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Smart home technology is becoming increasingly user-friendly and versatile. With many homes now using smart speakers with voice control such as Alexa, Siri and Google, what was once seen as a technology for the elite is available for everyone. It's not surprising then that many people exploring smart home systems question the need for a centralized smart home hub. We will give you the low-down on this tech and whether you need it or not.
In general, a smart home hub is not necessary to control smart devices if you own a smart assistant enabled device such as Alexa , Google Home or Apple Homekit. Smart home hubs can make it easier to control some smart home devices however, and may offer better remote-control features.
With the recent proliferation of smart devices, ranging from doorbells to thermostats, and each product having an app to control the device, there is a growing need for centralization. Smart hubs offer to streamline the control of your smart home devices, but it's not essential to have one, especially if you already own a smart assistant device such as Alexa. Let's dive in to the details to see the pros and cons of smart home hubs vs smart home assistants.
Is A Smart Home Hub A Requirement?
In the early days of smart home products, there were only a few manufacturers offering these products to homeowners. The products were expensive and limited in functionality. Since there were only a few manufacturers, a smart hub was produced by these companies as a way to centrally control all the devices.
With the increase in companies supplying smart devices, do you need a smart home hub? Another question you should consider is, even if you don’t need one, would a hub be beneficial anyway to improve your smart home functionality?
There are now lots of new smart home products, made by an increasing number of suppliers. This brings a range of diversity, choice, and functionality to the smart home, but it also brings with it some problems.
Each manufacturer produces their device and creates a partner app for the purpose of communicating with the device and giving the homeowner control of the functions in the device.
Without a standard communication method, these devices would be unable to communicate with other smart devices in your home, and you would need a new app to control each new smart devices you add to your home. This is particularly true if you use devices that are made by different manufacturers. This lack of centralised control was the main reason companies such as Samsung created Smart Home Hubs, these are gradually being phased out due to the proliferation of smart assistant devices.
With smart assistant devices, it is not a requirement to have a hub since most devices are able to communicate via WiFi or BlueTooth to smart assistant devices. This allows you to control various smart devices centrally from the Alexa app, Google Home App or Apple's HomeKit app.
Even so, bringing smart technology to your home requires future planning if you want to streamline the control of your smart devices. If you install 20 different smart devices in your home and none of them can communicate with each other, it makes controlling the devices a challenge.
When planning your smart home choices, compatibility of the devices is crucial to achieving easy control over all the technology installed in your home.
Some smart home products still require the use of a hub to operate and control their products, but this requirement is usually brand-dependent since many products can work independently of a hub.
Benefits Of A Smart Home Hub
The smart home hub is a solution that brings many benefits for controlling smart devices to the homeowner.
Even if you are testing the waters, so to speak, and purchasing one or two smart devices, you need to consider your choices carefully. Choosing devices that are compatible with preferred standards will make it easier to install more devices should you choose to expand your smart home installation.
The larger manufacturers introduced smart home hubs as a means to centralize the control of their products offered to homeowners. These hubs communicated with all the smart devices installed, and in some cases, used translation protocols to allow incompatible devices to communicate with each other.
Modern products such as Amazon Echo, Apple Homepod, or Google Home devices have hub functionality built into them and bring many benefits to your smart home system. This means that with these types of products, you do not need a dedicated hub since these smart devices can operate as a smart hub.
However, many of the voice-activated control systems do not give the same level of control as a hub and the associated app to control the devices.
Smart home hubs offer the following benefits.
Centralized control. A hub offers a central location with a single app to control a wide range of devices within the home. This means you do not need an app for each device as long as your device is compatible with your chosen hub.
Multi-platform communication. Some smart devices use BlueTooth communication, while others use WiFi, and others still use protocols to communicate via your home’s electrical system. A hub can coordinate all these communication protocols, giving control over a wider range of devices.
Remote control. Smart hubs will connect to your home WiFi, which will give you control of your smart devices from a remote location. Many smart devices offer this functionality as well, but the hub will give you remote control over devices that do not have this capability.
Distance boost. Some smart devices have a limited range which may limit the distance from which you can control the device, even within the confines of your home. A smart hub can boost the range of these devices, giving you a greater distance range of control in your home.
Some smart home products require a hub to access all their functionality. This trend is slowly giving way in favor of autonomous devices that will give you the choice of controlling the device individually or linking it to a central hub for control.
Choose Your Smart Devices Carefully
If you are investigating installing some smart devices for the first time, there are some things you should consider before making your purchases.
Devices that use common communication protocols and standards would be preferable to devices that lock you into a particular brand or technology. These devices could become obsolete as the technology changes and improves.
Larger players in the industry such as Apple, Amazon, and Google are further ahead with their product development in this sector than most other smaller suppliers. If you decide to purchase products from suppliers other than these major companies, at least make sure the device is compatible with one of these systems.
Once you have decided on a manufacturer or protocol standard, stick with a device that all offers the same communication standards to ensure compatibility across your entire home.
The requirement for a centralized hub for your smart home is on the decline. The intelligence that is built into modern smart home devices is making strides towards making the need for a hub redundant.
It is not a necessity for you to acquire a smart hub to get started raising the intelligence of your home, and in many smaller homes, you may not need a hub at all. A hub comes into its own when you have many devices from different manufacturers and need a central control mechanism to control all these devices.
The extension that the hub offers to boost the distance is an advantage in larger homes that have control issues due to obstacles to the transmission of signals, such as multi-story homes or brick and concrete walls.
The smart home device industry is currently in a transition phase where a smart hub still offers benefits, but it is not a requirement for using smart devices in your home. As the industry matures and improves, we will probably see the benefit of having a smart hub disappear completely. However, smart hubs currently offer benefits that are not widely available by other means.