A smart home hub is a piece of hardware or software that connects and controls devices on a home automation network. Smart home hubs link to the internet of things (IoT) devices that use the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols or Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi.
A smart home hub, also known as a smart home bridge, collects and interprets multiple protocol signals from smart home devices. For example, if a smartphone that does not communicate via Zigbee wishes to “speak” with a smart lock that only communicates via Zigbee and not the smartphone’s native Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the smart home hub functions as a translator between the two.
As a result, a smart home hub serves as the brains of a smart home network, connecting numerous devices and systems through a single platform. Users will benefit from this since it simplifies the network and provides them with a single smart home application to control all of the numerous equipment and applications. With the smart home hub, users may program the garage door to open, the hall light to turn on, and the radio to listen to a classical music channel as the smartphone approaches the owner’s home.
A smart home hub, as the main home automation controller, can also direct traffic away from Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, reducing network congestion. With all of the smart home gadgets in the home connected, users may use their smart home app to remotely access and operate the various systems while away from home.
What is a smart home hub and how does it work?
Hubs are network devices that function as data convergence points for data from one or more devices before forwarding the data in one or more directions. A built-in switch is common in smart home hubs, and it stores the information needed to determine how and where data is transferred. Before data is sent, devices may include computer resources to conduct some processing tasks.
The smart home software that comes with it functions as a “universal remote” for all smart home devices, allowing the owner to monitor the network and automate, schedule, and control tasks. Many smart home and IoT-enabled products and systems, such as smart sensors on thermostats, lightbulbs, outlets, and switches, door locks and sensors, doorbells, garage door openers, energy monitors, and window treatments/coverings and sensors, may be controlled by smart home hubs.
Motion sensors, flood and leak sensors, smart radios and speakers, security systems and cameras, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, irrigation controllers, fans, water heaters, and other household appliances are among the devices they may manage.
Many smart home devices come with their own proprietary hubs, but these systems frequently do not integrate with other smart home systems, preventing devices from communicating. For example, if a smoke detector detects a fire, the smart locks may not be able to tell the smart locks to unlock the door for a faster exit or firefighter access.
A dedicated smart home hub can provide a single point of control in this case. If a household has many smart lightbulbs from different manufacturers, each one may have its own hub and app. A specialized smart home hub can bring the separate hubs together and make their use easier.
Though a dedicated smart home hub provides a centralized command center, it does not eliminate the need for proprietary hubs; a dedicated smart home hub does not replace the hubs that come with devices, but it does bring them all together in one place. Getting rid of proprietary hubs can limit the functioning of a device or system.
Do you have a need for a smart home?
One point of disagreement is that a smart home hub is not required for every smart home network. Many smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod, can take the place of a dedicated smart home hub and act as the command center of a smart home system, delivering hub-like capabilities via companion apps and speech interfaces like Alexa and Siri. Although integrations are available, dedicated hubs do not have native voice control possibilities.
Similarly, if all of a home’s connected gadgets are Wi-Fi enabled, a smart home hub is unnecessary. However, employing a smart speaker instead of a smart home hub has the disadvantage of not being fully compatible with all protocols and standards. The Amazon Echo Plus, for example, supports Zigbee but not Z-Wave. It does, however, offer Alexa skills, which may integrate smart home devices with Alexa and provide much of the same functionality, with no discernible difference for users.
For complete device operation, the Echo Plus, like dedicated hubs, requires proprietary hubs to stay in place. Hue devices, for example, can connect to an Echo without the Hue Bridge, but the smart lightbulbs’ functionality will be restricted to on/off and brightness. Apple HomePod, Apple TV 4K, and Google Nest are among the smart speakers and devices that can be utilized as smart home hubs.
Considerations for a Smart Home Hub
When purchasing a smart home hub, there are a few factors to consider:
If you want to control your smart home system with your voice, check to see if the gadget can connect to your smart speaker (e.g., Amazon Alexa or Google Home).
Integrations: Some smart home hubs come with a greater number of integrations than others. The hub may also limit the number of integrations possible; for example, Logitech Harmony only links up to eight smart home devices.
Compatibility with operating systems: While most systems are compatible with iOS and Android, double-check before buying. Some smart home hubs, such as the SmartThings Hub, require a direct connection to your network, while others connect over Wi-Fi.
Know what standards your smart home devices use (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) and make sure the hub can support them. The majority of smart home hubs may be accessed via a smartphone app. A PC or Mac can also be used to access some features.
Smart home automation can provide a sense of cohesion and comfort. A smart home hub connects devices from many manufacturers and allows them to communicate with one another via a single home automation platform, which serves as the brain of the operation. Your smart gadgets can connect to your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Zigbee, or Z-Wave networks.
Smart home automation, like anything else in life, has its benefits and drawbacks, especially when hubs like SmartThings or Wink Hub 2 compete with smart speakers that also feature hubs, such as Amazon’s Echo Show 10. You could end up spending a lot of money when you don’t need to if you don’t conduct your homework or examine these factors before making a purchase.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart Home Hub
Smart home hubs may appear to be a relic these days, but there are still some compelling reasons to include one in your smart home setup.
Automation that is more inclusive
One of the most significant advantages of having a smart hub is the ability to centralise your smart home’s automation. The purpose of a smart hub is to simplify and connect all of your smart devices, therefore centralization is the true reward. A smart hub can combine many networks, such as Wi-Fi, Zigbee, or Z-Wave, and Bluetooth, into a single, easy-to-use app.
Individual smart gadgets may have their own settings, which a smart hub may simply include into your home’s automated system. When compared to a smart hub, using a smart speaker alone may permit commands, but the number of compatible devices may be limited.
A smart hub, like voice assistant routines, can run automatically according to a schedule you set for it. Many smart hubs allow you to control the devices that are part of their system via an app, providing you remote control when you aren’t at home and can’t use your voice.
There’s only one app for everything.
Smart home hubs are simple to use since they bring everything together in one spot, even if you aren’t always comfortable with technology. This is a significant advantage to consider. Who wants to deal with a plethora of apps for devices that are supposed to make life easier?
Smart speakers that only support Wi-Fi or Zigbee may limit your device selections, particularly for smaller items like light bulbs. With only a smart speaker on hand, Wi-Fi smart home gadgets are the easiest to use. Smart speakers are getting more features, but smart hubs still provide the most configurable choices if you’re willing to put in the time to create routines and link devices.
While a smart home hub that can connect everything has its benefits, it isn’t a perfect solution. Let’s look at some of the potential disadvantages.
Unfortunately, customers are still concerned about cybercrime and internet vulnerability. Criminals may use your smart home gadgets as a technique to acquire access to your personal information. Any device on a network, including a smart speaker, can be hacked, however, the less integration, the better.
When a smart hub is infiltrated by a cyberthief, the connected gadgets become a simple game. Infiltration can be avoided by using identity theft prevention and monitoring services to secure your router. That disadvantage also applies to Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets. Make sure your passwords are difficult and your apps are up to date on all of your devices.
An extra cost
Obtaining all of the necessary equipment to finish a smart hub home can be costly. While inexpensive smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini exist, they do not support a smart home protocol such as Zigbee. A smart speaker may not be able to connect all of your gadgets across protocols, but it is much less expensive than a smart hub.
There are a variety of approaches you may take to turn your home into a smart hub. Simply keep the expenses and rewards in mind so you don’t end up in a bad situation in the future. Manufacturers may change the preset dynamic of smart speakers in the future, turning them into smart hubs, rendering smart hubs useless. Using a hub now, however, can provide you with the most possibilities for routines, customization, and communication among your home’s gadgets.
Investigate which smart devices will best blend with your home and which you believe will bring the most convenience to your life. If you opt to invest in a smart hub system, you will be able to live a simpler and more intuitive life. For more details, talk to our experts today.