The list of home devices seem to grow by the minute. While having multiple smart home devices in your home can make every day task easier, it can be daunting to control them from several apps. In comes the smart home automation hub.
Smart home hubs connect your numerous smart home devices and allow you to control them from one central location. Smart home management becomes a lot easier when you have a smart home hub installed and integrated. The hub acts as manager and executes task that you, the CHO (Chief Home Owner/Operator) delegate.
The best smart home automation hubs are compatible with nearly all smart home devices and can be controlled remotely through a web or mobile app. Choosing the right hub comes down to the connectivity and compatibility of smart devices that are already active or soon to be active in your home.
The most common smart home communication protocols are Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE, and Wi-Fi. Insteon, Lutron, and X-10 are a few other protocols on the market, but they don’t have much third party support. If you’re looking to use some of the best smart devices out there with your new hub, you’ll want to choose a smart hub that supports the earlier mentioned protocols.
Samsung SmartThings Hub
The original SmartThings Hub was such a huge success that Samsung just couldn’t resist purchasing the brand in 2014. Since their purchase, Samsung has released a second generation SmartThings Hub. It is compatible with all the major protocols including Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi and even offers IFTT (If This Then That) recipe support. Homeowners can control the hub through their Android and iOS devices. However, the mobile app itself has been labeled as a little disorganized.
Wink Hub 2
The original Wink Hub was also a great success in smart home automation hubs. Now, the second-generation Wink Hub 2 has been redesigned and updated to overcome its previous challenges. In addition to ZigBee and Z-Wave support, Wink 2.0 supports Kidde and Lutron ClearConnect devices. Also, users can set up robots and IFTTT recipes. The device has made improvements with 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity and advanced security features. Installation and setup processes have also improved over it’s predecessor.
Logitech Harmony Home Hub
The Logitech Harmony Home Hub uses bluetooth, infrared (IR), and Wi-Fi to control your home’s smart devices.Harmony Home Hub offers the best in home theater support – working with over 270,000 home entertainment devices. However, if you wish to add Z-Wave or ZigBee compatibility, you’ll need to purchase a separate (and expensive) accessory.
Revolv Smart Home Automation Solution
The Revolv hub supports Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and Insteon protocols. Installation is easy as it instantly recognizes devices like the Phillips Hue lighting system and Belkin WeMo Light Switch. While it is easy to install, the lack of ZigBee and security camera support are a bit of a drawback. Also, Revolv currently does not support Android devices.
The Insteon Hub supports both Insteon and X-10 protocols which can make it difficult to make it play nice with some of the hot smart devices on the market. However, the parent company, Insteon, offers a lot of compatible smart devices. Only time will tell if we will see third party devices pick-up the Insteon protocol, but for now, you’re pretty limited when using the Insteon Hub.
Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge
The Lutron Caseta is another one of those “limited” devices. It is compatible with Lutron ClearConnect protocol and offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. The mobile apps work great and the hub itself supports geo-fencing. However, the lack of third party support put this device on the bottom end of our lists.
Amazon Echo Dot
While it may not be thought of as a smart home hub, Amazon Echo Dot can do a lot. Echo Dot comes with it’s own virtual assistant, Alexa, who can manage your connected devices by voice. There are a ton of skills that Alexa can learn to control your smart home devices, but Echo Dot is not the most versitile smart home hub solution. Echo and Echo Dot may be better paired with another smart hub if you wish to get the most out of Alexa.
Making it’s debut in late 2016, Google Home looks to directly compete with Amazon’s Echo products. Again, these smart home virtual assistants may not be your first go-to if you’re looking for a true smart hub, but they’re compatible with a lot of devices and can be controlled by voice recognition. Google partnered with Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and IFTTT to control your homes smart devices.