What Are Smart Home Hubs?

Smart Home Hubs

The smart home is a digital utopia of connected gadgets, from smart light bulbs to video doorbells to smart thermostats. But how do you control all these devices—and keep your multifamily residents happy? Enter smart hubs, which act as a central command station for your smart device ecosystem. They unify the technology into a single platform, making it easy for users to create nuanced experiences with the devices. For instance, a scene like “Saturday date night” can trigger the foyer smart lights to dim and a playlist to kick off, or your tenants can use voice commands to control individual components of their smart tech.

When shopping for a smart home hub, look for one that offers features your community will appreciate and use. For instance, some smart hubs offer unlimited integrations that let you connect and integrate with third-party technologies like Spotify or Netflix. Others offer a broader range of wireless protocols, such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Some smart hubs also function as a gateway, connecting to your router and other network hardware to boost performance and reliability.

Security is another important factor to consider, with many smart hubs offering impressive security features and regular firmware updates to protect user data and privacy. The smart hubs you choose should support the devices your residents already have and can handle any you might add in the future. Finally, consider how the smart hubs in your comparison compare when it comes to price and usability. Typically, the more expensive smart hubs tend to have more advanced capabilities, but you can find less expensive options that offer similar functionality.

What Are Smart Home Hubs?

Smart hubs come in several forms, from smart speakers with built-in virtual assistants (such as Amazon Echo and Google Home) to smart displays that feature a touchscreen atop a smart speaker for a visual dashboard of a system’s connected devices. Some smart hubs even act as a mesh Wi-Fi router to boost network signals and function as a central controller.

Regardless of the form they take, smart hubs are the brain of the operation. They speak the languages of all your smart devices, allowing them to communicate with each other. That’s why smart hubs are essential, particularly when you’re integrating multiple products from different manufacturers and networks.

You’ll also need a smart hub to control some older devices that only operate over a specific protocol, such as Z-Wave or Zigbee. Fortunately, some smart hubs—including Homey Pro and Hubitat—function as both a smart hub and a universal gateway, tackling all of these popular wireless protocols.