Why a Hub
A smart home needs a hub for wireless communications with all of the smart devices in your home. For some devices, WiFi is enough. But for many devices, you will need a hub capable of communicating with the Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols designed specifically for smart devices. This is the case for devices like wall switches, some smart plugs, smart bulbs, water sensors, etc. Investing in a smart home hub is a good move – it really becomes the brains of the operation.
Smart Speaker as a Hub
When I started building my smart home three years ago, Amazon and Google had not yet started building smart home hub capabilities into their smart speakers. They do now with devices like the Echo Plus and Google Home. But the Echo plus does not support Z-Wave (yet) and the Google Home just recently added it. Z-Wave is an important standard to have support for in a hub. So beware what standards a smart speaker supports before you buy one as a hub.
Samsung Smart Things Hub
A smart speaker with a hub built in can be expensive. And a smart speaker have limitations on the standards as noted above. If you don’t need the speaker, a dedicated hub might be a better and cheaper choice. Plus, For my hub, I went with a Samsung SmartThings hub. They can be purchased for only $65 dollars. It also supports both Z-Wave and Zigbee and has the added benefit of getting you into the SmartThings eco system, which offers a lot of nice tools and controls.
Getting a smart home hub like the Samsung Smart Things hub will open the door to many new opportunities for your smart home. It enables smart applications. The possibilities are endless with If This Then That (IFTTT) integration for triggering actions from events. And it opens the door for many routines for automating home control.