Best Smart Home Hub 2019: Buying Guide

Best Smart Home Hub 2019: Buying Guide

September 24, 2019 0 By Ini Brain

You might think of getting your first smart home Hub or maybe your current hub isn’t doing what you want it to do, or it isn’t connecting to a larger number of smart home devices. This guide will help you figure out the best automation Hub for you.

We will talk about the best smart home hub in the market now, the pros and cons of each, features and how well they control your smart home device and many more.

These hubs come with different designs, sizes, and shapes. But they are all trying to accomplish the same thing, Automating your sensor and smart devices to work together. And we will compare these hubs on how well they do that.

What is a smart home Hub?

A smart home hub is a hardware or software that connects your smart home devices on a home automation network and enables communication among them.

Hubs connect with the cloud or locally, there use different network protocol like; ZigBee or Z-wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Inferred and other protocols.

Smart Hubs are also referred to as smart home bridges or controllers. A smart home hub is the heart of your smart home network; This simplifies network communication and gives you a single application to control your smart home gadget.

5 key questions to ask before you buy a smart home hub.

When purchasing a smart home hub, there are several things to keep in mind: we made a list of what you should keep in mind when shopping for a smart hub and this is what we used to categorize our best smart home hub list.

  • User-friendly — How easy is it to use?
  • Speed — How fast can you use it to control devices?
  • App — How good are the Hubs app notifications?
  • Remote access — Can you control it away from your home?
  • Compatibility — How compatible is the Hub with other devices?

Cloud-based hub

These hub stores, managed, and process its data on a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet.

smart things smart home hub

Samsung SmartThings Hub

A cloud-based hub that you are familiar with or you might have heard about. It is very easy to do complex automation or basic automation. It works with Z-wave and ZigBee smart home devices, and they have ZigBee sensors that have been updated recently and they are now reasonably priced.

Smart Things is not perfect by any means, though, they still have two apps that you can use to control the Hub, and each with Different Functionality and it keeps things slightly confusing. The app also doesn’t load that quickly; When you control the device by the Cloud, it takes a lot of time to load the app and turn that device.

The SmartThings Hub connects to a lot of devices locally, like Phillip Hue devices and it is just as fast at controlling those devices as a Hub that only runs locally. The Hub is cloud-based so you can control devices and get a notification even when you are away from your home. So if someone comes in your front door and tries to unlock your Z-Wave lock or your water leak is going off. You can get notified even if you are on vacation.

The hub is also compatible with a decent number of devices natively and if you want to get more devices connected to it, you can use a custom device handler.

The hub is also compatible with a decent number of devices natively and if you want to get more devices connected to it, you can use a custom device handler.

User-friendly…………………… 90

Speed………………….. 70

App………………………. 40

Remote access………………….. 95

Compatibility………………………… 85

smart home Wink Hub 2

Wink Hub 2

Wink can do basic automation that they call robots, but nothing too complex. It is much more user-friendly than SmartThings and there is a range of devices you can add natively. But you can’t add devices that are natively supported like you can with smart things.

You can pair up to 530 smart home devices. Support the largest number of protocols, and it also works with Z-Wave and ZigBee devices.

It also clouds Based so you get all the pros and cons that come with a cloud base Hub, when the cloud goes down, you lose tons of functionalities.

The wink app lets you control your home from anywhere, see and unlock your door, receive alerts that keep you informed of what’s happening at home.

work with Alexa and google assistant

User-friendly…………………… 70

Speed…………………..65

App……………………….55

Remote access…………………..85

Compatibility………………………… 80

Local based Hubs

These Hubs run locally and I always connect them to your smart home devices. They don’t need the cloud for you to use them.

Homekit smart home hub

Homekit Hub

Homekit has been growing. They are fast and easy to use. The Homekit hub can run on an old iPad, iPhone, HomePod, or Apple TV 3rd Generation or higher. You can use the HomeKit only with IOS devices, so it is limiting towards the android user, and it doesn’t work with Alexa and the Google Assistant.

The voice assistant for the Homekit is SIRI, which is not as smart as Alexa and Google Assistant. It is also fast in controlling your smart home devices; The app looks nice, and it is very user-friendly to do all your automation.

One of its biggest cons is that it does not connect with a lot of devices yet, but the compatibility list is increasing.

siri assitant
Work with only SIRI

User-friendly…………………… 70

Speed………………….. 50

App………………………. 45

Remote access………………….. 70

Compatibility………………………… 40

Hubitat smart home hub

Hubitat Hub

Hubitat just came out a few years ago, so fairly recently it runs everything locally and it is targeting towards SmartThings Users who are sick on relying on the Cloud; It is compatible with many devices, including Z-Wave and ZigBee, and it works with Alexa and the Google assistant.

Since this device doesn’t use the cloud, you won’t have the option to control your devices remotely. It also doesn’t have a native mobile app, so it limits notifications. You can only use 10 SMS messages “per day” for notifications or a 3rd party service for notifications.

work with Alexa and google assistant

User-friendly…………………… 90

Speed………………….. 70

App………………………. 60

Remote access………………….. 40

Compatibility………………………… 70

home assistant smart hub

Home Assistant Hub

Home Assistant is an open-source software that runs on a computer and it is free to use, you can install it in a Raspberry Pi that you can live powered on in your houses.

The Home Assistant works locally, and it is super-fast, and it is also the most compatible with devices than any other Hub. Plus, you have control of everything.

Before going for this Hub, you need to be a tech person, or you like Linus, raspberry pi, or a developer. Setting this up would take some learn and time putting it all together. And you have to write codes. It also costs $5 per month to make it work with Alexa or the Google Assistant. 

If you want it to work with ZigBee or Z-wave, purchase a separate USB stick or connect to a Hub like Wink which already has that internally built-in. It has a native IOS app, but if you are an Android user, use the browser version. Using it remotely would require lots of work. But using the Home assistant is cool, plus if the Internet goes down, you won’t lose any of your functionality.

work with Alexa and google assistant

User-friendly…………………… 40

Speed………………….. 95

App………………………. 40

Remote access………………….. 30

Compatibility………………………… 50

What is not really a Hub?

There are lots of devices out there called Hubs but there differ from the Hub we just talk about like the Harmony Hub it connects to your Media devices and it connect to other Hubs as well and there is also Phillip Hue Bridge which some people call a Hub, it is different because it connect to your smart light.

Are smart speakers Hub?

People often think smart speakers like the Google Home or Amazon Echo is a Hub, but it’s not. It can connect and control smart home devices together and control them with your voice, but with a smart hub you get to control them with the app, set a schedule, task and so on.

Although the Amazon echo plus has a built-in hub/controller inside, it only controls your Zigbee smart device.

Amazon Echo plus Zigbee smart home hub

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen): Best for Voice Control Hub

The Amazon Echo Plus makes it easier to control smart home devices with the inbuilt Zigbee hub/ controller. So if you are trying to save cost or you just want a voice-controlled smart speaker to control your devices the Echo plus is the right speaker for you, but one of its biggest con is it is limitless to just Zigbee device, so if you have Z-wave device you would have to get a different hub.

There are thousands of Zigbee device for any home device you want to automate (light, security, entertainment, robot vacuum) whatever device you want, there is a Zigbee device for it.

logitech smart hub

Logitech Harmony Hub: Best for Entertainment

If you are looking for smartphone integrations the Logitech Harmony Hub lets you control your entertainment devices with your smartphone or tablets, you can also control it with the Harmony universal remote. Set different scenarios like the “movie time” and it would dim the light to a specific level or turns it off, turn up the TV and so on.

Have voice control with the Amazon Alexa and the Google voice assistant, this allows you to use your voice to change channels, increases or reduce volume, and turn off or on the entertainment devices.

You can create different customs actions for your smart devices. The Harmony Hub can’t communicate with Zigbee or Z-wave protocols, it connects the device with Wi-Fi, Inferred

It can only control eight smart home devices. You can pair it up with another hub to get more pairing functionality or pair it with The Harmony Elite Remote to control up to 15 devices.

Smart speaker hub: Best smart home Hub

These are not your regular smart home hubs, but some smart speakers offer similar functionality to a hub. They can control your smart home and they are a low budget.

amazon echo dot 3rd gen

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)

The Echo Dot can also control your smart home gadgets just like your traditional hub does, with the Dot you control your smart home device with the voice integration with the inbuilt voice assistant Alexa.

You can set up a custom scene for your smart home, time and when a specific device or action works, there are thousands of skills you can enable with the echo dot, and thousands of devices that connect with the amazon echo dot. You can also set up scenes with IFTTT (If This Then That).

This Bluetooth speaker gives you many functions, from controlling your smart home to asking questions, playing music, playing games and many more.  Full review

the google home mini

Google Home Mini

The Google Home Mini can control and group your smart home device, but just like the Amazon Echo Dot, it is still not a hub. Compatible with lots of devices, the Google home assistant is more capable to answer more complex queries than Alexa, while, the Alexa Assistant has many skills. You can also set scenes or routines for your smart home device with the Home Mini, and it still a low price smart speaker hub.

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