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There are lots of types of Z-Wave controllers. The most common type is a central hub, that communicates with and controls all smart devices synced with it. This allows you to remotely manage and update them via your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

There are also scene controllers, device controllers, lighting controllers and motor controllers worth considering.

Best Z-Wave Controller Hubs
9.6 Aeotec Smart Home Hub, Works as a SmartThings Hub, Z-Wave Zigbee Gateway, Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, WiFi
TOP PICKTakes over from Samsung manufacturing the SmartThings hubs.
9.2 Vera Control VeraSecure Advanced Smart Home Security Controller Hub
RUNNER-UPA reliable smart home controller
9.0 Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 Z-Wave Hub Z-Wave Plus USB to Create Gateway (Ordinary White)
TOP DIY PICKGreat for HomeAssistant
Best Z-Wave Device Controller
BEST OUTDOOR PICKA Z-Wave heavyweight
Best Z-Wave Lighting Controller
FIBARO RGBW LED Strips Regulator
Best Z-Wave Motor Controller
Aeotec Nano Shutter Motor Driver

Applications

With a Z-Wave Controller, one can control many aspects of their home. On the security front, you can control your garage door, smart locks, and smoke detectors. You can also control lighting, power outlets as well as monitor water and energy thanks to its numerous features.

Having a single app or hub to help control your home life just makes your smart home setup seamless and easy to use. 

How Z-Wave works

Harnessing the power of low-energy radio waves, Z-Wave is a protocol that was designed solely for the purpose of home automation and remote control applications. 

Z-Wave makes use of something known as a mesh network.

As opposed to standard radio frequency networks such as a Wi-Fi network, a mesh network will become stronger and more stable as the number of devices connected through Z-Wave increases. 

On average radio frequency networks, more devices lead to congestion and even an unstable connection.

Z-Wave technology also facilitates voice control technology. With the rise in popularity of home assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant, having the ability to control your home devices through speech is a great addition.

Best Z-Wave Controller Hubs

9.6
TOP PICK
Takes over from Samsung manufacturing the SmartThings hubs.

Dubbed the “easiest path to a DIY smart home”, the Aeotec SmartThings Hub is one of the most beginner-friendly options available.

Top Features
  • Support for ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Aeotec SmartThings Controller features support for ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Having the ability to connect with all 3 protocols is a huge plus because these are the three main connectivity protocols in the home automation market.

The SmartThings controller itself features a minimalistic design which will fit in nicely with any home decor.

Overall, the new Aeotec SmartThings controller is a definite level up from its previous versions. With wireless connectivity, this controller remains to be what many consider the easiest path to a “DIY smart home”.

Tech Specs

Memory: 512 MB (RAM) + 8GB (Flash)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave
Ports: RJ45 x 2, Power x 1
Power Source:AC100-240v, 50~60 HZ
What we liked
  • Wireless ethernet connectivity.
  • Intuitive and functional smartphone app.
  • The SmartThings controller features a minimalistic design.
What we didn't like
  • No back-up battery. This means in the case of black-outs, your smart home hub is going dark as well.
9.2
RUNNER-UP
A reliable smart home controller

Connect all your smart home devices from a single mobile device or computer.

Top Features
  • Modern and intuitive web and mobile app.
  • Fast processor for efficient handling of multiple devices.
  • No monthly subscription fees.

The VeraSecure Z-Wave Gateway presents the opportunity to connect all your smart home devices from a single mobile device or computer. With the app, one can quickly set schedules, ideal temperatures, and co-ordinate switches for all smart equipment.

The software features a modern and intuitive design, which makes it easy to use. The software can be accessed from mobile devices as well as computers.

Built-in display for quick overview

The Z-Wave controller has a responsive display that can report on important vitals, such as temperature and light levels throughout your home.

Installing the device is quite straightforward, as it comes with pre-configured settings for faster setup, delivering a more plug and play feel.

Overall, the Vera Edge is one of the best choices when looking for a Z-Wave controller.

What we liked
  • Preconfigured device settings for easy setup.
  • Intuitive and informative user interface.
  • Supports over a thousand devices & Wi-Fi protocol.
  • Responsive display that reports on important vitals.
  • Secure device with PIN management.
What we didn't like
  • Requires expertise for designing complex scenes.
9.0
TOP DIY PICK
Great for HomeAssistant

A small, but powerful home automation tool that anyone interested in smart home networks should review.

Top Features
  • The Z-Stick can connect to devices up to 150 meters away.
  • Update Z-Wave enabled devices over-the-air.
  • Compatible with the majority of home automation software platforms.

For those of you that love to get their hands dirty with home automation projects, you should definitely take a look at the Aeotec Z-Wave Z-Stick by Aeon Labs.

The Z-Stick can connect to devices up to 150 meters away, all from a USB device connected to your laptop or Raspberry Pi. Additionally, it allows you to update Z-Wave-enabled devices over the air, ensuring that the devices you own always have the latest updates and features.

Next-level customization

This device is the ultimate DIY Z-Wave gateway. Using a laptop or Raspberry Pi, as well as home automation software, you can build your very own home automation hub. 

It is important to note that the stick is not a full-fledged smart home hub. It is a tool that you need for your home automation software (such as openHAB or HomeSeer) to send and receive Z-Wave signals.

While the Z-Stick is very easy to set up, it is not a stand-alone hub, so it will require work in installing and configuring home automation software on a dedicated device.

Tech Specs

Power Supply: USB DC 4.75V to 5.25V / Built-in rechargeable lithium battery 3.7V, 100mAh
Operating Distance: Up to 500 feet/150 metres outdoors in normal mode or 1310 feet/400 meters outdoors in PA mode.

Weight:
2.5 oz
8.9
A Z-Wave extender for your home entertainment

If you have the Logitech Harmony Hub for your home entertainment setup, then this Hub Extender allows you to also control Z-Wave and Zigbee devices.

Top Features
  • The Harmony Hub can control almost any home theater setup that you have at home, with thousands of compatible devices.
  • It turns your phone or tablet into a universal remote.
  • The extender allows you to connect to Zigbee and Z-Wave devices.

The Harmony Home Hub and Extender are one of the most versatile and flexible items available on this list. 

The device can control almost any home theater setup, turning your very own phone or tablet into a universal remote. According to PCmag, “The compatibility list for home entertainment devices hit over 270,000 across 6,000 different brands”.

Tech Specs

Connectivity: Wi-Fi: Supports 802.11g/n, WPA Personal, WPA2-AES and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
Dimensions: 4.16 in (10.48 cm) x 4.88 in (12.8 cm) x 1.0 in (2.54 cm)
What we liked
  • The Harmony Home Hub offers great device compatibility.
  • It offers excellent home theater support.
  • Supports Alexa’s voice control.
What we didn't like
  • Requires the purchase of two devices to control Z-Wave equipment.
  • More expensive than other devices listed.
8.8
Zooz S2 Z-Wave Plus USB Stick

A perfect example of a Z-Wave PC controller is the Z-Wave Stick Assistant, allowing you to take full advantage of your sensors, switches and plugs. You will, however, need a dedicated computer or Raspberry Pi to complete the system.

Best Z-Wave Device Controller

This wireless Z-Wave controller is the perfect choice if you need to support devices with heavy load.

Top Features
  • Perfect for tools up to 40 amps.
  • App features an intuitive design.
  • Controller housed in a lockable, waterproof case to ensure the safety of your wiring.

It is important to keep in mind that not every area of your home can be automated with just any kind of Z-Wave controller. High-powered devices need special consideration.

The GE Z-Wave 40 AMP Wireless Controller is exactly the device to look to when automating devices with heavy load, such as automatic doors and cleaners, which are considered high-powered devices.  

Outdoor automation

The controller is weather-protected with a waterproof enclosure. It features a robust, yet simple design with large indicators and buttons for easy manual operation. It also has enough leftover space for better wire management.

As we are dealing with large currents and load, it is advisable to contract the installation out to a licensed electrician.

It is an ideal device for automating pool pumps, water heaters, and garage doors.

Tech Specs

Weight:4.14 pounds
Dimensions: 5.22 x 6.46 x 9.7 inches
Included Components: Direct Wire 40A Z-Wave ES Smart Switch, Indoor/Outdoor
What we liked
  • Weather-resistant casing.
  • Robust and simple design with large indicators and buttons for easy manual operation.
  • Easy operation of heavy duty devices such as pool filters, garage doors, and water heaters.
What we didn't like
  • Assembly is best completed by a licensed electrician.
  • Requires a Z-Wave hub.

Once you have your Z-Wave controller in place, you can get creative on how to automate your home with its help. Below are some examples of ways to control appliances in your home from lighting and sprinkler systems to air conditioning units and motorized blinds!

Best Z-Wave Lighting Controller

With this device, you can control all sorts of different lighting setups, from LED’s and RGB lighting to halogen lights and RGBW strips. Additionally, it supports sensors for temperature, humidity, wind, and air quality.

Best Z-Wave Motor Controller

Aeotec Nano Shutter Motor Driver

Z-Wave Motor Controllers allow you to wirelessly connect and control motorized equipment such as shades, blinds, or shutters. Integrated with a light sensor, you can program your curtains or blinds to open or close automatically.

Common Questions about the Z-Wave Controller

What is a Z-Wave Plus controller?

A Z-Wave controller allows you to control all the devices that run on the Z-Wave Protocol within your home. 

Think of it as a master remote for all your devices at home, the central hub which allows you to control and communicate with everything.

What is the best Z-Wave controller?

The best Z-Wave controller honestly depends on your needs. There isn’t a simple answer to this question. 

Although many consider the Samsung SmartThings Hub to be the best device out there for controlling your home, there are often circumstances where other devices might be a better option. 

For example, the Insteon Central Controller Hub would be great when you want all your devices under one manufacturer. 

At the end of the day, it just depends on what you want to achieve with your smart home.

What is the difference between Z-Wave Plus vs Z-Wave?

As the second iteration of Z-Wave, Z-Wave Plus has many offerings that Z-Wave simply does not share. For example, the Z-Wave plus offers 50% more battery life, 250% more bandwidth, automatic connection and a larger range as it allows devices to communicate up to nearly 200 feet further.

The Verdict

Overall, choosing the Z-Wave controller to orchestrate your smart home is a tough choice as it all depends on what you want to achieve. 

While the Samsung SmartThings Hub is highly regarded by many, make sure to check out all the other options before making your decision.

We hope this guide helps in making your choice!

9.6
TOP PICK
Takes over from Samsung manufacturing the SmartThings hubs.

Dubbed the “easiest path to a DIY smart home”, the Aeotec SmartThings Hub is one of the most beginner-friendly options available.

Top Features
  • Support for ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Sources

https://www.z-wave.com

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