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Best Z Wave Hub

Automation of the home is something that more and more people are investing in. And why shouldn’t they?  It allows you to control many things inside your house, without ever having to actually be in your house. You can unlock your door, turn on your home alarm, and even turn off the lights in your kitchen, with just your mobile device or your Amazon Alexa or Echo.

Best Z Wave Hub – Comparison Table

Of course, as the market begins to grow for home automation, it is filled with people vying for your home automation dollar. Some are offering hubs that are high-quality, others are offering hubs that may or may not be what you’re looking for. Picking the right one can be extremely time consuming and require a lot of research.

Thankfully this guide is here to help you find the best Z Wave hub for your home use. First, let’s look at a comparison chart. Here are the best Z wave hubs out there today!

NameCompatibilityMobile AppVoice Control
Samsung SmartThings Generation 2SmartThings products, Z Wave, ZigBeeSmartThings AppYes, Amazon Alexa

 
Wink Hub 2Bluetooth LE, Kidde, Clear Connect, Z Wave, ZigbeeWink AppYes, Amazon Alexa
Securifi Almond 3Z Wave, ZigBeeSecurifi AppYes, Amazon Alexa
Vera Control VeraPlusWifi, ZigBee, Z Wave, Bluetooth LEVera Dashboard AppNo, but can be customized to work with Echo
Nexia BR100 BridgeMost Z Wave devicesNexia AppYes, Amazon Alexa
HomeSeer HomeTroller S6Doesn’t come with any compatibility; can install any desired for a cost (usually about 30USD). Z Wave compatibility is freeHomeSeer AppYes, Amazon Echo
Logitech Harmony HubZ Wave, ZigBeeLogitech AppYes, Amazon Alexa
Vera Control VeraEdgeZ WaveVera Dashboard AppNo, but can be customized to work with Echo
Wink Smart HubZ Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE, Clear Connect, KiddeWink AppYes, Amazon Echo

Home automation can become extremely complex, and because of that wide gulf in effort required, this guide is going to be geared more toward people who are looking for an easy setup process. If you’re the kind of person who likes to customize in C++ and other programming languages, congratulations, and you can still find a good hub in this guide, but the guide is not going to be geared toward you. If you do like to program, there are a lot of resources out there on forums and other sites concerning how to get the most out of your Z Wave hub.

Now that we’ve taken a look at a quick comparison chart, it’s time that we look a bit more in-depth at the various Z Wave hubs on the market, to make sure that you buy the best Z Wave hub 2017 has to offer for you and your particular uses.

1

Samsung SmartThings Generation 2 – The Samsung Solution

Samsung is one of those names that you probably have somewhere in your home already. If you’re like a good portion of the cell-phone owners, you probably have a Samsung Galaxy of some sort in your pocket most of the day. If you like to watch television and to enjoy clarity at a decent cost, you probably have a Samsung television in your home somewhere. Samsung is a name that means quality to many users, and if nothing else, it is a name that has good customer service behind it.

So, how does their hub for home automation stack up? It’s got a powerful processor, and 512mb of RAM (this doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember, this is a hub that is performing simple tasks and not generating video or constantly drawing images). While some hubs require that you pay a subscription fee or sign a contract, the Samsung SmartThings hub requires neither of these.

One interesting thing about the SmartThings Hub is that it requires an ethernet connection from your router. This may be done for stability concerns, but it also may be related to the fact that Samsung has a battery backup. With a hardwired ethernet connection and a battery backup, Samsung’s SmartThings hub can run some automation for ten to twelve hours after experiencing a loss of power.

The application for controlling the hub, SmartThings, is extremely easy to use, and with a GUI that couldn’t be simpler. It allows you to control your devices from afar via your cell phone, as well as allowing you to utilize Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ to provide simple voice commands.

For one of the easiest experiences ‘out of the box’, Samsung’s SmartThings 2nd Generation hub is a great choice and comes packed with a wide range of compatibilities for things you will utilize every day. The customer experience that Samsung provides will make this a hard hub to beat for the casual user.

PROS
  • No subscription service or contracts required
  • Easy-to-use app
  • One of the only hubs on the market that includes a battery backup for loss of power.
CONS
  • No Bluetooth LE functionality
  • The downside of a battery backup is having to hardwire your hub to your router via an unsightly ethernet cable
2

Wink Hub 2 – The Sleek Option

Wink is a very young company, but they’ve already made two fantastic entries into the Z Wave hub market. Their first entry was well received (especially for a product from a small company), and their second hub, the Wink 2, was given near-perfect scores by most reviewers. They may be newcomers to the home use market, but they’re no slouches.

The Wink 2 hub works with almost every common protocol out there, functioning with Z Wave, ZigBee, and even Bluetooth LE (Low Energy). It’s a great choice for a casual user who is just looking to automate a few things around the house, and even for the more serious user who may want to do a little bit of tinkering to see how far they can push the whole ‘home automation’ thing.  It’s a Z Wave hub Alexa will work with, too, which is always a nice touch for the early adopters who have already invested in Amazon Alexa and want to use it to control their home.

It has a wide variety of compatibilities, and for the average casual user, this is going to be a great hub for almost anything that you could consider doing. If you’re looking for a good starter kit kind of hub, to get your feet wet in the world of home automation, and one that will work with most devices out there without much tinkering, this is the one for you.

A complaint some have voiced with the Wink 2 is the lack of battery backup. The lack of battery backup doesn’t seem like a big deal when you consider that even with one, you’re only getting a few more hours of automation (and automation of what?  When the power goes out, so do most things you can control, really).

PROS
  • Very easy to work with
  • Great app design
  • Wide variety of compatible devices, working on Bluetooth LE, Z Wave, and ZigBee protocols.
CONS
  • No battery backup
3

Securifi Almond 3 – The Star Trek Option

In the ‘futuristic’ shows of yesteryear, people controlled their living quarters via screens built into walls and armrests, and even sometimes with voice commands. We’ve reviewed two hubs thus far that can be controlled via this combination of methods, but none that are controllable at the hub. Securifi’s Almond 3 changes that.

This is a powerful hub in its own right, even without the nicety of the LED screen for controlling your home from the hub itself (for times when your phone may be out of reach or charging, for example). It has an amazing amount of coverage (one unit can cover about 1300 square feet of home, which is impressive for ANYTHING that emits a signal, really). If you have a larger home, no problem; Securifi offers bundle packages. So, if you need 8000 square feet covered, they can help you out and knock a little bit off of the cost, too. They can also be used to extend the wireless signal for the home, allowing devices to communicate across an entire home, even if it is spread out over a long distance or it’s got multiple floors. As an added bonus, the app that comes with the Securifi Almond 3 for your mobile devices is no slouch, either, and is easy to use.

With voice control being more and more desired these days, it is worth noting that the Securifi Almond 3 (quite possibly the best Z Wave hub 2017 has to offer) is compatible with Amazon Alexa. This means that you can forego using the LED screen, and your mobile device, and simple talk to Amazon Alexa to turn on light, turn off televisions, lock your door, and even set the alarm.

If you’re looking for a great hub that has a bit more meat to it than the Samsung or the Wink offerings, but not one that is too hard to use, this is a great choice for you. If you have a large house, and need to be able to extend the signal of your WiFi, this is also a great choice.

PROS
  • Amazingly powerful signal strength
  • Works with a wide range of products with the Z Wave and ZigBee protocols
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa
CONS
  • There’s really no downside to this product other than its price
4

Vera Control VeraPlus – The Mid-Range Vera Hub

Vera Control, Ltd., began its life as a company called ‘Mi Casa Verde’, Spanish for ‘My House is Green’. It is a company that started mostly as a company for helping to automate your home security, tying together your alarm system, various sensors (motion detectors, window detectors, that sort of thing), and even electronic door locks. The idea of ‘your house being green’ comes from the fact that the VeraPlus was aggressively advertised as allowing you to cut down on energy consumption (and home energy costs).

Vera’s VeraPlus is a hub that is designed to be fairly easy to use (though not as easy as those reviewed thus far) for the beginner. As with most other hubs, it allows you to create ‘scenes’, tying together various actions. For an easy example: you walk up to your front door, unlock it with the Vera app on your cell phone, and the unlocking of your door (signaling you’re about to walk in the door) kicks on your air conditioner to maintain your house at a cool 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Your home is secure, and your air conditioner hasn’t been on all day. Of course, if you cannot bear the thought of a warm home, you can simply turn on the A/C (assuming you have the correct devices) as you’re heading home. It’s easy to see how home automation can cut down on energy bills with all of this being the case.

The VeraPlus is compatible with over 1400 devices and counting. It utilizes Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, and Z Wave protocols to make sure that it can communicate with the vast majority of devices on the market today, and almost all of those devices can be controlled through the app. The one big downside is that, currently, you cannot control the VeraPlus with either the Amazon Alexa or Amazon Echo. If you search through the forums, you will find that, since they released the SDK, there are ways to customize yours to work with one or the other, but that requires a bit more know-how than the average person has, and it can cause problems if you are poking around code and don’t know what you’re doing. Not something recommended for amateurs.

The VeraPlus has an optional battery backup, as well as a cellular backup (3G), that can be bought separately. Realistically, if you’re going to get the backups, you would be better off getting them both, but if your power is out, it’s not likely that you are going to be able to utilize most related devices.

If you’re looking for a great system with wide compatibility, this is the one. And if you’re looking to explore being able to customize your hub and what it can do, the release of the SDK for Vera will make that a breeze.

PROS
  • Release of SDK means customization is very simple
  • App is easy to use and accommodates most devices
  • Compatible with most Z Wave, ZigBee, and Bluetooth LE devices
CONS
  • Battery backup and cellular backup sold separately
5

Nexia BR100 Bridge – The Subscription Solution

Nexia offers an interesting hub for those of you who are looking to control their Z Wave devices. To look at it, it seems like a simple device, one that is reminiscent of the early wireless routers that had a single button and nothing else. That being said, this device is significantly more powerful than most wireless routers.

The Nexia BR100 Bridge is a hub that can control a few devices at once – up to 230, in fact. It is compatible with most Z Wave devices that are currently on the market, too, and most devices that will work with the Nexia BR100 Bridge, including devices from Samsung, Trane, GE, and Schlage (Schlage makes ‘smart’ locks). If it’s a device that is made to connect via Z Wave protocol, and it is made by a company that makes a quality product, it is most likely that the Nexia BR100 Bridge will be able to interface with it.

Something that we have not encountered thus far is that the Nexia BR100 Bridge requires that you get a subscription, which currently runs about $9.99 per month, plus applicable taxes. There are a few hubs out there that do this, but in exchange, you get much better customer service in the event you have issues, so there is an upside to that monthly fee.

This is really just a basic Z Wave hub that has a few bells and whistles. If you’re looking for a high-end product, you may want to look elsewhere, but if you need a simple one that works with most Z Wave compatible devices, and you aren’t afraid to pay the subscription ad infinitum, this is a good option for you.

PROS
  • Works with most Z Wave compatible devices
  • Easy setup
  • The app is easy to use
CONS
  • Subscription fees
  • Only compatible with Z Wave devices
6

HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 – The Customizable Controller

Of all the products reviewed, the HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 is the one that takes the most know-how to setup. Of course, when you have to craft the system to your desires, there is a lot that you can do with it, and customizability that you can get with it that you just cannot get elsewhere.

The HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 comes more or less as a blank slate where compatibility is concerned. Out of the box, it really can’t communicate with much of anything as far as smart devices are concerned. In order to allow the HomeTroller S6 to communicate with various devices, you have to purchase a USB dongle that will allow it to communicate in the various languages. This may explain why there are four USB slots on the front, to allow people to fit four dongles to the HomeTroller and expand its ability to communicate.

The HomeTroller is a powerful piece of technology (which explains its price tag) that can be set up as you would like, kind of the ‘a la carte’ option. It can interface with Amazon Echo, which means you can control the entire system with voice chat options if you like. It can interface with almost any device that is capable of automation, really, and allow you to control them all via the internet, via your cell phone, or via any mobile device that can reach the internet. It has some of the best security protocols, offering secure SSL connections even if you’re accessing it using a computer from afar. The whole thing is well worth the price, especially if you’re concerned about security.

This is the best option for those who are looking to design their own automated home setup from the ground up, and who have an eye turned to security. The HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 is the kind of thing that you can build how you like, but that does mean it is a bit more time-intensive a project.

PROS
  • Allows you to design your system basically from the ground up
  • Extremely well-designed security system
  • Compatible with Amazon Echo, out of the box.
CONS
  • Must also purchase or otherwise attain interfaces for compatibility
7

Logitech Harmony Hub – The Logitech Hub

Logitech is a company that you probably know better for being the guys who made the first mouse or USB keyboard you ever bought. In the last few years, though, they’ve been moving into other markets than computer peripherals, including things like Home Theater controllers that can control every device in your home theater.  This was begun in the early 2000s, when the Logitech Harmony line of products first began to hit the market.

Since then, they’ve expanded from home entertainment systems to being able to control the whole home and all its smart devices. Logitech has brought the same flair for design that is hardy and lasts to the world of home automation and even to getting your entertainment system to run entirely off of one remote (and they even figured out how to run video game consoles from the control, which is impressive).

The Logitech Harmony hub allows you to control an even wider array of products. On their website, they name it a ‘smartphone control’, and in a way, that’s true; it allows you to communicate with the devices in your home (yes, including your televisions, if they are hooked up to the system) from the comfort of wherever you are with a mobile device. The Harmony hub is capable of operating most devices that run off of ZigBee or Z Wave protocols and is capable of controlling many portions of your entertainment system. Just imagined, being able to turn off your kids’ television without having to go upstairs, and how easy that would be.

If for your smart home setup, you are more concerned with ensuring that you have a lot of control over your entertainment devices, this is the hub for you, as it gives control over something like 250,000 entertainment devices (yes, that number is correct).

PROS
  • Offers unprecedented control over home entertainment devices
  • Easy setup
  • Compatible with hundreds of thousands of devices, including Amazon Echo
CONS
  • Nothing comes to mind
8

Vera Control VeraEdge – The Starter Vera Hub

This is the low-end offering from Vera, one that you can get for about the same price as a nice blender online these days. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t capable of running your home automation setup, especially if that setup is simple.

Unlike the more expensive option we reviewed (or the much more expensive option that they have for pre-sale on their website right now), the VeraEdge does not utilize ZigBee or Bluetooth LE protocols. Without customization, it is only set up to work with Z Wave (but, remember, Vera has released the SDK for their firmware, so if you’ve enough knowledge or training, you may be able to make it do whatever you desire). Like its more expensive brother, though, it also cannot, without customization, utilize Amazon Echo or Alexa.

That being said, it is capable of, without modification, operating with the majority of devices that utilize Z Wave protocol. Though it may be inexpensive, it can be used to operate most of the Z Wave devices that you may have in your home, and it will allow you to get the most out of them. If you need the budget option, and one that doesn’t come with an attached subscription to add to the long-term costs, then this product from Vera may be the one for you.

PROS
  • Very inexpensive
  • Easy to use and set up
  • The app is still a quality app that makes controlling your home from afar a breeze
CONS
  • Only works with the majority of Z Wave devices, not all
9

Wink Smart Hub – The Original Wink Offering

It may not look like the most impressive device, but this is the device that Wink used to fine-tune their approach to the market. Still, on its own, the Wink hub is a good hub for powering your home automation system, no matter what devices you may utilize.

The original Wink hub, which can now be had for very inexpensive a cost, has a lot of compatibilities. It works with the Amazon Echo, to begin with, as well as being compatible with the vast majority of protocols out there, including Z Wave, ZigBee, and Bluetooth LE. If it’s a device that was made by a trustworthy company, and it is capable of being integrated into a smart home, this Wink hub is more likely than not going to be able to utilize it.

The app is a very simple to use application that, really, reminds one of the old-fashioned iPod designs. That being said, it’s still very easy to use, and very easy to set up the way that you like.

The hub is more than capable of doing almost anything that you would like, and is very user-friendly both to set up and to operate. If you’re looking for a good hub, and you’re not scared off by the fact that the technology is a generation or so old at this point, then the Wink hub may still have something to offer you. Otherwise, you may want to start your search with the Wink 2 that we reviewed earlier, and pass this older offering by.

PROS
  • Easy to set up
  • Very affordable
  • Compatible with the vast majority of protocols currently on the market
CONS
  • Technology is a little dated
  • Not as powerful as various other devices on the market now
  • Affordability does not necessarily translate to quality

Best Z Wave Hub - Buyer's Guide

Look, these hubs, they are complex pieces of equipment. It can be hard to figure out which one will be best for your uses, and there are a lot of terms that have been thrown around here today that are somewhat complex. If you have questions about hubs still, here are a few answers to common questions

What Is Z Wave?

Z Wave is a wireless protocol for communication between devices that is mostly used in the home automation market. Right now, even if they are set up for ‘smart communication’, it is likely that all the devices in your home are operating in different languages. Z Wave forces them to all operate on one language (Z Wave), which allows them to talk to each other, and to your chosen hub. Z Wave devices transmit a signal, much like any wireless device, and even your WiFi, does, and the devices it can reach, it can give orders to.

The hub is basically the go-between for everyone, and it is the access point for the user. With most hubs, you can set up groupings of commands called ‘scenes’ which help you to do things that you may want to do at the same time. For example, let’s say that you’re looking to cut down on your electric bill, so you don’t want to run the heat or air conditioning all the time. You can create a ‘scene’ that tells your hub that, whenever you unlock your front door with your smartphone, you want it to turn on the air conditioner as well. This means that the house will be cooling down (or heating up), and you’re not paying to control the climate while you’re not home.

Is It Secure? Is My Smart Home Secure?

Anything that puts out a signal can be hacked with enough knowledge or processing power. At this point, most people drive around in cars that could be hacked while they’re driving, and if you start your car remotely with an app, that’s another possible entry point.

The question should really be ‘how likely is it that my house will be hacked’?’  The answer to that is that it’s not likely. Realistically, it’s more likely that you’ll write down your passcode to your door (or that you’ll write down the information for your hub access) and leave it somewhere than it is that someone will find your house and sit outside trying to break in.

All that being said, there is evidence that, given sufficient time and resources, along with a lot of knowledge, yes, someone could hack the system. It is not easy, and it is not something that has been done very often outside of laboratory conditions with white hat hackers.

Will It Interfere With Other Devices In My Home That Emit A Signal?

If your home is like the average home, you have a wide variety of signals being emitted. You have wireless internet signals, you have signals emitted by wireless peripherals for your computer, you have cell phones, you may even have wireless signals emitted by video game systems and their peripherals. And that’s just the average house!

Luckily, Z Wave devices transmit on a frequency not commonly used for those devices (which are often transmitting at 2.4GHz or somewhere around that). The Z Wave devices tend to transmit somewhere around 865.2 to 926.0MHz, with the exact frequency used to be determined by the country in which the device is operating (believe it or not, countries heavily regulate the use of frequencies, which is why in most countries in the world, you find the same frequencies being used for the same things).

So, the answer to this question is that, in most cases, it will not interfere with your devices, because it does not tend to put out a signal on their usual frequencies.

Conclusion


We’ve looked at a lot of great devices today, and hopefully, you’ve learned a little bit about home automation and if it is right for you (and if so, what hub you should pick). However, this article is entitled ‘BEST Z Wave Hub’, and that means that, at some point, a winner must be chosen.

Though the Samsung and Wink offerings are fantastic, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t have much knowledge about the market, and though they have the backing of companies with long histories of great products, they are not the winners in this case. Out of many hubs, some of which had a lot to offer, the winner has to be the Securifi Almond 3. It offers so much, including a built-in LED screen, a lot of customizability options, and it offers all that while looking like something out of Star Trek. It also has an amazing transmission distance, which is all the more impressive when you consider the relatively low cost of the unit.

So, if you’re looking for a great home hub to get your home automation projects off to a great start, here are just a few options that will help you to achieve just that. The more you learn, the better you will be able to customize to your needs and desires.