Best Smart Home Hub: Insteon vs SmartThings vs Wink vs WeMo & More

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Samsung SmartThings logo
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Logitech
Logitech Harmony Hub
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Insteon logo
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You wake up to start your day and the lights automatically brighten, the window blinds open, the coffee pot starts brewing, and the thermostat is adjusted — all before you get out of bed. But how can you keep track of all your smart devices and control them from one place? That’s where smart hubs come in.

Article Overview

What Is A Smart Home Hub?

Think of a hub as the central communications center for your smart home. It connects to your internet router via WiFi or an ethernet cord to electronically speak to other smart devices (like lights, switches, locks, doorbells, security cameras, thermostats, blinds and more) which you can then control from your smartphone from anywhere in the world.

You can control some smart devices via Bluetooth technology, however, without a hub, there’s not a way to control them if you’re out of range of the device.

With most hubs, you can create “scenes” for specific events like waking up, going to sleep, hosting a dinner party, etc., or create settings for each room. So they’re customizable for each family’s particular needs and to every individual home.

What Devices Can You Add To Smart Hubs?

You can add countless smart gadgets to your smart home hub including:

  1. Light Bulbs
  2. Security Cameras
  3. Locks
  4. Thermostats
  5. Switches
  6. Sprinkler System
  7. Vacuum
  8. Smoke Detectors

The list is growing by the day, and we’re doing our best to keep up with the latest and greatest things you can add to your hub in our reviews (click on each item above to learn more).

Note: Some hubs make their own branded devices like light bulbs or security monitoring. But, more than likely, you can use third-party brands like Phillips, GE or Nest. Also, not all devices are compatible with all hubs, so read the packaging and double-check the system requirements first.

DIY vs Professional Installation

If you’re not a gadget guru or don’t want to bother with DIY installation (even though it’s super easy) you can have a professional service set up your smart home for you. Check out these home automation system providers who can help install your system — but take note, those VIP services come with a much higher price tag.

Best Smart Home Hubs Reviewed

Now that you know what a hub is and what you can do with it let’s take a look at the best hubs on the market and what we like (and dislike) about each one so you can find the best fit for you and your home.

Samsung SmartThings 3rd Generation Review

SmartThings Hub 3rd Gen.#1

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Our pick for the best smart hub is the Samsung SmartThings. You can control your home’s security, energy usage, lighting and more from your smartphone app.

You plug the SmartThings Hub into the wall, but if the power goes out, the 4 AA batteries can provide 10 hours of backup power (which is a nice feature if you’re super dependent upon your smart home).

Pros

Cons

  • Connect an unlimited number of devices
  • 10 hours of backup power with the 4 AA batteries
  • Z-Wave, Zigbee and WiFi compatible
  • Works with a wide range of third-party brands, including Samsung, Ring, Arlo, Bose, Schlage, Yale, Cree, OSRAM LIGHTIFY, Honeywell, First Alert and more
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Some users report it stops working at times
  • Not compatible with Nest, Sonos, D Link and Blink devices

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • Price: Check Amazon for availability
  • Dimensions: 4.9″ x 4.2″ x 1.3″
  • 4 AA batteries required (as backup)
  • 1-year warranty

Coupon Code

There are not any Samsung SmartThings Coupon Codes available at this time.

Logitech Harmony Hub Review

Logitech Harmony Hub#2

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The Logitech Harmony Hub allows you to control your gadgets via your smartphone or Harmony remote. And you can create one-touch settings for up to 50 events (e.g. waking up, going to sleep, dinner parties, etc.).

It works with more than 270,000 devices including your TV, satellite or cable box, Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos, game consoles, Philips Hue lights, Nest Learning Thermostat and more.

Pros

Cons

  • Connect up to 8 home entertainment devices
  • Connect an unlimited number of home automation devices
  • Works with more than 270,000 devices
  • Program up to 50 custom activities
  • Autoscan devices for easy setup
  • Control via iOS and Android apps on smartphone (or with up to 8 Harmony remotes)
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Requires a hub extender to add Z-Wave and Zigbee compatibility
  • Inconsistent performance

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • Harmony Hub Price: $89.99
  • Dimensions: 6″ x 5.3″ x 3.1″
  • 2 AA batteries required
  • 1 year warranty
  • Harmony Hub Extender Price: $74.95

Coupon Code

There are not any Logitech Harmony Coupon Codes available at this time.

Insteon Review

Insteon Hub#3

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In addition to being a smart hub, Insteon is a smart home communication protocol. Unlike other hubs and products that rely on Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi or Bluetooth, the Insteon is its own system which is faster, more reliable and more secure.

The only downside is that you must use Insteon’s equipment and it won’t work with third-party products. However, you can control your Insteon hub using voice commands on Alexa or via your iPhone, Android, tablet and Apple Watch.

Another feature is the ability to set up one-touch settings for events (e.g. have lights brighten to 50% to help you wake up, set your kids’ lights to turn off automatically after they’ve left the house for the school day and more).

You also receive notifications from motion, door/window, water leak and smoke sensors while you’re away from your home. This is a little more technically challenging to install but could be worth it for the speed and security.

Pros

Cons

  • Integrations with Cortona, Amazon Echo, Logitech, Sonos and more
  • More than 200 Insteon devices to choose from
  • Compatible with Logitech Harmony remote, Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Control via iOS and Android apps
  • Requires you to mostly use Insteon equipment (switches, plugs, etc.)
  • Not Z-Wave or Zigbee compatible

Pricing & Tech Specs

Coupon Code

There are not any Insteon Coupon Codes available at this time.

Wink Hub Review

Wink Hub 2View on Amazon

Wink’s homepage states they are “temporarily unavailable,” and their last update was in 2017. They are still available on Amazon for the time being.

Wink supports WiFi, Bluetooth LE, Z-wave, ZigBee, Lutron ClearConnect and Kidde. One of many customers’ favorite features is its integration with Amazon Echo or Google Home so you can change the lights in your home via voice activation.

Their Hub 2 comes with even more features including auto-discovery of new devices, guided set up, 5GHz WiFi and increased memory (512 MB vs 64 in the original model). It costs slightly more but is thinner and sleeker in design (and comes with an ethernet cable), which is worth it in our opinion.

Pros

Cons

  • Compatible with Bluetooth LE, WiFi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Kidde and Lutron Clear Connect
  • Connect about 200 devices to one Wink Hub
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and can program recipes with IFTTT
  • iOS and Android app (and can control using Apple Watch, Android and Android Wear)
  • Live chat is excellent and helpful (also has phone and email support)
  • Some users complain that Wink doesn’t always work (which can be a common complaint about smart hubs)

Pricing & Tech Specs

Coupon Code

There are no Wink Coupon Codes available at this time.

Video: Wink Hub 2

Learn more about the newest model of Wink Hub and what it’s capable of in this brief video overview.

Smart Hub Comparison Table

Here’s a quick table that summarizes the key features so you can compare smart home hubs side by side.

 Samsung SmartThingsLogitech Harmony HubInsteonWink Hub
Google Home CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Alexa CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
TechnologyWiFi, Z-Wave, ZigbeeInferred, WiFi, BluetoothInstesonWiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee
# of Add OnsUnlimited8 Entertainment200 Devices200
Operating SystemsiOS & AndroidiOS & AndroidiOS, Android, Apple WatchiOS & Android
Battery Backup4 AA2 AANoneNone
PortsEthernet, 2 USBUSBNoneEthernet
Price Check Amazon for availability $89.99 $79.96 ($79.96 / Count) Check Amazon for availability

Best Smart Home Systems (Without Hubs)

Here are a few smart home “lite” systems that have many of the same features that we thought were worth mentioning too. Actually, the other companies we had included here went out of business, so, for now, there’s just WEMO. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know in the comments.

WEMO Review

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WEMO doesn’t offer a hub. Instead, they have products that can be controlled via WiFi with their smart switch and plugs. WEMO products are made by Belkin, and their product line consists of smart switches, motion sensors, light switches, cameras and more. So, if you’re not worried about a hub, WEMO may be a good home automation option for you.

Read Our In-Depth WEMO Review

How To Secure Your Smart Devices

Having a connected home unfortunately also means it’s vulnerable to digital intruders. Consider protecting your devices with a smart firewall that hooks up to your home router and adds an extra layer of protection for your smart gadgets.

Converting your home to be fully automated with a smart home hub can be a little overwhelming for newbies. So if you’re just wanting to dip your toes into smart hub technology, we recommend starting with a smart speaker first like Google Home or Alexa. That way you can test the waters and see if going all-in on a smart home is for you.

Check out these 16 smart home statistics to see how the trend continues to grow at an unprecedented clip.

Which appliances and devices would you most like to have automated control over?

About The Author:

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.

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