Smart home technology is incredible. There are now thousands of devices that can control just about every aspect of your home, including sliding glass door openers, smart toilets, and even smart ceiling fans.
The problem is that many of these devices are independent of each other, which means that you need a separate application to manage them. You won’t really save time if you have to search through two dozen apps to turn off your home when you leave.
The best solution to this problem is to invest in a good smart home center. These hubs bring all your disparate devices together in one place and let you control your entire home from a single interface. There are a few major contenders, but smaller nodes are emerging that are more specialized but equally useful.
Best all-around smart home control: Samsung SmartThings
Samsung SmartThings Hub works with a wide variety of devices using Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. It is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home smart assistants, allowing you to control any compatible device with your voice.
If you have used any SmartThings devices before, they must be compatible with the 3rd generation SmartThings Hub.
You can also set schedules and control the system with predefined command words such as “Good morning”, “Good night” and “Goodbye”. Thanks to its Wi-Fi connection, SmartThings Hub does not need to configure an Ethernet port, leaving more room on the router.
Things to Know:
- SmartThings Hub is compatible with over 40 brands.
- It does not work with Nest devices.
- The hub will alert you to unexpected activity in your home, acting as a kind of temporary security device.
- Wink Hub 2 works with over 400 devices, including the Nest.
- Wink Hub 2 operates at 5 GHz. Wi-Fi compared to the standard 2.4 GHz of most smart home devices.
- You can use Amazon Echo Dot to make calls.
- Alexa has tens of thousands of different skills to help you better control your smart home.
- Works brilliantly 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 your Home Control system: a dimmer switch and a smart socket.
Most popular protocol support: Wink Hub 2
Wink and Samsung have been major competitors in the smart home hub industry for several years now, and the release of Wink Hub 2 has only intensified that rivalry.
Like SmartThings Hub, Wink Hub 2 is one of the best smart home hubs that works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but it stands out for its compatibility with a few rare protocols. These protocols include Kidde and Lutron Clear Connect, more niche systems that give the Wink Hub 2 the broadest range of protocol support of any smart hub on the market.
Of course, the Wink Hub 2 also has other features that users want, such as the ability to set up schedules, track activity in the house, and even automatically turn on lights when smoke is detected.
Things to Know:
Best Budget Smart Hub: Amazon Echo Dot
If you’re looking for a smart home hub on a budget, the Amazon Echo Dot is a great choice. While it does not have the same range of compatibility as the first two entries on this list, the Echo Dot is still compatible with a wide variety of different devices.
The main reason for its incompatibility is the lack of compatibility with Z-Wave or Zigbee; however, if you are looking to upgrade to a more expensive (but still affordable) hub, the Amazon Echo Plus does have a Zigbee connection.
The Echo Dot has great design and reliable sound, but costs less than other smart hubs. If you’re looking for a smart home control system on a budget (which is Alexa compatible by default), then this is a great investment.
Things to Know:
Best In-Wall Center: Great Smart Home System
Most people with a smart home control it using a smartphone or tablet. Smart assistants can help too, but it’s hard to find another way to control everything.
Manual controls are built into most smart devices, but they can be cumbersome and difficult to use, especially if you’re not looking for them often. A wall recessed control panel may seem archaic, but it is a great way to control your smart home, especially for those who are not very tech savvy.
Brilliant is one of the few embedded systems on the market that integrates a large number of smart home devices. The display panel is touchscreen compatible and allows you to control lights, climate locks and more. It can even display a video stream from your doorbell to the panel itself.
Brilliant works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, but the company says Apple HomeKit compatibility is on the way. It also works with SmartThings Hub, so if you want to pair a traditional hub with a built-in unit, Brilliant will make that possible.
The Brilliant has less compatibility than SmartThings or Wink, but given how new the system is to the market, there is plenty of room for growth in the future.
Things to know:
Which of the best smart home hubs above do you use to control your home? Let us know in the comments below.