Smart Home

The Best Z-Wave Hub

When you are transforming your house into a smart home, there are a lot of choices and options that you would need to decide on. If your choice is to go with Z-Wave devices, then, the first thing you would need is to have a certified Z-wave hub or more known as a Z-Wave controller.

The Z-Wave hub is a device works as a Z-Wave network. It is a tool that connects your home network and device. In other words, it is a communication tool between your device and network.

Z-Wave hubs usually pack a lot of features and has wide range of device support. It is a great investment and it is worth it.

In choosing anything about technology especial hubs for smart devices/homes, it is important to consider different factors such as capability, price and ease of use and one hub that we could say is highly impressive is the Athom Homey.

Though we personally choose Athom Homey for the overall best smart hub, there are several more affordable alternatives and in this article, we shall provide you a list of best Z-Wave Hub.

What to Look For In a Z-Wave Hub

Broad Device Compatibility

Z-Wave offers a wide range of products including lights, valves, smart locks, outlets, thermostats, switches and many more. To transform and use these products to its upmost use, it is ideal to use a smart home hub that offers other connection types including other major protocols such as WiFi and ZigBee devices, cloud-based services and 433MHz radio and infra-red remote control.

Z-Wave controller performance

On a single network, Z-Wave has a limit of 232 devices. This means it is important to consider software. Software of hub is the one that provides the user interface which you will use to be able to control your smart home. It is also the one that determines the type of automation rules.

Keep in mind that this is separate from Z-Wave itself – the tool that allows for all of your Z-Wave devices to communicate with each other. The hub on the other hand is the computer that houses and runs the software.

If you are planning to transform a comprehensive smart home, then, we recommend that you get extra horsepower and capability.

Smart Home Integration

Z-wave controllers is a complete home automation solution. It is wise to add a Z-Wave hub to your existing smart home. It is an all-in-one smart home hub that would support all your smart devices and protocols. To be able to do this, you might have to re-configure your existing devices. This way, all your existing devices could join your new smart hub.

IFTTT can help to be able to bridge the gap and could even integrate other platforms such as HomeKit or Alexa.

Local Control

Local control is another thing that you must consider. It provides you privacy and ensures that your response time is reliable. Through the local control, you will be able to turn your smart lights on, adjust your thermostat, open your smart locks and ensures that your security systems are working.

FAQs

What Z-Wave Hub is the best?

As mentioned earlier, we highly recommend Athom Homey. It is a complete smart home solution. However, unfortunately, it is not yet available in the US. We also recommend Aeotec Smart Hub and Hubitat Elevation.

Does Z-Wave need a hub?

Yes, you will need a hub for you to be able to establish network and to have a bridge for your normal home network.

Is Z-Wave better than WiFi?

Z-Wave is designed for low power and low bandwidth devices. If you plan to automize, then, we highly recommend to use WiFi. Keep in mind however, the ZigBee and Thread protocols have the same advantage.

Best Z-Wave Hub

Athom Homey

Features

  • Supports Alexa, Google and HomeKit
  • Easy access to powerful automation logic
  • Very active developer and community support
  • Z-Wave, WiFi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, 433MHz, IR
  • Support for over 50,000 devices
  • Local control
  • Deep analytics with local storage

Athom is a European company which offers one of the most attractive modem devices. It is handy and practical as well. It comes with internal radios for significant home device protocol and infra-red for less smart devices.

Athom Homey is a perfect option for all-in-one hub for any smart home. It supports a huge range of devices as well. Moreover, it is compatible with the three major voice assistants and associated platforms. If you do not wish to integrate third party voice assistant, do not worry as Homey has its own.

Athom Homey has a huge number of supported smart devices due to its modular device support and extensive developer community. In fact Homey has its own open developer interface which means third parties are allowed to add support for new devices and services – both local and cloud connected devices which could be installed by end users through the app.

Its mobile and desktop apps are easy to use. Its dashboards are simple and straightforward. You could access deep analytics are driven by up to 10 years of sensor data in the local data storage from your device.

Potential Concerns

Athom could be accessed in all regions except for North America. Though Athom announced the US version, however, the pandemic has slowed it down. Another concern is the local control. However, if you are okay to pay a small subscription fee, then, you are good to go.

Pros:

  • Extensive device support
  • Excellent user interface
  • Great support

Cons:

  • Not available in USA
  • High cost
  • HomeKit support via unofficial plugin

Aeotec Smart Hub

Features

  • Very active developer and community support
  • Supports Bixby, Alexa and Google Assistant
  • WiFi, Z-Wave Plus, ZigBee
  • Some local control
  • Supports over 5000 devices

Aeotec Smart Hub, we could say, is the best value option. It is powerful and it is easy to use as well. The Aeotec Smart Hub is a popular home automation platform. It is compatible with a wide range of devices and what is amazing is that major Z-Wave device brands are well supported. Its developer community is active as well which means if you have any problems, you could ask the community and the members would surely help you. Its official app is good. In fact, it has recently improved conditional rule creation.

It has a slick interface for smart home and it has control options for iOS, Android, Apple Watch and Samsung TV.

Potential Concerns

It is difficult to find. It is only available for North America and European regions only. It is cloud-centrix and it has some disadvantages to reliability, performance and security.

Pros

  • Powerful automation
  • Good device support
  • Good support

Cons

  • Complex rules which need technical skills
  • Limited local control
  • No custom Z-Wave parameter

Hubitat Elevation

Features

  • Supports Alexa, HomeKit, Google Home and IFTTT
  • Good community support
  • Z-Wave, ZigBee
  • Supports over 440 devices
  • True local control

If you value local control, then this one is perfect for it. It supports integration with Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit and IFTTT. Though this one is new on home automation, it is starting to compete with SmartThings. It comes with similar number of supported devices and it is strong on privacy and local control.It has strong community and developer support which means you would not need to worry about not being able to ask for help in case you need one.

Potential Concerns

It is still new in the industry which means it is still maturing as a platform. Though they have mobile apps and it allows out of home control, you would need to do a lot of configuration. You would need some technical knowledge in dealing with this one.

Pros

  • Good community
  • Full local control
  • Poweruser automation features

Cons

  • Limited mobile support
  • Still maturing
  • Not for beginners

Thinka for Z-Wave

Features

  • Supports HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Fully HomeKit
  • Z-Wave 700
  • Supports over 3000 devices
  • True local control

Thinka for Z-Wave has not held back with its innovation. In fact, it is the first officially Apple certified Z-Wave bridge. It supports Alexa and Google as well. It could connect the bridge to your network via Ethernet cable. With it being partnered with HomeKit and Z-Wave technology, you could be assured that it is reliable and has the security of local control as well.

Potential Concerns

They do not ship to the US and they are a bit on the pricey side.

Pros:

  • HomeKit Certified bridge
  • Local Control
  • Latest Z-Wave features

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Does not ship to US
  • Mobile app could be better

Ezlo PlugHub

Features

  • Supports over 200 devices
  • Works with Alexa and Google Home
  • True local control
  • Low entry cost
  • Simple to install

This hub is designed for beginners. It is relative new and they offer true local control. You will need to create an account on the Vera’s system for you to be able to register your device for automatic firmware updates. Moreover, they have a system of apps and plugins. There is a range of third party app options which could work with Vera systems.

Potential Concerns

They do not have the flexibility to huge range of devices. They also have limited the number of devices which it could support. It is not as powerful as its other competitors. It does not work with Alexa or Google Home.

Pros:

  • Simple install via socket
  • Low entry cost

Cons

  • Limited performance
  • Limited device support
  • North America frequencies only

Aeotec Z-Stick

Features

  • Works on Windows, Linux, Mac, Pi
  • True local control
  • Supports over 230 devices
  • Low entry cost

There are DIY software solutions which you could also use. The Z-Stick is one of the options. It is affordable, reliable and it allows you to add Z-Wave connectivity to any computer. It supports Windows, Mac and Linux. It could also run on Raspberry Pi device. It supports OpenHab, Home Assistant and Domoticz.

Potential Concerns

It does not guarantee privacy as with any DIY project. It is high maintenance and it is less reliable.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Works with Raspberry Pi
  • Good support

Cons

  • Needs third party controller software
  • Z-Wave only
  • Less device support

Smart Home Bridge for Z-Wave Hubs

Australian Company Skaro has developed an automation bridge which could connect different smart home systems together. It allows you to install different plugins to support all the connected devices you need.

Supported Controllers

  • Fibaro Home Center Lite and HC3 Lite
  • Fibaro Home Center HC2 and HC3
  • Vera Edge/Plus/Secure
  • HomeSeer
  • Home Assistant
  • RTI XP Controllers

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