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What is a smart hub and how does it work?

I often get these questions when I install someone's first smart device, at the very beginning of their smart home journey. What is a smart hub, how does it work and do I really need one? Do any of these questions sound familiar? If they do than this post is for you. I will be discussing how to leverage devices like smart speakers and smart displays as a hub in your smart home.

So what is a smart hub? Simply put, smart hubs control your other devices. Think of them as the brain of your home, helping control lights, thermostats, smart plugs, video doorbells and other smart devices around your home. It is a device that your smart home devices connect to on your home automation network (usually Wi-Fi) to control and communicate among them. Here's an example: you have Govee smart light bulbs and the Ecobee Lite thermostat and you'd like to turn on the lights and turn on the AC. With a smart speaker acting as a hub, you can simply state, "Alexa turn on the lights," and "Alexa, turn on the air conditioning." This is done rather than going into each app separately on your phone to turn both of those devices on. So you are essentially able to control multiple smart devices from a variety of brands using, one device to do it all, rather than going to each device, or app individually. This can be great for using voice control to easily adjust your devices, set up schedules, timers and triggers, fully automating your smart home devices, helping you achieve the ultimate in home automation and convenience. Most, if not all smart home devices are controllable through their own app on your mobile device, but the convenience of being able to control all of your devices from one place is what is so appealing about setting up a smart home hub.

Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant all allow you to control devices with your voice, so that you can control numerous Wi-Fi connected devices using voice control. You can decide whether you would like your smart hub to be a smart speaker or display. This varies depending on your preference, as some people prefer to be able to access certain apps and controls via a screen. If this is you, I would recommend opting for the display, otherwise a smart speaker is a great option. Amazon Echo and Google Nest are two great smart home hubs, due to their functionality and ease of use. For Amazon lovers, your best options would be the Amazon Echo 4th Gen, or the Amazon Show 8. If Google is your assistant of choice, your options include the Google Nest, Nest Mini, or the Nest hub. While Apple doesn't sell a hub specifically, certain devices can be used as a hub, such as the HomePod and HomePod mini speakers, and the Apple TV or iPad.

All of this boils down to what features you need and what kind of functionality you are looking for in your home. Some things to consider are, what devices do you have, which devices do you plan on buying, and how do you want to control them? Usually if you are planning on having more than one smart device, we would recommend getting a smart hub, to help with the overall control and functionality of your devices, especially if you don't want to stick with one brand, but still want your devices to work cohesively together in your home and overall automation set up.

If you still have questions or whether or not you should add a smart hub to your home, or you're not sure which one to get give us a call, we'd be happy to help you figure out the best way to set up your smart home!

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