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Alexa, do I need a smart home hub?Smart homes are not homes of the future – they are homes of the now. Smart home hubs are the heart and soul of a smart home, allowing all smart devices to operate in harmony from a single device. This hub is ideal if you have several smart devices in your home and you want to unify them all on a single network. However, it’s important to note that newer versions of smart devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home can serve a similar purpose.
What Is a Smart Home Hub?
A smart home hub connects all the electronic apps in your house and controls them with one device. Many people install these hubs to create a smart home. In a smart home, a central hub or an app installed on a smartphone or tablet can control multiple features and settings. Smart home hubs allow you to create a universal remote for your gadgets by connecting them all to the same cloud. Having a centralized device also allows you to set up automated features like presetting your thermostat or triggering your entryway lights to turn on when your garage door opens.
Understanding the Difference Between a Smart Home Hub and Virtual Assistants
A smart home hub automates all smart device activity in your home and allows you to control everything at the touch of a button. Virtual assistants, also known as smart speakers, are becoming more like smart home hubs, although they still lack capabilities. A smart home hub is not voice-activated like a smart speaker, which may be a pro or a con depending on what you need.
Virtual assistants have limitations for how much and what they can control for you. Smart home hubs, on the other hand, are designed to integrate every smart device they are connected with. Still, smart speakers are becoming more advanced with every new update and are becoming more adaptable to various smart devices.
Popular Smart Assistants
The most popular smart assistants on the market today include:
- Amazon Echo
- Google Home
- JBL Link View
- Apple HomePod
- Sonos One
Do You Need a Smart Home Hub?
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The biggest appeal of having a centralized hub is convenience. Allowing your smart devices to operate on the same system improves their compatibility, functionality, and reliability. If you want to connect your different smart devices (such as smart plugs, locks, and security systems) in one easy-to-use portal, then a hub may be just what you’re looking for. You can also set up your smart home hub to automate different features, allowing appliances to turn on automatically.
Popular components that make up a smart home and lead people to purchase and install a central hub are:
- Security cameras
Turn on Your Lights
A smart light switch allows you to come home to an already lit house or turn on your lights when you’re not there. An app on your smartphone can control the switch when it’s connected to your central hub. It’s important to note that since these are electrical units, a professional electrician should install them.
Crank Up the Tunes
Need music for your dinner party? Or perhaps you want to listen to the NFL game while folding laundry? Smart speakers allow you to listen to anything you want as long as there’s a speaker in your room.
Plug in Your Appliances
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Smart plugs can connect to anything that requires an electrical outlet to operate. Common uses include lamps, hair appliances, and toasters. Since you can turn on these devices from your phone, you can also turn them off via your phone. This comes in handy if you forget to turn off a device after you’ve already left your house.
Improve Your Home’s Safety
Connecting your security camera with your hub allows you to control and access home footage from your phone, laptop, or tablet. You can even control when the camera starts and stops, so you only have it rolling when you need it to be.
Lock Up Your House
Keys are a thing of the past for a smart house. Smart locks allow you to lock and unlock your door by using your phone. They also give you the option to allow visitors in with no need to hand out keys. Using your smart home hub, you can create an automation triggered by your locks. For example, integrate your lights with your locks so as soon as you come home, your lights flip on for you.
Control Your Temperature
In a smart home, you can control your home’s temperature without even being there by using your phone to adjust the temperature of your house. Not only will this help you conserve energy, but on a cold night you can turn up the heat while you’re driving home so your house is warm and cozy once you arrive.
Other Advantages of a Smart Home Hub
Besides convenience, setting your home up with a smart home hub comes with other advantages. A smart house can save you money by cutting back on excess energy usage. Automated lighting and thermostat levels allow you to cut down on the amount of electricity used while you’re not home, leading to a lower electric bill. Smart homes also provide more advanced safety options. With a smart alarm and lock system, you can constantly keep an eye on your home and keep track of every person who opens your doors.
Above all, having a central control hub can make your house feel futuristic and create a great place for entertaining guests. Connecting your speakers allows you to play whatever you want whenever you want. Need music to sing along to in the shower? Want to hear the news while you cook dinner? Ready to pop on the perfect playlist when your guests show up? Your hub can provide these entertaining features and leave your guests impressed at how advanced your home is.
Potential Drawbacks of a Centralized Hub
- Time-consuming to install, integrate with all devices, and figure out how to use
- Has the potential to be an unnecessary purchase if you only have a few devices that need syncing
How Do You Set Up a Smart Home Hub?
When creating a smart home, it needs to be done correctly for optimal functionality. This requires a few steps.
Choose Your Smart Home Hub
Shop around and choose the best hub for your house. All devices come with advantages and disadvantages, so do your research to select the one that best fits your needs. Below are some of the most popular hubs available on the market.
- Samsung SmartThings Hub: compatible with over 200 devices, can be hard-wired directly into your router, offers third-party services
- Wink Hub 2: adds devices by scanning barcodes, offers Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port so it need not be near a router
- VeraPlus: easy to convert smart devices, custom automation, sends push notifications directly to your smartphone
- Logitech Harmony Home Hub: compatible with over 200,000 entertainment devices, includes Bluetooth, has IFTTT applets
Install Your Hub in Your Home
Depending on which device you choose, the installation may vary. Make sure you’re setting up your hub in a central location of your house for easy access.
Connect Your Smart Devices
Once your hub is set up, installed, and ready to go, you must connect all of your home devices to it. Be sure to download the device’s app onto every mobile device you plan on using to operate your smart home hub from.
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Before purchasing one of these types of hubs, it’s important to confirm that it’s actually what you need. A smart home hub unifies all of your gadgets and allows them to be controlled by one singular device. The hub also gives you the ability to automate smart devices, like automatically switching on lights or shutting off your curling iron at a designated time. A smart home hub is like a virtual assistant, (such as Alexa and Bixby) but offers better unity between different smart devices.
If you’re not ready to integrate and connect your entire house, then a virtual speaker might be a less complicated and easier option for you. If you decide on a smart home hub, be sure to research a few different options. It’s important to find a hub that matches your exact needs. Once you’ve selected your gadget, make sure it’s properly installed and integrated with your other smart devices. Above all, remember that this is your smart home. This house should be based on your needs, wants, and safety requirements. Be sure you invest in a smart device that reflects that.