Smart home technology is nothing short of incredible. There are now thousands of devices that can control nearly every aspect of your home, including sliding glass door openers, smart toilets, and even smart ceiling fans.
The problem is that so many of these devices are independent of one another, which means you need a separate app to control them. It isn’t really saving you any time if you have to search through two dozen apps to shut down your home when you leave.
The best solution to this problem is to invest in a good smart home hub. These hubs connect all of your disparate devices into one place and allow you to control your entire home from a single interface. There are a few main contenders, but smaller hubs are emerging that are more specialized but still just as useful.
Best All-Round Smart Home Control: Samsung SmartThings
The Samsung SmartThings Hub works with a huge range of devices thanks to its use of Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave protocols. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home smart assistants, allowing you to control any compatible device with your voice.
If you have previously used any SmartThings devices, they should be compatible with the third-generation of the SmartThings Hub.
You can also set up schedules and control the system with pre-set command words like, “Good morning,” “Good night,” and “Goodbye.” Thanks to its Wi-Fi connection, the SmartThings Hub doesn’t require an Ethernet port to set up, leaving more space available on your router.
Things To Know:
- The SmartThings Hub is compatible with more than 40 brands.
- It does not work with Nest devices.
- The Hub will alert you to unexpected activity in your home, acting as a sort of makeshift security device.
Most Widespread Protocol Support: Wink Hub 2
Wink and Samsung have been the main competitors in the smart home hub industry for several years now, and the release of the Wink Hub 2 has only furthered that rivalry.
Like the SmartThings Hub, the Wink Hub 2 is one of the best smart home hubs that works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but it sets itself apart thanks to its compatibility with several rare protocols. These protocols include Kidde and Lutron Clear Connect, more niche systems that give the Wink Hub 2 the widest range of protocol support of any smart hub on the market.
Of course, Wink Hub 2 also has other features that users want, such as the ability to set up schedules, monitor activity within the home, and even automatically trigger lights if smoke is detected.
Things To Know:
- The Wink Hub 2 works with more than 400 devices, including Nest.
- The Wink Hub 2 works with 5 GHz Wi-Fi versus the standard 2.4 GHz of most smart home devices.
Best Smart Hub On a Budget: Amazon Echo Dot
If you’re looking for a smart home hub on a budget, the Amazon Echo Dot is a solid choice. While it doesn’t have the same range of compatibility as the first two entries on this list, the Echo Dot is still compatible with a broad range of different devices.
The main reason for its lack of compatibility is the absence of Z-Wave or Zigbee compatibility; however, if you want to upgrade to a slightly more expensive (but still affordable) hub, the Amazon Echo Plus does have a Zigbee connection.
The Echo Dot has a great design and solid audio, but costs a fraction of what the other smart hubs do. If you’re looking for smart home control on a budget (that is compatible with Alexa by default), then it’s a great investment.
Things To Know:
- You can use the Amazon Echo Dot to make calls.
- Alexa has tens of thousands of different skills to further improve your control of your smart home.
Best In-Wall Hub: Brilliant Smart Home System
Most people with a smart home control it through the use of a smartphone or tablet. Smart assistants can also help, but it’s difficult to find another way to control everything.
Manual controls are built-in on most smart devices, but they can be unwieldy and difficult to use, especially if you don’t seek them out often. An in-wall control panel might seem archaic, but it’s a great way to control a smart home, particularly for those that might not be the most tech-savvy.
Brilliant is one of the few in-wall systems on the market that connects a wide number of smart home devices together. The display panel is touch-compatible and allows you to control your lights, climate locks, and much more. It can even display the video feed from your doorbell to the panel itself.
Brilliant works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, but the company says that Apple HomeKit compatibility is on the way. It also works with the SmartThings Hub, so if you want to combine a traditional hub with an in-wall unit, Brilliant makes it possible.
Brilliant doesn’t have as much compatibility as either SmartThings or Wink, but given how relatively new to the market the system is, there is plenty of room for growth in the future.
Things To Know:
- Brilliant works with Hue, LIFX, TP-Link, WeMo, Lutron, Leviton, ecobee, Honeywell, August, Kwikset, Schlage, Ring, Yale, Emitek, and Butterfly MX.
- There are two additional accessories you can add to the Home Control system: a dimmer switch and a smart plug.
Which of the best smart home hubs above do you use to control your home? Let us know in the comments below.