What is a Smart Hub and Why You Would Want to Get One

Even though we're deep in the 21st century, a lot of people still think that turning your home into a smart home, is just for movie stars or Bond villains. When in reality it is something that is accessible for most people. And one of the easiest ways to get started is through a smart hub.

If you ever wondered what is a smart hub you’re in the right place. You may already own a few smart home devices that allow you to control your home in different ways. But wouldn’t it be better if you could control all of them from one central place? This is exactly what a smart-home does.

Smart hubs can be confusing at first because of all the things they are capable of. Explaining what a smart hub is in layman’s terms is smart devices, connected to the internet, are able to interact with other smart devices, and controlled by the hub.

One big issue that a smart hub solves is compatibility. You see a lot of the smart devices usually not great communicating with each other. One can use Z-Wave protocol to communicate and one the Zigbee protocol. The smart hub brings most devices to work together and live together in peace and harmony.

How Smart Hubs Work

Breaking it down, a smart hub is essentially a small computer that is equipped with a ton of wireless radio transmitters and receivers. Smart hubs are both “hardware and software that connect devices to a home automation network and controls communication among them” (1).  It acts as a go-between for the smart devices once it is connected to the home network. Once you are connected with your home wireless network, you will be able to send commands to the smart hub via your phone or voice commands and even when you are away from home. There are smart hubs designed with their own smartphone app that will let you organize your smart devices as needed.

By using a smart hub, you will be able to pick different smart devices that normally would require separate use, and use them all from this central location. Even though they are essentially communicating in different languages, thanks to the smart hub, they will be able to communicate with each other and give you the smart home you desire. There are four popular dialects of smart home-speak, dubbed as “protocols” such as Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi, and Bluetooth. One smart device may be communicating with Zigbee while another is communicating in Z-Wave . Having the smart hub in the middle and directing traffic will break down the language barriers that will allow them to work together in complete harmony.

Do you need a SMART HUB?

If you’re just starting out using smart devices, you can probably wait a bit before getting a smart hub. However, if you plan to launch a smart home over the weekend, a smart hub will definitely help. Also, if you have been adding smart devices slowly over a period of time, it probably would make your life a lot easier if you had a central communicator. The smart hub will become the heart of your home that will connect all your smart gadgets around the house. You can access all of your devices from this one location rather than scrolling through the applications on your phone to find what you are looking for.

If you plan to automate your home, a smart hub will be the best first step. Some of the most popular smart hubs are Amazon Echo and google nest. With a smart hub you can do things like control the lights, music, and the HVAC unit. If you are heading up the stairs to bed, you can control the security system, turn the lights off, and enter a “sleeping” mode.

What Can I Control Using a Smart Hub?

The short answer is almost any smart device, but here are a few real life examples.

If you are on vacation or just running late, you can access the security system through the hub and check your home temperature, the lights, see if there are potential intruders.

You can lock and unlock your home, grant access to your family and friends without having duplicate keys or worry about losing your key. Smart locks are actually gaining popularity apartment buildings and airbnb apartments. A lot apartments are now only accessible through digital locks. Which makes them more secure and more convenient to operate for landlords who don’t need to physically hand out a key every time a renter change.

Digital access is just one of many examples of how we can streamline security and seamlessness of our homes. According to s study, “conducted by lock manufacturer Schlage and Wakefield Research of 1,000 U.S. multifamily renters, millennials, especially, are interested in home technology and are willing to pay more for smart upgrades” (2). The study further stated that up to “86% of millennials are willing to pay about one-fifth more for a smart apartment.”

If you need inspiration about other great things you can do with your smart hub read our home automation ideas post.

Shopping for a SMART HUB

shopping for a smart hub

Think of the hub like the engine in your car, or the heart beating in your chest. It is pulling all of these signals together and communicating them back out. While you can solve most challenges you can run into with a smart hub, it is best to make sure the smart hub you add to your home can do what you want it to do. When looking into a smart hub, keep in mind:

  • Supported devices limits: Some smart home hubs have a strict limit on how many smart devices you can add to it. If you want to ensure that your investment will always be able to support whatever smart device you bring in the home, make sure you select a hub with unlimited device support.
  • Compatibility: While most smart devices are able to be used across Apple and Android devices, ensure that your hub you are purchasing is not limited to one or the other. It would be beneficial to ensure it is compatible with both so if you even need to switch phones, you do not have to also purchase a new hub.
  • How it works: As technology only gets more advanced, it should not be too much longer before they start to read our minds or anticipate our needs. However, for now, they are able to be controlled by a smart phone with an app that is specifically designed for the hub. There are also features incorporated into some devices like voice commands, facial recognition, and even triggering a series of tasks that acts on an action when you arrive home.

Closing Thoughts-What is a Smart Hub?

Smart homes are not just for hobbyist techy people or consumers 100 years in the future. Smart home hubs are now on the shelves of almost every major retailer – online and brick and mortar. In fact By 2022 63 million American homes will qualify as smart homes

You can acheive many home tasks through the hub: home security, entertainment, temperature, lighting, gardening, personal health and more. Some popular smart home hubs are Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s HomePod, Logitech’s Harmony Hub, and Google Nest. While some hubs look like a microphone or speaker, some have LCD screens that allow you to touch for commands, but voice commands are definitely the easiest, preferred way to communicate with your hub.

All-in-all, smart homes are the future. The smart home hub will act as a bridge for all of your smart home devices. They can either connect locally or to the cloud and communicate with all of your smart devices in the home. Smart hubs provide more inclusive automation and centralize the automation in the home.

Hopefully you got a better idea now abut what is a smart hub. And we would love to know if you already got one, let us know in the comments.