How to Choose the Right Smart Hub for You

From thermostats to baby monitors, homes are becoming more and more connected through smart devices. This technology has led to the creation of smart hubs, which can control these smart devices all from one convenient location. More and more homeowners are bringing this technology into their homes and making life easier through connectivity. 

Before purchasing a smart hub, it is important that you consider if the device can work with the smart devices throughout your home. If you are interested in purchasing a smart hub and do not know where to start, we will break down all the details of these devices. By continuing reading, you will learn more about this technology, the top choices on the market today, and what to look for when choosing the smart hub for your home.

What is a Smart Hub?

Smart technology has grown abundantly in the past few years and Smart Hubs are the latest in homeowner tech. A smart hub may be a bit confusing to those who are not familiar with this technology, but it is essentially hardware that connects devices. This allows you to control several appliances or devices at once in your home.

Smart hub technology will connect either locally or to the cloud. These hubs can often control any devices that use Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and sometimes WiFi connection. What sets these smart hub devices apart from others is that it allows devices that do not use the same connection to interact, such as a smartphone and a smart lock. 

In essence and to put it simply, the smart hub will be the heart of your home’s smart network. It connects the devices together and allows you to control them with one simple device.

What Can be Controlled with Smart Hubs?

Now that you know a bit more about the logistics of smart hubs, you may be questioning what exactly you can control with a smart hub. If you already have what some would consider a “smart” home, you can control a wide array of devices. Even those who do not have as many devices in their home can benefit from a smart hub.

An idea of what devices you may have or may want to add to your home that can be controlled by your smart hub are:

  • Smart Sensors on thermostats, lightbulbs, outlets, switches, door locks, doorbells, energy monitors, window treatments, garage door openers, etc.
  • Motion Sensors 
  • Flood and Leak Sensors 
  • Smart Radios and Speakers
  • Security Systems and Security Cameras
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Other Household Appliances

Your smart hub will work as a remote for any connected devices you may have in your home. By combining the controlling capabilities of these many devices, it makes controlling your home simpler. 

The Pros and Cons of a Smart Hub

Before you purchase a smart hub, you may want to consider some of the benefits of buying one and some of the negatives that come with these devices. While most can easily use smart hubs with some practice, they do have some deeper cons.

The Pros of Smart Hubs

There are countless benefits of smart hubs that make them beneficial in most homes. Some of the main reasons that homeowners are purchasing smart hub today are:

  • Easy Automation – The main benefit is that smart hubs create a simple way to integrate all of your devices. It makes using your devices automatic and simple. You can even set up schedules for your appliances. 
  • Makes Technology Easy – While it can be a bit of a learning process, for many a smart hub is actually easier than controlling a variety of apps. When you utilize a smart hub, it can be much simpler than using several apps. In fact, many find that smart hubs make utilizing newer appliances and technology simpler. 
  • Something for Everyone – Due to the increase in popularity amongst smart hubs, there are a large variety of options. This means that there are smart hubs that fit a variety of budgets and home needs. The technology for these devices just keeps getting better. 

Overall, smart hubs can be highly beneficial to most households and make controlling your devices much simpler. 

Cons of Smart Hubs

While most smart hubs have many benefits there are some negatives that you must consider. Think through these cons before you make any purchases. The main two cons of smart hubs are:

  • Cybercrime Risks – Unfortunately, the more technology you bring into your home, the more at risk you are for being hacked. It is important that you stay up to date on how to protect your technology and keep your smart hub safe, such as creating complex passwords. Also, stay up to date on hacks. 
  • Extra Expenses – Of course, smart hubs are an added expense and it is important that you are prepared to pay these costs. Many devices also have a monthly fee that you must pay, which can easily add up over time. It is important that you weigh any costs before adding a smart hub to your home. 

Overall, there are few negatives to buying a smart hub, but they can lead to some major trouble if your device becomes hacked. 

 What is the Best Smart Hub?

When it comes to smart hubs, you will want to compare a variety of options and see which works best for your needs. We will further break down how to look for a smart hub and what to consider, but first we will discuss some of the top smart hub choices on the market today. While there are countless options out there, these are some of the best.

Amazon Echo 

If you are familiar with Alexa, you will probably love the Amazon Echo. This device is small and works using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Sidewalk.

The fourth-generation Amazon Echo is the one that is widely available on the market today and offers the newest technology. 

When considering which smart hub you would like in your home, some of the benefits you will want to consider for the Amazon Echo are:

  • This is a relatively inexpensive option, coming in at around $80 on Amazon. 
  • The many connectivity options available to the Echo make it a great choice for most homes. 
  • Since it uses Alexa, you can use a variety of triggers to activate your devices. 
  • It works with a variety of smart technology devices but is great when used with other Alexa based products like the Alexa Guard. 
  • It offers a sleek, spherical design that many love and meshes well with most aesthetics. 

If you want something that will work well with the devices you may already have, this is a great option. Not to mention, it is made by Amazon which many know and trust. 

Samsung SmartThings Hub v3

While this option is much more expensive, coming in at around $565, it is another great option. It is truly one of the best smart hub options on the market today.

This may not be for the family that has a few devices they want to connect with but will work wonderfully in a tech-filled home. 

When comparing the Samsung SmartThings to other hub options, some things to keep in mind are:

  • This hub is easy to install as it uses Wi-Fi. However, it can also be used with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. 
  • Many companies are making devices that are SmartThings compatible. This makes connecting your home even easier.
  • This device allows you to connect hundreds of devices. In fact, it can connect more than most other hubs. 
  • The app that accompanies the SmartThings allows for a wide range of functionality. 
  • If you have Nest products, this is a great Smart Hub to utilize. 

While you may pay a bit more for this device, it is great for someone who is tech savvy and wants to have a fully connected smart home. 

Hubitat Elevation

This is one of the hardest devices to use if you are not highly tech-savvy, as it has a greater learning curve.

However, if you are more advanced when it comes to technology, it can be a great way to make your home more connected. Those who want a fully connected home love this device. 

Some other benefits that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to this smart hub are:

  • This device is a good midrange price, coming in at around $140 on Amazon. 
  • A great smart hub for power users. It allows you to create specific schedules for your devices. 
  • The device is super small and thin. However, it has both a Zigbee and Z-Wave antenna. 
  • It does need to be connected to a router to use the internet as it lacks Wi-Fi. However, the smartphone app is very beneficial. 

If you are a bit more knowledgeable on technology, this is a great choice for you. It has everything you need to connect your devices and offers great customization options.  

Apple HomePod Mini

While the Apple HomePod Mini does support a smaller number of devices than some others on our list, it is still a great option for most homes. It allows for higher complexity when it comes to creating your own home routines and is supported by Apple, who most love. 

Some benefits of the Apple HomePod Mini are:

  • The price is relatively low at only $90 for each device.
  • This device serves as a smart speaker and a HomeKit hub. 
  • HomePod Minis also have Thread built into the device, which is becoming more popular amongst new tech. 

Overall, this device is a great choice while it does control a bit fewer devices. If you are interested in something from a great company that is easy to use, this is a great choice. 

Google Nest Hub Max

This is a great option if you want something large and fully functional. The Google Nest Hub Max is everything you could want in a smart hub, offering a large display and quality dual speakers. It is more than just a connectivity device, it is a way to bring even more technology into your home. 

The Google Nest Hub Max has many benefits, including:

  • The 10-inch screen allows you to watch YouTube, Netflix, search the web, catch up on news, and much more.
  • This device is even equipped with a camera, which allows you to access Google Duo video calls. The device even follows motion, making it great for business meetings.
  • It connects to devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Thread, and others. 
  • You can utilize the display for watching live footage. This is great for accessing security cameras, doorbells, baby monitors, and more. 

This is a great choice if you want something a bit larger and more advanced. However, some do find the device a bit less sophisticated than other similarly priced options. 

Logitech Harmony Home Hub

This is a bit of a lesser-known smart hub than some of the others on our list, but still a great contender.

Though it does not have an established name, this hub does work with over 270,000 devices, making it great for most homes. Also, this is a great option for those who want a slim device that is less noticeable. 

Some of the other benefits of the Logitech Harmony Hub are:

  • This smart hub works well with most smart technology and includes IR mini blasters that help extend the coverage area for full home coverage.
  • The device uses Bluetooth to connect to your devices. It also comes with a USB port if needed.
  • It can work with iOS and Android phones. It also supports Alexa based devices.

Overall, this is a great choice for those who want something slimmer that will fit practically anywhere. Many who want to make smart entertainment a top choice, go with the Logitech Harmony Home Hub

What to Look for in Smart Hubs

While all of the choices above are great, you really must consider what you want from your device and how you plan to use it. By knowing what you are looking for, you can better narrow down your search and compare technology. Also, with ever changing technology and new devices hitting the market, you can easily see what works best for you.

There are a few key things that you must keep in mind when looking at smart hubs, which are:

  • Connectivity – The first step to finding your ideal smart hub is to find one that connects with the devices that you wish to use. If your smart hub cannot be connected to the smart devices in your home, then it is practically useless to you. Many of these devices will work across several connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Thread, and other newer types. 
  • Languages Used – Most smart hubs today have the capabilities to be customized based on your location and the language that you need. However, it is important that you do research into the type of device you are considering and ensure that it offers capabilities that fit your area. 
  • Look at Similar Brands – When purchasing your smart hub, it can make connecting your devices simpler if they are all made by the same manufacturer. If you have several Google connected devices, purchasing a smart hub created by the company can be simpler. While this is not necessary, many homes find using similar devices to be easier. 
  • Voice Control Capabilities – Smart hubs have advanced over time and most offer voice control capabilities. However, this is one feature that many find to be highly beneficial, and you should ensure the device you are considering offers. Voice control will allow you to use voice commands to control your home without ever touching your device.
  • Adaptable – You want to make sure that your device can adapt to fit your exact needs. Some want smart hubs that only turn on thermostats or lighting, while others want these devices for streaming and music playing. It truly depends on what you want the device for and ensuring it can be adapted to fit your needs.
  • It Can be Used with Your Phone – Another important thing to keep in mind is if the smart hub is compatible with your smartphone. Most will have apps that can be used on iOS or Android phones, but you need to double check this before purchasing. Ensuring your smart hub can work with your phone or tablet will make using the device much easier.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity – Most smart hubs will connect to the internet in one of two ways, either through direct ethernet connectivity or through Wi-Fi. Often, having a smart hub that features Wi-Fi connectivity will be much simpler to use. However, if you have a convenient place near your modem, using ethernet may not be a major issue.
  • Number of Devices – Another factor that is important to remember is if the smart hub can support the number of devices you have in your home. Smart hubs often have a number of devices they can control at once and you will want this number to match the appliances in your home. 

Overall, you should take the time to really break down the features of any smart hub devices you are considering. By weighing the pros and cons of each device compared to what you hope to achieve with your home will help you choose the best device for your needs. 

Choosing a Smart Hub for Your Home

Now that you know more about smart hubs and what they can do for you, it should be much easier to choose the device that fits your needs. These smart hubs are widely available on the market today and are a great way to make your home fit your connectivity needs. Ensure that you are comparing each device before purchasing. 

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This blog aims to share my research and first-hand knowledge in a helpful way. My goal is for you to be able to save time and find happiness in a streamlined home.