SmartThings Multi Sensor – Review

SmartThings Multi Sensor

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In this article we are going to take a closer look at another sensor from the Samsung SmartThings range. If you are not already familiar with the ‘SmartThings’ range you can read a little more about it in our SmartThings Hub review, basically it is a smart home system which starts as a hub, and then grows as you add more compatible sensors and switches etc.

Today we are going to be looking at the ‘Multi Sensor’ from the range, a small device made up of two pieces (sensor and a magnet), and despite it being mainly advertised as just a door sensor, it’s capabilities are actually much broader as we will discuss. This device is not designed to be weather resistant and is intended for internal use only.

Introduction

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So as we said, this sensor consist of two pieces, a sensor (the larger of the two blocks), and a magnet (you guessed it, the smaller bit!), the idea being that you place one section on a door within your property, and the other on the frame next to it, when the two pieces are close it sees a closed door and when they separated it presumes that a door has been opened.

But I hear you asking “Why is it called a multi sensor if it can only sense an open or closed door?”, well this bit of kit is actually capable of much more. As well as the detection of its magnetic counterpart, the larger block is also capable of sensing minor vibrations, it’s orientation, angle, and even the temperature, now things get interesting…

Setup

Before we dive into how this sensor can benefit your home, let’s first look at getting it connected and set up.

NOTE: You must have purchased and set up the SmartThings Hub before you can use this sensor, the hub can either be purchased by itself, or as part of a kit. You can read our guide to setting up the hub in another of our articles here.

If you have purchased a new multi sensor you will find a small plastic tab labelled ‘Remove To Pair’, all you need to do is open the free SmartThings app (details here), navigate to ‘My Home’ at the bottom, then ‘Things’ and then the ‘+ / Add a Thing’ icon.

NOTE: It is best to keep devices within 15 feet of the hub when pairing them to ensure that are detected quickly, after which they can be moved out and around your home (providing they are kept within range). 

You will then want to select ‘Connect Now’ which will initiate a search where you can finally pull that plastic tab away from the sensor.

You should hopefully find within a few seconds that the sensor is recognised. When the two sections of the sensor are held close it will show as ‘closed’, and when they are separated it should show as ‘open’.

NOTE: Make sure that both parts of the sensors are positioned in such a way that the small ‘magnet alignment marks’ on each part are together and level.

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You can then set up some device settings:

Name: Enter a name for label the sensor, something like ‘Front Door Sensor’ or ‘Spare Room Window’ is usually a good idea so that notifications make sense later on during alerts. Naming may not seem overly important at first but it is almost essential as you add more and more devices to your setup.

Temperature Offset: You can also set a temperature offset. As we mentioned earlier, this device can detect the temperature around it, if you have a more precise reading elsewhere and find that the sensor’s figure is slightly off you can adjust its offset here, handy.

Finally you will be asked ‘Do you want to use this sensor on a garage door?’, this is where the versatility of this sensor really comes into play. Let’s take a look…

Garage Door Sensor

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I know what you’re thinking, stick one half of the sensor on the door and the other on the garage door frame? Well actually the sensor handles these kind of doors in a different way, remember we said that the ‘larger half’ of the sensor can detect its own orientation and tilt? For garage doors you don’t actually need the smaller ‘magnet’ section, simply stick the larger half to the inside of your garage door vertically and set the ‘Do you want to use this sensor on a garage door?’ option within the app to ‘Yes’, by enabling the option you are telling the sensor to purely focus on its orientation and ignore it’s usual set up.

When the garage door is opened the sensor’s orientation angle will change and an alert will be triggered. Clever huh!?

Tech Specs / Installation

The sensor measures at 1.90 x 1.35 x 0.57 inches (Sensor), 1.50 x 0.54 x 0.53 inches (Magnet) and weighs in at around 1.89 ounces. The magnet requires no power, while the larger sensor takes a CR-2450 battery (included and pre-installed).

It is small enough to be positioned in a large number of places (see our idea list below) and can be attached by either using the included wall mounting plate, or the double sided sticky pads which also come pre-attached. Personally I find the sticky pads to be more than sufficient, the sensors feel solidly held in place but at the same time could be removed with a spatula if you move between homes, perfect for those who want additional security in a rented property without the use of screws.

It is recommended that sensors are kept within 50-130 feet of your hub, depending on how your house is constructed, for the best performance. You may find that a sensor with a low battery or that is slightly out of range may get stuck and give false open/closed readings so watch out for those!

Usage

So this multi sensor offers a little more functionality than just being a door sensor, with its vibration, tilt, magnet, and orientation sense, it can be used in a great number of ways including:

  • Check whether you closed a door or window
  • Get alerts if doors or windows are opened unexpectedly
  • Place it on a drawer or cupboard to monitor a child’s access to off-limit areas
  • Trigger an alert or thermostat change if there is a change in temperature
  • Set connected lights to turn on/off depending on whether a door is open or closed
  • Place the sensors on a letterbox to detect when something has been posted
  • Place on a garage door to remotely check if it is open or has been opened unexpectedly
  • Place the sensor on something valuable to detect if it is moved or tampered with
  • Place it in a cookie jar to detect the movement of a child eating snacks before dinner!
  • Use the vibration sensor to detect a knock at the door

Conclusion

Overall, I have to say that the SmartThings multi sensor is one of the most versatile bits of smart kit  I have used. As we have seen, while it appears to have been mainly marketed as a door sensor, its ability to sense changes in movement and temperature make it a much more powerful tool in building your smart home.

The multi sensors are a very respectable price, incredibly simple to set up, and their functionality combined with some cleverly coded SmartApps offers a very broad range as to the benefits they can bring to your home. As ever, my only grudge with these sensors, just like the rest of the SmartThings range, is that they are only available in white and can stick out around the house if your doors are another colour, a bit of a minor fault in the grand scale of things I know, but I think it is important for smart devices to seamlessly blend in as much as possible!

In a sentence, If you have a SmartThings system and want to expand, multi sensors are definitely the first place to look!