Your Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs

December 08, 2017 6 Comments

The Smartest House Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs

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.

Your Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs SmartThings

For the Beginner: SmartThings

What We Love:
  • Set-up instructions are clear and easy-to-follow.
  • The user-friendly interface lets you navigate the app quickly. 
  • SmartThings has a very responsive tech support. Its robust community online makes it easy to find the answers you’re looking for. Chances are someone has asked it before!
  • SmartThings works great for basic automation scenarios. BUT for more advanced control and access to additional settings in some of the newer Z-Wave products, you may need to spend extra time adding Custom Device Handlers and SmartApps.
  • Support for local control is limited since the system heavily relies on cloud execution for rules and scenes. This affects reliability and can be plain annoying.
What Users Have to Say:

“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)

Your Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs Vera Control

For Anyone: Vera

What We Love:
  • Vera comes with a clean and intuitive smart phone app.
  • It also has a powerful online interface with direct, easy access to advanced settings.
  • The hub offers the widest compatibility for Z-Wave devices. More choice means more personalization for your smart home! 
  • If you want the set-up or troubleshoot process to be laid out for you step-by-step, Vera offers helpful video tutorials for the most common executions and questions. And for additional resources, check out their community forum!
  • Your primary interface is on the web so you can’t add / remove or program devices from the app (which can be a good thing too!). With so many options and configuration settings, it can get overwhelming for a beginner.
  • You may wait a few minutes longer for support to respond
What Users Have to Say:

“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)

Your Gift Guide to Z-Wave Hubs Fibaro Home Center Lite

For the Pro: Fibaro Home Center Lite

What We Love:
  • The Fibaro HCL is one of the pioneers of smart home systems. Their software is super advanced and comes with many built-in tools for analyzing energy usage or temperature changes. 
  • You can execute more elaborate automation scenarios with the advanced scene and rule building tool.
  • The HCL is incredibly stable, secure, and fast since most communication is executed locally.
  • It is composed of durable hardware and high-quality components all around. It is made in Europe by a global company.
  • The Fibaro HCL only supports Z-Wave devices. While for many the one protocol is all they need for their smart home, other users prefer a hub that supports other protocols such as Wifi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee as well. You can still get some of these products integrated using third party plug-ins but the integration will not be native and quick like for Z-Wave devices.
  • It’s a serious machine and one of the more expensive ones too. So it requires commitment (but makes for a great investment)
What Users Have to Say:

“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

Why Not Echo Plus?

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.

Why Not Wink?

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!

6 Responses

Oliver Smith
Oliver Smith

November 18, 2019

Hey Nice write up about useful for us..Keep Updated…

Jan (The Smartest House)
Jan (The Smartest House)

October 01, 2019

Hi Tom, yes! You can remove a Z-Wave device that belonged to a different hub using any Z-Wave gateway / controller. You’ll need to find general exclusion in your SmartThings app (under hub > Z-Wave Utilities > General Exclusion) and remove the device following the instructions in the device’s manual.


September 30, 2019

Piper sent out a firmware update a while back that broke all zwave device support. While they fixed it, I wasn’t able to cleanly remove all devices and 2 cannot be added back or added to my Smarthings hub. And thier force removal process does not work. Can I remove a device with Smartthings that was previously on a piper network?

Jan (The Smartest House)
Jan (The Smartest House)

February 08, 2019

Hi Bill, We don’t carry any fan controllers at the moment but I believe that HomeSeer has a fan switch that would fit your needs, model HS-FC200+


February 05, 2019

Do you have a suggestion for a in-wall 3 speed ceiling fan switch? Z wave

David Bennett
David Bennett

November 24, 2018

You have a large customer base that is using the hubitat elevation hub. I have seen many links to your site in their community forum. It’s a very reliable, locally processed hub with many advanced features. Works with just about any z wave or zigbee device, and even wifi connected devices and lutron

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The Best Alternatives to the Wink Smart Home Hub

May 10, 2020 5 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.

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Winter is Coming: How to Prep Your Smart Home for the Cold

November 05, 2018

How to Prep Your Smart Home for Winter

Winterizing your home used to mean lots of physical labor - caulking windows, installing heavier drapes, maybe even changing out older windows and doors that were too efficient at releasing insulated air. Winter prep can still mean all of the above, but new Z-Wave technology has made certain aspects of winterization easier while adding another level of protection as those temperatures drop.

Here’s what we’re using to stay cozy and make sure our energy bills don’t make us freeze in our tracks:

Stelpro KI Z-Wave Plus Thermostat

This is one of our winter must-haves. It’s the first Z-Wave line voltage thermostat in North America (but be careful, it won’t work with forced air systems!). Use it to control electric baseboards and convector heaters all from your Z-Wave hub’s app interface. Reduce your energy consumption by 30% with custom heating schedules, or just switch to the thermostat’s built-in Economy mode to keep things efficient.

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The best Z-Wave Motion Sensors: Compared

June 08, 2017 14 Comments

Detailed Guide to the best Z-Wave Motion Sensors: Compared

You often ask us for recommendations: what are the best, most reliable Z-Wave motion sensors out there? The choice seems endless with new devices coming out every day. While we have our favorites, choosing the right sensor for YOU will depend on YOUR needs, lifestyle, and ideas on how to apply the product to your Z-Wave network and collection of devices. So we thought we should ask one of you to test and compare our best-selling smart home security sensors.

We wanted feedback from someone who has tested and programmed lots of Z-Wave devices but most importantly, from someone who has used them in real-life scenarios at home. The comments detailed below and the invaluable side-by-side comparison chart are by Kevin LaFramboise, an expert SmartThings user and the creator of some of the most advanced and stable custom device handlers for the popular platform.

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