Smart Home

Frustrated With Samsung SmartThings? Here Are Your Options

Dan Price 28-02-2018

Using smart devices around your home should make your life better. Once you spend some time setting them up, they can save you time, energy, and money.


Sadly, technology is rarely so simple. Things are always going wrong. And if it takes you longer to fix your smart home device than it would to perform a given task manually, the device quickly starts to lose its allure.

If your Samsung SmartThings setup is giving you grief, what are your options? In this article, we’ll offer some common troubleshooting tips and look at alternatives you could use instead.

Basic SmartThings Troubleshooting

Here are three of the most common issues you’ll encounter when using SmartThings devices.

1. Failed Device Pairings

samsung smartthings frustrations

Samsung SmartThings is a modular system. You can keep adding more devices over time.


Some users have complained about their new devices not pairing with their existing hub. The four affected products are the Multipurpose Sensor, the Motion Sensor, the Arrival Sensor, and the Water Leak Sensor

A defective Remove to Pair pull-tab is often the cause of the issue.

It’s easy to know if you can tell if you have a defective pull-tab. Your device’s LED won’t light up and pairing will be impossible. The issue is especially common if the tab ripped when you removed it for the first time.

To fix the problem, you need to remove the device’s cover. Once exposed, remove the battery and blow on both the battery and the device’s battery compartment. Your aim is to remove any remnant parts of the tab.


2. Poor Sensor Range

SmartThings devices talk to each other wirelessly. As such, they are often afflicted by a weak signal.

A weak signal could cause a device to unreachable for extended periods. And in the case of a water leak or intruder, a disconnected device could prove to be very costly.

You can, however, tweak your set up to improve the situation.

Firstly, try to make a device’s line-of-sight as clear as possible. Wireless signals struggle to pass through thick walls.


If that doesn’t help, try adding a socket midway between your hub and the troublesome device. Because SmartThings uses a mesh network, a socket will function as a signal repeater.

You can also try disabling 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. It will reduce congestion on the frequency and thus improve your devices’ range.

Lastly, you could try replacing your problematic device with a Z-Wave alternative. Z-Wave operates at 900MHz What Is Z-Wave and Is It Compatible With Your Smart Home? Z-wave compatibility is a popular feature in smart home technology, but what is it exactly? Why is it important? How does it work? We've got answers and more! Read More . It’s not a widely-used frequency among other household items.

3. Unknown Devices

When you try and add a new device to your SmartThings setup, occasionally you will see an Unknown Device message.


Typically, the message is caused by one of two things:

  • You’re using a Z-Wave device that was previously connected to a different SmartThings Hub or Z-Wave controller. You need to reset the device. Refer to the manufacturer’s official documentation for more information.
  • The device is blacklisted. Samsung SmartThings blacklists some Zigbee devices which have known compatibility issues. Examples include smart door locks from Kwikset and Yale. There is no fix for the incompatibility; you may experience unexpected behavior.

Time to Move On From SmartThings?

If your SmartThings issues run deeper, it might be time to accept that it’s time to move on. Samsung SmartThings is not the only way to automate your home.

Here are some alternatives.

Replace Your Hub

Many of the leading smart home manufacturers offer a hub. Alongside SmartThings, other common products include the Insteon Hub, the VeraLite hub, and the Lutron Smart Bridge. We’ve looked at them all in detail Which Smart Hub for Home Automation Is Best for You? For a while, people thought of the idea as nothing more than a gimmick, but recent product releases have shown that smart home automation is starting to live up to its promises. Read More elsewhere on the site.

You could even try using openHAB Getting Started with OpenHAB Home Automation on Raspberry Pi OpenHAB is a mature, open source home automation platform that runs on a variety of hardware and is protocol agnostic, meaning it can connect to nearly any home automation hardware on the market today. Read More . Whereas as most other company’s products either use proprietary communication protocols or one of Zigbee and Z-Wave What's the Difference Between Zigbee and Z-Wave? Here's Everything You Need to Know To ensure your smart home devices communicate well with each other, it's important to know what wireless language they speak! Here's everything you need to know about Zigbee and Z-wave. Read More , openHAB is hardware- and protocol-agnostic.

In that regard, openHAB is the most like-for-like replacement for SmartThings (SmartThings hubs use Zigbee but also have a Z-Wave radio).

On the downside, openHAB is much less user-friendly than SmartThings. You need to be fairly knowledgeable with code to make it fulfill its potential.

It’s also worth spending some time researching less well-known hubs. Some hubs you’ve probably never heard 7 Smart Home Hubs You've Never Heard of Before Some smart home hubs get all the press, so you might not be aware of these lesser-known gems! One of these lesser-known smart home hubs might just be the perfect fit for you! Read More of have exceptional features. Securifi’s range of products is particularly impressive.

Try a Smart Assistant

Whether a smart assistant can replace your SmartThings smart home depends on how complicated your setup is.

If you use lots of third-party SmartThings apps, you might find a smart assistant to be lacking. But if your hub just runs a few smart lights and a security camera, you might be able to remove the hub from the equation.

Most modern smart home devices can talk to each other (and consequently, to your virtual assistant) over the existing Wi-Fi network—they don’t solely rely on Zigbee or Z-Wave. It’s why we recently argued that hubs were slowly becoming obsolete Building a Smart Home? Avoid These 5 Popular Gadgets Building your smart home is an exciting time, with endless possibilities. But it's important to be aware that while these gadgets sound cool, they aren't what you want in your smart home! Read More in the world of smart homes.

Of course, if you have a lot of older Z-Wave devices, you will need to retain a Z-Wave-compatible hub.


samsung smartthings frustrations

The final major selling point of a SmartThings Hub is its ability to automate events.

For example, if a motion sensor detects a door being opened, it could tell your smart lighting system to turn on the light, even if neither of the two systems are manufactured by Samsung.

But, as long as the devices you want to talk to each other are both running on your Wi-Fi network, the free IFTTT app can do the same thing.

We’ve looked extensively at IFTTT recipes for both SmartThings and the wider smart home 10 of the Best IFTTT Recipes for Smart Home Automation The right IFTTT recipes for your smart home can save you time, effort, and energy. Here are ten of our favorites to get you started. Read More . Check out the articles to get a taste of what’s available. You might also consider some budget DIY projects to build up your smart home Smart Home on a Budget: 10 Cheap Alternatives to Popular Devices All the functionality of your favorite smart gadgets for a fraction of the cost? Yes please! Here are 10 less-expensive devices you can easily substitute in your smart home. Read More .

Image Credit: leungchopan/Depositphotos

Related topics: Home Automation, IFTTT, SmartThings, Troubleshooting.

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  1. Jeremy
    January 23, 2019 at 1:59 am

    No mention of Hubitat Elevation? The only hub I'm aware of that can run SmartThings Groovy based smart apps with little to no modifications and does not have any dependence on cloud servers...

  2. Phoebe McPhee
    June 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

    My phone upgraded and they program appeared. How do I delete it? I do not want it nor will I use it.

  3. WuzYoungOnceToo
    March 1, 2018 at 12:10 am

    The author is clearly writing on a subject about which he is fundamentally ignorant. Among the many examples of that ignorance...

    "In that regard, openHAB is the most like-for-like replacement for SmartThings (SmartThings hubs use Zigbee but also have a Z-Wave radio)."

    In addition to the fact that openHAB is NOT a hub (it is software that you run on your own hardware, which may or may not be equipped with Zigbee, Z-Wave or other radios) nor a mostly cloud-based HA system, Wink is clearly the most "like-for-like" replacement for an ST hub.

    • Jeremy
      January 23, 2019 at 2:02 am

      Can Wink run the Smart Apps written in Groovy for SmartThings ?

      As far as I know, Hubitat Elevation is the only hub where you can actually take SmartThings groovy code and run it with little to no modifications.

  4. Jon
    February 28, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    "We’ve looked at them all in detail elsewhere on the site." Your link to more hubs has Staples Connect on it and that product doesn't even exist anymore and is from 2015! Almost 3 year old research. Where is the mention of HomeSeer?

    • PowderedToast76
      March 1, 2018 at 2:57 am

      ...or Wink which is probably it's closest competitor?

    • PowderedToast76
      March 1, 2018 at 2:57 am

      ...or Wink, which is probably SmartThings' closest competitor.