Smart Hubs Review
The main idea behind using best smart home devices, like video doorbells, lights, smart thermostats, smart security cameras and etc. is to make the process of doing simple day-to-day tasks even simpler. But if you’ve multiple smart devices installed in your home, it is very easy not to remember which app manages the thermostat or which once can be used for dimming the lights. But the advancements in smart-home technologies have a solution for this problem as well; however, you’ll need an extra device for the same a hub.
Home automation hubs unify all your connected gadgets and devices and allow you to manage them from a single app, rather than to use many. Different automation hubs are compatible with various connectivity technologies, and while purchasing a hub, it is crucial to choose one that is compatible with the gadgets and devices you use. Bluetooth LE, Z-Wave, ZigBee, and Wi-Fi are some of the most commonly used connectivity protocols. So, while buying an automation hub, it is important to ensure that it supports as many of these protocols as possible. To help you make a smarter decision, we’ve created this to help you make a smarter decision, we’ve created this Best Home Automation Hubs Reviews post with detailed information about the different connectivity technologies, some of the smart home automation hubs, smart home systems, and a lot more.
So, let us begin our journey to search the best smart home hub, by first talking about some of the most popular connectivity technologies.
Different Types of Home Automation Connectivity Technologies
If you are planning to buy a smart home device for the first time, the abundance of technologies and products in the markets are sure to confuse you. Right from Bluetooth-enabled smart locks, Wi-Fi compatible thermostats, to ZigBee-connected lights and Z-Wave-networked alarm sensors, there is a full gamut of options to make your home smarter.
But why do you need these different technologies while they more or less, offer the same functionality? While this might initially look like a reasonable question, after digging these technologies a little, it is very easy to see that the question is similar to knowing the difference between a mallet hammer and a sledgehammer. While both of them are used for banging on to things, you cannot use a mallet hammer where a sledgehammer is required and vice versa. Similarly, all the different connectivity technologies have their respective roles to play in upgrading your home into a smart home.
While there are automation hubs that are compatible with almost all the popular connectivity technologies and thousands of smart devices, such hubs are still in their nascent stage and are usually very expensive. So, until you buy such a home automation products, it is important to know the difference between these technologies.
Bluetooth Smart Hubs
Bluetooth technology is commonly associated with transferring files between Bluetooth-compatible mobile phones or connecting phones to desktop PCs, laptops, and headsets. In short, Bluetooth allows you to develop secure connections with devices in proximity. Even in home automation devices, you’ll find Bluetooth in devices which require you to stay close to the devices.
Bluetooth technology makes use of frequency hopping as well as encryption to make sure that no one can unscramble or intercept your communications with a Bluetooth-enabled smart home products. As a result, Bluetooth devices are usually considered very secure. Moreover, the data bandwidth of Bluetooth is higher than Z-Wave and ZigBee, allowing Bluetooth devices to do much more than detect movement and flip switches.
The newest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) uses a lower amount of power as compared with Wi-Fi. Moreover, Bluetooth LE can also be used for creating “Mesh Networks,” enabling it to enter the race between Z-Wave and ZigBee technologies. With the help of this mesh networking ability, Bluetooth LE devices can receive and send networked signals to further enhance the network’s range. As a result, this new technology is getting popular among homeowners looking to upgrade to smart devices.
Bluetooth technology makes use of frequency hopping as well as encryption to make sure that no one can unscramble or intercept your communications with a Bluetooth-enabled smart home device. As a result, Bluetooth devices are usually considered very secure. Moreover, the data bandwidth of Bluetooth is higher than Z-Wave and ZigBee, allowing Bluetooth devices to do much more than detect movement and flip switches.
The newest version of Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) uses a lower amount of power as compared with Wi-Fi. Moreover, Bluetooth LE can also be used for creating “Mesh Networks,” enabling it to enter the race between Z-Wave and ZigBee technologies. With the help of this mesh networking ability, Bluetooth LE devices can receive and send networked signals to further enhance the network’s range. As a result, this new smart home technology is getting popular among homeowners looking to upgrade to smart devices.
Wi-Fi Smart Hubs
Wi-Fi can be defined as a complete home network. It is usually used at homes for streaming media, browse the internet, and other activities that have heavy data consumption. Wi-Fi is a high bandwidth-type network which is highly powered intensive as well. This is the reason due to which a lot of smart home device manufacturers avoid using Wi-Fi connectivity as they’ll be required to design their devices with batteries that can last for a long duration or dedicated source of power.
This is also the reason due to which majority of the Wi-Fi security cameras also come with a cord that you need to connect with a power source. Another reason for developers to avoid using Wi-Fi is the fact that until now the Wi-Fi chips were expensive, and using it, will affect the total cost of the product. Thus, the developers turned to other technologies in search for a cheaper alternative.
Z-Wave and ZigBee Home Automation Hubs
Both Z-Wave and ZigBee are wireless technologies that need a very small amount of power. As a matter of fact, many of the smart devices that are based on these technologies can work for years on a simple watch battery. Moreover, they have excellent networking meshing ability, which can only be found in the advanced Bluetooth LE devices. Through the meshing ability, these technologies can offer a wider range.
Can’t you extend the range of your Wi-Fi devices with the help of a Wi-Fi extender? Yes, you can. But there are major differences between extending your existing network and using a mesh network. For instance, extenders do pass the signals to larger distances, but only half of the data rate can back out. So, while they do increase the range, they do so by negatively affecting the performance.
On the other hand, Z-Wave and ZigBee devices do not suffer from this signal loss problem as they are of low-bandwidth. This makes them an excellent choice for simpler devices, like smart switches, motion sensors, etc. that only need a data connection to work.
But the problem with Z-Wave and ZigBee devices is that they cannot be directly used from a PC, smartphone or tablet. As a result, you’ll need a home automation hub which you can connect to your Wi-Fi network. So in short, if you want to use a Z-Wave or ZigBee device you’ll be able to do so through an app on your mobile phone which will pass the signal to the router, then to the automation hub, and then finally to the device.
It is also crucial to know that Z-Wave and ZigBee are clubbed together here only to make the explanation simpler. They are different from each other, and as a matter of fact, they are not compatible with each other. While they usually have a similar range, power, and price, they have some technical differences that allow the developers to choose one between the two.
So finally, which among the technologies mentioned above you should choose for home automation? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to it. All these technologies are still evolving and are sure to evolve for years to come. Improved data rates, reduced power consumption, and falling rates are some of the things that we’ve seen in the past couple of years in all these technologies, and the advancement is sure to continue in future as well. While Z-Wave is certainly more popular currently, closely followed by ZigBee, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technologies are also making their presence felt.
However, to make things simpler for you, we’ve reviewed some of the home automation hubs. Understand the functioning of each of these hubs, the technology they are compatible with, their pros and cons, to understand which hub will truly be perfect for your needs. Let us delve deeper into home automation comparison of some of these devices.
Review blog extract from the housetech review – To check out the latest range of smart hubs, check the smart homes & business section https://urbanelectronics.net/product-category/smart-home-smart-business/