The Hive light bulbs are affordable in comparison to other smart bulbs. But the hub is relatively expensive. If you only want to invest in a smart lighting system (not a whole smart home system), the hub may be out of your budget. You may be considering buying the Hive smart light bulbs on their own. But stop right there!
You need a Hive Hub to use Hive smart lights. No Hive smart devices work without the Hive Hub. Other smart light brands can’t connect to the Hive Hub. But many smart lights can be set up in your home without a hub. They can connect to your Wi-Fi directly and you can control them with a simple app.
Smart hubs have some great features. If you want to automate your entire home in the future, it may make sense to buy a hub like the Hive Hub now. But if you only want to set up smart lighting in your home, a hub could be redundant. I explore your options further in this blog post.
- What is a smart light hub?
- Can you use Hive Active Lights without a Hive Hub?
- Should you buy the Hive Active Lights for your home?
- Can I use a different brand of smart lights with my Hive Hub?
- Do smart lights need a hub?
- Types of smart hubs (which should you choose?)
- Smart hubs also vary based on how they connect to your devices:
- Home Streamliner's Take:
What is a smart light hub?
A smart hub is a device that connects all the other smart devices, such as smart lights, in your home. You can connect the smart light hub to the internet. You can also connect your phone to the hub via an app. This allows you to dim your lights, change their color or switch them off remotely.
You can also connect a smart hub to a smart speaker, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Nest.
This allows you to control your lights with your voice. As you enter a room, you can tell your lights to turn on, and they will! The Hive Hub, for example, is a hub that connects to all the Hive smart devices in your home. This includes the Hive Thermostat, the Hive Motion Sensor, and Hive Active Lights.
Can you use Hive Active Lights without a Hive Hub?
No Hive products can be used without a Hive Hub. This includes the Hive Active Lights. Without the Hive Hub, Hive Active Lights could still be installed. They would shine, but they would not function as smart lights. This would make them a very expensive LED light option.
If the Hive Active lights are connected to the Hive Hub, you can control them with your phone.
You will have to download the Hive app. The app sends a signal to the hub. The hub then sends a signal to your lights to execute the command you gave in the app.
The app may take a little time to get used to. You can control the different settings by spinning a virtual wheel, which may be a bit fiddly.
Using the Hive app, you can do the following with your Hive Active Lights:
- Change their brightness
- Change their color (if you buy the color-changing light bulbs)
- Turn your lights on or off
- Schedule your lights to turn on or off at a specific time
Should you buy the Hive Active Lights for your home?
The Hive brand is popular for producing devices that work very well together.
Do you want to automate more parts of your home, like lighting, temperature control, and security? Then the Hive products may be a good fit for you.
The different smart devices work well together to create a comprehensive smart home.
If you already have another Hive product set up with the Hive Hub in your home, the Active Lights are a good choice. The light bulbs are relatively affordable when compared to other smart light bulbs.
However, if you do not have a Hive Hub and don’t plan on purchasing other Hive products, don’t buy the Active Lights. The Hive Hub is too expensive to only use for smart lighting.
You would be better off purchasing a different brand of smart lights if:
- You only want to set up smart lighting in your home (no other smart systems)
- You already have smart devices in your home that are not from the Hive range
- You like the option of having a light switch. Hive Active Lights cannot be controlled with a physical switch.
Can I use a different brand of smart lights with my Hive Hub?
Philips Hue light bulbs are the only non-Hive light bulbs that are compatible with the Hive Hub.
You can create lighting groups in the Hive app with Hive Active Lights and Philips Hue light bulbs.
Do smart lights need a hub?
Many smart light brands don’t need a hub to work. You can screw the smart light bulb into a light fixture and connect it to an app on your phone directly. Some are compatible with a specific hub but don’t need it. Based on your future plans, you may want to invest in these.
Here’s what I recommend:
If you only want to set up smart lighting in your home:
- Buy smart light bulbs that don’t need a hub.
You will save money and can control all your lights with your phone.
- If you are just starting, buy light bulbs from the same brand.
This lets you control your lights with one app as opposed to using many apps.
- If you already have smart lights from several brands, check out the Smart Life app.
You can use this app to connect devices from different brands. The disadvantage of this app is that you lose your automation settings when your internet goes out.
If you want to automate other systems in your home along with your lights:
- Investing in a hub now might be a good idea.
As you add more smart devices to your home, you can link them to the hub straight away.
- If you don’t want to invest in a hub now, buy smart light bulbs that are compatible with the hub you want to buy in the future
This ensures that you will be able to connect your lights to the hub once you get it.
Types of smart hubs (which should you choose?)
A smart hub is any device that connects other smart devices in your home. This means that some smart devices also act as hubs, even though they aren’t sold as dedicated smart hubs.
There are several smart hub options you can consider:
A dedicated smart home hub
Dedicated smart home hubs act only as a hub. You can connect them to the internet and you can connect your smart devices to them.
They serve no other function except for connecting your devices to your phone.
The Hive Hub is an example of a dedicated smart home hub. The Samsung SmartThings hub is also an example.
A Smart Speaker Acting As A Hub
You can connect other smart devices in your home to a smart speaker. The speaker acts as a hub in addition to acting like a speaker.
You can connect your phone to the speaker and control other devices with the right app.
Examples are the Amazon Echo and Google Nest speakers.
Smart speakers have a disadvantage. Your private conversations can potentially be hacked. If you want to install smart devices to improve your security, rather choose a different hub.
A TV acting as a hub
You can connect other Apple devices to your Apple TV and use the TV to control these devices.
A smart display acting as a hub
The Hub Max is a smart display that can connect to devices in your home. Besides acting as a hub, it also has the features of a display. This allows you to control your smart home devices on the screen. It’s a great option if you can’t remember the exact words you need to use to activate a smart speaker.
Smart hubs also vary based on how they connect to your devices:
Z-wave or Zigbee
Zigbee and Z-wave are mesh networks of low energy. They let devices communicate with each other without internet or Bluetooth connection.
Your hub will connect to other devices via one of these protocols, but it still needs to be connected to your Wi-Fi.
Hubs can connect to your devices via your home Wi-Fi system. This uses more bandwidth than Z-wave or Zigbee devices.
Insteon created this system. It uses your home’s power lines and a 915MHz wireless network to create a mesh network. This network can connect your devices to a hub.
This system is ideal if there are spaces in your home where the Wi-Fi connection is weak.
You must check if a light you want to buy is compatible with your system of choice.
Home Streamliner’s Take:
Smart hubs have some great advantages. If you are just starting with making your home a smart home, I suggest taking some time to decide which brand you want to go with.
This lets you make an informed purchase every time you buy a new device. You can ensure that all your devices connect to your hub and that you can control all your devices with a single app.
If you only want to install smart lighting in your home, I wouldn’t buy a hub. It would be a waste of money because you can control your lights with your phone.
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