Congratulations on your purchase of the Aeotec SmartThings Smart Home Hub as the central connection and intelligent brain of your Smart Home. By connecting wirelessly to a wide range of compatible smart devices, like lights and sensors, it will allow you to use your home's lighting, heating and appliances more conveniently and efficiently. And, at the same time giving you greater levels of comfort and security.
To ease your journey with your new Controller we've pulled together a list of common resources to assist you in this "Quick Start" guide.
I've not bought it yet, help me decide if SmartThings is for me!
If you're just starting out with Home Automation then we'd suggest taking a look at our Getting Started section to begin with.
Once you're up to speed with the general knowledge surrounding Smart Homes you might need some help with choosing a Smart Home Controller. This can be difficult as they all do similar things but in different ways. It means that it can be a very subjective decision because it depends on each individual user's needs and requirements. For more help and advice our Choosing A Smart Home Controller section will break down all the areas that you need to consider.
If you've settled on SmartThings and just need a bit more piece of mind that you've made the right decision, then it's worth checking out the product Reviews and Q&A's as these will give you real-world customer experiences.
Manuals & User Guides
Unless you're paying a professional, Smart Home installation is largely a self-help situation where you'll need to carry out some research and get hands-on with your chosen Controller and devices.
No matter how boring it may seem, the golden rule is to start with the manuals!
Reading available how-to guides as well as watching videos is also recommended as it's the quickest way to build your knowledge and improve your Home Automation skill-set.
Most Smart Home Controllers are designed to be used with an App on your smartphone or tablet. Here you'll find direct links to those, as well as to any other download resources such as Source Code Repositories.
Getting Support from the Controller Manufacturer
Generally speaking the Controller manufacturer is in the best position to help if something isn't quite working correctly. In most cases they will be able to remotely connect to your Controller and diagnose what the problem might be. Should they determine that the Controller has a hardware fault they will authorise a replacement, which may be handled directly with them or they might suggest raising a return with Vesternet.
As mentioned previously, it should be remembered that Smart Home installation is mostly self-help, so manufacturer support isn't really the place to ask for general "how can I do ....?" type questions. Some manufacturers might offer such assistance but don't be surprised if you don't get a response!
If you're unsure where best to direct your request for help, contact Vesternet and we can point you in an appropriate direction.
Getting Help from other Users
Without doubt, communities, forums and groups are the best places to get help with your Controller. There's nothing greater than the "Wisdom Of Crowds" and most Controllers have one or more locations where other users hang out. Some communities are incredibly active too, with many hundreds of new messages every day.
Remember to use any search facility prior to posting a new question or request for help - the chances are that somebody else has already experienced your particular problem or asked the same question previously!
Some Controllers also have real-time live chat facilities, perfect for getting instant help with a pressing issue!
Do remember that most of these resources aren't "official" ways to get support and are manned by volunteers or simply frequented by other users, so be respectful and understanding that somebody has gone out of their way giving their personal time to help.
Choosing Devices Wisely
One of the most confusing tasks when setting up a Smart Home can be determining which devices work together.
Depending on which products are being compared, this question can be answered in several different ways. It may be that the devices are Compatible with each other at a protocol level, or that they are Interoperable with each other via some other method.
The words Compatible and Interoperable often get misunderstood or used incorrectly - they may sound like they mean the same thing, but there are some subtle differences.
If you haven't done so already, make sure to read our "Understanding Compatibility" guide to improve your knowledge, then follow our top tips to help ensure that any potential device purchasess will work together for the best user experience:
Pick Vesternet Hardware Devices
Vesternet Hardware Devices offer many advantages over products from other manufacturers, including hassle free returns, 3 year warranty, lifetime controller compatibility, technical support and dedicated user guides.
These devices have been carefully curated and we support them in the Aeotec SmartThings, Athom Homey and Hubitat Elevation Smart Home Controllers.
We've also ensured that all our Hardware Devices are available in both Zigbee and Z-Wave versions, meaning that you can mix-and-match across both technologies while maintaining a consistent hardware style.
View Controller Compatibility Collections
Controller Compatibility Collections simply bring together products that are Compatible and Interoperable as per the definitions covered in our "Understanding Compatibility" guide. They make it simple to view all products that should work with a Controller from your chosen manufacturer.
Use Search Filters to pick the right products
We add and constantly improve the Search Filters on the Vesternet web site. Make use of them to drill down in the search results or product categories to find that perfect product to suit your requirements. There's also a Search Filter for compatibility itself and this shows products that are either Compatibile or Interoperable as per the definitions we've covered previously.
Check the SmartThings Official Site
Manufacturers are now doing more than ever to ensure that their products are tested and proven to work with products from other manufacturers, so their official site should be a useful resource to check.
Join the SmartThings Community
Online forums and communities are the perfect place to glean insights into which products work well together. You'll often find much fairer "warts and all" reports from other users under the banner of anonymity!
Why doesn't my Device work correctly?
It's very rare for a brand-new out-of-the-box device to be faulty, so in the vast majority of cases where a device isn't working correctly it's caused by incorrect installation or perhaps not quite following the manual correctly when setting the device up. So it's always worth double checking any manuals before assuming there's a fault.
In some cases products don't work fully or correctly together, even though they should do - this does not mean that the products are faulty! These types of issue are usually referred to as "compatibility" problems.
Usually compatibility issues are resolved quickly by the manufacturers concerned providing details of how to get the products working together, or by releasing a firmware update to fix the problem.
Your first port of call for troubleshooting should be any communities, groups or forums as mentioned above - these can help with most problems and you might find that the fix is simple to implement and you'll be back up and running in no time at all.
If you believe that there's a compatibility issue then it's worth reaching out to the Controller manufacturer on their official support channels. This ensures that they are aware of the problem and they might be able to offer a fix or workaround immediately, or at least pass the information on internally so that it can be fixed in a future update to the Controller software.
If it's suspected that the device is faulty then we would suggest checking with the product manufacturer in the first instance as they are the best placed to assist, after all they will know their product inside out and should be able to confirm if it's a genuine hardware fault or not.
Once you're up and running with your new Controller you'll likely want to look at installing additional integrations and features. It can be difficult to know where to start with these as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different things to choose from!
Below you'll find a selection of our recommendations, these are well worth taking a look at but of course it's your choice whether to install them or not. Remember the golden rules of building a Smart Home and take your time.
IFTTT, which is short for If This Then That, is the easiest way to do more with hundreds of the apps and devices you love.
Think of this as a 2-tap installer of any of your Apps / Devices.
The web Community's own Rule Engine (or for short, webCoRE) is a general rule engine for SmartThings. It works by allowing users to create scripts that are interpreted and executed by the SmartThings SmartApp, allowing for complex decisions.
Your Smart Home at a glance with this Web-App dashboard.
Connect your SmartThings Controller and build beautiful custom dashboards to view and control your smart devices or use the visual rule builder to create automations that make your home smarter.
A Device Handler to assist with interrogating and tweaking Z-Wave devices. It’s designed for end-users who want to tweak their devices and for developers who want to quickly discover and report the functionality of new devices. It is intended to temporarily replace a device’s normal Device Handler.
Getting Help and Support
We hope that you are satisfied with your purchase and don't experience any issues with setting up and using your new Smart Home Controller. As always, help is at hand should you need it by simply following the links below.