24 hours with SmartThings, a home automation adventure

Way back in the mists of time I sponsored SmartThings (smartthings.com) on Kickstarter. About an age and a half later they finally got round to getting the kit licensed in Europe and after a bit of irritation and some judicious chasing, I received a badly packed box of gizmos and a hub, no instructions included. Being a bit of a geek I set to work.

I received a hub, three proximity key fobs and a ‘multi’ sensor, which gauges temperature, angle, humidity, acceleration and closed/open. I set the hub up with only one false start, when I tried to power and network it via an Airport Express rather than directly into my main home ethernet – support from SmartThings was fast but useless, so I let my inner nerd have rein and quickly found the solution.

I then set up a proximity fob, my iPhone (which gives you the option to set a proximity alert when the phone reaches, say, your local train station, or closer, the front door) and the multi. The multi has been attached to an internal door, and set so I get an alert on my phone when the door is opened. I have so far worked out that the most sensible (for now) combination is thus:

  • If my wife or I leave the house and the back door is open, we both get an alert
  • If either of us leaves the house while the door is open, but one of us remains in the house, no alert
  • If I arrive at the station and my wife is home, she gets an alert, but if she isn’t, she doesn’t

I have yet to incorporate the other two fobs. I’ve already decided I want a couple of switchable plug sockets, so that if we both leave the house all the stuff left on standby gets switched off at the socket, and back on when either of us arrives back.

I’m starting to get the hang of it. I suspect it may get slightly expensive, this home automation thing – and I have a suspicion it will eventually change our behaviour (and our electricity bills) for the good. I’ll keep you posted.