Home automation is becoming more and more popular each day and companies are scrambling to make their software as user friendly as possible. As we explore smart devices, we as a society, are starting to uncover some very clever solutions to problems we never imagined. To give you one example, a latchkey kid comes home from school, but discovers he forgot his key. Back when I was a kid if this happened you’re going to have a long evening on the porch waiting for someone to come unlock the door, but with smart tech you could either unlock the door remotely or even set up a proximity sensor that not only knows when someone who’s granted access needs the door unlocked, but it could even start the air conditioning up ahead of time while they’re walking home.
Okay so smart tech is awesome, we get it, but what’s the best smart home tech available? I’m glad you asked. With all these devices needing to communicate with each other and Z-Wave leading the charge when it comes to advances in home automation, we think anything Z-Wave is going to be a safe bet. If you have any Z-Wave devices it’s a pretty safe bet that they’re going to be compatible with most other smart devices, but what is the best hub for Z-Wave?
What is a Z-Wave Controller Anyways?
Basically, this is where all of your smart devices send their signals to. Usually these devices will then connect with your phone, computer, or voice assistant and give you control over your home. You should be able to group your devices somehow into zones and create complex task chains. This sounds complicated, but these companies spend a lot of time simplifying matters. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite a bit of fun.
What Makes a Good Controller?
There are a ton of smart home devices out there so one of the most important things to look for when shopping for smart hubs is what they are compatible with. You also have to make sure that it can handle all the zones you intend to program in. Finally, make sure that all the different device protocols are compatible. Most of this information is pretty easy to find online if not on the packaging itself.
All of this can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get set up it will all be worth it. Considering this, what are some ideal Z-Wave controllers?
Best Z-Wave Controllers
Samsung SmartThings Hub
If you’re into smart home tech at all then you’ve probably already heard about the SmartThings hub. With its simple to use interface and powerful features you won’t be disappointed. This makes sense, considering how big of a company Samsung is and their contributions in the past to smarter technology. Another plus to going with such a large company is how much support they will have. With so many new things coming out, it’s almost impossible for smaller companies to compete.
The only thing we didn’t like about the SmartThings hub is the app’s user interface. It can be unnecessarily confusing, which is pretty common with Samsung. While they make really good hardware, their software usually leaves something to be desired.
$89.97 | Amazon
Wink Connected Home Hub
The Wink Hub is also a pretty big name out there. It supports most of the popular wireless smart devices out there and it’s a great buy for the price. One thing we like about the Wink is its ability to connect to your network over WiFi to control all of your devices, as opposed to needing a physical wire. Adding a lot of devices can be done by simple scanning a bar code, which makes things a lot easier.
For simple home automation the Wink is pretty much unrivaled, but where it starts to run into trouble is when you need complicated multi-step automations. Its automation framework is advanced to be sure and customers tend to complain that it suffers from a slightly greater lag time than other systems.
$34.95 | Amazon
Vera Control VeraEdge
The VeraEdge has come a long way since the VeraLite controller. It’s compatible with most WiFi, Z-Wave and ZigBee devices. It can also handle up to 75 devices, which is pretty surprising. Most smart hubs usually can’t handle more than 40 or so. The initial setup is a cake walk and actually pairing devise is not too difficult. As far as getting the VeraEdge up and running, it seems to be one of the more straight forward on the market.
It’s not perfect however, and does still need some work. Lacking Bluetooth and not being compatible with a wide range of wireless technologies might not be a problem if you have only Z-Wave products, but if you’re looking for something that works with anything; this might not be for you. There are also a lot of reports that the mobile app can be buggy and crash.
$63.98 | Amazon
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to control your Z-Wave devices with a central hub, then you’re going to have plenty of options. It only gets more complicated when you start to mix other technologies with Z-Wave. That’s why we recommend Samsung’s SmartThings over any other Z-Wave controller. You wouldn’t want your smart hub to become obsolete in a year or two when different technologies come out.
If you’re looking to connect your smart home tech to a home security system, consider getting a Protect America system. They’re already set up ready to install, just make sure to ask about our Z-Wave controller. Get a free quote today.