Securing your home with SmartThings: Get notified of door open events

In our Getting Started with Samsung SmartThings article, we installed the SmartThings Hub, setup the mobile app, and added our first smart device to our home automation network. We also created a rule that sends you a smartphone notification in response to different events that are happening in your home, so you can keep up to date, even when you’re out of the house.

This setup is the foundation for every SmartThings network, but it doesn’t make for the most exciting home automation system!

Once you’ve mastered the essentials, you can get more out of your SmartThings setup, by combining your rules with modes, routines, and a range of other criteria. This approach can mean the difference between a smart home where the lights turn on in response to a voice command, or a smart home where you tap your phone to activate a custom “Time For Bed” routine, and your smart home responds by turning off the downstairs lights, locking the front door, switching on the upstairs lights, and then alerting you if it detects any suspicious movement throughout the night.

In this article, I’ll show you how to setup your SmartThings Multi Sensor, so you receive a notification every time a door in your home is opened.

While this can be a great way to help keep your property secure, chances are you don’t want to receive a notification every single time someone opens your front door! To ensure your phone isn’t flooded with unnecessary notifications, I’ll also be exploring various ways that you can modify this rule, so you’re only notified when the door opens under unusual circumstances, such as when you’re asleep, or during the hours when you’re usually at work.

What you’ll need

I’m going to assume you’ve already completed the following:

  • Installed the SmartThings Hub somewhere in your home.
  • Setup the SmartThings Classic app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Added a Multi Sensor to your SmartThings network.

If you haven’t completed all of these steps, then you’ll find detailed instructions in our Getting Started with Samsung SmartThings article.

Attaching the Multi Sensor

In our Getting Started article, we used the Multi Sensor to monitor changes in temperature, but as the names suggests the Multi Sensor can monitor multiple metrics, including every time something is opened or closed.

In this article, we setup the Multi Sensor to warn you whenever a door is opened, but the steps will typically be the same for anything that opens and closes, so you could also use these instructions to monitor a window, drawer, gate, a fridge, or even a safe.

Regardless of whether you purchased your Multi Sensor separately, or as part of the SmartThings Starter Kit, it comes with a selection of screws and adhesive patches that you can use to fix the sensor into position. Even if you do plan on permanently fixing the Multi Sensor into place, it’s a good idea to use the adhesive tape to check that the sensor is positioned correctly, before you start drilling holes into your doors!

In order to detect open and close events, the two lines on the Multi Sensor’s casing must come into close contact with one another when the door is closed. Depending on where you’re fixing the sensor, this may take a bit of trial and error, particularly if you’re working with some strange angles!

Once you’ve worked out the correct angle, use the adhesive tape to fix both parts of the sensor into position.

Smartphone notifications: Creating security alerts

Next, let’s use the SmartThings Classic mobile app to create a simple rule that sends us a smartphone notification, every time someone opens the door.

  • Launch the SmartThings Classic app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Make sure the “Dashboard” tab is selected along the bottom of the app.
  • Select the “Smart Home Monitor” card.

  • Tap the little cog in the upper-right corner.
  • Select “Custom.”
  • Select “New monitoring rule.”
  • Tap “What kind of device do you want to use?”
  • Choose “Open/Close Sensor.”
  • Find the “Sensor opens” slider, and push it into the “On” position.
  • Tap the “Select Open/Close Sensors” and then choose the sensor that you want to use.
  • Tap “Done,” to return to the previous screen.
  • Specify how often you want to receive a notification, either by pushing the “Only once per day” slider into the “On” position, or by tapping “Once within this number of minutes” and then entering a specific timeframe. Let’s imagine we want to be notified as soon as the door opens, so tap “Once within this number of minutes” and enter “0.”
  • Tap “Next” in the app’s upper-right corner.

Now, we need to specify what happens when this event is detected:

  • Find the “Text & Push Notifications” slider, and push it into the “On”position.
  • Enter the phone number where SmartThings should send this alert.
  • Type your message.
  • Tap “Save.”

SmartThings will name your rule automatically based on various parameters, or you can give it a custom name by pushing the “Edit rule name” slider into the “On” position, and then editing the “Enter custom name” field.

  • Once you’re happy with your settings, tap “Save.”

This rule is now active, and you can put it to the test by opening the door – you should receive a notification on your smartphone or tablet, warning you that the door has been opened.

Making your smart home smarter

Most of the time, you don’t want to be notified every single time a door is opened. Even if you rarely use the door in question, there may still be circumstances where you do open it, for example leaving a door stood open on an usually stuffy summer’s day. If you don’t make some tweaks to this basic rule, then you may find yourself flooded with unnecessary notifications!

Now we’ve created a basic rule, let’s explore several ways that you can get selective about the notifications you receive, so SmartThings only warns you when this door is opened under suspicious circumstances.

Let’s start by opening our rule, ready for editing:

  • In the SmartThings Classic app, tap the “Smart Home Monitor” card.
  • Tap the cog icon in the upper-right corner.
  • Select “Custom.”
  • Select the rule that you want to edit.

There’s a tonne of ways that you can modify this rule to make it work better for you, but
let’s look at some of the most popular ones:

1. Get notified if the door opens in the middle of the night

Someone opening your front door during the day usually isn’t that big of a deal – but if someone opens your front door at 3AM when you’re fast asleep upstairs, then you’ll definitely want to know about it!

Let’s tweak our rule so that we receive a notification if the door is opened in the middle of the night:

  • Give “More options” a tap.
  • Select “Only during a certain time.”
  • Tap “Starting.”
  • Manipulate the clock’s hands to read “23.00.”

  • Tap “OK.”
  • Tap “Ending.”
  • Set the clock to “6.00 AM”
  • Tap “OK.”
  • Give the little “<” icon a tap, and save your changes when prompted.

Now, if someone opens the door during the night, you’ll receive a notification on your smartphone.

2. Creating weekend and weekday notifications

Few of us have the same schedule for every day of the week. Maybe you like to sleep in, or stay out late at the weekends, or try to head into work early on Monday mornings.

Your changing schedule can impact the type of events you need to know about, so you may want to tell SmartThings to notify you about different door open events, on different days of the week. For example, maybe you don’t need to know about someone opening your door in the middle of the night, if it happens at the weekend, when you often come home late.

To restrict your rule to certain days:

  • Tap “More options.”
  • Select “Only on certain days of the week.”
  • Select all the days where you want to enforce this rule, and then tap “Done.”

To get even more specific, you can combine “Only on certain days of the week” with “Only during a certain time” settings, to create a rule that only comes into effect at certain times, on certain days. You could even potentially create separate rules for different days of the week, for example you might create a “Door opening events – Weekend” rule and a “Door opening events – Weekdays” rule, both with their own unique set of criteria.

3. Routines and modes: Get notified when you’re away

There are two core concepts of SmartThings that we haven’t touched on yet:

  • Routines. This is a series of actions that SmartThings should perform, for example a “Good Morning” routine might trigger your alarm clock, switch on the radio, and power up your coffee machine. The SmartThings Classic app includes four preconfigured routines: Good Morning, Good Night, Goodbye, and I’m Back.
  • Modes. This is a persistent state, such as Away or Home.

You can trigger a routine manually at any point:

  • Tap the “Automation” button along the bottom of the screen.
  • Make sure the “Routines” tab is selected.

Find the routine that you want to run and give it a tap; a checkmark should briefly appear across the routine’s icon.

To see what mode you’re currently in, tap the three-lined menu icon that appears in most of the SmartThings Classic screens. The current mode is displayed in the header.

Routines are often linked to modes, where running a routine switches your home automation network to a different mode. By default, triggering the “Good Night” routine will put your SmartThings network into “Night” mode. You can use this default behaviour as a quick and easy way to ensure you’re only notified of door open events that happen while you’re asleep.

In this section, we’re going to tweak our rule so that it only comes into effect when we’re in “Night” mode. Then, whenever you’re heading to bed, you just need to run the “Good Night” routine, which will cause SmartThings to switch to “Night” mode and activate your rule automatically.

Okay, so this sounds like a lot of effort just to activate a single rule, but the idea is that eventually you’ll add multiple rules to your routines and modes, and then create further rules that trigger these different routines and modes automatically. Routines and modes are a powerful and versatile part of home automation, so bear in mind that this is just a taste of how you might use them in your SmartThings network!

Let’s modify our rule so that it’s triggered whenever we enter “Night” mode:

  • Tap “More Options.”
  • Select “Only when mode is.”
  • Choose “Night.”
  • Tap “Done.”
  • Save your changes.

To put this modified rule to the test:

  • Select “Automation.”
  • Make sure the “Routines” tab is selected.
  • Give the “Good Night” routine a tap.
  • Check that your app is now in “Night” mode, by opening the side menu and checking the text at the top of the menu.
  • Open the door that’s being monitored; you should now receive a notification on your smartphone.

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About the author

Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Sheffield. She writes about Android, Java, Kotlin and all things Apple. She is the co-author of O'Reilly's "iWork: The Missing Manual," and the author of "Android UI Design," from Packt Publishing.

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