Samsung’s SmartThings Home Automation Platform Is So Unreliable, They Should Stop Selling It

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.36.05 PMIn addition to being interested in streaming media technology, I also test out and use a lot of home automation platforms and security cameras. I have systems from Canary, Sharx, Logitech, D-Link, Nest, Arlo, Piper, Archos, Wemo, Smart Things, Wink, and others that get well tested in my household. And while I don’t usually blog about home automation technology, my experience with the SmartThings platform has been so horrible, I wanted to make my comments public in the hopes that Smart Things, or someone from Samsung, will actually care enough to fix it.

For over a year now, SmartThings has struggled to do something simple, turn on and off my lights. I have three lights setup to go on at 4pm and scheduled to turn off at 11pm. And yet, twelve months later, SmartThings still isn’t reliable. Sometimes the lights work perfectly, other times they never work for days at a time. Sometimes only one will turn on and off, while the others don’t do anything. Making the problem worse, SmartThings, which is owned by Samsung, doesn’t even have a support number you can call for help. All support is done in a chat window, which makes the support process very cumbersome.

Months ago, after complaning on Twitter to the CEO of SmartThings, he had someone from support call me, and since then, I’ve had three different calls with support. And yet still, the lights don’t turn on and off correctly. On each support call, they have acknowledged that something on their end isn’t working right, and they’ve never fixed it. I’ve been told that the issues I have are due to some “platform issues” as well as  “outages” and that sometimes “devices act up.” After they think they have fixed it, they have emailed me to say that “things should be considerably smoother now than the last week or so,” except they aren’t.

The SmartThings platform simply does not work. And if I can’t rely on it for turning lights on/off, how would I ever trust it to do things involving security in my home? Another thing that doesn’t work right is their iPhone app. Every couple of days, it asks me to login, not keeping any of my info stored. And many times, the light icon will show green, indicating it is on, when in fact, it is off. Even SmartThings support told me that the way their system works, if the action does not trigger, it won’t then see any future scheduling you have set up. So it if breaks once, it won’t let any of the other actions fire that you have scheduled. Of course, this makes no sense at all and Smart Things support agreed that it is something they need to “work on”.

SmartThings advertises their platform as “intelligent living” and yet, it can’t even turn on/off lights reliably. There is nothing smart or intelligent about their platform at all. It is hands-down the most unreliable technology I have in my house, other than the Nest smoke alarms, which I already sent back last year. Samsung should make SmartThings fix their platform, or just stop selling it all together.

  • nghthawk

    Your experiences are not at all a representative of my experiences with Smart Things, and I have been using them for over two years, My lights turn on/off daily, without issue. On the rare occasion when something does go wrong, I have found it’s due to my internet going down, not because of the hub or service. Maybe in your case, you have a bad hub? You should have that swapped out, if you haven’t already, and see if that helps. It is also possible one or more of your *devices* are acting up…

    • Justin

      I have a house with about 220 + devices, and have had issues scaling it over time. I had a V1 hub (from kickstarter), and upgraded to a V2 hub in hopes things would get better – no dice. The platform scheduling (they admit it) is awful, and often misses routines and simple scheduled events.

      Things got so bad with the reliability of switch states (I have a huge variety of types of devices, and they all behave the same way zigbee, zwave, IP, you name it) – that I have written a small set of smart apps that poll to detect issues, and have a little 5-10 minute timer that runes to ensure all devices are off at night, despite sometimes randomly turning on – or failing to turn off.

      Additionally, if you send more than 20-30 zwave commands (say, “good night”) the Zwave radio reboots. I chatted with support, and they said this was not an issue and expected on larger networks. Meanwhile, my good night routine rarely gets through the 150 or so devices/switches to turn off. Hence, the poll and force off.

      I really wanted this to be amazing, and I still think it can – however, the team needs to be realistic about reliablity. Right now, it’s a mess (feel free to check out the forums ( most of the recent posts are asking about alternatives, and support not even bothering to respond.

      • Jon

        Have you looked at using HomeSeer? They have been around for 16 years!

  • Kurt Sanders

    Since the launch of their V2 hub, and subsequent changes to their critical cloud platform, SmartThings has been fighting major device monitoring outages, hub failing to activate, smart app scheduling & program instabilities, and an unresponsive Help Desk to emails and Offline Chat. SmartThings platform is 99% cloud based and therefore when they have repeated cloud and platform outages, the Home Automation environment is totally dead. Using Home Automation for security, water leaks, critical monitoring of devices, is what we expect from a company whose parent company of Samsung would expect.

    Many of us have been a long standing customers of their V1 and now V2 hub/platform and I think that you and your staff should dig into this growing issue so that your readers can be aware and possibly make an informed buying decision based on your independent evaluation of this matter. These are the kinds of things your readers love to hear about.

    The SmartThings community of users has been very focal about these outages and problematic device behaviors on their forum at https://community.smartthings…. and https://community.smartthings….

    If you would like to verify the responsiveness to their Help Desk, just email and this is what automated message you will get back, but a response from an actual support person may never materialize in a timeframe that is helpful to the issue.

    ## In replies all text above this line is added to the ticket ##

    Hi {name},

    This email is to notify you that we have created a support ticket for your request. We’re very sorry but we may be a bit slower than usual getting back to you. We have a number of new and old users alike that have contacted us with questions. Between our new Hub, new mobile experience, and the tremendous excitement around what SmartThings is doing, we have a sizable backlog of requests. Our support team will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible but we humbly ask for your patience. If you have anything else you’d like to tell us, you can reply to this email. Otherwise, we’ll be in touch as soon as we’re able.

    Warm regards,

    The SmartThings Team

    This email is a service from SmartThings. Delivered by Zendesk.

    The SmartThings Chat line has been Off-line & non responsive.

    Talk with us.

    SmartThings Support: Live chat is currently unavailable. Our support team is still online though. Please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

    • kermitfan

      I am impressed with SmartThings. I have had about a dozen devices on my V2 hub for about 4 months with no issue. Nice mobile interface. Fun coming home to see my lights on at night! Knowing the garage door was open or closed, and closing with a relay if necessary has also given me peace of mind. I am in Arizona.

  • It’s been a few months since this was published, and things are significantly worse despite the SmartThings team apparently scrambling to fix bugs. I have a list of around 15 serious bugs that I’ve been running into for 4+ months, and not one of the has been fixed. Server outage frequency has increased, as has downtime. The app (which is horribly designed) is often non-responsive or takes minutes to load. To make matters worse, every time you switch between apps or go to the home screen and back to the app it refreshes the UI state which is dependent on reaching out to the SmartThings servers (which they have too few of and refuse to put any money into scaling). So if you are in the app and switch over to an email and back, you have to load the UI state again, which can take several minutes when their servers are (frequently) having issues. At this moment the app is having issues changing security states from “ARMED” to “DISARMED” so every time I open a door my alarm is triggered, and because the only way to change states is via the buggy/laggy app that is currently not working (announced via their “platform status” system) there is nothing I can do. I’ve had several days where I could not even turn the lights on in my home because of system outages, and my laundry list of serious bugs grows by at least one item a week. As of right now SmartThings is not able to communicate with my SONOS system any more. The “Good Morning!” routine that turns on my Philips Hue lights also sets them to 0% brightness after about 500ms even though that routine has no brightness calls and the default state of the bulbs is 100% brightness. Every morning my house briefly flashes to life only to quickly return to darkness until I manually set the brightness of 4 lights back to 100%. My front door sensor is defective and detecting 10+ phantom knocks per day, but often does not detect even the most forceful of knocks.

    The only good thing I can say about SmartThings is their customer support (though overwhelmed) has been very helpful. They already sent me a replacement for the defective door sensor, and a replacement for one of the motion detectors I bought off their site that arrived dead.

    My motion sensors only occasionally turn on the lights for the rooms they live in because those lights are Philips Hues, meaning the hub has to send a request out to the cloud servers (of which there are too few) and then back. Occasionally those calls are delayed by many seconds or even minutes, and very frequently dropped all together. The idea that pressing a local button, or triggering a local motion sensor, that talks to a local hub to turn on a local light needs to have every command go out to the cloud and back is ridiculous and in no way needed. My Amazon Echo uses the Philips Hue API, but appears to do so locally, as it always turns on lights (or groups of lights instantly) and has never once failed. For example, if the SmartThings motion detector in my kitchen manages to turn on all 3 kitchen lights, it does so randomly and with noticeable delay between trigger and between turning on each light. The Amazon Echo turns all 3 lights on instantly in unison.

    If these issues were a couple times a month, or even a couple times a week it might be tolerable, but the frequency seems to be increasing. And despite significant consumer outrage on their own forums and other online sources Samsung seems to be doing little to fix bugs or improve their infrastructure to increase responsiveness. But I hear they are hiring!…

    I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Samsung to take these issues seriously. (class action?) They have yet to publicly acknowledge or apologies for all these frequent and massive issues. Likely out of pride and/or corporate cowardice. But honestly my opinion of them would improve drastically if they just came out and said “Ok, we got in over our head, and things are not working the way we hoped. We’ll try and make things right.” Because the first part in fixing a problem is admitting that one exists. And in this case there is way more than one. But they operate with zero transparency, which is maddening when they (and their product) operate so poorly.

    As I said to their support team, things are progressively getting worse and I’m not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here. I suspect that light is also controlled by SmartThings.