December 08, 2017 6 Comments
Choosing the ultimate smart home system for your needs and lifestyle can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. Each hub comes with its own advantages and limitations; a certain feature might be a godsend for someone else but a deal breaker for you. That’s why we’ve listed our top 3 Z-Wave hub recommendations below, including what we love about these hubs but also some things to consider when choosing the right one for you. And good news! They all support Alexa, so you can count on a voice-activated smart home this holiday season.
“Excellent starting point for home integration.” – Adidas1976 (Amazon review)
“Easy Set Up: There is a lot to like about this system!
1. EASY to set up. EASY.
2. So many things (basically all the 'internet of things' type equipment) connects to it
3. Did I say it was easy to set up?” – ZenDarb (Amazon review)
“All in all a good unit with a lot of compatibility without extra fees. But the unit is not for someone expecting plug-n-play.” – AZEqualizer (Full review here)
“Easy set up, good community support. As you get comfortable with the options you can tailor it to be more robust. It offers lots of configuration options. Check out their forums for help and all the different things this controller can do.” – Travis (Full review here)
“Very easy to get to grips with. The graphic interface makes this a dream to use.” – David S. (Vesternet review)
“The Fibaro HCL is a powerful device able to manage up to 230 Z-Wave devices with impressively fast local processing.” – Big Bruin
Amazon’s recent answer to home automation has some smart home capability built-in. However, it only supports the ZigBee protocol. This means you won’t be able to directly connect any Z-Wave devices, which leaves some of the more innovative and affordable smart home options out-of-reach.
While Wink may be a good choice for basic light automation and very basic monitoring, it doesn’t offer any access to advanced settings and works with a very limited pool of Z-Wave devices. Just as you start having fun with automation, you run into a wall. Because it lives primarily in the cloud, we’ve received reports of the system being very unstable overall.
If you have input regarding your favorite smart home hub, let us know what it is and why in the comment section below! And have a very happy holiday season!
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May 05, 2022
Insteon just became another smart home company to shut down their services. Overnight, the platform’s servers were disconnected, leaving their customers without a functional smart home. SmartLabs, Insteon’s mother company, claims to have sold over 5 million connected devices; that’s a lot of sensors, switches, and controllers that became orphaned. Does it mean that all of this hardware is now completely useless?
It turns out that there are ways to salvage your Insteon products and continue using them, at least to some extent, on other platforms who stepped up and provided integration for this protocol. However, these workarounds are less than user-friendly and will require more time and possible frustration around a system that’s no longer backed by any official support. What’s the alternative and is it even worth it to have a connected house these days?
August 06, 2020
If you already have Amazon Echo set up, you know how convenient it can be. There’s nothing like walking out the front door with full hands and telling Alexa to turn off your lights last minute. But these smart lights and plugs can be slow to react as you keep adding more smart home devices and clogging your network.
Alexa only “speaks” WiFi (and ZigBee if you have the EchoPlus). It currently doesn’t support Z-Wave, the protocol of choice for home automation thanks to its high speed and low interference with other connected devices in your home. That means you can’t have a Z-Wave switch or plug speak directly to your Echo. BUT you can use a smart home hub as a bridge between your Z-Wave devices and Amazon Alexa. Now that’s a whole other level of functionality to unlock!
And if you already have a Z-Wave hub but no smart speaker, you might be thinking how cool it would be to have voice control for your automations and smart home devices. It’s a step towards a more integrated, easy-to-use smart home with improved security, comfort, and convenience.
May 10, 2020 12 Comments
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. Update 7/27/20: The subscription service for Wink is finally in effect.]
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.