Hubs are often the backbone of the smarthome, and you can pick from an extensive list of hub manufacturers. But not all smarthomes are made equal, and not all are worth your consideration. Here’s a few to skip.
Smart Hubs Tie Together Your Devices
The first thing you should learn with smarthomes is that there is no single standard for communication between smarthome devices. Some smart devices use Z-Wave, some Zigbee, and others use either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. When you want a Z-Wave smart light to work with a Wi-Fi outlet, you need something to bridge the gap. Right now smart hubs are one way to fulfill that role.
Wink and SmartThings are well known smart hubs, but there are numerous other options with varying features. While some of these alternatives may be fine, others you shouldn’t put into your home. They may not stay around for the long haul, or they may not be compatible with enough smarthome devices.
Iris By Lowe’s is an Abandoned Hub
Even products by big companies fail, and Iris by Lowes is no exception. Iris may have been one of the earliest smart hubs available, first launching in 2012, but despite being competent enough and supported by Lowe’s it never took off. Mistakes were made, including a $10 a month subscription for functionality other hubs offered for free and lack of support for multiple users—eventually, the hardware store wanted out.
Lowe’s first announced it wanted to find a buyer to take over the Iris product line, but later did an about-face and decided on a full shut-down. Iris hubs will not work after March 31st, 2019. You won’t find them in Lowe’s stores anymore, but if you see them for aftermarket sale, you should pass.
Securifi is Radio Silent on Updates
Securifi has been around for several years and has always made lofty promises. Its Almond 3S device will include both mesh router capabilities and smart hub capabilities, along with promised integration with Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, Philips Hue and others. The problem is this has been the ongoing promise of an eventual project for years now.
Securifi’s last update on the product came via Twitter promising completion was near in April 2018. It does offer the Almond 3 but describes that as a router that moonlights as a smart hub. Users on Securifi’s forums have been complaining about a lack of firmware updates to address existing issues. Your smarthome setup might break, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So the best step you can take is to avoid a product that already has a dubious track record.
Insteon Uses a Protocol Separate from Z-Wave and ZigBee
At $80, Insteon offers a competitively priced hub that boasts an impressive number of integrations. Insteon will work with your Nest thermostat, Google Home, Amazon Echo, and your Logitech Harmony hub. If your house is large, Insteon will still work well as Insteon devices create a mesh network to extend their range.