As the prices for home automation-ready appliances and devices continue to drop, many of you are thinking a smart home might be in your future. If you long for convenient remote control of your lighting, thermostats, music, and security system, implementing a home automation hub is an essential part of creating your smart home. An HA hub serves as the brain for your home automation system; consider it as the “router” allowing you to easily control your appliances from either your computer or an app on your smartphone or tablet.
When shopping for home automation hubs, there are two important factors to analyze. Is the HA hub compatible with devices from a wide range of manufacturers or does it only work with one or two different brands? Additionally, make sure the hub allows for easy expansion, as it is best to start off small when dipping your toes in the HA water.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few home automation hubs worth checking out when putting together your own smart home.
SmartThings is a Smart Choice in Home Automation
SmartThings is a home automation company that continues to earn accolades for their easy to use HA starter kits. In fact, the company was recently acquired by Samsung, which is a statement of their overall quality and popularity as well as the open nature of their platform. Expect their products to become integrated with Samsung’s line of TVs, smartphones, and tablets over time.
Jumping in with a SmartThings system is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are looking for an easy way to secure your home or apartment. Their HA starter kit retails for only $199, and if you already own a few devices compatible with SmartThings, you can pick up their home automation hub for $99.
The SmartThings starter kit includes three different sensors for detecting motion, presence, or whether or door or window is opened unexpectedly. An HA hub is also part of the package. The three sensors communicate wirelessly with the hub, with you controlling things from your smartphone or tablet.
SmartThings supports the Z-Wave and ZigBee wireless standards which means your system is compatible with a host of different devices — everything from lights to thermostats to locks. Support for the popular IFTTT web service means you can have your SmartThings system send you an email or IM when anything noteworthy happens with your HA system; you have the control! SmartThings also offers many devices, including a maker kit compatible with Arduino projects perfect for those of you who like to tinker.
The Lutron Smart Bridge is a Hub in Search of Devices
Lutron is a veteran of the home automation industry. Their Smart Bridge serves as a home automation hub for specific dimmers, remote controls, and shades from Caseta, Pico, and Serena respectively. The system isn’t as open as the one from SmartThings, which makes it a better option for those of you who already own the devices compatible with the Smart Bridge.
Expect more compatible devices to hit the market in the next year, which will make choosing the Lutron HA system more sensible for those of you just entering the world of home automation.
Revolv is Another Recent Home Automation Acquisition
You know home automation is starting to take off in the public when HA companies become acquisition targets. Samsung buying SmartThings was mentioned earlier, and another worthy HA systems firm, Revolv, was recently purchased by Nest Labs. Yes, that’s the same Nest Labs that itself was swallowed up by Google.
Unlike SmartThings, Nest is discontinuing the excellent Revolv home automation system and is rolling the technology and talent into a new product based on Nest’s own smart thermostat which almost single-handedly set off the “Internet of Things” trend. This new home automation system from Nest should be one worth checking out in the future. Stay tuned.
Home automation has been around for over a decade, but companies like SmartThings are making it easier for anyone on a budget to also take advantage of this growing technology. The recent merging of Nest Labs and Revolv looks to bring even more innovation in this sector. Now is the time to explore HA at your own residence.