samsung smartthings home monitoring kitstars43Rating = 4.3
Reviewed by Paul
The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit is an updated version of the original SmartThings Know And Control Your Home Kit with a number of improvements.

It now has battery back up for it to continue operating when there is a power outage allowing it to operate locally when the internet is down. It can now handle the streaming and recording of video working with cameras from Samsung and D-Link.

Being able to protect your home, family and yourself using the power of the internet certainly has its attractions as you can get more done at a reasonable price and without a contract but there are some drawbacks to be aware of too.

In our review we look at how serves as a home security system rather than a home automation hub, although its automation functions will be mentioned as it is part of the reason for buying and can be used to help in preventing you and your family becoming a victim of crime.

deal button

Installation

To use and set up the system you need a router with a free Ethernet port and a Smartphone – iOS 7.0 or later, Android 4.0 or later , Windows 8.1 or later with the free SmartThings app installed.

The process of installing and setting up is straightforward and can be easily done in less than an hour. The instructions are easy to follow and there are only a few steps for setting it all up ready to go.

This involves downloading the App, plugging the hub into the power and the router, installing batteries and following the instructions on the App. Initially the sensors need to be within 15 feet of the hub to make sure they are picked up but after that they can be moved to the location you want them

The motion sensor and multi-sensor (entry sensors) can be installed either using the 3M mounting tape or screws supplied. There is a mounting template supplied to drill holes for the crews in the correct position.

Adding more sensors and devices is also straightforward to do with clear instructions included.

There is no technical knowledge or DIY skills for the initial set up and working as a security system.

Setting up your own routines for more involved automation involves more time and effort but there is an active community that can help with this as well as the company. They can also help with suggestions as to using the full power of the automation for your home.

Contract

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit priceThere is no contract required to be signed or monthly fees to be paid to use the system for home security and automation.
However, if you want to add cameras and record up to 2 minute clips as the result of specified events being detected there is a monthly fee to be introduced in 2016. (See video storage below).

Support

There is a good FAQ section on the company’s website and forum of users to find answers to most questions you might have.

You can also use the live chat function on their site between 9 am – 5 pm Pacific Time, otherwise you need to contact them by email. The hours aren’t the greatest especially if you are in the same time zone as you’re likely going to be at work and not home when you can have your questions answered.

It does seem they are responsive to questions despite the hours and lack of phone contact with most people happy with the help they’ve received.

When I contacted them while researching this review I had an answer to my questions within a few hours and they were good answers too.

Cameras

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit angle viewThis kit doesn’t come with a camera but you can add up 4 compatible cameras to it. The current compatible cameras are the Smartcam HD 1080 Pro (internal camera) and the D-Link models DCS-2132L, DCS-2310L, DCS-2330L (external camera), DCS-5222L, and DCS-5029L

This gives you the ability to view live stream and set up motion video clips. The motion video clips can be up to 2 minutes long and start recording 15 seconds before the event is detected due to the video buffering ability of the hub (v2). The event can be motion detection or other incidents (like a door opening) is defined by the customer.

When at home the delay between the camera and viewing on the app is expected to be between 0 – 3 seconds and when outside the home it will be up to 5 – 10 seconds.

Video Storage

If you add cameras, motion video only is recorded on the company’s cloud servers for 30 days before being deleted. You can access these clips from your smartphone app.

This storage is free currently but they will be charging a monthly fee next year. It has been reported it will be $4.95 a month. If you don’t pay the fee you won’t be able to use the event recording capability and can only use the live streaming. The fee is probably reasonable compared to most other camera options except the Piper NV where you pay nothing for storing a 1000 clips but you can’t integrate it with this system.

Currently there is no way to download a clip to your phone or computer. It does mean if there is a security incident you need to work with the company to get a copy for the police.

Without the motion detection you can use the live feed when you’re notified that there has been a security event and then use the video feed to check what is happening in your home, and call the police if you determine your house has been broken into. However, if you miss the notification or can’t check it out you’ll miss the chance to determine what has happened as you won’t have a recording of the event.

Alarms

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit appThe kit doesn’t come with an audible siren. You can add them to the system. I assume that is why they call this a monitoring system rather than security system.

There are 2 internal sirens that are compatible with it – Fortezz Siren Strobe Alarm- 110 db loud and Aeon Labs Siren (Gen 5). There are no compatible outdoor sirens listed at present.

An audible siren will scare many burglars away as they don’t want the attention and also alert you to a break in if you are at home when it happens. An internal siren may not be heard by your neighbors unless you live in an apartment.

Notification

The system can be set to send you a notification by push notification or text when a specified event happens – you normally receive it within seconds of it happening.

You can receive these notifications to your phone anywhere in the world. You can add as many people as you want to receive a notification and specify that by event. This can help if you can’t use your phone (such as when in a meeting at work) and someone else can deal with it on your behalf.

These can be for security events – such doors being opened or motion detected when there is no authorized person there, as well as for people arriving or leaving, the alarm being armed/disarmed, temperature changes, doors left open etc.

Remote Monitoring

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit remote monitoringThe people you add do have access to all functions of the phone. They are working on providing functionality to restrict access. The only thing they can do is add/delete users.
This is done my using the manage users menu where you enter a new users email address and they are sent an invite. They need to download the App and enter the same email address that the invite was sent to. They have a choice as to whether or not their phone will be used to show arrival and departure.
The App allows you to monitor and control your system from anywhere in the world. The App is where all the set up and programming is done. Depending on the devices you add to the system you can arm/disarm the security system, turn light and electrical devices on/off, lock/unlock door and set up automation.

From your smartphone you can see a top level view of the status of your home, who is home, temperature, any security alerts and set routines of what happens and when they happen.
From a security point of view the Smart Home Monitor screen is going to be the most important and is accessible from the dashboard. This is where you can see the status of your home – if there is any incidents, whether the system is armed/disarmed.

You configure each of sensors as to what happens in the armed modes, as to who gets an alert when there is an incident, do the lights turn on, is a siren sounded and does a camera start recording (if you have those added to the system).

This part of the App is straightforward and easy to use, it can get a bit more difficult when setting up routines where it is less user friendly but there is lots of help online if you need it.

The system also has its own IFTTT channel where you can write recipes or use existing recipes where you get certain thing happen in response to other actions – such as lights get turned on when it starts to rain or notifications be sent to a phone or a log kept on a spreadsheet every time a paired phone leaves the location.

Smart Home Monitor Walkthru from SmartThings on Vimeo.

Battery

The Hub is powered by the house supply. It use 4 AA batteries as back up in the event of an outage that gives it up to 10 hours charge.

The motion sensor and multi-sensor each require a CR2450 battery (comes installed) to operate. This is a coin style battery that are readily available online – you can get 5 of them for approximately $6.00. They normally last between 6 – 12 months.

Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit Sensors/Detection

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit motion sensorThe motion sensor is a passive infra red sensor with a 120 degree field of view and can detect people moving up to 15 feet away.

This gives you a good coverage for a room with the best place to avoid blind spots is a corner of a room to give full coverage.

If you have pets they will trip them and send you a false alert. It does mean you can’t arm them when you’ve got pets that stay inside when you’re not home unless you are prepared to receive alerts or have the sire sound (if one has been added). There is a motion sensor by Aeon that is compatible with the kit that can be bought separately that is pet tolerant.

As well as detecting movement it can also detect temperature and humidity. This can be used to let you know with alerts when your home becomes too hot, cold or humid. You can also use it in conjunction with other smart devices to control temperature and humidity (with smart switches and thermostats).

The motion sensor will alert you when the system is armed in away mode when there is unexpected movement detected. This functionality can also be used to turn lights on when someone enters a room and turn them off again when no motion is detected after a certain amount of time when there is smart light switch included in the system.

Door/Window Contacts

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit multi purpose sensorThese come in 2 parts made up of a sensor and magnet. The sensor is put on the door and the magnet on the frame. It detects when a door or window is being opened when the sensor are moved apart more than 0.4 ins. It will send you an alert to let you know it has been opened.

The entry sensor can be used all types of doors and windows whether they open upwards, sideways or slide open.
You can find getting them close enough on doors/windows that have curved frames difficult but can be done with some shims that you do need to purchase or source separately.

It is also can detect vibration and temperature. The vibration can alert you to an issue before the door is opened as happens when someone is trying force their way into the house. Or you can use it to let you know when someone is knocking on the door or if you wanted you could attach it to your washing machine to let you know when your washing is done!

As well as telling you when a door is opened it can be set to send you a reminder when a door is left opened which would make it work well with smart locks from schlage and kwikset.

As well as doors it can be used on cupboards and drawers to let you know when they are opened. Great for letting you know when your drinks cabinet is being accessed especially if you’ve teenagers or someone working in your home that shouldn’t been accessing it.

Panic Button/Duress Codes

The system doesn’t have a duress code, which is where you enter in a code to reset the system after a security event that turns off the siren but still sends out a notification to those monitoring that tells them you’ve been forced to do this. However, it might be something you can write your own routine to do

The system doesn’t come with a panic button as standard but the Aeons Lab Panic Button is compatible with it. You can use this to sound the siren, lock the doors and send out a notification. However, you don’t have to use it for this you can use it for things other than emergencies such as turning off the lights.

Setting The Alarm

The alarm can be armed or disarmed automatically, using a presence sensor or the geo-location capabilities of your phone in conjunction with the hub. You can lso do all of this from your phone anywhere in the world you can access the internet.

There are 3 modes it can be armed in. This allows you to determine how each of the sensors will work when there is an event. For example with motion sensors you can set it up as follows:

Home – nothing happens or you could set it to turn on a light

Away – send you a security notice, turn on the light and sound the siren

Night – turn on a light and send you a text message.

To set up a schedule for when the system is armed/disarmed to meet your daily comings and goings you need to go in to the routines functionality to set this up. There are good instructions on how to use but it does involve more than just pushing a few buttons.

Hub (Control Panel)

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit hubThe hub is the brains of the system and it communicates with the devices and via the internet with your phone. It performs a number of the functions programmed locally so isn’t totally dependent on the internet except for things such as using IFTTT functionality.

There is no screen nor are there any buttons on the hub. It is all controlled by the App.

At the front of the hub is a LED sensor that lets you know when it is working correctly, or it is being updated, that is connecting to a device, not connected to the internet or attempting to connect to the cloud/servers.

At the back of the hub is where you plug it into the power and to the router. It has socket for the power cord and an Ethernet cable. As well as these there is a reset point and 2 USB ports. The USB ports aren’t needed at the moment but are there for future expansion of capabilities. The reset is to reboot when it is not responding to your devices and is not something that you need to do often.

You can only have one hub per location at this time but you can control multiple hubs from the App provided they are at different locations.

Timers

With this system there isn’t the need to have a timer delay as it all can be automated and you can turn it on and off from outside after you leave or before you enter. There is no keypboard that you have to reach to turn it on or off.

Having said that it does come with a 30 second delay on entry and exit as standard but this can be turned off.

Protection Against It Being Switched Off

If there is a power outage the system will continue to operate although it probably won’t be able to notify you if your internet connection is down due to the outage. You will receive a notification that the hub is inactive if there is no internet.

The hub will continue to work for security and local processed activities during an internet outage but things like IFTTT that require the internet won’t work. If someone was to break in during this time you wouldn’t receive a notification of the event. This is an issue with all internet based security systems and not specific to SmartThings.

Coverage

The range of the hub is 50 – 130 ft. The outlet included in the kit extends the range the Zigbee devices and sensors can be from the hub. The outlet and sensors included in the kit use the Zigbee protocol.

Powered Zigbee and zwave outlets can act as repeaters to increase the range that other same automation protocol devices can be from the hub .

Wireless or Wired

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit outletThe system communicated with the security devices wirelessly. But the hub needs to be plugged into the router using an Ethernet cable to communicate with the internet and needs to be plugged into the house supply with a power cord.

The Zigbee devices work on 2.4 GHZ frequency and the Z-wave devices on the 900 MHZ. If you find the Zigbee devices interfering with your WiFi it is now possible with some WiFi to switch to 5 GHZ to solve the issue, although you shouldn’t experience an issue.

Zones

You can set up a maximum of 16 different zones and add devices to them. This allows you to have all the devices in that zone work a certain way depending on the alarm mode you are in. Zones you might have are for thegarage, interior and exterior etc. When you are in night mode you may want the motion sensor for the garage to sound the alarm, where as in the interior zone you may want the lights to turn on and a security alert sent to your phone but no siren sounded.

Dimensions

The dimensions of the kit are
Hub: 4.2 by 4.9 by 1.3 inches

Motion Sensor: 2 by 2 by 0.8 inches

Multi Sensor: 1.90 by 1.35 by 0.57 inches (sensor), 1.50 by 0.54 by 0.53 inches (magnet)

Outlet: 2.4 by 2.6 by 2.4 inches

Features

The kit contains

1 Control Hub – the “brains” of the system for communicating with devices and your smartphoen App

2 Multi Sensors – 2 part entry sensors that detect when a door or window is opened. Also has vibration detection and temperature

1 Motion Sensor – detects movement in a room installed

1 Outlet – this allows you to control automate and monitor lamps and electronic devices. You can use it turn on lights when you arrive home or turn off devices left on by mistake when plugged in. It also works as a repeater for zigbee devices to extending the range

Batteries for the hub are separate and the batteries for the devices have been installed

Ethernet cable

Power cord

Quick Start Guide

Accessories

There is a wide range of other suppliers products that it works with. A list of the products can be seen here: http://www.smartthings.com/compatible-products/
It works with cameras (Smartcam HD 1080p) , motion sensors, locks (Kwikset, Schlage), environmental sensors, lights and switches.

SmartThings Arrival Sensor – this makes a grreat alternative to using a phone as it can be used to arm/disarm the system due to location. You assign it to a person so you can also know when they leave or arrive too. It can let you know when your kids arrive home. Or you could put it on a pet collar and you’d be notified when it’s away from home or comes back when you’re home or at work. It can also be used to help you find your keys when attached as you can getting it to beep.

Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor – this can be used to notify you when moisture is detected to help avoid damage and/or floods – used in basements, attics, bathrooms. where old pipes are or laundry.

The open nature makes it very versatile for home automation and security however it can be seen as having too many eggs in one basket and there is a perceived risk of more chance of viruses being introduced to your security – the risk is there any way with the reliance of the internet connection.

SmartThings is also compatible with Amazon Echo which allows you to control your SmartThngs devices and compatible devices using a voice command by asking Echo to turn things on and off.

It is not compatible with Nest devices, although there is a routine been written by a user this does contravene the terms of use for Nest and could hegate their Warranty.

The hub can control up to 220 Zwave devices and Zigbee devices, in addition to this it can control LAN and cloud to cloud devices. This is more than enough for security devices and probably for most home automation at this time.

Pros

Easy to set up and install

Works with a wide range of other suppliers Z-wave or Zigbee compatible devices to provide coverage

Able to customize to fit your lifestyle and schedules

Can work with home automation to have lights coming on when motion detected and have lights switch on/off to a schedule

No limit to the sensors that can be added

Wireless so no need to drill holes into walls and can be taken with you when you move

No contract or monthly fees (except if you want to record and store event video clips)

It has battery backup for up 10 hours in the event of a power outage

Very expandable and flexible to meet each customers own requirements

Can be integrated with video to provide more home monitoring

Cons

Does not come with a siren as standard.

Limited number of sensors included which aren’t enough to give full coverage to entry points for even a small home

No contact number and limited hours of support

Is reliant on the internet to get notifications out so doesn’t work during an outage

You can’t restrict access of users you add to the system

Motion sensors are not pet friendly

Can’t monitor using a PC

No panic or duress code as standard

You have to rely on the company’s servers being up to receive notifications and monitor your home

Difficult to use the App when setting up routines to customize it

Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit Consumer Ratings

samsung smartthings home monitoring kit reviewAs this is a recent release from Samsung there are not that many reviews for it. The reviews that have been left so far have been positive. They’ve liked how quick it is to set up and how easy it is to use.

There are some issues when adding devices like smart locks where not all functionality like pin numbers is available.

Some people also note there are problems using the App when writing routines and you may need the help of the community with this but this is to use more of the automation than a standard security system. For day to day things like adding sensors and getting notifications etc customers appear pleased with it.

Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit Price

Compared to DIY wireless home security kits you don’t get many devices included. The Simplisafe kit that costs about $10 more provides you with 4 entry sensors, motion sensor, built in siren and a remote control tag, although you do need to pay a monthly fee for monitoring to get full use from it.

Or the Scout Alarm System which comes 3 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor and 1 remote control, built in siren and costs about $60 more. However, neither system gives you the chance of home automation or to use cameras in conjunction with them at this time.

The iSmartAlarm is security system which has future home automation capability built in and works with IFTTT is about $30 – $50 less – provides you with to remote tags in addition to 2 entry sensors and 1 motion sensor but it doesn’t work with other suppliers home automation products as it is not Zigbee/zwave compatible.

However you are getting a home automation controller which gives more flexibility to add devices to make your life more convenient as well as secure your home that you don’t go with security systems and you’d have to buy a hub separately.

Unless you are buying for a small apartment you are going to want to add more sensors to get the necessary coverage for your home. To cover ground floor entry points and main rooms downstairs and the access to bedrooms you may need at least 10 multi sensors and 3 motion sensors, siren and 2 presence sensors . You can then expect to pay between $650 – $750 to have this but you can buy them piecemeal if you want

The best discounted price when I checked was at Amazon where it qualified for free shipping and Prime. To check pricing deals and availability click here: Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit

Summary

This is definitely an improvement on Version 1 with some of the issues being addressed with the back up when there is a power outage and continuing to work locally when the internet not working.

This is a basic starter kit for a home and you are probably going to want to add more security sensors, an alarm, presence sensors to secure your home but they can be added. As well as your main home it could be used for vacation homes or elderly parents that have internet access to be able to know what is happening and be able to react quickly if you need.

With more outlet switches you can also usee it to schedule your lights to go on/off or when motion is detected and more to help as more of a deterrent

You can monitor it from anywhere in the world that you can get access to the internet.
It is a very flexible system with you able to add devices and routines to have it set up just as you want, it just doesn’t come with that many sensors to start with. It is reliant on internet access to get notifications to you and for remote monitoring.

If you are looking for home automation combined with home security this is a good kit to get started with but you will need to add to it to give you the protection you want for a family home.

Filed under: Reviews

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!