Bridges have the most limited functionality of all Zigbee smart hubs. Some bridges work only with smart home devices from a single brand, while others can control similar Zigbee devices from other companies. The most common use of bridges is to provide a complete product that doesn’t require customers to buy a separate smart hub.
The best example of Zigbee bridges in action is Philips Hue. The company wants people to use its smartbulbs right out of the box. So Hue starter kits (great gifts for newbies) come with a bridge that connects to your router to give Hue lights their Wi-Fi and mobile app capabilities.
The bridge also creates a dedicated network just for smart lights, making it easier to add more lights in the future. Since Hue’s bridge works with the Zigbee-based Hue bulbs, it’s also compatible with Zigbee bulbs from other brands.
Bridges are entirely optional if you already have a compatible smart hub. But they don’t require the same level of commitment to a dedicated hub with more features than you’ll ever use.