How to Choose the Perfect Smart Home Hub

Written by Ashley Sutphin Posted On Sunday, 28 April 2024 00:00

You hear a lot of talk about smart homes, which may come with the need for a hub.

Smart home automation helps make life more convenient. When you have a smart home hub, devices that come from different manufacturers can be connected and then interact with one another through the automation platform.

Automation hubs give you a way to unify everything connected in your home, so you can control them through one app.

Automation hubs aren’t always needed, though. Most smart home devices have their own app through which you can control them. If they need a hub or bridge, they may come with one.

With a multi-purpose hub, again, you can control everything with a centralized app, so it can be a preference for some people, although not a necessity.

Do You Need a Hub?

When you’re deciding whether or not you even need a hub, you want to think about the type of components that make up your smart home system and how many devices you need to control.

As mentioned, certain devices don’t need a hub at all or come with their own. For example, Philips Hue Smart Lights have their own hub that connects to a router, serving as a bridge between your smartphone and the devices.

The Nest thermostat can also work without a hub, and networked speakers from Sonos do as well as Ring doorbells.

It’s becoming more popular for TVs from brands like LG and Samsung to serve as a hub, and Apple TV can be a hub if you have devices compatible with the HomeKit system.

The more smart products you add into the mix, the more you may need a hub.

You can also use a hub to control several devices simultaneously and create “scenes.” For example, if you’re going to watch a movie, you might have a programmed scene so that your hub will automatically dim your lights, close the blinds, lock the doors and adjust the heating in your living room.

Which Hubs Are Available?

With the popularity of smart home devices and the Internet of Things, as you might guess, there are many hub options out there.

Amazon Echo 4th Generation is good if you’re an Alexa user.

The Amazon Echo 4th generation can connect to numerous low-power devices. The routines of Alexa are pretty advanced, so you can use a lot of triggers to activate other devices. It works along with Alexa Guard, which can listen for smoke alarms and glass breaking, and then turn on your home’s lights and notify you if there’s an emergency.

The Samsung SmartThings Hub v3 is also an excellent choice. It has Zigbee and Z-Wave inside it, and you can connect to hundreds of devices. You can also create a lot of different scenes and scenarios, and SmartThings, as of fairly recently, works with Nest products.

Apple HomeKit supports fewer devices than Google’s platform, but it does let you create routines and scenes with more complexity.

The HomePod mini works with HomeKit, and it’s a smart speaker and a HomeKit hub so you can connect your lights, locks, and other low-power devices.

The Amazon EchoDot is one of the cheaper hubs, and it will work if your devices have WiFi or Bluetooth, although it doesn’t have Z-Wave or Zigbee.

Finally, another good choice is the Google Nest Hub Max.

One of its strongest points is the smart display with a large 10-inch screen. It has powerful dual speakers, and the camera is perfect for Google Duo video calls.

The Nest Hub Max has Bluetooth, Thread, and Wi-Fi. You can use the display to view live footage from home security cameras as long as they’re compatible with Google Assistant. You can also view footage from video doorbells and baby monitors, and the on-screen controls allow for adjusting your light levels.

When comparing all the available options, you need to think about your goals and what you plan to control. You may not need a hub if you have just one or two smart devices. If you have several, a hub can be worth it to you.

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