2019’s Best Smart Home Hubs

If you're looking for one hub to rule them all (all your devices, that is), we've narrowed down the field and handpicked the best smart home hubs to fit your lifestyle and your budget.
Written by | Updated August 7, 2019
Best for Compatibility
Smart Things hubSamsung SmartThings
  • Broad compatibility
  • Easy device recognition
  • Broad compatibility
  • Easy device recognition
Best for Voice Control
Echo PlusAmazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
  • Alexa skills
  • Good sound quality
  • Alexa skills
  • Good sound quality
Best for Media
image of small, black Logitech hubLogitech Harmony Hub
  • Closed cabinet operation
  • Universal remote
  • Closed cabinet operation
  • Universal remote
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Last Updated: 2 months ago
Wemo + Works with Nest is winding down (read more).

The Bottom Line on Smart Hubs

One of the most important questions when you’re shopping for a smart home hub is “Will it work with my devices?” The 3rd generation Samsung SmartThings earned our top pick because more often than not, the answer to that question was “yes” with this hub. It works with Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It’s a little bit cheaper than its past versions because the cloud-to-cloud protocols require less memory space and it doesn’t have a backup battery. Also, unlike the 1st and 2nd generations, it doesn’t need to be connected to your router, so you can put it pretty much anywhere.

We liked how easy it was to connect it to smart devices—just press “discover all my devices” in the app and the SmartThings hub does the rest for you. Once your devices are in, the app lets you set up specific routines for different times of day or create IFTTT (If This Then That) scenarios. The only downsides to this hub were that it’s not compatible with Nest and it’s not always as reliable as we’d like.

Compare the Best Smart Home Hubs

Price
Connection Type
Compatible With (Partial List)
Samsung SmartThings (3rd Gen) Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen) Logitech Harmony Amazon Echo Dot Google Home Mini
Smart Things hub Echo Plus image of small, black Logitech hub image of small, silver Echo Dot grey and white Google Home Mini
Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Walmart
Bluetooth
Wi-Fi
Z-Wave
Zigbee
Bluetooth
Wi-Fi
Zigbee
Bluetooth
Infrared
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Wi-Fi
Alexa, Arlo, Bose, Cree, Ecobee, GE, Google Home, Honeywell, Kwikset, Leviton, LIFX, Philips Hue, Ring, Schlage, Sylvania, Yale Alexa, August, Ecobee, GE, Honeywell, Kwikset, LIFX, Lutron, Nest, Philips Hue, Schlage, Sylvania, TP-Link, WeMo, Yale Alexa, Apple TV, Google Home, PlayStation, Roku, Sonos, Wii, Xbox Alexa, August, Ecobee, GE, Honeywell, LIFX, Lutron, Nest, Philips Hue, Schlage, Sylvania, TP-Link, WeMo, Yale August, Cree, Ecobee, GE, Google Home, Honeywell, Leviton, LG, LIFX, Nest, Philips Hue, Ring, SmartThings, Sylvania, WeMo

Data effective 4/19/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

Best Smart Hubs Reviews

Samsung SmartThings (3rd Gen): Best for Compatibility

Having a SmartThings Hub is kind of like traveling the world with a multilingual friend. It breaks down communication barriers and helps you and your devices all communicate better together, giving you a fully integrated smart home system. Unlike other smart home hubs that require you to scan in the QR codes from all your devices, the Samsung SmartThings will pick up your devices’ signals on its own—it might even discover smart products you didn’t even know you had!

If you use a Google Home Assistant or an Amazon Alexa device, the Samsung SmartThings is compatible with both. The Samsung app lets you manage all your devices in one place, so you can create routines and “scenes” for certain times, like when you first get up in the morning or when you leave the house. The app is a little slow to open, and we noticed that non-Samsung brand devices tend to have some connectivity issues, but overall it’s a solid choice for multiple device integration.

Pros

  • Android and iOS compatibility
  • Easy setup
  • Routines and scenes
  • Multiple communication protocols
  • Independence from router

Cons

  • Not compatible with Nest
  • Connectivity issues

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen): Best for Voice Control

The Echo Plus takes the Echo family further into smart home integration by adding a Zigbee-enabled smart home hub. It supports Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth smart home devices. Use it to call people hands-free or ask Alexa to read the news, answer questions, and play music. It can also work like a home intercom system with other Amazon Echo devices in your house. If you’re like me and you don’t want your smart home hub to look like an alien spaceship that landed in the middle of your home, you’ll appreciate the variety of different finishes offered by the Echo Plus to blend in to your décor.

The second generation Echo Plus is touted as having better sound quality than its predecessor, with 360-degree Dolby speakers and a mini woofer for better bass performance. But many users who have upgraded say that the sound quality actually falls short when compared to the original Echo Plus.

Pros

  • Voice control
  • Alexa skills
  • Different finishes
  • IFTTT compatibility

Cons

  • Incompatible with some devices
  • Disappointing sound quality

Logitech Harmony: Best for Media

If your dream of a smart home involves dimming the lights, powering up the surround sound, and starting a blockbuster movie on your big screen with a single tap, the Logitech Harmony was designed for you. The hub lets you design your own scenarios like “movie night” so you can create custom settings for each device to follow when the scenario is selected. It works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant so you can use your voice to connect to your set-top box to change channels or adjust the volume on your TV. If you prefer a quieter interaction, the Harmony app turns your phone or laptop into a universal remote, and IR blasters (they’re like an infrared remote control) let you control up to eight different devices, even if those devices are behind closed cabinet doors.

Unfortunately, the Harmony can’t connect to radio communication protocols used by Zigbee or Z-Wave devices, and it can control up to only eight smart home gadgets. But pairing it with another hub can give you added functionality if needed. For control of up to 15 devices and a full color touchscreen, check out the Harmony Elite.

Pros

  • Closed cabinet control
  • Universal remote
  • Voice control
  • Computer app access
  • Favorite channels

Cons

  • Incompatibility with Z-Wave and Zigbee
  • Challenging setup

More Smart Home Hubs That Are Worth a Look

While they’re not technically smart home hubs, here are a couple more hub-like devices that offer similar convenience to hubs. They’re also more budget-friendly than traditional smart home hubs.

image of small, silver Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

The Echo Dot isn’t technically a hub, but it’s a lot less expensive than traditional hubs and can still perform many of the same functions a hub does, like giving you Alexa integration and voice control for your smart home devices. If you use IFTTT to set up your own smart home scenarios, you can ask Alexa to enable them. For a third of the price of the Echo Plus you’ll get lower sound quality and a one-way speaker instead of a two-way, but the Alexa voice assistant will still answer your questions, play your music, and give you access to thousands of other skills.

grey and white Google Home Mini

Google Home Mini

Like the Echo Dot, the Google Home Mini isn’t quite a hub, but it lets you control your smart home devices using your voice. It’s compatible with a wide variety of smart lights, plugs, appliances, and home security products. We found that the Google Home Assistant is a little bit better at recognizing voice commands than Alexa, and we liked the option for using less specific follow-up questions, like asking, “When does it open?” after asking where the nearest bakery is. Like the Echo, you can use IFTTT to create your own custom smart device scenarios to more fully automate your home.

Things to Consider before You Buy

Compatibility

Make sure the devices you want to connect are compatible with each other to avoid buying additional hubs or new devices. If you already have some connected devices in your home, choose a hub that connects with them as well as future devices you might want to add. If you’re just starting out, find a list of devices and protocols that work together from the start. Take a close look at the product’s website before you select a hub—most companies will provide a full list of compatible devices.

App Performance

Simplifying your life should be simple. When you’re shopping around, read app reviews from users, and if you can, test drive different automation hubs. You’ll want to ensure that the app has a user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate and that it’s versatile in connecting with different types of devices.

Installation and Tutorial Process

Smart home hubs are still a growing market with lots of unknowns, so it’s nice to have some help when it comes to getting everything installed and working properly. Most companies provide tutorials and guides to make connecting everything simple.

Smart Home Hub FAQs

If all my devices connect through my Wi-Fi network, do I need a smart home hub?

Technically, no, and it can be tempting to rely on Wi-Fi enabled smart gadgets and apps to avoid a hub setup altogether. Wi-Fi is fine for wired smart devices like bulbs, plugs, and smart doorbells, but it quickly drains the batteries of your wireless devices like security sensors or door locks. Having too many can also drag down your network speed. If you want to avoid frequent battery replacement and keep your Wi-Fi network running smoothly, it’s worth it to look into wireless devices that use radio frequencies like Z-Wave and Zigbee.

Can I link multiple smart hubs together?

Yes. You may have some hubs that speak one language, and some that speak another, and that’s okay. As you learn more about how home automation works and get more comfortable with your system, you may discover more gadgets that don’t work with your current hub. In that case, you can use a hub or a bridge to loop them into your smart home system. For example, if you’ve been using Hue bulbs, but you want to try Lutron Caseta lights, the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge can link them to your Apple HomeKit so everything can play nicely together.

Can security systems work as smart home hubs?

Yes, the “brains” of some of the best smart home security systems can also operate as smart home hubs and give you control of your smart home gadgets through your security system app. If you want voice control, look for a system that’s compatible with a voice assistant, and you’ll be able to access devices like your Ring video doorbell with your voice. Security system hubs can also offer you the added bonus of cellular backup in case of power outages.

News and Updates

Wemo and Nest Integration

You may have seen recent announcements from Google announcing changes to Nest. Google will be winding down the Works with Nest program and unifying the experience through the Works with Google Assistant program.

What does that mean to you and your Wemo devices that work with Nest?

On August 26th all Wemo and Works with Nest integrations will be discontinued, meaning you can no longer access or control your Nest thermostat through the Wemo app or use the Nest “home” and “away” feature to automatically control Wemo devices. The good news is, you can still use the Works with Google Assistant program to connect your Wemo devices and set smart home automated actions with Google Assistant. You can also take advantage of Google Assistant Routines, which can be set up in the Assistant or Google Home apps. These routines can be used with Wemo products to help streamline your home automation.

More information about the changes to Nest can be found on their FAQ page.

How We Picked the Best Smart Home Hubs

To select the best smart home hubs, we focused on choosing hubs that were compatible with the most brands and easy to use. We studied real user reviews and compared product features side by side. Read our full methodology to find out more.

Written by Kasey Tross

Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more

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