Best Smart Home Hubs of 2021 (Pricing & Features)
When it’s time to buy, don’t forget to review this comparison chart of the best smart home hubs. Check out the most important features and any non-negotiable characteristics such as voice commands, sensors, or Bluetooth connectivity.
|Provider||Price||Best for||Batt. Backup||Compatibility||Connectivity||Contract||Display||Envir. Ctrl||Sensors||Voice Ctrl|
|2.Apple TV||$179||iOS users||No||HomeKit||Bluetooth||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|4.Echo Show||$229||Display||No||IFTT, Nest, Ring, Samsung||Wi-Fi||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|5.Hubitat||$150||Energy use||No||Alexa, Google, IFTTT||Wi-Fi||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|7.Samsung||$70||Complete systems||No||Alexa, Google, Ring, Ecobee||Wi-Fi||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|8.Logitech||$90||Customization||No||Alexa, Google, Ecobee, Nest, Samsung||Wi-Fi||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|9.Securifi||$122||Security||No||Alexa, Philips HUE, Nest, Z-Wave||Wi-Fi||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|10.Google||$229||Entertainment||No||Geeni, Hive, LIFX, Wemo, Philips HUE||Wi-Fi||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Types of Smart Home Hubs
Another thing to be aware of before shopping for a smart home hub is which type to buy. It turns out that there are different varieties, so check out the options below for a better idea.
Traditional Smart Home Hubs
Some of the best smart home hubs are the traditional type. These devices rely on specific radio software to detect nearby smart products. Then, they sync up and create a system of intelligent accessories. Not to mention, the network makes life much easier for homeowners.
- Accessible from one app
- Easy to find
- Great with compatible products
- Variety of price points
- Less user-friendly
- Not all hubs sync to the same devices
Voice Assistant Hubs
The first examples that probably come to mind when thinking of this smart home hub are the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. As long homeowners have accessories that are compatible with the voice-activated system, they are good to go. Otherwise, there could be more connectivity issues.
- Easiest to use
- Lots of compatibilities
- Sometimes include traditional hubs, too
- Widely available
- Can't sync to as many products
- Many pricey models
Some home automation hubs rely exclusively on software, which can be good and bad. For some people, this is a great thing because it means they don’t have to splurge on a pricier system with its own protocol. On the other hand, sometimes the devices only work if the person is inside their home. The connectivity range is much shorter, so keep that in mind when shopping.
- Add-ons are available (like remotes)
- Good for homes with a strong Internet
- Integrates with many smart apps
- Many popular brands use this type
- Connectivity issues
- More difficult set-up
This type of smart home hub is a good option for those who already use Z-Wave and Zigbee products. That said, many ecosystem hubs also work with environmental accessories like the Nest thermostat and LIFX lighting. The system requires a strong Wi-Fi connection, and it’ll be a dependable, smart companion.
- Can be a more affordable option
- Great environmental control
- Many ecosystems come with their own hub
- Works well with other systems (traditional, software, etc.)
- Best suited to Z-Wave or Zigbee users
- Most require additional devices
Home Automation Hubs Shopping Guide
Now that they know which are the 10 best products, consumers can follow this shopping guide and find the top home automation hubs for their needs.
Depending on the household and personal preferences, clients may favor one characteristic over another. This list should make it easier to make the right choice.
1. Wired vs. Wireless Smart Hub Connection
The communication protocols will determine whether the system is reliable or spotty. For instance, a Zigbee smart home hub has a wireless connection, but other devices may use an Ethernet or other wired connection. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but consumers should figure out which will best suit their needs.
A wired hub is often easier to connect to devices like the Amazon Echo.
However, it can also be more difficult to install, and it might have fewer connected apps. Many brands in 2021 now offer a wireless solution, which will appeal to people who want seamless devices and a wider range of use.
2. Sensor Range
Depending on the size of the property, homeowners may need multiple sensors. That may also mean they have to invest in more than one smart home hub. They should also check the connectivity requirements, be it Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Ethernet. Remember to pay attention to third-party compatibility, too.
3. Battery Backup
If the Internet in a client’s area is spotty, or they just want to be safe, then battery backup is something to keep in mind. It’s not as common in home automation hubs as one might think. As an alternative, perhaps consider another uninterrupted power source.
4. Overall Complexity
Clients should look at the smart hub they’re considering and think about what it is designed for. It might be a system that’s best suited to renters or seniors. Maybe it has too much customization that it’s superfluous.
Research how well the mobile app integrates with the system and choose accordingly.
5. Smart Hub Voice Control
A smart home hub without voice commands and capabilities aren’t worth the money. It is so much more convenient to be able to give an order rather than scroll through the app to find the function. Fortunately, most systems include this feature.
It makes a huge difference in how customers connect to their devices, as well as how they maintain their household. This is fast becoming a must-have feature among any type of automation system.
6. Professional Monitoring
The best smart hub is probably one that can also work as a security system. Some hubs are capable of this functionality, such as Zigbee products, which sync with the Ring alarm. To be fair, this feature often comes with an added cost or even a contract agreement.
7. Smart Home Hub Service Plan Costs
Speaking of security systems and hubs, don’t forget that this convenient feature often requires a subscription or contract. However, these home automation hubs can be worth it considering the ease of use, the flexibility, and the peace of mind they provide.
Plus, self-monitoring usually costs less than the professional option.
Customers should think about what they want their smart hub to do. Some people are fine with syncing it to their security system. Others want all their apps on the network so they can control the lights, thermostats, cameras, and more. This is where adaptability comes into play.
Perhaps they have Samsung devices or an Amazon product they must sync to. It might seem like a small problem, but it makes a big difference. Besides, a system that can’t play well with other products isn’t very smart, is it?
9. Operating System Compatibility
Just about all home automation hubs will work with iOS and the Android operating system. For those who have something different, like a Windows phone, it’s important to check the tech specs.
A hub can be a huge help around the house, but only if it works properly.
10. Device Support
A consumer may already have an IFTT system, or perhaps an Amazon Alexa or Echo. So, they want to be sure that their hub can play well with those devices. For instance, the smart home hub from Zigbee will sync with Samsung SmartThings, Yale locks, Hive thermostats, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Smart Home Automation Hub, and What Does it Do?
Smart home hubs can be just about anything that the user wants them to be.
Think of it as the nucleus for the entire smart system, including all the devices. It is the common thread that allows homeowners to use their Nest thermostat while switching on their smart lights and playing music from their mobile app.
While the best smart home hub will vary depending on the person, there are a few things that shoppers may want to keep in mind.
These are the many things that a system can do, and the list is not exhaustive:
- Third-party integrations with thermostats, lights, cameras, speakers, etc.
- Voice commands through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.
- Environmental control
- iOS and Android-compatible mobile app
- Weather updates, news, music
What Are the Best Smart Home Hubs?
To see the top smart home hubs, just check out the list above, which provides the ten best options. That said, there is not a one-size-fits-all hub, just as there isn’t a home or property that will suit every single family. That is why there are many different options and models available for the best smart home hub necessities.
The reality is that what one person values in a smart system will not even occur to another individual. Fortunately, there is a device for every preference.
Do I Need a Smart Home Hub for Home Automation?
Yes, in most cases, smart home hubs are necessary. Again, they work as the center-point or nucleus for all the other devices. Individuals need a central product to control their smart lights, speakers, doorbells, and other accessories.
Sometimes, people can accomplish this through a mobile app, but only if they have a few items. Otherwise, a hub is necessary.
Do I Need a Hub for Smart Bulbs?
Even the best smart home hub may not be entirely necessary for a smart lightbulb. However, these systems will certainly make life a lot easier.
Here are a few bulbs that don’t require a hub:
- Philips HUE
- Teckin RGB
- TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Bulb
- LIFX Wi-Fi LED Smart Bulb
How Much Does It Cost to Automate a Home?
The answer depends on which smart home hubs that the consumer is looking at. There are plenty of options to choose from, so a good place to start is with the list above.
Keep in mind that quality requires an upfront investment, so the price is not the only factor to consider. A good ballpark figure is between $100 to $300.
What is Needed for Home Automation?
Different smart home hubs will have unique requirements, although there are a few basic unifying qualities. For one thing, customers must have the hub. The next thing they will need is a remote control, usually through a mobile app.
The last primary element to consider is connectivity, which may either be Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Ethernet.
On top of that, there are secondary considerations to make, including energy efficiency, battery backup, voice commands, and environmental control. For example, if they have a SmartThings system, they may want to connect to a Ring doorbell or a Nest thermostat.
Enjoy the Best Quality at the Right Price
Hopefully, this guide to the top smart home hubs will make it easier to choose an amazing product at the right price. Remember to go through the shopping guide to find the best smart home hub for any individual needs or preferences.
Moreover, keep in mind that consumers may have to pay more to get long-lasting quality. Don’t be afraid to invest in a device that will sustain a property’s security for years to come. If you already have a hub, leave your opinion in the comments.