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It’s important to have a dedicated smart home hub to enjoy the full benefits and features of smart home technology. With the Z-Wave protocol growing in popularity, Z-Wave hubs are increasingly in demand by home automation enthusiasts.

From reviewing the best devices on the market, the Vera Control VeraPlus is our top pick with its wide range of compatibility and attractive features while the Samsung SmartThings Hub is a close second for versatility and security. Hubitat and HomeSeer are also great options for secure, private local control.

Z-Wave hubs act as a bridge between smart devices, allowing you to trigger one device based on the state of another. 

You can create scenes to trigger a variety of devices to behave in a particular way. For example, the morning scene could open the blinds, put on some music, turn on your bathroom lights and heat up your coffee! You will also be able to monitor and control all your smart devices remotely from anywhere via a single device.

9.6
Top Pick
An innovative smart home controller.

The VeraPlus smart home controller supports a number of protocols to integrate a wide range of smart devices from all major brands.

Top Features
  • Monitor and control all devices and view security camera feeds from one app.

  • Easy to connect devices to schedule events and create scenes.

  • Battery and cellular backup options are optional extras.

The VeraPlus smart home controller features a fast processor and enough memory capacity to accommodate large home automation systems. The hub enables you to access your entire smart home security system from one easy to use app.

Devices

VeraPlus Home Controller is compatible with most smart home brands including Nest, Amazon, Schlage, Kwikset, Yale, Aeon Labs, First Alert, Fibaro, and many others.

It has advanced four-protocol compatibility – Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth Low Energy. This means you’ll have full centralized control over all of your smart devices including cameras, lights, door locks, thermostats, window blinds, sprinklers, dimmers, alarms, and more.

Features

VeraPlus features an easy to use app to control all of your smart home devices. With it you can remotely monitor and control over 200 devices on your smartphone, tablet, or web browser. 

The app’s dashboard brings all of your connected devices into a single user interface. The dashboard is also customizable, so you can pin your favorite devices for instant access, quick monitoring, and control.

Setup

To get started with your VeraPlus, simply connect the Ethernet Cable to your Wi-Fi router. Then, plug the device into a power outlet using the power adapter. Once the controller is turned on, log on to home.getvera.com and follow the instructions to set up your free account and register your hub.

Backup

VeraPlus comes with a backup battery so that it can work seamlessly during periods of power outages. There’s also a cellular backup option to keep your smart home system running when the Internet drops. 

As VeraPlus has no monthly fees or contracts, you can choose to upgrade your device’s software to the newest version at any time.

Tech Specs

Protocols:Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth BLE
Power Source: AC/DC
Battery:Internal 2400mAh/18Wh
Operating requirements:Broadband Internet, Windows, Android or iOS
Others included:Power adapter, Ethernet cable
Certification:FCC, CE, RoHS
What we liked
  • Remote access using a smartphone, PC, tablet or MAC.
  • Monitor your home from anywhere with no monthly subscription fee.
  • Facilitates energy monitoring and allows you to make changes to reduce energy consumption.
  • Robust tech support and a strong global community of users.
  • Simple user interface for easy setup and control.
What we didn't like
  • Not as easy as SmartThings to set up but better features out of the box
9.4
Runner-up
A powerful smart home hub.

The Samsung SmartThings hub offers you a wireless solution for integrating all your smart home devices, making them work together.

Top Features
  • Connect wirelessly and control a wide range of compatible smart devices (40+ devices at a time).

  • Control connected smart devices with voice commands by using compatible voice assistants.

  • Attractive design.

The Samsung SmartThings hub offers you a wireless solution for integrating all your smart home devices, making them work together. It allows you to add as many additional SmartThings sensors or Internet-connected products as you need to, to enhance your connected smart home.

Usage

The free SmartThings app offers you the ability to monitor and control connected devices in your home, using your smartphone. So, whether you’re at home or away, you have total control of your home at your fingertips. 

The app will notify you instantly if any unwanted activities happen around your home. You can set up routines or automation, such as setting smart window blinds to turn on at the stroke of sunset, or turn off the smart water control valve as soon as a water leak is detected. The hub lets you maintain the temperature inside your home, or control your door locks on entry or exit.

Protocol and Devices

The Samsung SmartThings hub also works with several wireless protocols connecting with smart devices such as Z-Wave, Cloud-to-Cloud, Zigbee, and Zigbee3. 

So, you’ll have the facility to use this hub integrating with a wide range of products from almost all leading smart home manufacturers including Honeywell, Philips Hue, GE, Lutron, Leviton, Vivint, First Alert, and Ring. 

Voice Assistant

You can also add Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to use voice commands to control your connected home devices and scenes.

Setup

Setting up the Samsung SmartThings hub is very easy. First, you need to power up the device and connect it to your home Wi-Fi. Then download the featured SmartThings app from the App Store. 

Once the app is installed on your smartphone, simply follow the instructions to connect the hub to the Internet.

Although the Samsung SmartThings hub is ahead of its competitors, there are some concerns that need to be fixed including spotty connectivity and the upgrade path from previous versions.

Samsung SmartThings hub is a great choice for people looking to centrally control their smart home.

Tech Specs

Protocols:Zigbee, WiFi, Z-Wave
Range (Ft.):50-130 ft
Power Source:Power Supply
Operating requirements:Broadband Internet, Android OS 6.0 or higher, iOS 11 or higher
Others included:Power adapter, QSG, HSG, LAN cable
Certification:FCC/IC/CE
What we liked
  • Works with both Z-Wave and Zigbee devices.
  • Monitor and control all connected devices using a single app.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity makes this hub very easy to install.
  • New SmartThings app is quite user friendly and intuitive.
What we didn't like
  • No battery backup facility.
  • Still doesn’t support some popular product families such as Nest or August.
  • Difficult to upgrade from older versions.
9.3
Privacy Pick
A privacy centric smart home hub

The Hubitat Elevation Hub takes home automation to the next level. It is compatible with almost every standard protocol.

Additionally, it comes with internal radios for both Zigbee (US frequencies) and Z-Wave (908.4 MHz), 5 Volts @ 1 Amp US 120V power supply, and Ethernet cable.

Top Features
  • Easy to power the device using an Ethernet cable

  • Data from other connected devices is stored locally for easier access

  • Create a Hubitat account, and access the hub using the web browser

Devices

Total privacy is the utmost priority for the Hubitat Elevation Hub. As it stores most of its data within the local network, you are not prone to central hacks to a cloud based system.

This tool comes with local storage and optional cloud connectivity. Compared to its cloud-only competitors, it is more reliable and responsive.

Features

This smart hub will connect to any device that supports Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Lutron.

Furthermore, the Hubitat Elevation hub is programmed to withstand any data loss due to unpredicted power outages.

What we liked
  • Fast device response time
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
  • Geofencing feature for automating several mundane presence tasks
  • Supports custom device drivers
  • A wide-scale hack is difficult due to local data storage
What we didn't like
  • Some users have complained about the lack of documentation
  • Some beginner users have complained about the complexity of the configuration process

Setup

You can sign-up to Hubitat Elevation Hub using your Amazon or Google account. After sign-up is complete, you can perform all management tasks using its web-based interface.

This device needs a one-time setup. After that, it no longer needs to connect to the internet. This way, you experience no delays in performance.

Backup

The Hubitat Elevation Hub gives freedom to DIYers to automate their homes just the way they want. In this regard and as far as third-party integrations go, the Hubitat Elevation hub is compatible with IFTTT, Alexa, Nest, Rachio, and Life360.

You can connect this device with other smart products from Samsung SmartThings, Philips, Aeon, Zen, and many others. In fact, the Hubitat Elevation Hub is capable of supporting a maximum of 100 unique devices.

Tech Specs

Power SourceUS 120V power supply.
ProtocolsAlexa, Google Assistant, Zigbee,
Z-Wave, Lutron, LAN and
cloud-connected devices
BatteryNot Required
Smart Device Support100
Others IncludedEthernet cable and User Manual
9.3
A resilient smart home hub

The HomeSeer PI Hub is a true smart hub for your home. It does not rely on a computer or the cloud to function. It will easily integrate with almost any smart home appliance. In seconds you can connect it with your garage door openers, light switches, or your alarm system.

Top Features
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa & Google Home Assistant Devices

  • Built-In Z-Wave Radio (US edition only)

  • Includes Free MyHS Remote Access Service

Devices

The HomeSeer PI Hub comes with locally managed automation features. Along with reliability and security, this device is also compatible with smart speakers and other smart home products.

Using the HomeSeer PI Hub you can control light switches, security cameras, water valves, energy monitors, and environment sensors. For ease of use, this device also comes with a dedicated app for both iOS and Android users.

Features

The HomeSeer PI Hub comes with a built-in Z-Wave radio. It has a handful of additional Z-Wave plugins to ensure the best user experience. Moreover, you can also install a maximum of 5 Linux plugins with it.

Along with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant devices, it is also compatible with IFTTT.

What we liked
  • You can connect up to 5 Linux plug-ins of your choice
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa & Google Home Assistant
  • Email and Text alerts
  • Fully functional even with internet blackout or web-service outage
  • Supports IFTTT
What we didn't like
  • A little more technical than VeraEdge or Samsung SmartThings for beginner users

Setup

The setup process takes only a few minutes and works pretty flawlessly. The Z-Wave implementation is also instantaneous, taking only seconds to form a secure connection. Moreover, if you have programming skills, you can add custom scripts to it, thus extending its core functionalities.

Backup

Unlike most other smart hubs, the HomeSeer PI Hub stores and processes all your data locally. This makes this device highly reliable and less likely to suffer a security breach.

If you have used an internet-based smart-hub, you know how much time they take to respond to your commands. But the HomeSeer PI Hub brings down this lead time to almost zero.

Tech Specs

Power SourceAC Power Adapter, 100-240v
Processing UnitARM Cortex-A53 CPU (1.2 GHz, 4 core)
Storage16 GB SD
IntegrationsZ-Wave, Zigbee, GHUE, Sonos, IFTTT among others
MyHS Remote Access ServiceYes
9.2
A comprehensive smart home hub

Wink Hub 2 works with most smart home protocols including Bluetooth LE, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Kidde, and Lutron Clear Connect.

Top Features
  • Compatible with all major smart home brands.

  • Voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

  • Control all smart home devices with one simple Wink app.

If you have a number of smart home devices such as smart lights, door locks, or security cameras, all with different apps controlling them then you need a smart hub. 

How it works

The Wink Smart Home Hub 2 gathers the wireless signals from different smart devices and lets you control all those devices from one, central app. This 2nd generation Wink Hub comes with a range of new functions & features that connect your home faster, more reliably, and more securely.

Protocols

Wink Hub 2 works with most smart home protocols including Bluetooth LE, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Kidde, and Lutron Clear Connect. It means the Wink Hub is very likely to work with every smart home device that you currently have or with those that you have a plan to buy.

Wink Hub 2 also Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. So, you’ll have a voice control facility available with this hub.

While the Wink App will always keep you connected to your home, no matter where you are. Just, choose the connected products from the menu and control them all as needed.

Setup

Setting up the Wink Hub 2 is pretty straightforward. Just plug in the power adapter, download the app to your smartphone from the App Store, and then follow the setup instructions in the app. 

It will take only 5 minutes to complete the whole process. Wink Hub 2 can automatically pair with new devices when they are switched on nearby, making it easy to set everything up.

Tech Specs

Protocols:Bluetooth LE, Kidde, Clear Connect, Z-Wave, ZigBee
Memory:512 MB
Power Source: Power Supply
Operating requirements: Smartphone, 2.4GHz (Wi-Fi), 5GHz (Wi-Fi), Ethernet port
Others included: Power adapter, Ethernet cable
What we liked
  • Set up process is very easy due to the auto-discovery of new smart devices.
  • Compatible with almost all brands’ devices.
  • The app’s interface is very user friendly.
What we didn't like
  • Lack of battery backup facility.
  • Monthly subscription fee is required.
9.1
Best DIY pick
A smart home security hub.

Abode Essentials Starter Kit is an excellent startup DIY home security solution that also serves as a Z-Wave hub.

Top Features
  • Support for more than 200 device integrations.

  • Comes with a built-in 93db siren.

  • Voice control via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

The Abode Essentials Starter Kit comes with a motion sensor, a door sensor, and a remote-control key fob. It also includes the Abode gateway, which serves as both a security alarm and a smart hub with built-in Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols. 

With a powerful 93-decibel siren, the Abode Gateway comes with a 10-hour battery backup that works as a safeguard in case of a power outage and an optional cellular network connection available for a minimum monthly subscription fee.

Compatibility

Abode Starter Kit is also accessible with several third-party devices including Nest, Amazon Echo, Philips Hue, and IFTTT. Besides Abode’s own smart devices, the gateway works seamlessly with other branded devices like Enerwave, Aeon, Fibaro, Kwikset, GE, Leviton, Schlage, and others. 

Abode also features direct integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant which enables you to change security mode or check the status of your security system with your voice.

Smartphone App

The Abode app offers a comprehensive user-interface, allowing users to add devices, configure notifications, manage users, and many more. It features three operational modes: standby, home, and away.

In standby mode, you’ll get notified by a chirp any time a door or window is opened. In home mode, door and window sensors are skipped while in away mode, the motion sensors and contacts are operational. There’s no option to modify or change any of these settings or adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensors.

Installation

The installation process for the Abode kit is very easy and there is no need for any additional tools. Just set up an account with Abode and connect your gateway to the wireless router via a spare Ethernet port. Then activate its backup battery with a quick button slide on the rear of the device. 

Now, you can configure the Gateway using the free Abode app which is available for Android and iOS devices. A 6-digit activation code, supplied in the box, identifies your gateway and is required to connect the starter kit with your account.

Tech Specs

Protocols: Zigbee & Z-Wave
Power Source: AC/DC 12V/2A power supply
Operating requirements: Android/Tablet/Apple/Windows
Others included: 1 motion sensor, 1 door sensor, 1 key fob
Power outage backup: Yes
What we liked
  • Easy and quick DIY set-up
  • Battery backup facility to keep home secure even during power outages.
  • Comes with a gateway that plugs into your Wi-Fi router to keep the system online.
  • No monthly subscription fees required.
What we didn't like
  • Camera resolution is relatively low and can show blurry on images depending on the light.
8.2
A simple smart home bridge

The Nexia home bridge serves as the hub of your home automation network.

Top Features
  • Communicates wirelessly with Nexia-compatible Z-Wave devices from most of the leading brands.

  • Control all your smart home devices from anywhere through a single all-in-one app.

  • Allows to control more than 200 Z-Wave products at the same time.

The Nexia home bridge serves as the hub of your home automation network. It allows you to add 200+ Z-Wave devices throughout the home at your own pace and allows you to control them through your smartphone using Android, iOS, or Windows.

Features

Using your Nexia Bridge you can also control your small appliances to reduce energy cost. For example, you can use the Nexia Bridge to turn on your fans and lights as you enter a room and turn them off automatically when you leave.

Installation

The installation of the Nexia Home Bridge is relatively enough. The directions to set up a Nexia Bridge are included in the box. First, download the Nexia app from iTunes or Google Play store, and after installing the app enter your bridge’s MAC ID. 

Then connect the bridge to your router, power it up, and wait for a connection to be established. Now, enroll the devices one by one by selecting the product type on the left side of the dashboard and clicking “Add a Device”.

Smartphone App

The Nexia Bridge can be controlled from your smartphone using the iOS or Android mobile app. It can also be used through your PC, using the Windows app. 

Recently Nexia announced a new geofencing feature that allows subscribers to have more seamless control of their smart home system when away from home. With geofencing, you can set your door locks to open as soon as you reach your door or turn on the lights and AC when you arrive.

Tech Specs

Protocols: Z-Wave
Power Source: AC
Range (Ft.): 60 to 100 Ft.
Operating requirements: Broadband Internet
Others included: 110v power adapter, 10/100 ethernet cable
What we liked
  • DIY installation & easy to use.
  • Offers a great deal of customizable controls for connected devices.
  • Uses SSL encryption for added security.
  • Monitor your home anytime from anywhere.
  • Reduce energy usage by scheduling lights, air conditioner and thermostat.
What we didn't like
  • Requires a monthly subscription fee.
  • Scenes can be created only from a PC.

Other Notable Z-Wave Hubs

Top Features
  • Corner to corner Wi-Fi coverage up to 1,500 sq ft and rises to 7500 sq ft with Z-Wave Mesh extensions.

  • Monitor and control all home devices and appliances from anywhere through the Connect App.

  • Set-up process is very easy and fast.

Samsung’s Connect Home Pro is a combination of a powerful Wi-Fi router and a home automation hub that can monitor and control the smart home devices and appliances from anywhere through the SmartThing App.

Top Features
  • Touch screen for quick, easy, and computer-free setup.

  • Powerful amplifiers for long-range WiFi coverage (up to 5,000 sq.ft).

  • Multi-Purpose usages: Wireless Bridge / Router / Access Point / Range Extender.

Connecting with Wi-Fi, the Securifi Almond+ can interact with Z-Wave and ZigBee compatible smart home products. It offers remote access to the router and connected sensors using the Securifi Almond Android and iOS apps.

Should I Buy a Z-Wave Hub

One Z-Wave Hub App

A smart home hub offers you a one app solution by which you can access, monitor, and control all your home devices using your smartphone.

It removes the need for numerous manufacturer apps for specific smart devices. It also allows you to orchestrate devices together based on specific triggers, such as the time of day, temperature or motion sensor tripping.

Many Devices

A smart home hub should be able to connect to all of you smart devices and appliances, allowing them to work together.

Basic versions of these smart hubs are compatible with more than 200 devices and third-party services, including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Philips Hue, ADT security, Ring video doorbells, Schlage locks, and Honeywell thermostats. 

So, no matter how many devices you have in your home, a single smart home hub can control them all.

Voice Control Integration

Smart home hubs allow you to control all of your home automation devices simply through voice commands. Most devices are integrated with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. 

So, with voice control integration you can easily control your smart home products by speaking simple commands such as “Alexa, turn on the lights” or “Google, turn up the thermostat”.

Z-Wave Hubs Programmable for Advanced Users

Some Z-Wave hubs are programmable allowing for more advanced configuration of your smarthome. You can combine different actuators, sensors, or other devices together to create scenes or routines.

If you’re an advanced user, you can program your curtains to automatically open when the sun is out; your lights to turn on when the front door opens, or refrigerators to create an alert when your milk is running low!

Flexibility to include other protocols

Although we are focused on the Z Wave protocol within this post, most of the hubs listed are also compatible with other protocols including Bluetooth ZigBee, LE, Kidde, Clear Connect, IFTTT, and Wi-Fi. 

A smart hub is basically the brains of your home that allows you to wirelessly control a wide range of popular smart home devices, regardless of the protocol they use

Z-Wave Hub Features to Consider

In a cloud-managed system, all control functions are processed off-site by a cloud service. 

This type of architecture reduces the cost of the hub since very little onboard computing power is required. 

An issue with this is a lot of information is stored on remote web servers which may be a deal breaker for users sensitive to privacy issues.

Other smart hubs are fully isolated and run locally on the device. In these cases, the devices can operate without an internet connection and do not have the privacy concerns outlined above.

Basic Interface or Advanced Programming

If you’re a tech-savvy or advanced user, you can choose a smart home hub that allows you to control your smart home devices through advanced programming.

Otherwise, it is advisable to choose a hub with a rich user interface to configure your smart home.

Voice Assistant

A voice assistant is a must have to complete your smart home. It allows you to control all your home automation devices without touching or pressing any screens or control buttons.

The majority of devices listed above integrate with Amazon Alexa and Google Voice Assistant.

Automation Complexity – Scenes

One of the strongest aspects of smart home automation is the ability to create scenes according to your preference. A scene is a way to control a variety of home functions with just one master trigger. A typical example is a lighting scene for different occasions (party, bed-time, dinner).

As the creation of scenes is typically programmable, there can be complexities. But, if you’re tech-savvy, understand the logic and can follow the step by step instructions, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

The level of complexity you desire in your automation makes a difference in which hub you should ultimately choose.

Common Questions Relating to Z-Wave Hubs

What is a Smart Hub?

A Smart Hub acts as the nerve center for your Smart Home. An addition of a Smart Hub enables smart devices to interact with each other and allows you to control them remotely.

What is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a wireless protocol that essentially focuses on connectivity within the smart home. Z-Wave offers you a much bigger range and lower power consumption compared to Wi-Fi. It operates through low-energy radio waves to communicate from device to device as part of a mesh network.

What is a Z-Wave Hub?

A Z-Wave hub provides remote access to the Z-Wave network (via smartphone, computer, or tablet) through an internet connection. It controls and manages all sorts of individual Z-Wave devices remotely.

What can you do with Z-Wave?

Z-Wave lets devices and sensor-enabled objects talk and respond to each other. You can control lights, fans, door locks, security systems, window blinds, valve controllers, thermostats, and many more.

How does Z-Wave work?

Z-Wave protocol creates a wireless mesh network to enable communication between smart devices and appliances in your connected home.

What’s the difference between Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread, and WeMo

Z-Wave & Zigbee are wireless protocols that operate in a mesh network. The difference is, Z-Wave is slower than Zigbee but requires less energy to cover the same range as Zigbee.

On the other hand, Thread & WeMo are wireless networking protocols that operate through IP data transfer.

The Verdict

From reviewing the best devices on the market, the Vera Control VeraPlus is our top pick with its wide range of compatibility and attractive features while the Samsung SmartThings Hub is a close second for versatility and security.

9.6
Top Pick
An innovative smart home controller.

The VeraPlus smart home controller supports a number of protocols to integrate a wide range of smart devices from all major brands.

Top Features
  • Monitor and control all devices and view security camera feeds from one app.

  • Easy to connect devices to schedule events and create scenes.

  • Battery and cellular backup options are optional extras.

Sources

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