As the number of smart home options increases, the demand on your customer’s wireless network rises along with it. You may have installed a Wi-Fi transparent media panel for the router, but with more and more devices in use, the home network may be slowing under the strain. One option to free up wireless bandwidth is a smart home hub.

Smart hubs versus smart speakers

Smart home hubs are not to be confused with smart speakers such as Google Home, the Amazon Echo, and Apple’s HomePod. The most obvious difference between a smart speaker and a smart home hub is that a smart speaker uses a voice-activated personal assistant and a smart home hub uses an app. But there are other differences that are less obvious.

In a recent survey, IHS Markit found that only 6% of smart speaker owners are using them for their smart home control. Click To Tweet

Smart speakers offer similar options to a smart home hub, but they operate on Wi-Fi. Smart home hubs typically use protocols such as Z-Wave or Zigbee, which don’t consume the bandwidth your customers could otherwise use for streaming video or gaming.

Smart home hubs are able to work with multiple protocols, which allows your customers to use a wider variety of devices. A smart home hub can also perform automated tasks, whereas a speaker needs prompting. A smart home hub, for example, can perform functions like automatically turning on the radio as you enter a room.

In a recent survey, IHS Markit found that only 6% of smart speaker owners are using them for their smart home control.

Smart hub options

The Samsung SmartThings Hub supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth. It needs to be hardwired to your customer’s router and is compatible with more than 200 smart devices including Nest thermostats and Phillips Hue lighting systems, two of the most popular smart home options. The Smart Things Hub also includes backup batteries, which means your customer’s smart home will remain somewhat functional without power.

The one drawback of this hub is that the app that acts as the control center has a confusing interface. Your customers can also buy the Samsung Connect Home mesh network router, which has all of the functionality of the SmartThings Hub.

If your customers want a mesh network as well as a hub, they might also want to consider the Almond 3. This router acts as a smart home hub and is compatible with Zigbee. You can add Z-Wave compatibility with a dongle and it works with Nest and Phillips Hue. The Almond 3 can be complicated to set up, but once it’s running, it works well.

The Wink 2 Smart Hub is another excellent option. The Wink 2 is compatible with Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Google’s Thread and Lutron Clear Connect. The Wink app is a little easier to work with, and new devices can be added to the hub simply by scanning the barcode of the new device with the smart home app.

Another option for your customers is Vivint, which is a different option altogether. Vivint is like a smart home as a service (SHaaS). The company can set up all smart home features for your customers – so you needn’t do anything. There is an initial setup cost followed by a monthly support fee. One option that makes Vivint attractive is the silent alarm system. Homeowners can make a gesture that triggers a call to emergency services. Vivint offers many smart home options, and your customer will need to purchase at least some of them if they get the hub.

If your customers want the convenience of voice control while still getting the advantage of a smart home hub, they have options. Many hubs are compatible with smart speakers. The Vivint system, for example, comes with two Google mini speakers. And the Almond 3, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink 2 are all compatible with both Google Home and Amazon Echo.