5 Best Smart Home Hubs of 2020

Smart home hubs bring your family of smart devices together so you can control them all through a single app.
  • Most Reliable Smart Hub
    Supports several protocols
    Limited feature access
  • Most Versatile Smart Hub
    Supports a wide range of protocols
    Unpredictable availability
  • Best Smart Speaker Combo
    Combines Alexa with Zigbee support
    Supports only one protocol
  • Best for a Security System
    Combines a camera with a hub
    Charges more for equipment
  • Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network
    Supports even Wi-Fi coverage in big houses
    Works with only one protocol

Smart home devices are everywhere these days. Smart lightbulbs, smart locks, smart thermostats, smart outlets—we could go on. But it’s one thing to know about all the shiny smart stuff of our impending robot future and quite another to actually set it up in your house and make it work together.

That’s where smart hubs come in.

Smart hubs take all the smart devices you want to use and make them all talk to each other so you can control them from a single mobile app.

Keep in mind, you don’t always need a smart hub. You can control your smart devices from a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, or you can make them work together through an app like IFTTT (which doesn’t require a hub). But if a smart hub is what you’re looking for, then here are the best ones.

Best smart home hubs of 2019 prices and details
HubPriceProtocolsSecurity equipment availableDetails
Samsung SmartThings$69.99Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee/Zigbee3, Cloud-to-Cloud, LANYesView on Amazon
Wink 2$279.99Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron, Bluetooth, Kidde, Clear Connect, Thread-readyYesView on Amazon
Amazon Echo Plus$149.99ZigbeeNoView on Amazon
Abode Iota$299Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigbeeYesSee System
TP-Link Deco M9 Plus (3-pack)$399.99Wi-Fi, Zigbee, BluetoothNoView on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 12/04/19 2:48 MST)

1. Samsung SmartThings: Best overall

The SmartThings hub puts all your smart devices in one place, but you might still need some other apps.

Samsung SmartThings Hub

Pros

  • Supports several smart home protocols
  • Offers customizable automation
  • Joins devices in a single app

Cons

  • Does not support all smart devices
  • Has limited access to full device features

Why we chose the Samsung SmartThings hub

The SmartThings hub is really good at making all your different smart devices talk to each other. You can group devices by room, automate all kinds of functions, and set incredibly specific rules.

Just keep in mind that the SmartThings app doesn’t have the full functionality of each smart device’s own app. You might still need to have the individual apps on hand (or on phone) to get access to your device’s full feature set.

Samsung SmartThings hub price and details
HubPriceProtocolsSecurity equipment availableDetails
Samsung SmartThings$69.99/mo.Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee/Zigbee3, Cloud-to-Cloud, LANYesView on Amazon

Amazon.com List price of $69.99 (as of 12/4/19 2:48 PM MST).

Broad range of protocols

Samsung SmartThings can connect with just about any smart device you have—or any you’re thinking about getting. It supports both Z-Wave and Zigbee, the two biggest home automation protocols on the market.

Plus, the mobile app lets you take all those different smart devices and make them work together in one place without having to have 15 different apps open on your phone all the time.

Condition-specific automations

The SmartThings hub lets you set some pretty complex rules for your smart devices to follow. For example, if your kid leaves the window open on a hot summer day, then SmartThings can tell your thermostat to turn off the A/C so you’re not sending that chilled air outside.

You can also set “scenes,” that will make a bunch of different actions perform together automatically. If you set a “goodnight” scene, you can make SmartThings turn off all your interior lights, turn on the porch lights, lower the thermostat, and arm your security system.

Megaphone icon
FYI
SmartThings offers its own security equipment as well as some professionally monitored ADT packages. If you want a whole home security system as well as top-notch automation, then SmartThings is not a bad way to go.

The downside: limited access to full device features

The SmartThings app is one of the best ways to group all your different smart devices, but you may still need each device’s individual app as well.

If you have a Ring doorbell, for example, you can automate its actions with the SmartThings app, but you can’t view the camera’s livefeed. You still have to open Ring’s own separate app to get the camera’s full features. So SmartThings doesn’t necessarily replace all the other smart home apps on your phone.

2. Wink 2: Most versatile

The Wink 2 supports a ton of protocols, but its availability varies.

Wink 2 hub

Source: Wink

Pros

  • Supports a wide range of smart home protocols
  • Offers DIY automation options

Cons

  • Unpredictable availability

Why we chose the Wink 2 hub

The Wink 2 hub supports an impressive number of protocols. It’s even ready for Thread, which is an up-and-coming protocol that’s not widely available just yet.

If you use smart home devices from a bunch of different manufacturers and with different protocols, then the Wink 2 is your best chance of connecting them all. DIY-ers rejoice, Wink is here for you.

Wink 2 hub price and details
HubPriceProtocolsSecurity equipment availableDetails
Wink 2$279.99Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron, Bluetooth, Kidde, Clear Connect, Thread-readyYesView on Amazon

Amazon.com List price of $279.99 (as of 12/4/19 2:48 PM MST).

Wide range of supported protocols

The Wink 2 hub supports an impressive number of different protocols, which gives you a better chance of being able to connect every single device in your house than a simple Z-Wave or Zigbee hub could manage.

Wink even sends the hub out “Thread-ready,” which means when the soon-to-be-huge Thread protocol becomes more widely available in devices, the Wink 2 will already be good to go.

Customizable automations

Like with the SmartThings hub, Wink lets you set specific automations between your smart devices. Your smart speakers will know to play music as you’re getting ready for work; your porch lights will know when your cameras spot an intruder; etc. You can set up a whole host of automations that make your life easier.

The downside: unpredictable availability

Wink has gone through a bunch of different owners, and its stock of products has not always been reliable. At one point, the Wink 2 hub was “temporarily unavailable,” and Wink didn’t issue an explanation for months.1

The Wink 2 is a very cool hub with impressive functionality, but it loses to the SmartThings hub when it comes to reliability.

3. Amazon Echo Plus: Best smart speaker combo

The Amazon Echo Plus combines a Zigbee smart hub with Alexa.

Pros

  • Combines Alexa with Zigbee support
  • Offers improved audio quality

Cons

  • Supports only one smart home protocol

Why we chose the Amazon Echo Plus

The Echo Plus combines the most popular smart speaker out there with a Zigbee home automation hub. It’s not a groundbreaking device, but if you want the power of Alexa plus some extra home automation “oomph,” then the Amazon Echo Plus puts it all in one place.

Amazon Echo Plus price and details
HubPriceProtocolsSecurity equipment availableDetails
Amazon Echo Plus$149.99ZigbeeNoView on Amazon

Amazon.com List price of $149.99 (as of 12/4/19 2:48 PM MST).

Zigbee connection

Zigbee is one of the most popular smart home protocols out there, which means the Amazon Echo Plus can connect to a whole host of Zigbee-compatible smart home devices and let you control them from the Alexa app.

Most smart home devices these days work with Amazon Alexa anyway, but the Zigbee addition gives you more power over your devices in one place: the Alexa mobile app.

Improved audio quality

The Amazon Echo Plus has better audio quality than the regular ol’ Amazon Alexa. So if you like the original Alexa, but want a little better smart home support and a better listening experience for your music, then the Echo Plus hits the spot.

The downside: limited protocols

The Echo Plus only offers Zigbee for now, which is only one protocol among many. The Echo Plus would be a more compelling hub if it also offered Z-Wave or Bluetooth, but considering most smart home devices work with Alexa already, it’s not a dealbreaker.

4. Abode Iota: Best for a security system

The Abode Iota offers a full security system, plus a smart hub with a camera.

Abode iota hub

Source: Abode

Pros

  • Offers a full range of security equipment
  • Combines a camera with a smart hub

Cons

  • Equipment can get expensive

Why we chose Abode Iota

If you want a DIY security system with strong home automation support, then Abode is a no-brainer. And its new(er) Iota hub pairs Z-Wave and Zigbee home automation support with a 1080p security camera.

Abode Iota monitoring price and details
PlansPriceSelf or professional monitoringSupported protocolsDetails
BasicIncludedSelfWi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigbeeSee System
Connect$8/mo.SelfWi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigbeeSee System
Connect + Secure$20/mo.ProfessionalWi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigbeeSee System

Data effective 9/26/2019. Offers subject to change.

Wide range of security equipment

Abode offers a ton of different security devices, including door/window sensors, key fobs, keypads, and glass break detectors. Plus, its home automation support means you get the peace of mind of the security system along with control over devices like Philips Hue lights and Ecobee thermostats.

Customizable monitoring

We’ve seen a lot of security systems, and Abode is the only one that offers temporary professional monitoring.

If you want to self-monitor your system most of the time, but you want professional monitoring for a week or a weekend while you’re out of town, then you can get three or seven days’ worth of professional monitoring through Abode. What a perk.

The downside: more expensive than a standalone hub

Of course, any full security system is going to cost more than just a standalone smart home hub. But if you’re trying to outfit your entire home with Abode equipment, just be ready for a high up-front cost.

Want to learn more? Check out our Abode review.

5. TP-Link Deco M9 Plus Mesh Wi-Fi System

The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus system boosts your Wi-Fi and gives you Zigbee support.

Source: TP-Link

Pros

  • Supports even Wi-Fi coverage in big houses
  • Offers Zigbee support

Cons

  • Works with only one smart home protocol

Why we chose the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

If you have a big house, then you’re probably familiar with the dreaded Wi-Fi dead spot. That one area in your house where your internet connection just never seems to reach, not even with range extenders.

The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus solves your range problems and gives you smart home support to boot. Not a bad combo deal.

TP-Link Deco M9 Plus price and details
DevicePriceProtocolsSecurity equipment availableDetails
TP-Link Deco M9 Plus (3-pack)$399.99Wi-Fi, Zigbee, BluetoothNoView on Amazon

Amazon.com List price of $399.99 (as of 12/4/19 2:48 PM MST).

Multi-node Wi-Fi support

The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus comes in a two-pack that can cover a 4,500-square-foot house. You can buy more nodes than that if you need them. At that point, congrats on your mansion.

Multi-node Wi-Fi support basically means you’ll have better Wi-Fi connectivity throughout your entire property. It works better than range extenders to ensure even coverage and get rid of those pesky dead spots.

Home automation support

Wi-Fi support isn’t the only thing these little guys can do. The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus comes with Zigbee, a really popular smart home protocol, which means you can use the app to help control Zigbee-based smart home devices.

These devices also come with some extras, like parental controls and antivirus screening tools.

The downside: limited to one smart home protocol

TP-Link would be a better smart hub option if it had more than just Zigbee protocol on board. A Zigbee plus Z-Wave combo would make it compatible with many more devices so you could keep all your smart stuff together.

Recap

Smart home hubs make it easier to connect all the devices you use to roboticize your everyday life. You can control everything through a single app (for the most part) and make all your things talk to each other, so you never have to touch a light switch or press a garage door button again.

While most people probably don’t need a smart hub per se, they can be useful for DIY-ers who want to customize the heck out of their devices.

Samsung SmartThings: Best overall—SmartThings is one of the most prominent smart hubs around, which means it works with most of the popular brands on the market and has both Z-Wave and Zigbee support.

Wink 2: Most versatile—The Wink 2 supports a bunch of different smart home protocols and is most comparable to the SmartThings hub. SmartThings wins out mainly because Wink has had some issues with reliability.

Amazon Echo Plus: Best smart speaker combo—The Amazon Echo Plus combines the voice assistant Alexa with Zigbee smart home support. If you need some extra power in your smart speaker, the Echo Plus is a good choice.

Abode Iota: Best for a security system—The Abode Iota combines a camera with a security and smart home hub. As part of a larger security system, Abode both protects your home and gives you a main hub to control your other smart stuff through.

TP-Link Deco M9 Plus: Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network—If you have a big house, then the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus can solve both your Wi-Fi and your smart home woes. This multi-node system extends your Wi-Fi connection and supports Zigbee smart home protocol so you can control compatible devices.

Do you use a smart home hub for your house? Do you think it’s really necessary to have one? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Sources

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