What is a Smart Home Hub
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A smart home hub provides better organization and most importantly control over your smart devices, centralizing all your tech through one interface.
Certain smart home light kits go directly through wifi, like the super-popular Lifx range, whereas others may require a different gateway such as a ZigBee or Z Wave compatible gateway. And choosing the best smart home hub can make sure all these different protocols and devices can, for the most part, seamlessly speak too each other.
What does a smart home hub do?
Essentially what smart hubs do is give you access to all your different smart home devices from one dedicated interface.
Imagine your smart hub as the heart of your smart home devices, with veins connecting to each individual device.
Prior to a smart home hub, you would have downloaded a different app for each of your individual smart home devices. It was a nightmare.
Thankfully, developers created a single device with a single app in which you could access all your smart home devices which are registered through one central hub.
What is a smart speaker?
So the secret’s out – smart speakers are the new smart hub
These hybrid devices double as both a smart home hub and smart home device all in one and also tend to offer more bang for your buck.
They give you voice control of things like your smart thermostat, so now you just need to choose Ecobee vs Nest. Decisions, decisions!
For instance, the Amazon Echo Plus has a built-in ZigBee smart home hub, which allows for simple and direct setup of compatible ZigBee lights, locks, plugs, and in-wall switches from brands like Philips Hue, GE, and Yale. No additional hub required if you plan on keeping things simple.
As we mentioned earlier, some devices may have different connections. Certain hubs may only work with certain manufacturer devices whereas hybrid devices would work with numerous smart home devices.
In addition, these hybrid devices can help alleviate the strain other smart home devices put on your network.
A smart speaker is a hybrid device such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Home are all smart speakers. Each device has their own personal assistant integrated to help you control your smart home devices using Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant respectively. Furthermore, they have added functionality in addition to controlling your smart home devices allowing you to make appointments, schedule your diary and much more.
In contrast, the smart hub is just a centralized device with no “glamourous” voice control functionality. It just allows you to control various different smart home devices through a master app. Some of the most recognizable smart home hubs would include the Wink 2 and Samsung SmartThings.
Couple one of these hubs with a Ring Smart Doorbell for example, and you can setup event triggered automations; so when motion is detected at your front door in the evening, it turns on your porch light. Neat.
Do You Need A Smart Home Hub?
For instance, imagine you’re in your twilight years and for some reason, the simplest of tasks suddenly become the hardest. In this case, smart home automation systems can be extremely beneficial. Now imagine a family member with Alzheimer’s who consistently forgets to lock the door. Smart home hubs can send signals to those smart home devices to automatically lock the doors at bedtime. Not only can it adjust the thermostat for them but it can also learn about their temperature behaviors. Knowing when to heat up or cool down the house.
Personally speaking, there’s no better feeling than having your smart home devices wake you up, tell you the news, repeat your daily schedule, warm up the car for you and make you that fresh cup of brew in the morning. After a while, you’ll start to notice your daily routine become more fluid thanks to the smart home automation systems you have implemented.
Should You Get A Smart Hub Or Smart Speaker…Or Both?
When it comes to choosing a smart hub or smart speaker, it really comes down to personal preference.
Hubs tend to be compatible with more smart home devices. In addition, they offer greater automation control in comparison to smart speakers.
It really comes down to how smart you want your home to be.
As stated earlier, if you only have a few smart devices than perhaps you’re better off getting an Amazon Echo or Google Home (Smart Speakers) as opposed to a smart hub.
The best smart home hub would tend to offer more in-depth and broader translation of different protocols smart devices use in order to get your tech to speak the same language.
As a result of this, you get greater customization and deeper home automation capability. Whereas with smart speakers you get a more basic version with paired-down functionality. But don’t expect that to remain the case as the technologies evolve!
To reiterate, it all comes down to how smart do you want your home to be. If you want a fully automated home, where mundane tasks are completely synchronized and controlled, then buy a smart hub. However if simplicity is key and you prefer voice control, go for a smart speaker and then grab a hub when your ecosystem has grown to the point where you need one and the additional benefits they bring to the party. Bottom line, it all comes down to personal preference.
For instance, prior to purchasing my Amazon Echo Plus, I had an app for my Philips Hue bulbs and an app for my smart TV. When I got the Amazon Alexa app I integrated these two devices into the one app. Your smart home hub will recognize the devices once you add them into the app. As soon as it know’s which devices to give orders to then you can send signals to said devices, via the app.
It’s as simple as that.
Without a doubt, it’s an extremely easy process when it comes to automating your home. It’s even better-using voice control smart hubs over just app orientated devices for controls and commands.
Lets summarize with the pro’s and con’s and determine whether or not you need a dedicated smart home hub.
Home Control Hubs – Pros
- Better organization and connectivity – It really declutters your phone when it comes to excessive apps downloaded on it for each device.
- Free up your time – When your hub is integrated with a virtual assistant you can fully automate your morning routine.
- Essential if you have various different smart devices – It just makes sense to get a hub if you have more than 5 different smart home devices.
- Can double as a wifi extender – Some smart home systems have added functionality and can double as an extra router. Which is extremely cost-effective.
Home Control Hubs – Cons
- Unnecessary – They can be unnecessary if you only have one smart home device. However, if you do plan on purchasing more than one smart home device, I’d recommend picking up a smart home hub.
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