What is a Smart Home Hub? -The Best Options
Even if your devices are made by different manufacturers, a smart home hub can still connect them. That’s not all, you can setup a multi-level elaborate connection.
Imagine getting home and your smart door detects your phone and unlocks, then turns off the alarm. The process continues and triggers the lights to come on, and then your favorite music starts to play. How would you like that sequence of automation?
Getting a smart hub can be tricky as there are different protocols over which the devices communicate. But don’t worry, we’ll clear all that up for you. When next you’re asked “what is a smart home hub?”, you’ll have something ‘smart’ to say.
That’s not all, by the time you’re done reading, you’d know if you even need a smart home hub to start with. You’ll also know more about different smart hubs, how they work, and you’ll be able to figure out which one you might need.
How Does a Smart Home Hub Work?
Have you ever enjoyed the convenience of signing into any Google app without having to type your details all the time? This is similar to what you get if you have a smart home hub.
Instead of interacting with different devices one after the other, you can do that from a single place. Some of these hubs even go further by allowing you to preset a chain of commands to execute sequentially.
Smart devices have different ways of communicating. For instance, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are two popular wireless types of communication (protocol). Zigbee and Z-Wave, on the other hand, are connection types popular among Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
A smart home hub is so useful because it can connect devices that work on different protocols. It simply translates the communication from one device to the other.
For instance, a smartphone that uses Wi-Fi wants to interact with a door lock that works over Zigbee. A smart hub simply translates the communication from the phone to the door lock for the message to take effect.
Universal Powerline Bus (UPB) is a wired protocol for creating a smart home. It uses your home’s electrical wiring to communicate ..with other devices. Before the wireless protocols became popular, the UPB and X10 were the go-to for smart homes.
Nowadays, you will still find UPBs and if it happens that you have a device that uses it, you can still physically connect it to your smart home hub.
A smart home hub also allows you to monitor your smart devices and interact with them remotely. Most of them have apps you can download on your phone to put the command center in your hands.
Do I Need One?
Whether you need one or not will depend on the situation at hand. If you’re a beginner still trying to figure things out, don’t rush it yet. Even if you already have multiple devices that you want to sync, you can still do that without a smart hub.
You can use a smart speaker such as Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot. They’re not outright smart home hubs as they don’t use Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols. However, they can offer smart hub-like functionality by connecting devices from different ecosystems.
With smart speakers such as Google Assistant, you can issue voice commands to control all the devices connected to it. As an Apple fan, you can use the HomePod with Siri as its voice assistant.
Alternatively, if your devices use Wi-Fi, you can still control them without a smart home hub. Third-party apps such as Yonomi offers a centralized interface to control all your devices. They even support automation.
If you’re still not satisfied with the above options, then you probably need a smart home hub. The following considerations will help you confirm
- Do you intend to add to the list of smart devices you already have?
- Do you desire an elaborate connection among them?
- Are you looking to automate your devices and easily control them?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you need a smart home hub. It will help as your smart devices add up.
Don’t get us wrong though, you can get a smart hub at any point. We just don’t want you to follow the fad and get a device you don’t really need. If you get it even without needing it yet, you’d have mastered using it long before the need arises.
What is a Zigbee Smart Home Hub?
Zigbee is a network standard for personal areas. It’s a wireless connection alternative to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A Zigbee smart home hub is one that uses the Zigbee network standard to connect multiple devices together.
Zigbee works great for smart homes as it is specialized for low-powered devices such as smart home sensors that don’t require lots of bandwidth.
There are lots of smart home devices that can use Zigbee. If you have those, you can use this hub to connect them all and control them from a central point.
Another advantage of Zigbee is that it is optimized for mesh networking which is the type used in a smart home. This is a great option as there are lots of products designed to be compatible with it.
What Is the Best Smart Home Hub?
There are no best smart hubs; only the ones ideal for you. For instance, getting a smart speaker as a hub when what you need is dedicated one will make it seem subpar. Whereas, it is an excellent choice if it matches your needs.
We will tell you about some popular smart home hubs that will cater to your needs and how best you can utilize them.
This one works well with all wireless protocols i.e. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. It offers battery backup and connects with your router.
One of the reasons this smart hub is successful is its wide compatibility. It works with over 200 devices and third-party services, and that number keeps growing.
A lot of the popular smart home devices such as Amazon Alexa Philips Hue, Google Assistant, ADT securities, Schlage locks, Honeywell thermostats, etc. and others you might want to get will work seamlessly with it.
It is compatible with Android and iOS so you can use your smartphone as the operations center. With this smart hub, you can control and automate your devices to suit your needs.
This one too supports the popular connection protocols as its Samsung counterpart. One thing distinct about this one is that it does not rely on cloud connectivity. It talks to smart devices internally.
The advantage of that is to make the connection more reliable. More or less like the connection between you and someone you’re talking to over the phone and the person being beside you.
The Wink smart hub too works on Android and iOS. Just like the Samsung, it integrates with many different devices such as Nest thermostats, GE smart lightbulbs, etc.
Apart from these two, there are other smart home hubs but most of them are not as widely compatible as these two. Some of the other smart home hubs are as follows:
Harmony by Logitech
VeraLite by Vera
Almond by Securifi
Insteon Hub by Insteon
Smart home automation is the future of homes seeping into the present and smart home hubs are an integral part of how we experience it. Controlling most of your devices from a single location is an attractive benefit. This is not something you want to skip over if you’re into smart home automation. We hope you found what you’re looking for. If any of the products you see excites you, just click on it to make it yours!
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