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What Is a Smart Home Hub? Unveiling the 2024 Core of Connected Living

What is a Smart Home Hub?

A smart hub is sometimes referred to as a gateway, bridge or a controller. It’s the nerve centre of your smart home system and helps to bring all of your individual devices together.

With your devices all communicating with one system, they can work together to make your home run more efficiently. They can also be connected to a control device that will give you complete control over your home, and this can even be accessed remotely.

A smart home hub would typically bring together things like smart speakers, door and window sensors, garage door openers, security cameras, temperature and humidity sensors, smart locks, smart plugs, smart lights and other various smart home devices. You can then connect them to a smart display and use your preferred voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant.

Once everything is connected and communicating, you can create routines and scenes that are intended to make life easier or safer for inhabitants. For example, if an elderly member of the household is suffering from dementia, you might want to set up a phone alert when the front door locks are activated so they don't wander away in the night.

smart home hub in the kitchen

What are the benefits of a Smart Home Hub?

Individual pieces of smart technology might be great on their own, but it’s when you connect them that they really offer enhancements to your life. It’s also helpful to be able to control everything from one place, so you don’t need multiple smartphone apps to be able to manage your devices.

You can also make your home more intelligent by connecting devices and allowing them to work together. For example, you could let your alarm clock wake you with the sunrise. You can set your home heating system to switch on when your phone is giving directions to home. You can adjust your lights according to the music you are playing or what’s playing on the TV.

Connected smart devices also offer more energy saving features that could make your home more efficient. For example, the motion detectors in your home security system can let your heating system know where there is no one home, so you’ll never heat an empty home again.

What are the disadvantages of a Smart Home Hub?

As with any emerging technology, there are likely to be teething problems. If your smart devices are from different brands, there is a chance you could struggle with compatibility issues. Using a Smart Home Hub that is compatible with all the brands you use should be a priority.

There is also an increased security risk if you choose to connect everything to a centralised system. Unless you pay close attention to security during the setup, you could make it possible for someone to “hack” your home and gain access to the controls. This could be a serious security threat for your home.

And finally, you also need to think about how a power or connection outage might impact your home. Having everything connected and centralising might seem like a good idea until you experience a power issue with your Smart Home Hub and suddenly nothing in your home works.

You could also face issues if you face an internet outage while you are away from home and can no longer remotely access your security system. While not always a disaster, this could be a cause of concern and stress for homeowners.

Smart Home Hub

Do you really need a Smart Home Hub to connect my smart devices?

We recommend a smart home hub once you have two or more smart devices in your home. And if these include lights and audio/visual controls, we recommend using a centralised hub to make it easier to manage.

You can choose between a wired or a wireless system based on your requirements. If you want a wired system, it would typically be best to install this during a big house renovation project, as this will allow us to better conceal wires with minimal cosmetic damage.

How do Smart Home Hubs work?

The part that consumers get to grips with is typically the control device that might be a tablet or smart displays that allows you to take control of individual devices with just a tap, but this isn’t the real brain of the operations. It is the protocols that make it possible for your smart devices to communicate, and there are many different systems available to make this happen. The three most popular protocols are UPB, Insteon and Z-Wave.

The UPB system uses your home wiring to transmit signals between devices whereas the Insteon system uses radio frequency communication. Z-Wave is one of the most widely used systems and this uses low radio frequency waves to create a mesh network that allows signals to hop between devices. Essentially, your smart devices are the network.

Another option would be the Aeotec smart home hub, which is a low cost and versatile choice for your home. It can connect with systems like Matter, Zigbee devices, Z Wave devices, Thread and Wi Fi devices. It's also incredibly secure, so you can connect your home devices with peace of mind.

These protocols then connect to your home Wi Fi network and allow you to take control of everything via other Wi Fi devices such as a smartphone or tablet. You could also fully automate this using an online platform like IFTTT (If This Then That) or your Apple HomeKit.

Will my smart home devices be compatible?

It's important to check that all of your smart home devices are compatible before investing in a hub to control smart devices in your home and remotely. If in doubt, we recommend consulting with an expert in the matter. This will help you to determine the right hub for your needs and help you to avoid spending a lot on expensive smart speakers that can't communicate with the rest of your smart home devices.

The best smart home hubs include the Aeotec smart home hub, the Google Nest Hub Max, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, Samsung's SmartThings Hub and the Fibaro Home Centre 3. If you need help choosing the right dedicated smart home hub for your renovation, get in touch with our team today.

Relevant article: How to create a smart home

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