Smart Home Hub Necessary

Whether or not you need a smart home hub depends on the total number of devices you own, your intent and your budget. A hub is a middleman between your smartphone and smart appliances, allowing them to work together rather than separately. A hub essentially connects to each device and then translates the commands your smartphone sends them, ensuring that all of your devices speak the same language. This allows you to operate them without a separate app for each brand of product (though you might still need one for your phone).

Moreover, smart hubs let you enact multiple actions at once, like locking your doors and turning off the lights when you leave the house for work. You can also control your devices remotely over the internet, enabling you to turn on your heating before arriving at home or set your alarm system when leaving for vacation.

There are many benefits to having a smart home hub, but the most important consideration is compatibility and functionality. Make sure that any hub you consider supports the communication protocols that your current and future devices use, particularly those related to the smart home ecosystems you’re considering. You should also consider the ease of setup and configuration, as well as how advanced your intended automation levels will be.

Is a Smart Home Hub Necessary?

You can purchase traditional radio-packed hubs that suck up any device you add, such as Samsung’s SmartThings, Athom or Hubitat Elevation. These hubs tend to be more expensive and reliant on the cloud, which could leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks. Alternatively, you can purchase a smart speaker with a built-in hub, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, that’s compatible with most major ecosystems. These are typically less expensive, but they’re also limited in their integrations and customization abilities.

Smart hubs are often referred to as bridges or gateways, but the smart appliance and device industry has largely coalesced around a handful of wireless protocols, and most new smart hubs are able to perform the functions of both a bridge and a gateway in one. When you’re shopping for a new product, be sure to check what hubs it works with — especially those from big tech brands such as Apple and Google. Some products, such as automated window treatments, require a proprietary bridge and won’t work with any other devices.

Fortunately, the industry is moving towards a unified standard called “Matter” that’s being championed by Apple, Google, Amazon and several other tech giants, making it likely that the majority of future devices will play nicely with one another. This could be a game-changer for consumers, as it means that you won’t be locked into the ecosystem of your choice until you upgrade or die. It’s worth noting, however, that even this initiative won’t resolve compatibility issues with older devices that use nonstandard wireless technology, or those that rely on wired connections like ethernet.

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