Factors to Consider Before Buying a Smart Home Hub
Smart Home Hub Connectivity Protocols
Home automation hubs connect devices 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.
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 connectivity 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. Some Bluetooth smart home hubs can keep devices connected up to three football fields away while others may only connect 100 meters – just a third of one football field. 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. Most hubs, such as the Samsung SmartThings 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 your devices. But there are other smart home hubs that are simply software or mobile apps. 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, because 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.
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. Check out our top five suggestions to get started. For a full list of leading smart home hubs, check out Amazon’s best-selling home automation hubs.