Smart Home Hub
The decision to move from a home to a ‘smart’ home is a big one. If one is at a planning stage, the shift is still pretty easy, but if someone wants to modify the existing, it could require some more thought. The need to have a smart home depends on every person’s requirement for change.
The next questions are what products to go for, what connectivity, brands or networks.
There is no one-stop-solution when it comes to these smart home technologies, but we would like to give you an idea about the existing options available for you to choose from.
What is Smart Home Hub?
A smart home hub is a hardware or software that connects devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them.
Bluetooth, Z-Wave to Zigbee and WeMo, these are some of the networks used for wireless communication by smart home devices for connectivity. A Smart home Hub in this situation acts as a common link for communication between all the devices.
It accepts data from one device and then transfers it to the other device in a form that it understands the command. It, in the simplest way, can connect to all the devices following different communication to coordinate with each other through one point source.
- One-point connectivity: It binds together various devices on the smart home network to work on a centralised platform. The associated smart home app acts as a “universal remote” for all smart home devices, allowing the owner to monitor elements of the smart home network and automate, schedule and control tasks.
- Decongest network: It diverts traffic off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
- Remote Access: With all the smart home devices connected in the home, users can also remotely access the various systems and control them while away from home with their smart home app.
Smart Home Hub, a necessity?
If you’re looking for something to help activate more than one type of smart home devices like a lock, thermostat, tv and light all at once, you might need a Hub to do so.
If you’re using Apple’s HomeKit, you can certainly get started through the application. But for a remote access, a smart Hub is required that can act as an iPad, Home Pod or an Apple Tv to give out commands when away from the device.
Purpose of a Smart Home Hub
Smart home hubs are able to control many smart home and IoT-enabled devices and systems, including smart sensors on thermostats, lightbulbs, outlets & switches, door locks & sensors, doorbells, garage door openers, energy monitors, and window treatments/coverings and sensors. They can also control motion sensors, flood and leak sensors, smart radios and speakers, security systems and cameras, smoke & carbon monoxide detectors, irrigation controllers, fans, water heaters and other household appliances.
Since all these smart home devices come with their own application setup and communication network, it gets really tricky to integrate the services of all the devices as they fail to communicate with each other in their existing communication network.
For example: In case of an emergency, the smoke detector senses fire but due to inability to communicate it cannot command the locks to open for easier firefighting access. In such cases, the Smart Home Hub can provide a centralized command centre.
Factors to consider before buying a Smart Home hub
- Connection: Some smart home hubs require a direct connection to your router, like the SmartThings hub, while others connect over Wi-Fi.
- Voice Control: If you want to control your devices using nothing but voice commands, choose a hub that makes this possible. Check if it can integrate with your smart speaker(e.g. Amazon Alexa or Google Home).
- Integration: This means the number of devices that can be connected to the Hub. For some Hubs offer more integrations than others. The number of integration available is different for different hubs; for e.g. Harmony by Logitech only connects up to eight smart home devices.
- Operating System compatibility: All smart home hubs are expected to be compatible with both Android and iOS phones. If you have a Windows phone, though, it’s better to check up on compatibility before committing to purchase.
- Network Compatibility: It’s important to know what standards (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) your smart home devices use and ensure the hub can accommodate them.
- Smart Home App: Most smart home hubs are accessed through a smartphone app. There are also some options available through a PC or Mac.
Smart Home Hub security
As these devices connect to the internet and communicate wirelessly, there are chances of the data being hacked. As in these cases the privacy of the user is at stake, it is important we keep certain things in mind to be safe from any such unwanted incidents.
To prevent security issues within a smart home hub and entire smart home network, it is suggested to use multifactor authentication, change any default usernames or passwords, update software and firmware and to never share serial numbers, IP addresses or other sensitive network information. The use of antimalware and avoidance of public Wi-Fi are also advised. Segmenting IoT traffic to a guest network is another option.