If you’re exploring smart devices for your home, you may have noticed these devices can either work on their own or in tandem with each other. How to get them to sync up and connect is not always obvious, though. And since we’re still in the early days of understanding the networking capabilities of smart home devices, there’s not one standard protocol they use to communicate.
One thing’s for sure: Once you get two or three smart home devices, having to open a separate app to control each device gets old, quick. It can start to feel like the manual life instead of the connected life! That’s why smart home hubs have been gaining popularity, connecting all pieces of the puzzle and providing the user with a single app to control all home devices.
If you already own smart home devices, make sure you know what protocols they use to communicate. There is no one smart home hub that will work for everyone; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, Lutron ClearConnect, Z-Wave, and ZigBee are frequently used. Several hubs can communicate across multiple protocols, so it’s probably OK if you already have devices using more than one communications protocol.
If you don’t have devices yet and are considering a hub as one of your first ‘smart’ purchases, look for one that connects to multiple protocols, in case you need them in the future. Additionally, some hubs offer automated connections to your manufacturer’s devices, making setup even easier for you.
Another option that pays big dividends: Get a hub that takes advantage of third-party software like HomeKit or IFTTT, which allows you to create even more ways to connect your devices and automate their work to simplify your life. Once you set these services up, you won’t even have to whip out the app on your smartphone—you could have your interior lights turn on automatically when the garage door is raised, for instance.
Regardless of which smart devices you’re interested in connecting, make sure you do your research before you buy to ensure each device speaks the same language as your smart home hub.