10 Clever Uses for Samsung SmartThings Sensors

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SmartThings is a smarthome platform from Samsung that lets you set up sensors and other devices to automate certain tasks and secure your home. Here are some clever uses for those sensors that you may not have thought about.

There are a handful of different sensors that SmartThings offers, but the lineup’s most popular options are the open/close Multipurpose Sensor, Motion Sensor, and the Arrival Sensor. They all have obvious uses, but you’re probably not taking full advantage of their capabilities, and with just a little creativity you can do some pretty cool things with them.

Auto-Activate Closet Lights

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If you have a closet that has a light you flip on with a switch, you probably fumble around to find it, especially if it’s one of those pull-string lights where you can never seem to find the pull string. However, using a motion sensor or an open/close sensor makes the job a bit easier.

Unfortunately, you’ll need a smart light bulb of some kind, so if you’re not already invested in Philips Hue or other smart light brand, this one may not be worth the extra cost, but you can get a Philips Hue starter kit for as low as $79 and add on to it for as low as $15 per bulb.

Auto-Activate Attic Lights

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This is similar to the closet lights conundrum, but attic lights are far more stubborn and annoying than closet lights, depending on what kind of attic setup you have. If you have a pull-down attic ladder with pull-string lights, you know how annoying it is trying to find the lights in a dark, hot space that no one enjoys being in.

However, you can place an open/close sensor on the pull-down attic ladder, which can activate a smart light bulb that turns on automatically, or you can even use a motion sensor.

Get Notified When the Mail Arrives

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Call me crazy, but I love receiving mail and I always like knowing when it arrives. However, our mail usually doesn’t arrive at a specific time every day, so we never know when it will get here, but by using a SmartThings sensor inside of the mailbox, we can get notified whenever the mailman comes.

If you have a traditional mailbox on the side of the road (or a small mailbox in an apartment complex like the one pictured), you can place an open/close sensor inside of it, with the smaller magnet piece attached to the door. If you live in a town where the mailboxes are up near your house by the front door, your options are more limited, but you might be able to squeeze in a motion sensor at the bottom of the mailbox.

Of course, keep in mind that this won’t work in all situations, especially if you have a long driveway where your mailbox is all the way by the road. At that point, the sensor would be too far away from the hub.

Create a “Panic Button” to Turn on All Flood Lights

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This one requires smart light bulbs, but it can be a great way to deter burglars or just give yourself some light if you need to go outside at night.

By setting up an open/close sensor to control all of your flood lights outside, you can put it somewhere inside of your house where you can easily access it, and then just activate it whenever you need to, instantly turning on all of your flood lights.

You could also set up a scene in the smartphone app, but using an open/close sensor is much quicker and easier, which is ideal when you’re in a panic.

Secure Your Shed & Other Outdoor Items

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It’s obvious to put open/close sensors on doors and windows in your house, but many people forget about their sheds or other outdoor buildings. You might have them locked, but that still might not deter a burglar.

You can place an open/close sensor on your shed’s door or use motion sensor, and whenever it goes off, you can receive a notification. You can even connect a third-party siren/alarm to SmartThings in order to scare off the burglars before they can even take a peek inside.

Get Notified When Your Child Returns Home

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If you want better peace of mind knowing that your child returned home from school safe and sound, using the Arrival Sensor can make that happen. Simply just attach the sensor to their backpack or other item and once the sensor gets close to the SmartThings hub, you’ll receive a notification.

The same thing can also work if you want to know when your child came home last night and whether or not it was before curfew. Attach the sensor to their car keys and SmartThings will do the rest.

Get Notified If Your Dog Runs Away

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If your dog has the habit of bolting whenever he sees an open door, or has gotten smart about the fence in the backyard, you can attach an Arrival Sensor to the collar and receive a notification whenever Bucky ends up running away. From there, you can call your neighbors or a friend to help find him.

Secure Your Valuables Cabinet

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Whether it’s a jewelry box or a special cabinet filled with your most prized possessions, you don’t want someone accessing it if they don’t have permission to do so. You could put a lock on it, but sometimes that can be difficult to do on some cabinets.

By using an open/close sensor or motion sensor, you can keep track of when something was opened and even receive an alert when it gets opened. You can also do the same thing for cabinets that are off limits to children, but it might be better to get a child lock to prevent children from opening them in the first place.

Keep Track of Your Elderly Loved Ones

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If you have a parent or grandparent who lives alone and are remotely worried about their well-being, you can keep track of them using SmartThings sensors and know if they’re up and around when they should be.

You can place motion sensors in their bedroom so that you’ll know that they woke up, and you can even go as far as placing sensors in all the rooms, so if they happened to fall down and aren’t able to get back up, you’ll know about it.

Get Notified of Unexpected Indoor Temperature Hikes

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Something you may not know about the SmartThings sensors: they’re also equipped with thermometers, and they can take the temperature of the room they’re in.

With this, you can get notified if the temperature uncharacteristically falls or rises beyond the normal temperature, possibly pointing to a broken furnace or A/C. Granted, you can do this with most smart thermostats, but if you don’t have one of those, this can be a great option as well.

Images from Rubbermaid/Flickr, lori05871/Flickr, Steven Pisano/Flickr, Micolo J/Flickr, waxesstatic/Flickr, Mike Cole/Flickr

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.