‘SmartThings Know and Control’ Jumps Ahead of the Pack


The “SmartThings Know and Control” kit is expanding in a couple of ways. SmartThings has been one of my favorite home automation systems almost since I first heard about them last year. The newest edition of their Smart Home Kit offers expanded capabilities and builds upon others. I first started looking into this kit, I was pretty impressed with what it had and what it could do. However, SmartThings has recently made an announced that greatly expands the capabilities of the system by incorporating new sensors and devices that it can work with.

The New SmartThings Know and Control Kit Expands on Earlier Versions

I reported on the SmartThings home automation kit earlier this year. In that review I mentioned the things that attracted me to the system when I first started looking into it. Being someone that likes to tinker with things, one of my favorite things is that it’s open source, meaning I can play with and tweak the code to incorporate new capabilities. I also like that it can use both the ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols, allowing it to communicate with a variety of sensors, controllers, and other types of devices using these protocols.

SmartThings is the Perfect Expandable Entry-Level System

SmartThings is great for people that want to jump into the home automation game with both feet. The price point of the system, ranging from about $200 to about $400 depending on which kit you choose, puts it squarely near the bottom of the full home automation system pricing from competitors. Sure, you could go with something from a company like Crestron, but, they require professional installation, are more specialized, and cost into the thousands just for the devices you’ll need. You can also build your own system starting with the $100 SmartThings Hub and moving on from there.

SmartThings Lets You Program Responses to Actions and Events

This is another “little” piece of information about the SmartThings Know and Control line of products that really makes them attractive to me. The system is with “If Then, Then This”, also known as “IFTTT.” For want of a better way to describe it, IFTTT is a programming language that works more like building blocks. You’re able to select subscribed sensors and specify certain actions happen when certain events take place.

For example: You’ve got a Schlage Nexia deadbolt as part of your Know and Control system. Using IFTTT, you can program the system to, disable the alarm, turn on lights, turn up heat (or air conditioning), and turn on the news when you unlock the deadbolt. Without IFTTT, you’d probably only be able to turn the alarm off you unlock the door.

Setup is Easy — But Lengthy

You would think that the complexity of setting up your system would increase as the price goes up since the lower price would usually indicate that less effort was put into the system development stage. With SmartThings, the exact opposite is true. The sensors are all wireless and really simple to install with adhesive. Once you have the hub connected to your home Wi-Fi router, the rest of the setup consists of installing the mobile app and placing the sensors. The app walks you through the rest of the configuration process. The app also gives you suggestions during the configuration process of where best to place your sensors.

As mentioned in my previous review, my only real beef with the system is that the configuration process, while relatively easy, is a time-consuming hassle. This is because you have to be within 10 feet of the devices in order for them to connect to the system. You place most of the sensors only once they’ve been paired to the hub. I’d prefer to install everything and then walk through the house and pair everything.

SmartThings Makes Know and Control Work with More Products

The Know and Control system from SmartThings has always had an impressive lineup of compatible products from other vendors due to the ZigBee and Z-Wave compatibility. These include the Schlage Nexia deadbolts mentioned above and Honeywell thermostats.

IFTTT compatibility expands that compatibility to products from other vendors as well. These include Belkin WeMo Switches, TCP smart LEDs, the Sonos Home audio system, and Philips Hue LED bulbs, among others. These recent additions make an already extremely attractive home automation/Internet of Things system a home automation giant.