Smart home hubs connect all of your smart home IoT devices and allow you to manage or control them through a single interface. People who only have smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo and no plans to expand to lighting, thermostats, security, or other kinds of smart home products probably don’t have a need for a singular hub. But if you have smart bulbs from different brands or several kinds of different smart home devices, then a hub will make it all infinitely easier to manage.
The majority of smart home products have entered the market only within the last 5-10 years, and yet the smart home landscape is already littered with a confusing array of options and integrations. Choosing the right smart home hub for your new home isn’t an easy decision, but NewHomeSource has done the research to help you narrow it down based on your budget and level of tech know-how.
Best Hardware-Based Option: Wink 2
For many homeowners, having a physical hub at home is reassuring. Wink 2 is a sleek and unobtrusive piece of equipment that is easy to set up. It works with a wide variety of smart home protocols – including Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Kidde, and Lutron Clear Connect – meaning it will likely work with the smart home devices you currently own and with those you add in the future. (For those it doesn’t work with, there is always the option of a voice assistant workaround.)
Wink’s main competitor is the Samsung SmartThings Hub, which has name recognition and also supports a wide variety of smart home protocols. Unfortunately, it is overly complicated to set up and requires ongoing adjustments to work well. It’s simply not as user-friendly for the average homeowner. Now, if you’re someone who loves tinkering with gadgets, then by all means go for SmartThings. But if you want to save time and hassle (which is the entire point of a smart home), then we recommend Wink 2.
For the vast majority of homeowners, Wink 2 will be the best hardware-based smart home hub. Why? Because it integrates with a wide range of other brands, is fairly easy to set up, has little downtime, and is affordable at $99.
Best Smartphone-Based Option: Yonomi
Yonomi entered the market on the premise that all hardware eventually becomes obsolete and software-based hubs would eventually dominate. While we’re not quite there yet, we are all looking for ways to simplify our lives, and removing unnecessary physical objects is part of that.
Yonomi CEO Kent Dickson explains why smartphones beat out hardware: “The great advantage of the phone is that it’s pervasive, and they’re very powerful already. The processors in a phone are much more capable than the processors you’re going to find in any of those hubs. Better yet, they get replaced every two years. Your risk of obsolescence isn’t high.” Because Yonomi is an app available for iOS or Android, you can control your home from anywhere. It also happens to be free. That’s right, you can connect and automate your smart home devices easily and for free. The app is easy to use and very visual, so you won’t spend a lot of time guessing which IoT device will do what and when. Yomoni was designed to make the user experience very uncomplicated and leave the complexity on the back-end.
If you already have a smart home hub, you may still find Yonomi useful. Because they have focused on making such a great app (and some hubs’ smartphone apps leave something to be desired), you can still use it to connect to your hub and automate IoT devices. And you don’t have anything to lose, since it’s free.
Best Full-Service Option: Vivint Smart Home
Some people want all of the smart home benefits without any of the hassle of installation, setup, or on-going adjustments. Those homeowners will want a hands-off, full-service option. Vivint Smart Home is is exactly what you’ve been dreaming about. Based on your needs, Vivint can create a custom package for you. A Vivint Smart Home Pro will come to your home and discuss the options. They will then come back to install all the equipment for you. Once installed, they will explain all of the devices and system, but you still won’t need to manage it yourself. There is an upfront fee for the equipment (which can be steep), and then an on-going monthly fee of $39.99 for installation and continuous monitoring. It is definitely more expensive than the DIY options, but that’s the nature of full-service options.
Beyond making it easy for homeowners to adopt smart home technology, a key selling point is Vivint’s stellar customer service. Todd Pedersen, Vivint’s CEO, traces this success back to his father’s advice. “My dad told me that there are only a few things that matter in business. The main point was that you have to treat your customers like gold. They are the asset of the business. And the next point was about the employee base. They have to be great people and be treated properly at all times. If they are treated properly and engaged, they will treat your customers properly and deliver the best service possible.” With such an excellent business philosophy, it’s no wonder Vivint is so highly regarded.
Make Your New Home Smart
The speed at which smart home devices are being adopted by homeowners is astounding. Before we know it, every new electronic device or product will have internet connectivity and become part of the Internet of Things. And having a simple way to connect and control and automate all of these devices within the home will be both essential and a standard part of homeownership. Choosing the smart home hub that’s right for you will enable you to smoothly transition your new home into a smart home.
For the last 16 years, Rachel Kinbar has been a writer of articles, blog posts, white papers, essays, infographics, web copy, sales copy, scripts, poetry, lyrics, and more. She has keen research skills that she applies to a wide variety of topics, and she especially loves topics related to design, history, and sustainable living.