the open/close sensors, because all the links they gave me were for SmartThings.

I have had both motion and contact before, as it was the only way to use my Lutron Caseta switches with SmartThings sensors (other than IFTTT). They don’t have notification, that’s true.

Does the Harmony phone app still work on WiFi if the Internet is down? Or did you never try that?

They told me it would and referred me to one of their forum posts, but it was a little ambiguous.

That’s bogus, because the hub doesn’t work. I didn’t try it personally, but I cannot imagine that it would. Afterthought…the RF devices could be operational from your phone app, if your phone switches to 4G (or your phone has RF transmitter antenna).

Are you sure? There are people using harmony in RVs who have Wi-Fi but no Internet connection. You need Internet connection to set up the account the first time, but I think after that it will run locally.

No home automation runs if the internet is down, I experienced that. It must be the RF that’s working for the AV devices. Most phones are equipped with RF trnasmitters.

I am talking about the regular hub, not the extender. That would be awesome if they implemented local zwave/zigbee functionality.

I’m also talking about the regular hub. Based on both their formums and official support responses, it will work in an RV that has Wi-Fi without an Internet connection once you have the account set up. But you need the Internet connection for the initial set up.

I just don’t know if the phone app also works locally.

What do you mean by that? i can’t fire harmony actions from my ST app… what am missing?


Probably the information in this FAQ. It works very well, many of us are using it now. It’s an official integration, you just have to get the smartapp from the marketplace section of the SmartThings mobile app: