Smart home hubs are a great way to bring all of your smart home devices together. With a central home hub, your smart home devices are much easier to manage, often with a smartphone. Having centralized control of all your devices can save a great deal of time in your day-to-day life.
The best home hub for you will depend on a number of things including what devices you already have, what your budget is and what features each home hub can offer. We will be taking a look at some of the best home automation systems including the Samsung smart hub, Google smart home devices and more.
What Is a Smart Home Hub?
A smart hub for your home is either a device or a mobile app that connects all your smart home devices together. This allows you to control all smart devices from one centralized place. With a smart home hub, you will be able to control everything from your smart speaker to your window blinds, thermostat, home security system and other smart home devices.
You can use your smart hub to control lots of different smart settings, like when your heating comes on, when your blinds open or what time your lights come on. This can make your home look occupied to deter thieves — a great addition to any home security system.
The ability to control all smart home devices from a mobile app can save time compared to controlling every device manually. Just a tap of an app is all you need to take full control of your smart home system.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Smart Home Hub
Smart Home Hub Connectivity Protocols
Home automation hubs connect devices in two ways. The most common connectivity protocols are Bluetooth and Z-wave. Z-wave smart home hubs use low-power radio signals to connect devices within a wide range from a hardware hub. They use a mesh network that allows each connected smart device to act as an additional signal. With each device boosting signals, you can connect hundreds of devices. Zigbee home automation hubs work the same way. There are a few small differences between Z-wave and Zigbee such as range and compatibility for your devices, but both are highly recommended.
Other smart home hubs simply connect to your smartphone’s Bluetooth using low power radio waves. These often connect to your existing modem or router using an Ethernet cable.
Most Bluetooth hubs and devices don’t have as far of a connection range as the more popular Z-wave hubs. But just because you purchase a Z-wave hub that connects to your Wi-Fi doesn’t mean you can only use Z-wave products. Some hubs, such as Securifi’s Almond hub, use multiple connectivity portals including both Z-wave and Bluetooth for you to make the most of the hub and your smart home appliances.
Hardware vs. Software Smart Home Hubs
Most home automation hubs are router-like devices placed in your home to connect to your devices. There are other smart home hubs that are simply software or mobile apps, too. One of the more popular mobile app smart home hubs is the Apple HomeKit. With HomeKit connected smart home devices, you’ll be able to control multiple devices using the Home app on Apple gadgets. You won’t need any hardware to connect your devices — the mobile app or software can add and connect devices just as the hardware would. You’ll still have the power to use the device’s application without the software, but you’ll have both options without the added cost of a hardware hub.
Hybrid vs. Dedicated Smart Home Hubs
There are many smart home gadgets that have built-in smart home hubs for your convenience. The Amazon Echo Plus is a popular option. It serves as a voice assistant, smart home hub and speaker. However, these hybrid smart home hub options may not have the power to support all of your smart home appliances. Think about how many appliances you’ll be connecting to your hybrid home automation hub, and you may find that you’ll need a dedicated smart home hub.
A dedicated smart home hub takes on the sole responsibility of connecting all of your smart home devices. These often support more smart home products and brands than hybrid hubs. They often run off of Z-wave signals to connect your gadgets, but they’re often controlled using your smart home hub’s mobile app for centralization and control
What Devices Can Be Connected to a Smart Home Hub?
Depending on which smart home hub you choose, you can connect a range of different devices. Generally, you will be able to connect things such as smart speakers, thermostats, smart locks and lights. Connecting these devices to smart hubs can offer both convenience and peace of mind, as everything can be managed from one place.
Some smart hubs will work with smart home appliances from a range of brands including Nest, GE and Philips. Others will work with home security equipment such as security cameras. For example, Google works with Nest security to provide home security services under the Google name.
The 7 Best Smart Home Hubs
- Best Voice Assisted Smart Home Hub
Amazon Echo PlusOur rating
The Amazon Echo is an all-in-one smart home hub. It has the power to play music, act on voice commands with Amazon Alexa and connect you to other rooms like an intercom using the Drop-In feature. The Amazon Echo Plus’ smart home hub has the power to connect and control your home’s devices including light bulbs, smart locks and security cameras for your convenience.
Stand-out features include
- Includes a low-power Zigbee smart home hub to connect each product to one another for a better connection
- Built-in Amazon Alexa manages all smart home devices using voice commands
- Use the Alexa mobile app and your smartphone to quickly connect smart home gadgets
- Best Connecting Smart Home Hub
Google Home HubOur rating
The Google Home Hub also connects to the Nest Cam Outdoor and Nest Hello to see who’s outside your home directly from the smart home hub display. The small home automation hub and connected devices can be controlled using Google Assistant voice commands.
Stand-out features include
- Works with over 5,000 smart home device from over 400 brands for broad connectivity
- Use the Google Home mobile app to control your home when you’re on the go
- Uses both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to connect smart home devices
- Best Value Smart Home Hub
Samsung SmartThings HubOur rating
The Samsung SmartThings smart home hub controls all of your home’s smart devices using one mobile app. And when you connect smart security gadgets to this smart home hub, you’ll receive mobile alerts of your home’s activity. With this smart home hub, you can schedule when devices automatically turn on and off using SmartThings Routines. You’ll worry less about your smart home failing if one device isn’t working properly.
Stand-out features include
- Control your connected smart home devices using the SmartThings mobile app for your convenience
- Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free control of home devices
- Uses Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Bluetooth connectivity to connect smart home devices
Securifi Smart Home HubOur rating
The Almond 3 acts as a home alert system, Wi-Fi connector and smart home hub in one. It’s designed to offer a fast, wide Internet network. The built-in hub allows you to create automated routines that automatically turn devices on and off using your smartphone. You’ll have the power to automatically turn off the lights and thermostat using the Almond app.
Stand-out features include
- Compatible with most modems and routers from internet service providers including Verizon and AT&T
- Works with Amazon Alexa for hands-free control of home devices
- Built-in customer support for Philips Hue, Nest and Amazon Echo users
Apple TV 4KOur rating
The Apple TV acts as a smart home hub that is controlled using the Apple HomeKit mobile app or the Siri Remote. You’ll be able to check the status of your home’s gadgets, change the temperature and unlock the door through the Apple TV and mobile app for your convenience.
Stand-out features include
- Uses the Apple HomeKit mobile app to connect and control your smart home gadgets using your iPhone
- Gives multiple users access to control your home’s appliances via smartphone
- Create automated routines to allow smart home appliances to automatically work together by one customized instruction
The Benefits of Home Automation Hubs
- Connectivity — Once you start building your smart home with different appliances and electronics you’ll want to connect those devices to work together. Smart home hubs allow you to connect all devices without wires. You’ll be able to turn on the air and lights using your smart lights and smart thermostat without opening separate mobile apps.
- Remote control — With a smart home hub, when you’re away you’ll be able to control your smart home devices using one mobile app from your smartphone. Even when you’re not home, you’ll be able to see who’s in your home using real-time footage. You’ll also be able to unlock your door using a smart lock once devices are connected to the smart hub.
- Automation — Home automation hubs allow you to create schedules that automatically turn devices on and off for your convenience. Use the hub’s mobile app to create routines or activities. Connecting smart devices to your automation hub allows lights to automatically come on when the sun sets or the thermostat to turn off when you leave home without thinking twice. You’ll also be able to use the hub’s mobile app to check the status of each appliance or automatically control them when you’re on vacation.
Connecting your smart home devices is easy with a smart home hub. Connectivity protocols and features are just a few factors to think about. But with many options to consider, you’ll find the perfect hub that connects all of your smart home devices without worry.
Smart Home Hub FAQs
A smart home hub is a device or mobile app that connects all of your smart home devices. With a hub, you’ll be able to control your smart speaker, thermostat and other home devices using one app. Most smart home hubs allow you to schedule when equipment automatically turns on or off using a mobile device.
Some smart home appliances don’t require a home automation hub to access smart features. Many smart gadgets can be set up using your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity only. However, if you’d like to create a smart home that connects different appliances, you’ll need a smart home hub.
Your smart home hub does not need to be a router, but most hubs require you to connect it to one. If your home has a poor internet connection you’ll want to consider a Wi-Fi system such as the Deco M9 Plus. It extends your Wi-Fi’s range while acting as a smart home hub to connect your smart devices.
The best way to choose a smart home hub is to consider the smart devices you already have and ones you wish to use in the future. Finding a home hub that is compatible with these devices is your first step. Other things to consider are price, connectivity, mobile app usability and range.
Some smart home hubs can be connected to your home security system. For example, the Google Home Hub can be connected to a Nest security system. Amazon and the Samsung SmartThings Hubs can also be used to manage smart security gadgets.