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 a hub?”
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.
If you’re stuck choosing between SmartThings vs. Insteon, our guide will go over the differences between the two and hopefully help you make the choice that’s right for you.
As home automation becomes more popular, there are more and more companies offering smart home products. The competition is unreal and, as a result, a lot of customers are getting lost in the choices. And because of the rapid growth of technology, some companies just can’t compete anymore and have to step out of race: Revolv is a perfect example. The hub didn’t look good to begin with, but the company had thousands of customers who were pretty unhappy to learn that as of May 15th 2016, the Revolv Hub would no longer be functional — and after years of use!
So, once you’ve started looking into home automation, it seems like the most important thing to do would be to analyze the company’s position. But, when we talk about SmartThings vs. Insteon, the two companies have been on a market for more than 10 years and seem pretty steady. However, as is the problem in this new smart home market, you never know when the next giant company might just go under and leave customers with useless devices.
But, let’s talk about positive things, like the differences between two great devices!
As smart home automation becomes more popular, more companies integrate smart home solutions. Nowadays, it’s easy to control your home remotely from your smartphone. But as it becomes more popular, it gets harder to choose between home automation systems.
Overall, it all comes to compatibility issues and number of options. Before buying a smart home automation system for your home, make sure it’s compatible with all your smart home appliances. So, as a result, you can control everything from one app, instead of downloading apps for each device separately.
Please Note: As of March 31st, 2019, Lowe’s is shutting down their Iris smart home platform. More information here.
So, there’s a lot of smart home systems, and it might be a bit difficult to choose the right one for your home. Today we’ll compare two systems and discuss what each has going for it. Insteon has been selling smart home appliances since 2012 and has really made a mark on the market. Whereas Iris, while owned by Lowe’s, is a younger smart home brand that has already built a trusted reputation with its customers.
The Iris smart home automation system is the only smart home platform created by a home retailer (Lowe’s). The Lowe’s company has nearly 70 years of experience when it comes to home improvements. With all the knowledge gained over the past 70 years, Lowe’s offers a great smart home solution — Iris smart home automation platform.