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The 5 Best Smart Home Hubs (That Don't Wink) – Review Geek



  A Hubitat Hub, USB stick and Box in a living room.
Hubitat

Every smart home needs a brain ̵

1; a single unit that can bind all smart devices together and provide a single source of control. Choosing a smart home hub can be difficult. Whatever you choose, some options will open and others will close. Knowing what kind of smart home features you need can help narrow down your choices. Here are five great options:


Update, 05/07/20: We originally published this article without a Wink recommendation because we were already unwilling to recommend Wink Hubs. Wink recently announced that it will add a mandatory subscription from May 13. No subscription is required for the smart hubs below. Although Control4 and Abode offer subscriptions, they are optional.

The original article is left intact below.


What to look for in a Smart Home Hub

The main advantage of a smart home hub is centralization. With a hub you can buy smart devices from different manufacturers and link them all in one coherent whole. Of course, you may not even need a real smart home hub – Google and Alexa have done more to unify smart home devices than most hubs in recent years.

But hubs can also offer additional benefits, such as advanced automation, local processing without the cloud, and in some cases less congestion for your network. However, smart home hubs are often more challenging to learn and use than a voice assistant app.

If those benefits are worth the extra effort, there are a few things to keep in mind when buying a smart hub: [19659010] Connection type: Some smart home hubs only allow wired connections, some Wi-Fi connections only and some offer both. You should pay attention to which hub you are viewing. Wired connections are faster, but you need space and an open space on your router to connect your hub.

  • Protocol support: Most smart home gadgets support a small number of protocols: usually Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If your smart hub only supports ZigBee, you cannot use Z-Wave gadgets. Keep that in mind when choosing a pad. Other hubs only support a proprietary protocol, which means you're limited to devices that specifically support that hub.
  • Local or cloud processing: Some hubs are little more than a standard printed circuit board without real intelligence. Instead, the hub moves all work to the cloud. But that is slower and if your internet goes down, the hub does that too. Some hubs handle everything locally, but they usually have a higher learning curve.
  • Support for app or dashboard: You need some way to communicate with your smart home. Most hubs offer an app that you can use on your phone or tablet. Others support a dashboard concept that you can access through a web browser. And a few offer both. Choose what is most comfortable for you.
  • Recently, Amazon, Google and ZigBee announced a new workgroup called Project Connected Home over IP, with the aim of simplifying some of the above choices. The idea is to create a unified standard that manufacturers can rely on to make smart devices work almost anywhere and with any hub (which supports the standard).

    But right now it's a concept and promise at its best, and when they do get it out, the companies say your existing smart things will continue to work as they are. You don't have to worry too much about the changes that may or may not come as a result of this, but it's still worth considering when looking at smart home hubs.

    There is something for almost every preference below. Your hub choice will heavily inform your smart gadget options, so choose the one that suits you best and support the devices you want most.

    Best Overall: Samsung SmartThings

      A White Samsung SmartThings Hub
    Samsung [19659003] Samsung's SmartThings platform is a good starting point for anyone new to smart homes. It has an approachable interface, apps for both Android and iOS, and supports relatively complex automation routines. It is a cloud-based smart hub, with some support for local operation.

    You can connect the hub via Wi-Fi or via Ethernet, which is useful for flexible placement options. The hub supports Z-Wave, ZigBee and various third-party solutions, such as Philips Hue and Schlage, Alexa and Google Assistant.

    Best Overall

    Advanced Automation: Hubitat Elevation

      A Hubitat Elevation Hub, with a green house logo at the top
    Hubitat

    If you are willing to put a little more time and effort into the learning process, the Hubitat smart hub is a worthwhile choice. While not as approachable as SmartThings, Hubitat's automation is much more advanced and capable. You can specify scenarios like "Because you walked into the bedroom and it is after 9pm, and it is cold tonight and the heating is not on, the lights need to be turned on and dimmed and the electric blanket turned on."

    If you prefer to skip the cloud, the Hubitat is also a good choice, because it is locally controlled. It supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron and even lifted Iris devices. You can create dashboards that are then displayed in the Hubitat app available for iOS and Android or on a local web page. However, you are limited to Ethernet connections, so keep that in mind before purchasing.

    Advanced Automations

    Smart And Security: Abode iota

      An Abode iota hub with keyfob and contact sensor.
    Abode [19659003] Sometimes it's nice to treat two things at once and you have less to connect and set up. That's where Abode iota comes in: it's a smart hub, a security hub and a camera in one package.

    Abode & # 39; s iota supports various security products from door sensors to motion sensors and is compatible with ZigBee, Z-Wave and Homekit. You have to set it up via ethernet, but once you do you can go anywhere and connect via wifi.

    Smart and Security

    For DIY: HomeSeer HomeTroller

      A Custom HomeSeer Case with a Raspberry Pi
    HomeSeer

    Want Full Control of Your Smart Home? Then you want to build your hub from scratch. Or almost anyway. With HomeSeer, you can make your own Raspberry Pi, case and go through the hassle of licensing and installing the software (and if you already own a Raspberry Pi it might be cheaper), or you can buy this kit with that bit of it hard work that has already been done.

    HomeSeer supports Z-wave and Ethernet connections and has a control system that is easier to learn than some other DIY options. You don't need to know how to code to get started and everything is done locally for faster response times. It offers a HomeSeer app for iOS and Android and custom dashboard support.

    For DIY

    HomeSeer HomeTroller Zee S2 Home Controller

    If you'd rather take full control and build your smart home from scratch, then the HomeSeer Hometroller is for you. It's a cloudless Ethernet-connected solution for fast response times, but still offers apps for easy operation.

    One Simple System: Insteon

      A white Insteon hub with a single LED indicator.
    Insteon

    Most of the smart hubs on this list support Z-Wave, ZigBee or both. But Insteon is different: it works according to its own protocol instead. It is easy to think of as a drawback or limitation, but it has the clear advantage of easy choices. Instead of trying to sift through half a dozen Z-Wave and ZigBee smart switches, choose the Insteon switch. Since that device is specially tuned to your Insteon hub, setup is generally easier too. However, the Insteon selection is more limited than Z-Wave or ZigBee. You will find switches, fan controls and a thermostat, but no lamps for example. Insteon does support third-party integrations like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Yonomi, which can help extend that compatibility.

    Insteon uses a dual mesh system over wireless and wired connections to increase uptime and offers both app and void control. Both the dual-mesh system and the nature of the proprietary wireless protocol generally lead to faster response times than Z-Wave products.

    One Simple System

    Professionally Installed: Control4

      A white Control4 hub with two antennas pointing up from the back.
    Control4

    Most of the smart home is do-it-yourself. You choose the hub and then choose which smart locks, lights, sensors and more you want to buy. Then you need to install them one by one and integrate them into your system. If your hub supports a dashboard, create it.

    Control4, on the other hand, is quite the opposite: professional dealers will work with you to find the best devices to match your home. Then they install it, set up the gadgets and pull the dashboard together. Control4 also goes beyond the smart home as it can control entertainment systems, intercoms and more.

    Control4's CA-1 hub works with ZigBee, Wi-Fi and you can add an optional Z-Wave module. But you don't have to worry about that; someone else will be concerned. Just expect to pay a premium for any help.


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