Although they go by different names, such as smart hubs, bridges, and home controllers, these are basically the central nervous system of your smart home. You can have smart devices coming out of your yin-yang, but without a hub / home controller, you just have a normal house.
Our course, because they are made to be increasingly more versatile, many of the best smart hubs can control almost anything, including a wide array of non security-related devices, such as sprinklers, thermostats, and garage door openers to name but a few.
Control Your Entire Home Using A Secure Remote Signal
These hubs connect to your smart devices through a secure and remote signal transfer, and use that instantaneous connectivity to help make your home a safer place to be in 2016.
Once connected, you can do almost anything via smart phone, iPad, or tablet.
How Hubs Work
You send a command to your smart hub via the corresponding app on your mobile device, and it will then send out a signal to your smart home security device (deadbolt, camera, light, etc.) which has been designed to receive that signal and perform some type of operation for you, whether it is a simple or complex command.
Here’s a video showing the SmartThings hub, which is just one of many hubs we review on this website, and it should give you a basic idea of what a smart hub / home controller does.
Also, you can read our article, “Best Home Automation Hubs of 2016” to see what’s out there now in terms of these devices.
=> In a hurry? Here are some of the top home controllers / smart hubs available on Amazon today!
Performing Simple or Complex Operations
For instance, if your smart hub is talking to a security camera, such one of these outdoor models, you might want to pan it slightly one way or another in real time to get a better view.
Smart hubs make that, or any adjustment you’d like to make, easily possible, no matter where you’re located in relation to your home.
Whether you’re close to home or not, smart hubs make it easy to fully automate your home’s security measures so as to make it so you almost are home, in a way. Want to let in the housekeeper? No problem. Dim the lights at a certain time? Right on schedule. That’s how smart hubs / home controllers work.
To use another hypothetical example, let’s say you wanted your smart hub / home controller to lock or unlock the deadbolt in your front door, such as the Schlage Connect (a popular integrated deadbolt), at a specific time for safety reasons – no problem.
Whether your hub can “talk” to your device depends completely on the compatibility. For each of the following hubs, we will give you at least a rough of idea of what products it is compatible with, so you can start to envision just what your smart home will look like.
Not all hubs can talk to all products, so it is important to note which hubs can talk to which devices.
Smart Hubs – How They “Talk” To Your Devices
It is important, when purchasing your smart hub, to know its native “language” and what other devices it can connect to.
For instance, the Wink Hub supports both Zigbee and Z-Wave compatibility, as well as WIFI, Bluetooth, and Lutron ClearConnect.
This increases the number of devices that the Wink Hub can talk to, making it a more desirable hub to own for that reason.
Increased Compatibility Between Devices On The Way In 2016
Because of the nature of home security technology, and especially with new apps coming out every single second it seems, the possibilities for smart technology are practically endless.
Each of the devices we are going to discuss below are using the latest and most innovative smart security technology, along with the right hardware, and use the latest apps to bring it all together.
What Are The Best Smart Hubs, Bridges, and Home Controllers of 2016?
Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge
Take, for example, the Home Intelligence Bridge by the Nexia company.
This is a Z-wave driven smart hub / home controller which is compatible with a wide variety of smart home automation products, including several home security products.
Because the Nexia Bridge uses Z-Wave exclusively to talk to its devices, this means that other types of communication won’t work, such as Zigbee or Bluetooth, for instance.
This is something you should take note of when purchasing a hub – always make sure to check what signal is being used and what devices are compatible specifically.
Luckily, in the case of this particular hub, Nexia has ensured that there is plenty of devices which the Nexia can talk to via Z-wave (its native language).
The Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge has caused a bit of a stir as one of the smart hubs which ask customers for a monthly subscription to operate.
This Z-Wave home controller provides users with a communication range of 60-100 feet between the Nexia and any Z-Wave device, and an encrypted broadband internet signal for extra security against hackers.
The advantage of the Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge, according to some buyers on the product’s Amazon review page, is that while the Nexia may lack the extensive catalogue of devices it can connect to compared to some other home controllers, the roughly 200 devices it does connect to it connects more securely than the rest.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge on Amazon right now!
Nexia Bridge – Extra-Secure Signals
In other words, there is a possible disadvantage to potentially connecting to such a wide span of smart devices, and that is, at some point, you may have to consider the fact that there might be those who might attempt to “break in” to your system via digital means, and this, of course, the last thing we want.
As such, it is important to consider the types of signals your smart hub is sending and receiving as we want the most secure signals possible. This is where technology like WebRTC can come in handy.
=> Click here to read our comparison of this Nexia Home Intellegence Bridge with Samsung SmartThings Hub and Wink Connected Home Hub
Devices compatible with the Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge
Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller
Now let’s take a look at the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller, a home controller we’ve reviewed at length over here in this detailed article.
Here’s a video showing the VeraLite in action, to familiarize yourself with the basics of how it could function in your home.
Based on its appearance, the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller manages to look rather forward-thinking in its minimalist design.
Like many other home controllers, if you didn’t know what it did or what it was, you might mistake it for a modem or router, which actually isn’t far off from what it really is since it does use the internet extensively to fulfill its purpose.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller on Amazon right now!
With this device, you can control all Z-Wave certified devices in your home from anywhere in the world, via remote access using a PC, tablet, or smartphone. All you need to have is a regular wifi router, and you can begin customizing your smart home using the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite home controller.
Having this product means you’ll no longer have to worry whether you turned off all of your Z-Wave electronic devices when you’re away from home.
With the VeraLite, you can check in any time to see and hear what’s happening, or turn things on and off as needed, or you can execute more complex commands.
What’s more, you will save energy and money as you can automate most of your home products to turn on or off on schedule, or on a whim.
Read more about this smart hub in our detailed review of the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite.
Devices compatible with the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite
Samsung SmartThings Hub (2nd Generation)
Obviously, it would be highly unlikely that the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite is the only smart hub available in its price range of around $100.
Another popular home controller is the SmartThings hub by Samsung (2nd Generation), which is similarly nondescript in its appearance but also, like the Mi Casa, has a lot going on under the hood when it comes to what this innocent little white box can really do.
As unassuming as it is, this all-white device, like the Mi Casa Verde, is designed to be a complete remote controlled center of operations for your entire home, and, similar to the Mi Casa, it is compatible with a wide array of smart devices, which you can customize and control using the SmartThings handy proprietary mobile app.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this Samsung SmartThings Hub on Amazon right now!
This hub is very easy to set up according to users, even if you haven’t done it before, although you will need to take some time just to customize it to your preference.
As you can see, this is an extremely useful device, although it does have its particular pros and cons. We recommend learning more about it before you decide it is the hub you want for your new smart home.
=> Click here to read our comparison of this Samsung SmartThings Hub with Nexia Home Intellegence Bridge and Wink Connected Home Hub
Devices compatible with the Samsung SmartThings Hub
VeraEdge Home Controller
With a good smart hub, you’ll want a unit that is able to connect with as many different major brands as possible.
With the new VeraEdge Home Controller is compatible with some of the major players in the home security field.
We’re talking about the likes of big companies such as Nest, Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, Philips Hue, and more. This gives the Vera a very distinctive pedigree when it comes to the devices that it can connect to and control.
The VeraEdge is actually the upgrade from the VeraLite, with a new simpler UI, allowing you to control your entire home or commercial space with quick and easy settings for Home / Away / Night / Vacation.
The Vera also allows you to view different cameras on the same dashboard, which is very handy.
With the VeraEdge, you can do just about anything remotely that would normally need to be done manually, like lock the door, switch on/off or adjust lighting, set your thermostat, and the list goes on and on.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this VeraEdge Home Controller on Amazon right now!
Home security is a focus of the Vera in particular and so you’ll notice a long list of lock companies are on board, in order for you to fully automate your smart electronic deadbolts.
You can control up to 220 devices with this wireless Vera technology, using just one single mobile app that works across all platforms (Mac/PC/Android/iOS/tablet/desktop).
Cost wise, the Vera is competitively priced in comparison to the two previous hubs we’ve discussed so far.
Logitech 915-000238 Harmony
We’ve said it before with the other hubs, but it bares repeating – each of these hubs we’ve mentioned is a complete smart home controlling unit / universal remote, and the Logitech Harmony hub is no exception, with a growing following of fans in the automated tech market.
It does have a slight lean towards entertainment products, but it also works perfectly with anything else that is considered to be “smart”, like locks, cameras, thermostats, etc.
As you can see in the above video, the packaging of the Logitech Harmony can be intimidating to some, but once you set it up, you have control of up to 8 entertainment devices and an unlimited number of home automation / security devices, and you can do it all with just one touch, using the easy-to-use Harmony App.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this Logitech Harmony Home Hub on Amazon right now!
Party Time! – Logitech Harmony Style
We really do tend to think of the Logitech Harmony as an entertainment hub more than anything, where you can all up your friends, set the lights to auto-dim, and have a good time, with everything controlled at your fingertips. When the night is done, your Harmony will even say “Good night” to you (if you want it to).
Once you’re connected to the Harmony app, there are 6000+ brands and 270 devices that you have the potential to connect to.
Devices compatible with the Logitech Harmony Hub
INSTEON 2245-222 Central Controller
With the INSTEON home controller, once again we have a device here which can control anything from door locks to light dimmers and switches, to outdoor devices, to kitchen appliances and accessories – all with the push of a button on your phone.
With INSTEON, there is a huge capability when it comes to scheduling things using what they call scenes.
These “scenes” allow you to recall your favorite settings for certain home products, such as your indoor security cameras, for instance.
Using these scenes, you can do things like have the lights dim after your kids leave, or gradually get brighter to wake them up in the morning. This is just one of the handy functions of the INSTEON hub.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this INSTEON 2245-222 Central Controller Hub on Amazon right now!
Set-Up Of The INSTEON
As with each of these hubs we’ve described so far, there is going to be some amount of set-up involved, and, specifically, online set-up. For those who don’t have much experience, setting up one of these home controllers can lead to some serious frustration.
Here are some screenshots of the INSTEON Home Controller to give you an idea of what the interface looks like:
With the INSTEON hub here, there seem to be those in the Amazon review section for this section who think set-up is easy, and there are those who think it is not-so-easy.
Here is a video showing the basic set-up process with the INSTEON, and it will give you a good idea of how easy or hard it might be for you. Take a look…
INSTEON is known for having great customer service, and if you need help with your set-up, they can provide it quickly and easily. Even if you aren’t computer savvy, you should have no trouble hooking up your INSTEON in no time, as many customers have said – its a simple process.
INSTEON is 100% compatible with the following companies’ devices:
Compatible With The INSTEON Home Controller
Wink Connected Home Hub
As with the other home controllers, the Wink Connected Home Hub allows you to control all of your home devices using one simple app for under $100.
Whether your device is Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi, Bluetooth, or Lutron ClearConnect, you can control a wide variety of home devices such as lighting, locks, blinds, coffee, fans, and much more.
The Wink app is easy enough to download. Just take a quick trip over to Google Play or the Apple App store, enter your email (if you haven’t done this already), and you’re good to go. The Wink app is nicely designed and its made to make everything easier and simpler.
=> Click here to read our comparison of this Wink Connected Home Hub with Samsung SmartThings Hub and Nexia Home Intellegence Bridge
Wink makes sure you don’t have to ever pay any additional fees, and that you will always be able to talk to a real person in case you need assistance. These are two things which other hub manufacturers neglect sometime, and it contributes to a poor user experience.
The other cool thing about the Wink Home Hub is that you can not only control all your devices from your phone, but you can interlink them so that they control each other. So, if you want your lights to turn off when your doors are locked, that can be done with the Wink. Your options for mixing and matching are quite extensive.
=> In a hurry? Click here to buy this Wink Connected Home Hub on Amazon right now!
Devices Compatible With the Wink Hub
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