The Best Alternatives to the Wink Smart Home Hub

May 10, 2020 4 Comments

Smart home hub alternatives for the Wink hub

Starting May 13, 2020, Wink will be charging its users a $4.99 monthly subscription fee. If you don’t pay, you’ll lose your automations, smart rules, and access to voice control. [Update 5/30/20: Wink has since backed out of the decision, at least for now.]

So is it worth paying $5 a month for Wink’s service? The platform hasn’t been adding new features or expanding its list of supported devices for a while now. The announcement introducing the subscription model didn’t include any details on when and how the system would start updating again. They also failed to give users at least 30 days notice to consider how to move forward. If you’re thinking about switching to another platform, we can’t blame you.

Here are a few alternatives for reliable smart home solutions that are most popular among our customers and the team here at The Smartest House. They’re all one-time investments without monthly fees. You’ll find a list of benefits and limitations with each platform, but if you have any questions about specific features we didn’t cover here, get in touch or post in the comment section below.

Samsung SmartThings

The most popular DIY consumer smart home hub. Supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, and WiFi. If you use your Wink app a lot to monitor your smart home and prefer calling support to exchanging emails, this is the hub for you.

Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub

What’s great:
  • Easy to set up and navigate with an intuitive app.
  • Samsung-backed support (phone and email Mon-Sat).
  • Access to community-developed device handlers and SmartApps for more functionality.
  • A long and growing list of compatible smart home products.
  • Plenty of resources online to learn from (community forum, YouTube channels, etc).
  • Alexa and Google Home voice control integration.
Could be better:
  • It does need constant Internet access to perform most tasks and manage most devices as it’s slowly transitioning from cloud to local connectivity for smart home devices.
  • It’s difficult to build custom rules with multiple conditions and triggers.
  • Limited access to advanced device and system features.

 

Hubitat Elevation

The fastest growing DIY hub. Supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, and WiFi. If your smart home is full of Lutron products and fast, reliable automations are key, this system is for you.

Take a look at this informative video from DIY Smart Home Guy, who talks about his transition from Wink to Hubitat here:

What’s great:
  • Extremely fast and optimized to get the most out of local processing and connectivity.
  • The best Lutron integration out there. Wink was the only hub with native support for Lutron devices, Hubitat is the next best thing. NOTE: It requires additional equipment (the Lutron Pro Bridge) but just because this is the only way to keep the devices running locally, off the cloud, so communication is faster, more reliable, and private. AND you can now use your Pico remotes to control any device in your smart home, not just other Lutron products like you did on Wink.
  • Supportive and active community with plenty of resources, software add-ons, and custom drivers for new devices which will all run locally in your network once installed.
  • Impressive list of supported Z-Wave and ZigBee devices.
  • Full control over advanced product and system features. You decide which devices stay local and which are processed through the cloud, what is kept in your private network and what you can access remotely through the app.
  • Works great with both Alexa and Google Home for voice control.
Could be better:
  • The interface of the app is very basic and not as easy to navigate as Wink or SmartThings.
  • There’s a learning curve to using the Rule Machine and other automation tools which can be a little overwhelming at first (but again, plenty of resources to help you through it).
  • No phone support, email only.

 

Ezlo VeraPlus

A true veteran in DIY consumer hubs and a perfect middle ground between SmartThings and Hubitat. Supports Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and WiFi. If you want a nice looking app but also a powerful online interface with easy access to advanced settings, then you’ll be happy with Vera.

Ezlo VeraPlus smart home hub mobile app view

What’s great:
  • Excellent integration of Z-Wave products.
  • Easy to use scene and rule creator with plenty of options for custom scenarios.
  • Third party apps available for expanded compatibility.
  • Rooted in local control with just the right amount of cloud for remote access.
  • Great tutorial videos with automation ideas and step-by-step programming tips.
  • Voice control with Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Could be better:
  • It’s not as fast as it could be when you’re adding a new product to the network or making programming changes.
  • ZigBee and WiFi support isn’t as robust as the Z-Wave part.
  • Firmware updates with support for new devices aren’t released as often as with other platforms. But the good news is, a product doesn’t need official integration to work well on Vera!

 

Fibaro Home Center Lite

This is a Z-Wave powerhouse. Hands down the best Z-Wave implementation so if you’re all about Z-Wave, this hub is worth considering and worth the price. It’s our in-house favorite for in-house testing.

Fibaro Home Center Lite Power Monitoring Dashboard

What’s great:
  • Recognizes most Z-Wave devices out of the box, without the need for special integration.
  • Clean app and easy-to-use scene creator, one-of-a-kind UI that offers a simple “if… then...” rule maker and a separate tool for more complex scenarios.
  • Direct access to advanced settings and associations for your Z-Wave devices.
  • Built-in visual graphs for energy use and power monitoring.
  • Local processing for your automations so that they run even if the Internet is down.
  • Third party integrations for Sonos and Philips Hue, among others.
  • Voice control with Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Could be better:
  • No direct ZigBee support so some of your Wink ZigBee products may not be recognized.
  • There’s a learning curve to the online interface with many options and variables to explore.

 

Home Assistant / Z-Wave Stick / Raspberry Pi

This is the ultimate DIY set-up, not for the faint of heart. We’ve seen Wink users transitioning to Home Assistant simply to break free of any dependency on the cloud or possible subscription fees. Home Assistant is open source though, and it requires additional hardware (like a Z-Wave stick and a computer or Raspberry Pi). If you’d like to add ZigBee support, you’ll need a separate dongle for that too. Home Assistant is just one of many open source home automation software options. There are more platforms to explore in this space, like openHAB or Domoticz.

Home Assistant showing on Google Nest devices via HA Cast

What’s great:
  • Everything is 100% locally stored for the highest level of privacy and security.
  • Frequent platform updates and a rich library of more than 1500 third party integrations, including Ecobee, IFTT, Philips Hue, Wemo, Plex, or Google Cast.
  • The interface is robust with many options to customize rules and device behavior.
  • Many online resources, including a lively forum and lots of YouTube videos.
Could be better:
  • You’ll be on your own (no support outside of community forums). Get ready for a lot of research and possibly some light programming too.
  • Cloud access (needed for access to voice control) is only available through a third party subscription service.
  • New Z-Wave devices are not added to the Open Z-Wave database as often, so you may experience compatibility issues with newer products since integrations depend on community submissions.

Have you already transferred from Wink to a new smart home system? Share your experience in the comments below, it could help other users make a decision!




4 Responses

Jason
Jason

May 29, 2020

I would rather pay the $5/mo. None of the services you listed support half of what Wink does. Name one of them that supports Lutron switches without a hub? Name one that has IFTTT integrated and as easy to use as Wink. Name one above that has the simplistic setup and video of every 3rd party device on how to set it up.

I have tried almost everything you have up there when Wink looked like it was going out of business, but NONE of them came close. It was going to take a ton of DIY, mix-match, hundreds of dollars, to get me even remotely close to where I am now.

So, I will gladly pay them $4.99/mo, heck, to me it’s a steal.

Chris Kaffer
Chris Kaffer

May 23, 2020

Great article! Like many others, I made the switch to a new platform. I chose Hubitat as my central hub. But I mainly use it to get all of my devices connected to HomeKit through HomeBridge and also Alexa. I wasn’t a huge fun of Hubitat’s UI.

Mark Ososki
Mark Ososki

May 19, 2020

I switched from Wink to Hubitat about a month ago after Wink was down for a day. Even without the subscription I will not go back to Wink. Hubitat takes a little more work to set up your dashboard, but it’s more customizable. It was more difficult to exclude devices from Wink than it was to include them with Hubitat. Hubitat works localy, quickly and has not gone offline on me. It helps to get an Aeotec USB Zwave device to exclude devices at the push of a button.

Jim Kline
Jim Kline

May 18, 2020

I made the switch from Wink to SmartThings 6 months ago as I saw Wink in financial trouble back then.

One of my locations (a rental unit) is extremely remote to me and I did not want to get caught with a dead unit. While SmartThings has some drawbacks (no local control) most of my issues have been PBKAC (Problem Between Keyboard And Chair). There is a learning curve to change platforms, but it is not insurmountable. My biggest issue now is how to separate control via Amazon Echo so my tenants can only control the rental unit while I still have visibility to everything.

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