What are the best smart home hubs?
A smart home hub is an essential device for anyone serious about building a wide-ranging smart home ecosystem.
The best smart home hubs open up an unprecedented level of control of your home’s gadgets and appliances.
They allow you to turn things on and off while you’re away and set complex schedules that match your daily habits.
The best smart home hubs often include much more than just a central hub for your other smart home devices.
Some function as speakers, so you can use them to play your favorite music (while adjusting the lights to match the mood) and activate devices using voice commands via the microphone.
At the premium end of the spectrum, smart home hubs come complete with a video display, making them ideal for smart home device enthusiasts who make frequent video calls to friends and family or want an easy-to-read display in the kitchen for when they’re trying out a new recipe.
Whatever smart home devices your set-up may include, there’s a smart home hub that will deliver the functionality and style for your needs.
This guide to the best smart home hubs will help you pick your way through the specifications and understand compatibility issues, so you can be confident you’ve chosen the best smart home hub.
The Best Smart Home Hubs Compared
Our tech lists are created by researching the best-reviewed products from the most reputable companies and web sources.
Here’s our list of the 10 best smart home hubs:
In A Rush? Here’s Our Top Pick:
10. Sengled Smart Home Hub
If you’re venturing into the world of interconnected smart home devices for the first time, you may not want to splash out a hefty sum of cash from the outset.
If that’s the case, beginning your journey with the Sengled smart home hub might be the best way to begin.
The Sengled smart home hub is compatible with the broader Sengled ecosystem of smart products, so if you choose to invest in their smart lights, for instance, you’ll be able to start increasing the automation of your home.
Sengled’s smart hub is also supported by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, so voice activation is easy to get up and running, too.
The full range of gadgets and appliances available for integration with the Sengled smart home hub isn’t great when compared to the more expensive hubs out there, but at this price point, it’s perfect for those looking to bring a smart lighting rig to their home.
With its user-friendly app and attractively low price, the Sengled smart home automation hub might not be as feature-rich as its competitors, but as entry-level smart home hubs go, it’s a wallet-friendly way to ease into the smart home system ecosystem.
- Simple installation
- Supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Limited compatibility with smart devices
- No Apple HomeKit support
9. BroadLink Smart Home Hub
BroadLink’s smart home hub offers the standard range of smart hub features, including compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, while allowing users to connect to a range of home entertainment appliances for the ultimate home cinema experience.
BroadLink’s support for RF-controlled devices means that you can use it to control a wide range of appliances, ranging from motor-controlled curtains, air conditioning units, televisions, and projectors.
By matching the remote panel of home entertainment equipment, you can set up customized scenes, so when it’s time for a romantic movie, you can close the curtains, dim the lights, and turn the projector on.
The inclusion of IFTTT integration allows for an endless combination of automation throughout the home.
So, while this works well for home cinema enthusiasts looking to establish mood, it’s great for all kinds of other smart device controls.
A neat and versatile smart home automation hub with intuitive controls and great scope for automation, the BroadLink smart home hub stands out for its full range of home entertainment system controls.
- Easy to install
- Reasonably priced
- Supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
- Device is bland-looking
- No Apple HomeKit support
8. Apple TV 4K
As the name implies, the Apple TV 4K is more than just a smart home hub for controlling your broader smart device ecosystem.
It’s also a top-of-the-line streaming box with exceptional app support, which delivers fantastic picture quality for fans of movies and TV series.
As with other Apple products, compatibility with other smart devices can be something of an issue, so if you already have a smart home set-up built around other brands, the Apple TV 4K might not be for you.
Those already invested in Apple’s range of products, however, will no doubt find this the perfect addition to their collection since it offers users a central hub in addition to high-quality streaming.
You can use the nifty remote control for the streaming service. At the same time, Siri’s voice activation means you can control any HomeKit-enabled smart device, for instance, bringing up the live feed from your security cameras on your television.
If you’re looking to upgrade your streaming device or are wedded to the Apple brand, the Apple TV 4K delivers an efficient connection to your other devices with one of the best streaming systems on the market.
- Exceptional 4K streaming
- Compatible with Apple HomeKit
- Great app selection
- Limited range of compatibility
7. Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
While many entry-level smart home hubs look like glorified routers, Amazon’s luxury Echo Show 10 stands out from the crowd with its 10.1” HD screen, which is designed to track you as you move around the room.
As you’d expect, a smart hub with this much tech built-in is more than just a smart hub and can be used to control all your home entertainment apps in addition to a wide range of other smart devices.
Naturally, it works fine with Alexa. The addition of Zigbee compatibility really opens up the range of plugs and other third-party smart devices you can access at the touch of a button or quick voice prompt.
The smart display with tracking makes the Amazon Echo Show a great addition to the kitchen if you want to cook recipes, and if you prefer to use the display as a digital picture frame, it’ll help show your fondest memories.
With far more features to offer than standard smart home hubs, the Amazon Echo Show might be expensive, but as cool gadgets go, this one packs in a great deal of flexibility to warrant the price tag.
- Impressive motorized screen
- Crisp display
- Useful for home security
- Not the greatest sound quality
6. Philips Hue Smart Home Hub
Philips has long been synonymous with high-quality lighting.
Their entry into the smart home hub market is perfect for those looking to bring a degree of nuance and scope to how they coordinate their smart light bulb ecosystem while accessing a range of great apps.
The Philips Hue smart home hub works with a range of other Philips smart home devices, offering a great deal of scope if you want to expand upon your smart lighting system.
Motion sensors, dimmer switches, and the Hue Tap all allow for more complex automation, and it can be paired with Nest and SmartThings for an expanded range of compatible devices.
It’s very easy to set up, and the app experience is smooth and intuitive, so you won’t have to worry about spending hours getting everything paired and working correctly.
Philips have proven themselves to be market leaders with their smart light bulbs.
Their Hue smart home hub helps bring together a broader ecosystem of smart devices, so you can really make those vibrant colors work for you.
- Impressive selection of smart bulbs
- Smooth app
- Integrates well with other services
- Expanding your set-up can be expensive
5. Hubitat Elevation Smart Home Hub
Hubitat might not have the same street cred as other smart home hub manufacturers such as Apple and Amazon, but if you’re looking for something capable of more advanced automation once you get past the slightly steep learning curve, their Elevation smart home hub is a great choice.
The Hubitat Elevation smart home hub supports Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Lutron.
The ability to create dashboards brings a degree of functionality and flexibility to manage your smart home devices.
Compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant makes voice activation super simple, too.
If you have multiple smart home devices and you’re looking to get them to work together in complicated ways, the Hubitat Elevation smart home hub offers users some of the most innovative solutions to fit all manner of circumstances.
A smart home hub for the more daring users, the Elevation smart home hub from Hubitat might take some more work to make the most of, but those with the patience to explore its detailed automation options will deliver a truly optimal smart home.
- Excellent automation features
- Works with a wide array of smart devices
- Takes time to master
- Needs to be plugged into the router to work
4. Starling Home Hub
One of the biggest obstacles preventing people from setting up a great smart home ecosystem is often compatibility.
With a range of manufacturers producing all manner of smart gadgets, making sure everything can speak to one another can be something of a nightmare.
One of the best smart home automation hubs for people facing this compatibility issue is the Starling Home Hub, which solves the challenge of using Nest smart home products via Apple’s HomeKit.
Your Nest smart devices can be controlled with the Apple Home app, or if you prefer voice control, you can use Siri on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.
The lack of support for Apple HomeKit to the broader range of smart devices is often a sticking point, especially for those who like to mix up their brands rather than stick to the same one.
The Starling Home Hub is the best smart home hub solution to this perennial problem.
The Starling Home Hub might solve a very specific problem in the grand scheme of smart home gadgets, but if you’re in the Apple ecosystem and want to branch out to include more Nest products in your set-up, it’s an essential smart home automation hub to invest in.
- Brings Nest and Apple together
- Simple to set up
- No Wi-Fi Compatability
3. Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Amazon’s fourth-generation Echo Dot exemplifies the fine line between traditional smart home hubs and other types of smart devices.
In a sense, this is first and foremost a smart speaker, which just so happens to include a host of smart home hub features to help you turn on lights, adjust room temperature, and check your smart home security system.
Amazon has updated the design of the Echo Dot over previous iterations, and the sleek globe design will look great wherever you choose to set it up.
The controls are easier to reach, too, and there’s a marked improvement in sound quality from the forward-facing speaker.
It’s also very easy to set up, so you’ll be playing music or commanding your smart lights and other smart home devices to turn on soon after you take it out of the box.
While the Echo Dot lacks the Zigbee compatibility of more expensive Amazon smart hubs and the best smart speakers, it’s incredible value for money for those who want to get into the smart home ecosystem on a budget.
Boasting a great new design, crisp sound, and full voice command through Alexa, the Amazon Echo Dot stands out as both a fantastic smart speaker and a smart home hub that delivers a solid performance.
- Features Amazon Alexa
- Great price
- Clear audio reproduction
- No support for Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit
- Lacks a Zigbee hub
2. Samsung SmartThings Hub (3rd Gen)
If you’re someone who likes to pick and choose between the range of smart device manufacturers out there to select the very best device for your needs, finding a suitable smart home hub isn’t always easy.
If that sounds like you, then Samsung’s SmartThings hub might be just what you’re looking for.
The SmartThings hub allows users to hook up a wide range of smart devices for total control, from smart plugs and light bulbs to a range of smart devices to amp up your home security system, including motion sensors, locks, and security cameras.
These devices can be easily controlled either through the SmartThings app, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa so that you can trigger routines quickly and easily.
Compatibility with Zigbee and Z-Wave means you have thousands of devices to choose from if you’re expanding your smart home, which allows for complicated automations not only across your smart home devices but also for other standard appliances you have in the home.
With its well-designed app and broad support, the third generation Samsung SmartThings hub is the go-to smart home hub for homes featuring a wide range of smart devices which demand nuanced automation and control.
- A versatile hub
- Broad integration possibilities
- Easy to use
- No Apple HomeKit support
- Limited Alexa controls
1. Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
Our final selection for this round-up of the very best smart home hubs – and the best smart home hub overall – brings us once again to Amazon, this time for their fourth generation Echo device.
It might resemble its cheaper cousin on the surface, but this is a great all-around smart hub that boasts excellent features.
As with the Echo Dot, the fourth generation Echo is billed as a smart speaker, but it’s also a very capable and versatile smart home hub that will give you full control of your home.
It comes with a built-in Zigbee hub, which means you’ll be able to control a wider range of smart devices compared to other models, which you can control via Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.
On the speaker side of things, the Amazon Echo delivers solid bass and nice, clear mid-and high-range frequencies wherever you are in the room.
So, you can listen to top-quality music while you’re configuring all the automation settings for your other devices.
A great smart home hub with all the advantages of a top-tier smart speaker, the Amazon Echo represents the best of all worlds with its versatility and durability.
- Great price
- Compatible with a ton of smart home products
- Nice rich bass speakers
- No Apple HomeKit support
- App can be fiddly
FAQs About Smart Home Hubs
Still not sure exactly what to expect from a smart home hub?
Read through this FAQ, and you should find the answer to any queries you may still have about this versatile addition to your smart home system.
Q: What is a smart home hub?
Different hubs come with different automation protocols (put simply, the mode of communication the hub uses to connect your devices).
Q: What is a smart hub for?
A smart home hub is a tool for allowing ease of use to a broader array of smart devices as part of a smart home ecosystem which can include speakers, smart lights, smart plugs, and even smart smoke detectors.
Hubs can connect smart devices from a different range of manufacturers, so if you have smart gadgets from different brands you may be able to find the right hub to bring these together.
Q: What is the benefit of a smart home hub?
Smart devices are often pretty cool bits of tech when considered in isolation, but they only truly come to life when hooked into a broader smart home ecosystem.
A smart hub allows for this wider integration – and thus greater utility – by allowing these devices to talk to one another.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit from this connectivity is the greater level of convenience in your daily life.
When you can set up bespoke schedules to switch on the heating, turn on the lights and unlock the back door to let the cat out, the advantages to a smart hub system become quickly apparent.
Q: What is Amazon’s smart home hub?
Amazon’s smart hub is their own branded smart home hub system which works as a smart-home controller.
Users can instruct a wide range of smart devices via Amazon Alexa, as well as tell their apps what to do and avoid having to pick up their phone or tablet.
Q: Is Alexa a smart home hub?
Amazon’s Alexa devices can be used as a smart home controller/hub across multiple devices.
However, not all Amazon products offer the full range of hub support (for instance, only select models come equipped with the ability to connect to Zigbee hub compatible smart devices).
You can visit Amazon’s help center to find out more about adding smart home devices to your Echo and building up a smart home hub that matches your requirements.
Q: Is Alexa better than Google?
As with many similar questions about comparing two leading brands in their field, any answer must come with a series of caveats.
The features you’re looking for from a smart hub, your existing smart device home ecosystem, and a range of other factors are likely to influence your preference between Alexa and Google smart home hubs.
Google Assistant has a better track record of answering user questions more accurately, but if you have a range of devices from different manufacturer’s chances are they’re more likely to be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa devices.
As always, make sure you research before deciding which is the best smart home hub for you.
Q: Do you need a hub for Alexa?
Amazon’s Alexa devices are capable of functioning without the need for a dedicated hub, provided you have a decent internet connection.
Because of this, you won’t have to connect another smart home hub to your router to get the most out of its many features.
Alexa devices have a built-in hub that can discover your devices – all you have to do is say “Alexa, discover my devices” and it’ll send out a signal and connect up to any compatible devices you have in the house.
Some Amazon devices, such as the Amazon Echo Plus, even have Zigbee support as a feature, which is perfect if you’re already invested in the Zigbee ecosphere of smart devices.
Q: How To Choose / Which One To Choose
The decision as to which smart home hub to go for will vary greatly depending on your needs, budget, and existing smart home setup.
Making sure your current devices are compatible with the smart home hub is the first step to take, but you should also consider where you see your smart home set-up expanding in the future.
If you already have a smart speaker in your home, chances are this may well come with a smart home hub included, so make sure you check this first before splashing out on a dedicated hub.
Smart home devices really come into their own when you connect them up through a smart home hub.
The ability to program routines to match your habits can make waking up to a lazy Sunday morning so much easier, while automation settings can bring extra peace of mind when considering your home’s security protocols.
Choosing the best smart home hub for your needs takes a little time to research properly, but this guide should offer a nice starting point so you know what issues to be aware of before making an investment.
Once you’ve determined the smart gadgets you want to control and any other features which are essential for your lifestyle, then get ready for a smart home hub to change the way you live.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best smart home hubs:
- Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
- Samsung – SmartThings Hub (3rd Gen)
- Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
- Starling – Home Hub
- Habitat – Elevation Smart Home Hub
- Philips Hue Smart Home Hub
- Amazon Echo Show (3rd Gen)
- Apple TV 4K
- BroadLink – Smart Home Hub
- Sengled – Smart Home Hub