Turning your home into a smart home has never been easier. There are a lot of affordable connected gadgets on the market from a range of manufacturers. Whether you want to automate your household, or add some smart home enhancements, there’s a device for you.
However, as you start building your collection, you’ll need a smart home hub to control them all. Although Amazon and Google currently dominate this space, there are other options, too.
Here are the best smart home hubs available today.
Amazon was among the first companies to really popularize smart home products. The Amazon Echo smart speaker with Alexa integration become one of the best selling smart home devices. A smaller edition, the Amazon Echo Dot, is the best affordable smart home hub if you have a lot of Alexa-compatible devices around the home, such as the Fire TV Stick.
The Echo Dot comes in four attractive colors to suit your home. It has four microphones, which makes it very good at detecting voices and interpreting what’s being said. The microphones are also far-field, so they can pick up commands from anywhere in the room. You may be aware of the Amazon Echo, which is the taller variant of the Dot. So, why are we recommending the Dot over the regular Echo?
For one, its small size fits nicely on desks and tables without taking up much room. Amazon also seems more interested in developing multiple editions of the Dot. For example, you can now purchase an Echo Dot with a clock on the front, which makes for a very stylish desk piece!
On the other side of the smart home hub divide, you have the Google Nest Mini. This is the best smart hub if you have a lot of Google-produced products in your home. This includes Android devices, Nest thermostats or security cameras, and Chromecast TV dongles. These can communicate nicely with the Nest Mini.
The Nest Mini, released in 2019, differs from Google’s older Home Hub by adding a third microphone and adding a nook in the back for wall-hanging. It also uses voice pattern recognition to identify who’s speaking to it. This means that deliveries and notifications for you won’t be read out to the other members of your family.
If you have an Android phone, the Nest Mini becomes even more useful. For example, if you set a reminder on your phone, the Nest Mini will light up to remind you about it. The Nest Mini can also send its search results to your phone for in-depth browsing.
If you’re looking for a smart hub that’s not locked into Google or Amazon, try the Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub. The main draw to the SmartThings hub is how it doesn’t lock allegiance to one of the two large technology fims and has compatibility with a wider range of products.
The SmartThings Hub connects up with other Samsung devices, naturally, but also plays well with Honeywell, Philips Hue, and Kwikset products. This means you have a good selection of products to choose from when filling out a specific area of your smart home. As such, the SmartThings a good choice if you’re looking for a general home automation hub.
Part of why the Samsung SmartThings works well with other devices is its support of other protocols. The SmartThings hub supports both Z-Wave and ZigBee protocols, which allows it to talk to other devices that use those standards. There are lot of them, too. According to SmartThings, the hub is compatible with 204 devices. From sensors, to doorbells, to washing machines, the sky’s the limit with this smart hub.
The Hubitat Elevation is another great choice for people trying to achieve smart home automation. When you look at the technical specifications, it’s easy to see why people settled on Hubitat. For one, it doesn’t require an internet connection after set up. You can control your connected devices at any time, even when your internet is down. The lack of cloud dependency also lets the Hubitat respond quicker than other hubs, as it doesn’t need to phone home to a server every time it receives a command.
So, what’s compatible with it? If you take a look at its list of compatible devices, you’ll find a vast selection of products. This is partly due to the Hubitat’s design as a Z-Wave and ZigBee hub, which is a must-have specification for anyone looking to create a fully-autonomous smart home.
Hubitat’s main competitor, the Wink Hub, has recently experienced some funding issues. The company was acquired by musician will.i.am’s i.am+ technology business in 2017. Unfortunately, the parent company appears to have run out of funding. At the time of writing, the future of the Wink platform appears uncertain. Wink users have been jumping ship to the Hubitat Elevation as their smart hub of choice. Considering this, it may be the best home hub for you.
The Best Smart Home Hub for You
Getting started with smart home products is easier than ever before. There’s a lot of choice out there, and affordable choices are coming to the market. One thing is certain, though; an excellent smart hub is the cornerstone of any automated home.
Whether you’re kitted out with Amazon products, run your house on Android, or want something that breaks free from the largest companies, there’s a hub for you.
If you don’t want to spend too much money setting up your new smart home, consider one of these cheap smart home gadgets under $50.