Searching for Best Smart Home Hubs, but confused where to start? Not able to figure out which one to choose? Well, we understand your dilemma.
The selection process has become increasingly difficult these days because of many companies competing wildly with one another. Devices with added features are launched in the market every other day. But then, there are some of these that have stood the test of time and competition.
So, we thought about making your selection process easier by compiling a list of the 8 best Smart Home Hubs available on the market today.
Before that, allow us to throw some light on the benefits of buying a smart home hub and also the factors to consider before zeroing in on one of the best smart home hubs listed.
Why Should You Buy a Smart Home Hub?
Just look around, you’ll probably find there are a whole lot of smart devices (smart lighting system, smart appliances, etc.) which have to be controlled separately. This is where a smart hub comes into the picture.
Wanna control your home theater systems, the lighting of your house and everything else at the touch of a button? Pretty much possible, if you’re armed with any of the best smart home hubs. They offer you the luxury of controlling all the smart devices running in your home through a central access control with one-touch simplicity. With the advancements in voice control, you will no longer have to even lift a finger to get things done.
If you already have multiple smart home devices in use, then the addition of a smart hub is an absolute no-brainer!
Criteria to Keep in Mind While Selecting the Best Smart Home Hubs
As mentioned earlier, you will find yourself spoilt for choices when planning to buy a Smart Hub for your house. But, wait! Before making the purchase, you must consider these important factors:
It is essential for the Hub to be compatible with all the smart home devices that are in use. You’ll find that not all smart devices are interconnect-able due to the diversified market of smart home technology. So, it is necessary for you to check the connectivity specification of each device that is to be connected before choosing a Smart Hub.
Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth are some of the major protocols used in smart home technology. You see, the wide range of protocols available substantially increases the options and optimization advantages applicable to your overall applications.
Both options have their own advantages. Cloud control provides a central database without the need to save data on the site. But the problem with cloud control is, unavailability of the internet means the in-operation of all your devices.
Web service and Device-to-device automation:
The availability of software platforms like IFTTT is a major advantage which borders on necessity due to the impressive tweaks that could be implemented. Another factor you should consider is the ease of control while using the related app.
Top Rated Smart Hubs Reviews
1. Samsung SmartThings (Second Generation) Review
The Samsung-produced SmartThings Hub is presently the market ruler. With impressive connectivity options available, the smart gizmo is capable of connecting to a wide array of smart devices. This product is Z-wave, Zigbee-enabled and connects to your Wi-Fi router. This enables the hub to connect to a wide variety of devices.
Along with the related app available for iOS, Windows, and Android, this is an all-around impressive product for home automation.
You can integrate the product indirectly into a wide number of devices using software platforms like IFTTT and its developer community. The product also has integrated voice control built in through Amazon Alexa. Hence, automation through voice commands is possible, which increases the ease of control to a great extent.
SmartThings also added Bluetooth radio to its existing Z-Wave and Zigbee protocol lineup. Four AA batteries are included for battery backup and select home automation systems are given the option of local storage. This eliminates the in-operation of important functions when Wi-Fi or the power altogether is down.
- Overall impressive connectivity with a wide range of protocol support.
- USB Port and Bluetooth Radio are available, facilitating further integration.
- Confusing app layout, not easy to maneuver without complications.
2. Wink Hub 2 Review
Wink Hub 2 has an impressive connectivity specification; it can connect to more number of smart devices compared to most of its counterparts. It also boasts a memory of 512MB, which is a considerable improvement from the 64MB memory provided in the previous version.
The Wink Hub 2 also has an impressive set of protocol lineup available. These include Dual-band Wi-Fi, low energy Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-wave, Lutron Clear Connect, and Kidde wireless protocols. This enables the Wink Hub 2 to have a commendable support over a wide range of third-party devices like sensors, ceiling fans, garage door openers, window blinds, doorbells, etc.
Read a detailed comparison between SmartThings and Wink Hub 2 here.
Wink Hub 2 has its own IFTTT channel. This makes integration with a number of present and future advancements in home automation technology very easy. It also supports Amazon Alexa which opens up the voice control options for home automation.
However, contrary to other popular products, Wink Hub 2 lacks a battery backup and USB ports. This leaves limited space for future integration. But, it has Secure Boot security feature which lays the groundwork for protection of your home appliances against external hacks.
- 5GHz Wi-Fi support.
- ‘Secure Boot’ hardware security feature.
- No USB support
- No battery backup.
3. Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation) Review
Image Source: cnet.com
Amazon Echo Dot is a small but powerful tool which is used to connect to Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. Built as a portable speaker with a wireless connection to Alexa through the cloud, Echo Dot has some pretty amazing functionality options.
Echo Dot boasts of a surprisingly low cost and has proved to be an outstanding tool for home automation because of the impressive advancements in Alexa made by Amazon. Voice commands and control with such ease is a standout feature which could be materialized in a wide variety of applications.
Find out which speaker works best with Echo Dot here.
MicroUSB and 3.5 mm plugs are the only connectivity options available for power and audio output, as everything is wireless. So, there is no need for any proprietary cables. You can work in a range of 500 meters with ease without having to increase your voice. This indeed is an impressive accomplishment by Amazon.
With this product, you have a personal assistant at your beck and call 24/7 unless you specifically choose otherwise. From maintaining your personal calendar to setting your shopping list, all your specific needs can be programmed with incredible ease and more so with voice commands.
Smart home partnerships are available with Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell, SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lifx, Big Ass Fans, IFTTT, Control4, Crestron, other devices via skills. Thus, Amazon Echo Dot 2 is a great smart hub that is worth having in your house.
- No manual tuning necessary, complete functionality through voice commands possible with impressive accuracy.
- Anemic sounds from built-in speakers and the buggy Alexa app can be a little frustrating.
- No compatibility while placing two Echo Dot’s in the same room.
4. Logitech Harmony Companion Review
Looking for a universal remote to control all your home entertainment systems through a single central access control? Look no further! The ‘Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote Control’ provides a universal remote system that makes it possible to control every single media outlet in your house through your smartphones.
The compatible app for Android and iPhones or the included universal remote via the harmony hub makes it really simple for you to access your media. It’s so simple after the initial setup that even the kids would find it easy to maneuver the system.
Logitech Harmony Companion All in One Remote Control is the best universal remote available in spite of the particularly steep cost.
Any home that has a home theater system with five or more devices could facilitate using this smart remote with incredible ease. Integration with home control systems like Philips Hue lighting and Nest thermostats is possible with Bluetooth support. Most of the gaming consoles can also be integrated into the same.
- The universal remote uses RF (Radio Frequency) rather than IR (Infra Red) eliminating the line of sight restriction for your components.
- Easy access to built-in functions through Harmony’s activity-based buttons.
- Compatible with Alexa.
- Expensive compared to other Smart Hub options.
- Buggy app and complicated initial installation procedures.
5. Insteon Hub Central Controller
Image Source: cnet.com
The Insteon Central Controller Hub is well-known for its use of the Insteon protocol to communicate with other smart home devices. It is yet another good option for complete home automation. Insteon is a budding protocol, which has gained an impressive follower base in recent times.
Along with Insteon protocol, the parent company also provides a Hub to manipulate and manage your smart switches, thermostats, lighting, security, etc.
The device is also compatible with the X-10 protocol that uses the hard-wired power lines within your house to communicate with other compatible devices. In addition to the app control of the system, it also has a web-based control option. This facilitates automatic email or text alerts which in turn ensures the proper functioning of your device.
- Provides the best non-local Network support.
- An incredibly easy initial setup.
- The inclusion of the X-10 protocol.
- Support for only limited third-party devices and services.
- The app is still in its development phase and requires improvement
6. Wink Connected Home Hub
Wink Connected Home Hub is the previous version of the Wink Hub 2. The incredibly affordable price of the Wink Connected Home Hub after the launch of its new version makes it an attractive choice for home automation. It is a much more affordable Hub compared to most of its counterparts.
Wink Connected Hub supports Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, Kidde, and Wi-Fi connections. It is also compatible with IFTTT facilitating third-party integration to increase the reach of your home automation.
Central access control through the app is available on Android, Windows, and iPhone.The web-based control option is also a better approach for many users, which is widely appreciated.
However, the Wi-Fi connection of the Wink Hub 1 is quite unstable, giving rise to questions on its future applications. This, along with the lack of battery backup must be considered beforehand.
- Inexpensive and worth the value considering the overall quality.
- The app is impressive and easy to use compared to most of its competition.
- Weak Wi-Fi connection, giving rise to connectivity issues.
- Problems with IFTTT causes limitations in third party integration.
7. LUTRON Smart Bridge Review
This is the only product which provides the smart plug-in lamp dimming capabilities. It transforms Caseta Wireless plug-in lamp dimmers, Serena battery-powered window shades, and Pico remote controls into Wi-Fi-enabled devices for home automation.
Apart from the expensive touch of the product, you also need to shell out a fortune on its compatible products. This makes it a costly addition to home automation limited only to the dimming of lights.
- Intuitive app design with ease of access.
- Further product integration to be upgraded in the future.
- Unarguably expensive for functionality limited to the dimming of lights.
- Only two dimmer outlet plugs.
- Very limited third-party integrations available.
8. Hook Smart Home Hub
Hook Smart Home Hub is yet another innovative solution to home automation. You can use Hook to convert the non-smart power outlets in your house to smart outlets. Also, you can seamlessly control your lighting and appliances wirelessly through smartphones, IFTTT and Amazon Echo.
This Smart Hub provides you with the ability to turn your lights and devices on and off from anywhere through your smartphone. You can do it by using the related Android and iPhone apps. Hook also facilitates the grouping of devices in the same room to control them together.
You’re also enabled to share the access to selected devices with your family and guests. The support of Alexa for the same gives you control over the mentioned functionality through voice commands.
- Works with most of the RF relays.
- Alexa support.
- Mobile and Web access.
- Low product value in spite of the low cost.
Connectivity Protocols Used
Protocols are the technology platforms around which the smart home technologies are built. Every protocol is basically a specific language with which the connected devices interact with each other to perform the required tasks.
Hence, it is very important to know the different protocols, their specifications and requirements before choosing one to connect your home and start automating. There are many protocols in use today; the following information is intended to simplify your task of choosing the best one.
It is the most commonly used technology as most of the houses are already equipped with wireless routers. The main drawback of using Wi-Fi for home automation is the interference of other devices and bandwidth issues. Wi-Fi also consumes a considerable amount of power.
Bluetooth is the next most commonly used protocol. It consumes far lesser power compared to Wi-Fi but the limited range is the major drawback of this technology. The new low-power Bluetooth technology aims at fixing this issue.
This is one of the most commonly used protocols when it comes to home automation. Running a 908.42MHz frequency band, the interference and traffic jams between competing devices is eliminated as it uses a much lesser band than most of the other household articles (2.4 GHz).
The low cost, low power technology is another home automation-specific wireless protocol. The major drawbacks include the interoperability with devices running different protocols and also with devices running different versions of the Zigbee.
This particular protocol is able to communicate both wirelessly and over the power lines. This is also compatible with the X-10 protocol, which is a major advantage. Also, you don’t need to enroll them in a specific network. They join the network as soon as you power them up. Hence, the process of installation gets significantly simpler.
So, Which Smart Hub Do We Really Recommend?
In conclusion, of all the 8 best smart home hubs specified, the ‘SmartThings Hub‘ by Samsung clearly emerges as the winner. It supports all the important protocols that are widely in use today. It allows the options of IFTTT and a wide array of third-party device integration.
Image Source: blog.smartthings.com
The SmartThings hub has proved itself capable enough to facilitate complete home automation to the fullest extent possible and so it’s on #1 on our list of top rated smart home hubs.