Once you’ve got the smart home bug, you’ll quickly find yourself with a group of smart gadgets, and the logical next step is to figure out a way to tie them together. Otherwise, you’ll have to manage multiple apps and accessories to keep them all under control, and soon your convenience factor will go downhill.
So, if you want to keep that level of convenience, what do you do? You’re going to need some sort of smart hub that can control most, if not all, of them. Check out the list below for our list of the best smart hubs to get you started!
One of the most popular choices in smart hubs for your home is the Samsung SmartThings. SmartThings has been around for quite a while now, and there’s a few good reasons why. For starters, it’s a continually supported device that has seen a couple of hardware refreshes over time. Another reason is that Samsung is a brand that consumers trust, and at the end of the day, it’s a pretty great price point at just $99.
The Samsung SmartThings smart hub is very well designed, and it offers a solid range of first-party accessories to customize and enhance your smart home. Those first party accessories include water sensors, motion sensors, and general multi-purpose sensors that can be used to detect when doors are opened, as well as temperature increases in specific areas of your house.
The Samsung SmartThings smart hub works with all of the major protocols, including Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee and Z-Wave, and though some people have criticized the app for being a bit cumbersome when it comes to setting up your various devices for the first time, overall, it’s a very intuitive means of tying together a slew of sensors and devices. For the price point and the quality that you can get with the Samsung SmartThings smart hub, this is a no-brainer starting point if you’re ready to take your smart home up a notch.
The VeraPlus smart hub isn’t as well-known as the Samsung SmartThings hub or the Wink Hub 2, but this is a very robust platform, not for the faint of heart. You’ll notice this device is on the higher end of our list when it comes to price at $140, but that boils down to the immense compatibility that it offers. Vera claims that the VeraPlus smart hub is compatible with over 2,000 devices, and you can have up to 220 unique devices connected to the smart hub at one time. That’s substantially more smart devices than the average person will ever have in their home.
Like the other smart hubs on this list, the VeraPlus smart hub supports the major protocols, including ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and WiFi. However, the VeraPlus is edged out by the more affordably-priced Wink Hub 2 when it comes to the number of supported protocols. When it comes to managing the devices that are connected to your smart hub, Vera offers a seamless user experience across multiple platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps, as well as browser access.
At the end of the day, this is a powerful smart hub, but for the average consumer, you may be just as well going with one of the more affordable options.
Wink Hub 2
Wink Hub is another smart hub that has been around for a good while. Wink’s latest iteration of its smart hub, the Wink Hub 2, brings along an impressive vertical stand design that can be tucked away on a bookshelf or entertainment center, or, if you want to flaunt your geekiness with pride, you can display right on the counter, front and center. At a price of $79.95, this is the most affordable smart hub on the list. But, don’t let that price point fool you. Outside of the sleek, modern design, the Wink Hub 2 is known for its lengthy list of supported protocols. These include Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Kidde and Lutron Clear Connect. The more supported protocols, the more devices you’re able to connect.
Another benefit here is Wink’s app. Like Samsung’s app, it can be a tedious process pairing specific devices manually. However, Wink’s app comes pre-loaded with a barcode scanner that allows you to (as you might imagine) scan some products’ bar codes in order to get them paired up almost instantly. Yay for convenience! If you really want to impress your friends, and you also happen to own an Amazon Echo, the two are able to work together to control devices around your house. Unfortunately, the Wink Hub 2 is not compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. Though this is the most affordable option on our list, it is also one of the most capable. If you want a solid smart hub on a budget, this one’s for you.
An alternative to hubs: Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod
Ok, so this final section consists of products that aren’t what we would typically refer to as smart hubs. However, as technology advances, and more and more features are added, these devices draw closer to that product distinction.
Amazon Echo was the first to market in the realm of connected speakers/home assistants, and the device continues to evolve and meet more and more demand. Of course, the voice assistant aspect of the Echo is Alexa, and she (it?) has evolved significantly in terms of the capability to control devices in your home.
Further reading: Smart speakers – what are your options?
Google Home was the second mass market smart speaker/home assistant. For users that are already enveloped in the Google ecosystem, Google Home was almost a no-brainer to get started with smart devices. This one doesn’t have quite the level of third-party developer support at this time, but it’s steadily adding new features to enhance its capability.
Further reading: Google Home review
Finally, Apple’s recently-announced smart speaker, Home Pod will soon be hitting shelves. We don’t have all the details on what Home Pod will be able to do at this point, but it will surely have Apple HomeKit support, enabling to it to control some supported devices in your home.
Further reading: Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo
At this time, tying these devices to existing hardware in your home can really unlock the potential of your smart home system. Amazon Echo and Google Home both have the potential to integrate with a number of smart home accessories and even hubs. For example, Amazon Echo can integrate with both the Samsung SmartThings Hub and the Wink Hub 2. Doing so will give you the ability to control your home with your voice, where previously you would have to open up an app and touch your commands.
Outside of hubs, Alexa can also integrate directly with Philips Hue bulbs, the August smart lock, and Nest thermostat – and that’s just scratching the surface. Google Home, on the other hand, can also integrate with Samsung SmartThings and the Wink Hub 2. Google Home doesn’t support quite as many smart devices at this time, but if you’re interested, you can tie in devices like Philips Hue, Nest, and even Rachio Sprinklers. Who doesn’t like voice-controlled sprinklers?
Whether it’s locks, lights, thermostats or outlets, it’s definitely convenient to have one central point to manage all of your smart home devices. This list of smart hubs should give a number of options to think about. All of them will benefit you in some way, but it comes down to preference as well as which devices you’re trying to connect. Did we miss your favorite smart hub? Let us know in the comments below!