If you’re the type of person that wants to have a smart home with many devices for automation (IoT, smart thermostats, bulbs, locks, cameras etc), then one of the first things you need to buy is a smart home hub controller to manage and monitor all these devices from a central location.
In this article we will describe, compare and review the best Z-Wave hub controllers in the market.
The z-wave protocol is one of the core specifications that you need to make sure that a hub controller is compatible with.
Thousands of smart device products are using z-wave to communicate, therefore when looking to buy a zwave gateway it must be able to communicate using this popular mesh wireless standard.
What is the Z-Wave protocol?
The z-wave protocol is designed to connect every smart device in your home to a central hub and also to allow devices to communicate between each other. Its categorized as mesh wireless communication protocol making use of low-power waves.
Its an alternative to Zigbee which is another popular home mesh wireless protocol for smart device communication.
Its primary focus is to allow data exchange and communication in smart home networks. You’re not limited only to device-to-zwave controller connectivity. Every device can easily interact with other devices as well. That can bring in some extraordinary features, so you should totally keep that in mind!
The requirement here for having interaction between a z-wave hub and the home automation devices is that all of them must be manufactured by companies that cooperate in the z-wave Alliance. They must support, in other words, the z-wave protocol.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best z-wave hub controllers that you can purchase and use right now.
Samsung SmartThings Hub
Samsung SmartThings Hub is one of the best z wave controllers out there. The thing to keep in mind about this product is that it actively offers stellar connectivity and inter-operability meaning you can use it without any problems in your home. The product offers very good communication range, as it usually operates at up to 130 feet with the controlled smart devices.
It just makes it a lot easier to have everything under central control, and the results can be very good due to that. It works with just about most brands out there and they constantly bring you some new updates to make the functionality even better.
One of the most important features you will notice here is the Amazon Alexa integration. You will be able to use your voice to immediately control stuff in your smart home with little to no effort!
That being said, to make the Samsung SmartThings Hub work you will need a home router that’s connected to the web, and it needs to have WiFi capability.
The previous SmartThings 2nd generation hub could connect to the Internet router only via wired Ethernet cable (WiFi connection to the home router was not supported). However, the new 3rd Generation Smartthings model supports also WiFi connection to the home router (see the product above).
The product has its mobile app too, which is very good. The app engine is designed to bring you fast performance, and you can even get offline processing. Since you have support for more than 200 devices, the Samsung SmartThings z-wave Hub is one of the best options if you need a dedicated controller in your home.
Best of all, its a value-for-money purchase as you can see from its price here on Amazon.
- Easy to use and install
- It’s compatible with many smart devices
- A very active community
- Fully compatible with Z-Wave protocol
- It supports also Zigbee and Cloud-to-Cloud protocols
- Samsung brand is reliable with frequently updated products
- You have to plug it to the router with Ethernet cable. (EDIT: The new 3rd gen version supports also WiFi)
Wink Hub 2
The reason why the Wink Hub 2 is so popular is that it’s super elegant, easy to use and supports almost all smart home protocols and devices (Z-wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Kidde etc). And yes, it can be connected to things like sensors, speakers, alarms, doorbells, lighting, cameras and so on (400+ devices supported).
In addition, you can connect it to your Internet Home Router via both wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi, which is a plus compared to the previous z-wave hub (Smartthings).
The dedicated mobile application is very slick, the interface is intuitive, and for the most part, you can easily adapt and adjust every device you own in your network. It’s a great purchase and one that does tend to pay off immensely in that regard. The product supports more than 400 different devices connected at the same time.
- Hub migration is fast and easy.
- Great design.
- Fast connectivity and pairing.
- Supports WiFi connection to home ISP router.
- No Battery Backup.
Vera Control VeraPlus
The Vera Control VeraPlus z-wave hub is a smaller unit compared to Wink or Smartthings products however it offers a big brain for your smart home.
It’s also one of the z wave controllers that can be easily adapted and adjusted to suit your needs. In addition to z-wave, it supports also two other popular wireless standards namely ZigBee and Bluetooth.
You will also be able to complete a lot of automation tasks through it, such as turn appliances on/off, monitor the temperature and humidity of home rooms, control thermostats and burglar security systems etc. The app they added is adjustable and customizable, but at the same time, you also have wizards for adding new devices etc.
Vera Control also has a stellar tech support team, so you can rely on them to help you when needed. The lack of any monthly fees is a plus, and it shows the overall benefits you can gain from this.
- It’s not relying on the cloud
- Great support team
- Offers support for a wide range of devices
- No monthly fees.
- The UI can be improved
- Not very good documentation
- It asks for a lot of personal details when setting it up (street address, phone number, full name etc).
HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 PRO
The HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 PRO is one of those units that is not cloud-based and can manage all of your smart home electronic devices locally without even connected to the Internet.
This brings up a very important advantage: All of your sensitive information collected from the managed smart devices remain in your home (stored locally on the HomeSeer hub) without being exposed on some cloud-based storage. This means that hackers will not be able to steal any sensitive information related to your home automation.
Being Internet-independent, means that you will also manage all of your devices offline and fast as you won’t rely on Internet speed connection.
You can also use the HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 PRO with IFTTT, Google Home or Alexa if you want. While the design is not amazing, the unit can easily be put out of the way as you enjoy the experience and have fun with it.
- Very powerful
- It’s not Internet-dependent
- Your home automation sensitive data and information remain stored locally on the device.
- Supports lots of devices and is very customizable.
- Very expensive compared to the previous hubs.
- Some technical knowledge is needed, so it can take a while to set it up.
There are lots of good z wave hub controllers out there. All you need is to find the right model that suits your needs, and you will be quite amazed with the results and experience.
It’s always a great idea to check multiple units before you make the right decision. But rest assured that results will be amazing if you give the above z-wave hub controllers a shot. After all, they are considered by many people the best in the industry for 2018-2019 and beyond.