Creating an ultimate smart home involves installing a lot of smart devices. Though each of them promotes convenience, you might get tired of controlling them using different applications on your smartphone. If you’re looking for a device that will enable you to control your smart appliances and devices within one app, then maybe it’s best that you get a smart home hub.
What Is a Smart Home Hub?
A smart home hub is a hardware device that connects the gadgets and appliances on a home automation network and controls communication among them. This may include smart devices such as thermostats, light bulbs, door locks, switches, motion sensors, wall outlets, and other smart appliances. Smart home hubs typically include smart sensors to enable control and communications.
The operation of a smart home hub is usually controlled through a smart home app. This allows the homeowner to monitor elements of the environment and as well as to automate, schedule, and control tasks.
A smart home hub will help you get your smart devices to work together. For example, if you have smart light bulbs from different manufacturers and you want them to work in the same room and be controlled as one, then a hub could make it possible for you to do that. Aside from that, smart hubs can also enable you to access all your smart devices remotely.
There are also some smart hubs that support automation software such as the IFTTT (If This Then That) that allows users to generate chains of simple conditional statements that are activated based on specific situations. For example, it might be set up to activate lights, heating/cooling, or unlock doors when the user was detected within an indicated distance from his home.
There are many homeowners that start home automation with the purchase of a smart home hub and just add devices to the automation system incrementally. Smart hubs are also often included in smart home kits, which contain all the devices needed to connect compatible devices and systems within the household.
Do You Need a Smart Home Hub?
As you venture into the smart home world, you might think at first that a smart hub might not seem necessary. It’s because some smart devices come with their own hub or bridge that connects to your router and smartphone while other devices can be connected directly to your Wi-Fi network. But as you add more smart products to your home, your need for a smart hub will increase because you might get tired of finding the right smartphone app to control each smart device you have.
Smart home hubs will enable your smart home to become automated. With it, you will be able to control several devices at once and even create routines or scenes depending on what you’re doing or what time it is. For example, through a smart hub, you can create a movie night scene which locks the door, dims the lights, adjusts the living room heating, and closes the blinds all at once. So, if you want to experience a smart home like this, then you might want to install a smart home hub.
Things to Consider
It’s cool and convenient to have a smart hub at home, but before purchasing one, there are important factors to consider first. Here are some of them.
Many smart hubs have the ability to respond directly to your voice commands. However, not all of them have this feature and instead require you to manage all of your connected devices through an app. If you want to use voice commands to control your devices, then you should make sure that the smart hub you will purchase has this feature.
Smart devices can be connected to each other in a number of different ways and not all smart hubs are able to interact with all of these protocols. The main types of protocols that smart support include is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Waze among others. Before purchasing a smart hub, make sure that your smart products at home will be compatible with it.
There are smart hubs that have a wider range of uses compared to other models. But basically, they are used to manage different powered devices such as lights, thermostats, and other technologies. There are also some that will allow you to control music, and turn on your television. It will depend on you on what functions you need from a smart hub.
Operating System Compatibility
Most smart hubs are compatible with both Android and iOS devices, but not all of them are compatible with Windows phones. Therefore, if you use a Windows smartphone or tablet, make sure that your chosen smart hub is compatible with it before purchasing.
There are smart hubs that can directly connect to a Wi-Fi network but other smart hubs require an Ethernet cable in order to work. If your chosen hub needs to be connected directly to the modem, make sure that you place in a convenient spot in your home.
The Best Smart Hubs for Your Home
Where to Buy
If you’ve decided that you want to have a smart hub at home, we will help you find the perfect one that will match your needs. Here are the best smart home hubs we can recommend.
1. Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is probably the most popular when it comes to smart home hubs. It offers a great feature set including a 360-degree omnidirectional speaker for audio. That speaker is able to support all your favorite music services such as Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and more, which can be controlled with your voice.
With this smart hub and supporting devices, you can be able to control your lights, fans, switches, thermostats, door locks, and even garage doors. You can also use this smart hub to make a call. Just ask Alexa to call someone or send a message. It also comes with extra features such as reading the news and reporting the weather, traffic, and even sports scores.
This smart hub comes in a small size which takes up very little room, but it requires AC power, therefore, it’s ideal to place it on countertops, desks or shelves. It also has dual-band, dual-antenna support making its Wi-Fi connection rock solid. More and more devices are supporting the Alexa technology
This is an intelligent system that can be used over 200 devices. Whether you want complex controls or simple commands, this smart hub will work very well. It has an app which is available for both Android and iOS smartphones. This means you will be able to control connected Samsung Home appliances, Philips Hue lightbulbs, the Ecobee thermostat, and more.
This smart home hub is very easy to set up, but it requires an Ethernet cable to function. It allows direct control to individually connected devices and as well as create routines for preset device configurations. It is compact enough to fit anywhere you want at home.
3. Wink Hub 2
You can connect a number of smart gadgets on this second-generation smart hub including Amazon’s Alexa, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Google Home, and Kidde devices. It has a powerful radio and Ethernet ports for a strong Internet connection.
This smart home hub comes with a straightforward smartphone app that is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It’s easy to set up as well. In fact, in just five minutes or less, you will be able to connect smart devices to it such as Philips Hue lighting, Nest camera, and Ecobee thermostats.
Its four main features are: control, automate, monitor, and schedule. And with those main functions, it is able to support up to 530 devices paired at once seamlessly. You can also buy a Wink Relay separately which will allow you to control all wink-ready devices without using a smartphone.
If you want a smart hub but you’re on a budget, the Amazon Echo Dot is the best choice for you. It is priced far below compared to most smart hubs but it does not lack functionality. It does not have a large speaker but its seven far-field microphone is able to pick up voices from across a room.
Amazon Echo Dot can set alarms, read news headlines, report weather and even sports scores, and a lot more. It is a compact smart home hub that will fit anywhere in any room.
This smart hub is easy to set up as well. You just have to plug it into a wall and download its app which is compatible with both Android and iOS. Once it’s online, you will be able to use it with the simplest of voice commands. It will allow you to control lights, televisions, fans, and even coffee makers.
This is not your typical smart home hub but it is compatible with more than 270,000 devices. It is easy to set up and works great with TV satellite, Apple TV, cable box, game consoles, and more.
This smart home hub has a downloadable Harmony App that is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. When you tap its pre-programmed button on the app, you will be able to control your smart lights, speaker, TV, and even launch Netflix instantaneously with just one click.
It can also add Amazon Alexa support for voice control so you can control your devices through voice commands. This smart home hub is best for those with smart home theaters.
6. Google Home
Google also has its own smart hub called Google Home and it also comes with useful features. Just like Alexa, you can ask it a variety of questions and it will answer you in real time. It can also check the traffic conditions and weather, watch the stock market, and keep up on your favorite sports teams. Aside from that, it also has a dictionary, a recipe guide, and it can even translate documents.
Through voice commands, you will be able to make it play music from Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. Aside from that, you can also manage your smart devices at homes such as thermostats, lights, and plugs, and make schedules with IFTTT (If This Then That) app technology.
This is a dual purpose device. It is a router and a smart home automation hub in one. It has an onboard display that promises to have you up and running within three minutes. It has an available app that is compatible with Android and iOS devices, together with the Web-based console to easily integrate smart hub products such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi connectivity options.
Most smart devices like Philips Hue light bulb and Nest products work well with this smart home hub. It also has a geo-targeting feature which can track your phone’s signal so it can turn things on and off immediately when you get home and when you leave.
This smart home hub is more focused on helping you manage the smart devices in your home. It is plugged directly into your router and it is compatible with all computer and smartphone operating systems which makes it very convenient.
This smart hub will enable you to control your lights, security cameras, thermostat, door locks, and more in just one app. You can also program it to turn off the unnecessary appliance when you leave a room, helping you save on your energy bills. It is a smart hub for working professionals who are frequently glued to their computer.
Smart hubs are indeed helpful in conveniently controlling smart home devices. Instead of using separate apps for each device, it will enable you to control them all together in just one platform. We hope this guide will help you find the best smart hub for your smart home.