Best Smart Home Hubs of 2017



If you're looking to outfit your house with smart lights, digital locks, security cameras, thermostats, and more, then you're going to need a smart home hub to connect them all together. Based on our extensive testing the Samsung SmartThings hub ($99) is your best option. Not only does it work with a wide range of devices, but its logic lets you set up fairly robust rules to trigger devices. Our favorite budget option is the Amazon Echo Dot ($49); while not a hub in the traditional sense, you can link lots of smart home devices in the Alexa app, and then trigger them using the Dot.

Why You Need a Smart Home Hub

As smart home gadgets proliferate — from — it can help to have a centralized method to control them all. Smart home hubs offer this functionality, as they can connect all of your devices to the cloud and give you one app that acts as a sort of universal remote. Additionally, a hub provides the ability to automate your gadgets. So, for example, when you unlock your door, the lights in your entryway will automatically turn on, and the thermostat in your home will be set to the temperature you like.

However, the smart home category as a whole is still in its infancy, so not only is there a lot of confusion around what gadget will work with what hub, but the companies that make the hubs themselves are still working out the kinks. We reviewed the top smart home hubs, and all of them had issues, such as a confusing app or complicated setup process.

Amazon's myriad Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Fire TV Edition, are also worth considering. Using your voice, you can control a fairly wide range of smart home gadgets, as well as do other things, such as ordering pizza, checking the weather, and the like.

Smart Home Hub News

  • Samsung's Connect Home combines its smart home hub with a mesh network router. Makes sense, doesn't it? The Connect Home can do everything its SmartThings Hub does, but can also better distribute Wi-Fi throughout the home, too. Connect Home is available in three versions: a single AC1300 Connect Home hub for $169, a pack of three for $379, and the Connect Home Pro AC2600 (a single unit) for $249. All can be mixed and matched.

  

MORE: Amazon Alexa Guide: Tips, Tricks, and How-Tos

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  • smarthometrends20
    Among all the hubs, we found the Echo Dot as the best bet. Low cost and absolutely amazing range of functionalities provided!
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  • Bob_127
    I wouldn't call the Alexa product line a "hub" as much as an interface. Each smart device needs some other device that Alexa can send commands to. As far as I know, Alexa doesn't communicate directly with any smart plug, outlet or thermostat.
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  • mprospero
    @Bob - Actually, there are a number of devices that Alexa can directly send commands to - if a device can connect via Wi-Fi to your home network, it generally doesn't need any other intermediary.
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  • Bob_127
    But that is not a hub. It is still an interface. Sounds like you're talking about devices that don't require a hub.
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  • Old_Mustang
    Agree with Bob_127. Alexa, Dot and Google Home are not hubs. They are Virtual Assistants or Smart Speakers. Refer to the recent review from Dealerscope mag.
    http://www.dealerscope.com/post/amazon-alexa-vastly-overrated-smart-speaker/#ne=14b1cdaef539c770e3293027e294a4c5utm_source=dealerscope-todayutm_medium=newsletterutm_campaign=2017-06-29&utm_content=amazon+alexa+is+vastly+overrated+as+a+%E2%80%9Csmart%E2%80%9D+speaker-2
    IOT Agenda (TechTarget) defines a hub as "…a hardware device that connects the devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them". Neither Google nor Echo have ‘devices’ directly connected to them like the Wink or Smartthings. Nor does either the Google Home or Echo/Dot directly control communications. They are initiating the apps commands indirectly. Example: As stated Wi-Fi devices do not directly connect to either Google Home or Echo/Dot. They actually connect to the user's router which then connects to the Wi-Fi device service provider (cloud) which then connects to Amazon Echo or Google Home platform (cloud) and, provided the service provider has certified their products and app on the Amazon Echo or Google Home platform, will allow the Echo/Dot or Google Home to pass the verbal commands to the service provider which in turn translates the verbal commands to the app commands and send the commands to the router which then sends the commands to the device. None of this action is completed by Echo or Dot or Google home directly. Conversely, Smartthings and Wink have devices connected directly to them and issue commands (from the app) directly to the device. This is what a hub does.
    The Echo/Dot and Google Home are simply indirect means for the user to initiate commands rather than using the service provider’s app directly. And, if the internet goes down, Echo/Dot and Google can’t even do that. Whereas SmartThings (V2) can still execute scheduled events and/or automations even if the hub is off line.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love my Echo and Dots (I have 4). So does my wife. In fact, if I got a divorce, I would get the house but the Echo/Dots would have go with her. Both Google Home and Echo/Dot work well with SmartThings, Wink and other hubs. But they are not hubs.
    Greatly appreciate your reviews, but I feel in this case you may be confusing your readers by grouping all these together as ‘hubs’. My 2 cents.
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  • bdave
    The Samsung SmartThings Hub #1 Really! 1st off the hub runs in the ST Cloud, Do I really want to put things like my front door lock "In the Cloud"? Then I read after that realization that it's confirmed the software is full of security holes. Now you enter the Lat / Lon Coords. when you setup the hub so the hackers know exactly which house the front door will be unlocked at the push of a button AND possibly with the right sensors attached the hub will know when the house is empty. OK enough of that!
    The programming on this hub is supposed to be easy enough for a "homeowner" to program it. Well I've done significant programming in the past and the programming for Smart Apps and Devices is extremely difficult! Written in Groovy, a Java based language that's "Full of beans". I pulled examples out of the documentation (with their convenient copy button) and it didn't function! It just spit out multiline error messages mostly unreadable! One Single error message can be 3 lines with long path statements to the Java code called. You must scan it for one keyword from your code, NOT simple and "Groovy" for a beginner. Just to send an "HTTP get" out you have to choose between two families of commands one limited to inside your LAN and another limited to outside your LAN, totally different commands??? I've used a Vera awhile back and it was a hub that would talk to devices ALL local, actually worked but too basic, and programmed in LUUA. what is available?
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