There are many smart devices available on the market, from simple light bulbs to smart thermostats. Together, they’ve become known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Having a house full of smart devices can become a hassle if they’re made by different manufacturers and are controlled through a host of different apps and controllers. Why can’t there just be one remote control to manage all the devices?
That’s where the smart home hub steps in. These hubs will act as the central portal to control your multiple smart products. But what are the Best Smart Home Hubs?
I’ll get into the best smart home hubs and a complete buyer’s guide to choosing the right smart hubs for you and your home.
If you’re in a hurry, here’re the best ones.
The Best Smart Home Hubs List
Best Overall Smart Home Hub
Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation
One of the great advantages of the SmartThings hub is its compatibility list. This hub can control a wide range of smart devices, including Smart Thermostats, light bulbs and switches, motion sensors, smart speakers and more.
It’s compatibility isn’t only tied to devices, it’s also compatible with multiple smart home ecosystems.
SmartThings pairs with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control.
The SmartThings Hub is also the Best Zigbee Smart Home Hub and the Best Z-Wave Smart Home Hub.
Throw in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and you have as much versatility as you could hope for from a Smart Home Hub.
While it works well with third-party sensors and devices, Samsung has also designed their own product line of devices and sensors including.
- SmartThings Door & Window Multipurpose Sensor – Lets you know when doors are opened or closed
- SmartThings Motion Sensor – Senses movement
- SmartThings Water Leak Sensor – Detects excess water and moisture under sinks, refrigerators and other areas where there might be water.
- SmartThings Outlet Plug – Control any small electrics connected to an outlet
- SmartThings Remote Button – Control connected devices with a single button push
For extra safety and security, you can also set alarm notifications when paired with cameras and smart doorbells. You can also control your heating when it’s connected to a Smart Thermostat.
Best Alexa Smart Home Hub
Amazon Echo Show 10
The Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) is the best and smartest yet to come from the ever-expanding range of Amazon Echo Show smart displays.
Compatible with a host of smart devices through Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Bluetooth. It can be set up for use as the central hub to control all compatible devices.
With built-in Alexa, you have the voice control to set everything up. Ask Alexa to search for devices, and it will discover and set-up all your devices for you.
The Echo Show 10 can be paired with a variety of devices including:
- Smart Thermostats
- Security Cameras
- Smart Lights
- Ring Smart Lighting
It is also a communication and entertainment center, boasting a 10.1-inch screen and a premium speaker. It also features a 13-megapixel camera which uses auto-framing to keep you center of the picture.
The HD screen can be used to watch shows from the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Use it as a digital photo frame or to make video calls with the front-facing camera and microphone.
For peace of mind, you can also remotely access your Amazon Echo Show 10 and access the built-in camera if you need to check what’s happening at home.
One of my favorite things about the Echo Show is that it doesn’t require a separate subscription to work. The device comes with over 100,000 Alexa skills that can be enabled.
You can ask questions like “What time is sunset?” or play music by asking “Play some jazz!”
If you want to get really fancy, you can use custom Alexa voices using the free skill builder app on your phone. This lets you choose different accents and languages.
Best Google Smart Home Hub
Google Nest Hub Max
The Nest Hub Max is Google’s top of the line smart hub, in functionality and even in some ways aesthetically.
Connectivity with the Hub Max has WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 and Zigbee options. It features a 10-inch touchscreen that has a maximum resolution of 1280 * 800 dpi.
The onboard 6.5 megapixel camera also has the auto-frame feature and has a wide-view angle of 127-degrees.
The Google Nest Hub Max also has voice control built-in and can be paired with many smart home devices, including:
- Smart Lighting
- Security Systems
- Video Doorbells
- Smart Plugs
The Google Nest Hub Max comes with Google Chromecast built-in. That allows you to use the hub as a home entertainment center with all the major media subscription services like Netflix and Spotify, and even listen to podcasts.
In addition, there are more than 50,000 apps available for Android TV. You can also cast content directly onto any other display around the house.
There is no shortage of great features packed into this little gadget. I love how easy it was to setup and connect to my existing network. And now that we live in an age where most people already own smartphones, having one less thing plugged into our walls makes sense.
Best HomeKit Smart Home Hub
Apple TV 4K
The Apple TV 4K differs from the Google and Amazon Smart home hubs as it has no built-in screen or speakers. Instead, Apple TV is a set-top box that attaches to any compatible TV.
As the name suggests, it provides full 4K resolution and the audio output is Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Surround sound. It has voice control through the remote-control using Apple Siri.
For connectivity the Apple TV 4K features Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. Currently, there’s no support for either Zigbee or Z-wave, although there are bridge devices that will act as intermediaries to allow some form of compatibility.
With Apple products, it’s better to stick with Apple’s own offerings of HomeKit products or with those who have been licensed to produce HomeKit compatible devices. Be on the lookout for Works with Apple HomeKit symbols on product boxes.
Compatible devices include:
- HomeKit compatible Smart Cameras
- HomeKit compatible Smart Locks
- HomeKit compatible Smart Plugs
- Ecobee Smart Thermostats
My favorite thing about the Apple TV is its ability to stream music and videos through AirPlay from my iPhone.
As with anything Apple, the list of compatible devices is more limited than its competitors. But there are still many smart home products for the Apple TV 4K to act as a centralized smart home hub for.
Best Budget Friendly Smart Home Hub
Amazon Echo 4th Generation
The Amazon Echo 4th Generation smart speaker is a great entry level, budget smart home hub.
The Echo offers support for Zigbee compatible smart devices and like its big brother, the Echo Show 10, setting up these devices is as simple as turning them on and saying “Alexa, discover my devices.” This makes setup easy and saves money over buying separate hardware.
Designed with simplicity in mind, this is really a smart speaker that is super smart. Controllable through either voice control or through the Alexa app (available on Android and iOS).The Echo also supports connectivity through WiFi and Bluetooth.
It has the capacity to control a host of smart devices and send alerts based on triggers like the sound of a smoke alarm or breaking glass. This makes setup easy and saves money over buying separate hardware. The device works well with both iOS and Android operating systems.
Don’t be fooled by its budget price though, the Echo 4th Gen is more than capable of controlling and monitoring the same range of smart devices as the more advanced Amazon Alex 10.
If you’re looking to start your smart home setup, this entry level hub may be just the one for you.
Best Professional Smart Home Hub
Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub
Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub (Model C-7) Compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, Google Home, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Lutron
- Speed: Automations are processed locally on the hub for fast, reliable home automation
- Compatibility: Compatible with most Zigbee, Z-Wave, LAN, Google Home, Alexa and Lutron devices (Lutron requires Lutron SmartBridge Pro). Please check for compatibility with your devices before purchasing.
- Customizable: Dozens of built-in automation apps for customizing
Don’t be fooled by the Hubitat Elevation Hub’s compact size, it still packs a punch.
Compatible with th Z-Wave protocol and Zigbee devices this is one of the more versatile hubs on the market.
Although not WiFi enabled, it can be accessed through an Ethernet cable connection. If that’s connected to an existing WiFi router and network, its interface can still be accessed wirelessly on other devices.
While the omission of Wi-Fi may seem like an oversight, it fits perfectly with the Hubitat ethos of operating all your smart objects locally, without any requirement for cloud access. It also stores all your data locally and puts a high emphasis on your privacy and the security of your data.
The Hubitat Elevation hub comes complete with its own built-in suite of apps that let you build your own automations and rules for all your connected smart devices. It also works with smart speakers/hubs including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to enable voice commands.
There is a free smartphone app available for Android and iOS devices that allows you to access, control, and set up your devices from your smartphone or tablet.
Best Smart Home Hub and Wi-Fi Router Combo
Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Mesh Router Hub
This two-in-one device does something that seems so sensible, I don’t know why more manufacturers haven’t yet followed suit.
Not only is it a Smart Home Hub with all the capabilities of the Samsung SmartThings hub, but it also acts as a mesh Wi-Fi system / router too.
If you have a large home, you can get multiple hubs to create a mesh network that gives you and your smart home gadgets a wireless signal all over your home.
The Hub and Router Combo does both tasks extremely well. The router side offers a host of features like smart traffic learning, parental controls, and built-in security to block malware and spyware attacks.
The Smart Hub side of the operation offers support for both Zigbee and Z-wave devices and boasts seamless setup of all your smart devices through the smartphone app.
If you have a large home and are worried about weak connections, you can buy more hubs to boost and extend the WiFi signal as well. There’s no need for additional internet lines or anything, the hubs will automatically talk to each other and create a larger area for connections.
SAMSUNG ET-WV525KWEGUS Mesh Router, White, 3 Count
- Two-In-One Smart Home Solution: Samsung ET-WV525KWEGUS performs as a mesh router and SmartThings Hub; Connect and control 100+ compatible devices, including cameras, lights, speakers, doorbells, and more
- Whole-Home Coverage: Pack of 3 mesh routers provides up to 4,500 square feet of secure, stable WiFi for larger-sized homes; Add
Worst Smart Home Hub
Wink 2 Smart Home Hub
Wink WNKHUB-2US 2 Smart home hub, White
- VOICE CONTROL: Works with Alexa and Google Assistant (devices sold separately)
- CONNECT ALL YOUR SMART DEVICES: Easily connect and manage your smart home ecosystem with Wink Hub 2. Compatible with all major smart home categories, including cameras & doorbells, lighting & locks, thermostats, sensors & alarms, appliances, speakers
It’s both surprising and a shame that such a fully featured hub as the Wink 2 Smart Home Hub rates so lowly.
On paper, it sounds promising. Compatible with Zigbee and Z-wave, and boasting compatibility with many major smart home devices, it should have been a winner for Wink.
But somehow, it seems to have all gone wrong for Wink. Earlier Wink products were full of promise, but over the years, they’ve fallen behind the competition and the list of compatible devices is dwindling.
The only thing growing seems to be the list of poor reviews and complaints. With many complaints that customer support is poor. Even while paying a subscription fee for support, many users have claimed their Wink Hubs have suddenly stopped working.
With the very future of the company in doubt, you might want to avoid this one.
What is a Smart Home Hub?
A smart home hub is a device that lets you control all your smart gadgets by creating a network of all your devices. Some hubs use low-power wireless protocols like Zigbee or Z-wave, while others may only use standard WiFi protocols or Bluetooth.
With a smart home hub and a mobile app, you can control all your devices from one place – your smartphone.
Do You Need a Smart Home Hub?
Benefits of Smart Home Hubs
Imagine this scenario, you have an ecobee SmartThermostat, a handful of Philips Hue Smart Bulbs, and a Nest security system. Things can get confusing pretty fast. In cases like this, a Smart Home Hub can help simplify things.
A Smart Home Hub lets you control all your devices from one central location or hub. And if you’re using a set-up with voice control integration, then it’s even easier still.
There is also the financial aspect to be looked at, when used in conjunction with devices like a smart thermostat and light bulbs. Lowering temperatures and turning off lights can help save on energy costs.
Of course, hubs can do much more than just control your heating and lighting.
Many of the systems also link to smart speakers and screens, or even have them built in.
If you want Alexa to play music in whichever room you’re in, then a Smart Home Hub has this functionality too. Turn your TV on and off with your voice too.
How to Choose a Smart Home Hub
Hardware and Ecosystem Considerations
Building a smart home and choosing a Smart Home Hub can seem daunting. But there are a few simple questions to ask yourself as you review, and make your choice.
What smart devices do you already have and what ecosystems are they compatible with?
For instance, if you already have a Nest Smart Thermostat, then the Google Smart Hub would be worth considering, as Nest is a Google product. Similarly, if you already own Apple smart products, then an Apple HomePod would be a better consideration.
Check the compatibility of your current devices before you decide which hub brand/model suits your needs best.
As we touched on briefly, Smart Hubs have a variety of wireless protocols and other connectivity options.
It’s important to check what technologies your existing devices have. Choose a hub that uses the same protocols, or you may find yourself replacing devices.
The most common wireless protocols are 2.5GHz and 5GHz WiFi, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Zigbee.
Features and Benefits
Once again, it’s good to be clear about your own expectations and demands before making that purchase.
Some people may just want something that controls their heating or lighting systems, while others may be looking for something with more functionality, like voice control or integrated multi-media capability.
What’re the features and functions that you want and will offer the most benefit to you?
Ease of Operation
A main selling point of setting up a smart home is to make life a bit simpler.
If you’re tech-savvy, then this might not be such a big point. But, if like most people, you just want things to work out of the box, then you should take this into consideration.
For instance, if you want to easily integrate voice control into your smart heating system, then devices like ecobee4 and ecobee SmartThermostat come with Alexa built-in.
Types of Smart Home Hubs
Hardware Smart Home Hubs
This is a physical device that is a Smart Home Hub in the traditional sense of the word. You’d be buying a hub box that you set up at home.
A hardware hub will generally offer a range of connectivity options with the most common, as already mentioned, being Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth.
Software Smart Home Hubs
A Software Hub is a single piece of software that will either link to your smart device directly or through the smart device’s own app. This could be your Amazon Alexa app or Google Home app.
If you already have half a dozen apps installed to control your multiple devices, that will be hard to manage. A software hub can pull all the associated controls into a single app and let you control them all from one interface.
For someone new to the world of smart homes, this may well be a suitable starting point, particularly if existing hardware is compatible with the software hubs. A point that is obviously worth checking beforehand.
As the name suggests, Hybrid Hubs are a blend of both hardware and software.
The easiest way to give you a feel of what a hybrid hub is would be to mention a couple of examples. For instance, earlier generations of both Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot and Google Home speakers would fall into this category.
These devices could be set up to control smart devices like light bulbs and smart thermostats through voice control.
The physical aspect of these obviously constitutes the hardware side of the description.
However, as the connection between the hub and the devices is not direct, rather it’s through your WiFi system, they aren’t considered true hardware hubs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a Smart Home Hub?
If you want full and effortless control of your home environment, added security, and lower heating and energy costs, then the answer is yes.
Most homes will be smart homes in one form or the other in the near future. Smart homes offer convenience, security, and Green, helping to cut down on energy usage.
What is the Best Smart Home Hub?
Everyone’s needs are different, so take a look at what you want out of a smart home. If you have a variety of smart devices that don’t have a common ecosystem, take a look at the Samsung SmartThings Hub and see if it’s compatible with your current devices.
I do like the Amazon Echo 4th Gen for its versatility, many use cases, and great price point. I also have many other Alexa-enabled devices. I’m also waiting for the Echo Show 10 to come out for the 10” display.
Does a Smart Home Hub Work Without the Internet?
The Internet is important for such features such as remote access and control of your devices. WiFi and the internet is how your mobile app will be able to connect and talk to your hub.
But there are options that can offer a fully functional Smart Home System without the requirement of an internet connection. The Hubitat Elevation Home Hub is the only one to claim this functionality and is compatible with most smart ecosystems.