After months of deliberation, I’ve finally taken the plunge and invested in a SmartThings starter kit. If you’re not comfortable programming, there is still a lot of room for improvement, but the start is strong enough that you can really see where this system is going and what we can expect in the future.
The starter kit, which SmartThings calls the “Home Monitoring Kit,” comes with a motion sensor, two “multi-purpose” sensors (which can measure temperature, position and whether or not a door is closed) and a smart outlet adapter in addition to a basic hub that’s required to connect all the components.
The hub plugs in to your existing router, then your pair your individual “Things” to it in a way that’s quite reminiscent of Bluetooth. This is where things get a little more complicated. Sometimes, this pairing process can take a very long time to work properly, and sometimes it just doesn’t work at all. With these four “Things,” all packaged with the SmartThings hub and guaranteed to work with it, I still found myself spending over an hour in this pairing process. The multi-purpose sensors in particular seemed to give me a lot of trouble: One took more than five minutes to appear to the hub, and another paired immediately, but would never say the door was closed.
Eventually, I got these kinks worked out by un-pairing (which SmartThings perplexingly calls “device exclusion”) and re-pairing the sensors, but this just shouldn’t happen. If I were a less determined or technically minded person, I might have driven back to Best Buy and abandoned this endeavour.
That said, now that everything is working, I’m very happy with things. I only have one lamp responding to my actions right now, but it has already significantly improved my quality of life. I’ve bought some third-party components to test as well, and I’ll update here as I learn more about how they work.