Category: Compare Smart Home Hubs
What is a Smart Home Hub?
A hub is the heart and soul of every smart home — it connects all compatible smart home products to make them work together as a team. All you need to do is download the hub’s app on your iOS or Android smartphone. The app lets you control all your smart products that are connected to the hub. Hubs allow you to create triggers, set schedules, and even remotely control your smart home appliances (while you’re away) from your smartphone.
At this point, we feel like it’s important to clarify the difference between a hub and a bridge. They implement two different concepts: a hub is a device which brings together different types of smart products, whereas a bridge grants you remote access to only one type of smart product.
For example, with a Philips Hue Bridge you can only control Philips Hue products. And with a Wink Hub 2, you can control lights, sensors, smart locks, cameras, thermostats and more from many different brands. With the Wink Hub 2 you can even control a Philips Hue Bridge, the thing which brings Philips Hue products to life. A hub creates a truly connected home and brings it to your fingertips. And that’s exactly what makes a hub the heart and soul of every smart home.
What Makes a Good Hub?
Choosing a good hub for your home pretty much depends on which smart home products you have or are planning to add to your home. A perfect hub pairs with all your smart products to give you instant access and easy control of all your smart devices.
Smart products run on different protocols to enable their smart feature. You’ve probably already heard about Z-Wave, Zigbee, ClearConnect, etc. Those are the protocol names for smart home products. It’s easy to think about protocols as languages. So, imagine your smart light bulbs and motion sensors speak different languages. How can you make them communicate effectively to make the lights turn on when they detect motion? — The answer is a hub. A hub usually incorporates different protocols. It works like a translator between all your smart products helping them understand each other and work together creating a truly connected home.
“But how do I know if my smart products will work with <insert hub here>?”
That question leads down a massive rabbit hole, where you’ll waste hours jumping from article to article, browsing compatibility lists. So, to save you some time, we’ve created a chart where you can check the pros and cons of different hubs and find a list of compatible products for each hub (see below).
And while we still have you here, you might also be interested in our Complete Smart Home Starter Kits guide, where we offer two solutions for complete smart home starter kits. You’ll find kits with all the smart products you’ll need to start making your home truly smart. All the products within each kit work perfectly with each other and offer great ideas to incorporate (or great features to play with) — You can thank us later.
Our Favorite Smart Home Hub
It’s pretty hard to choose an absolute favorite. Each hub will meet or exceed your expectations. But, if we had to pick one hub — it’d be SmartThings… or Wink Hub 2 — we told you it’s hard to choose one. Both SmartThings and Wink Hub 2 are great and have just a few minor differences (our Wink vs. SmartThings article), so it pretty much depends on compatibility with other smart products.
For example, Wink Hub 2 works great with the Nest Learning Thermostat, but Wink doesn’t support Arlo Pro cameras (yet?). Whereas the SmartThings Hub doesn’t officially support the Nest Learning Thermostat, but instead pairs with Arlo Pro cameras in a heartbeat. Check out the chart of features below for more information.
Compare Smart Home Hubs
|SmartThings||Wink Hub 2||Insteon||Iris|
|Maximum number of devices||Unlimited||530||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|List of compatible products||List here||List here||List here||List here|
|Local storage||512 MB + 4 GB Flash||512 MB||N/A||N/A|
|Dimensions||1.30″ x 4.90″ x 4.20″||1.75″ x 7.25″ x 7.25″||1.5″ x 3.75″ x 3.75″||1.3″ x 4.3″ x 5.6″|
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