A smart hub is the brain of a smart home or apartment. It serves as central command, helping your residents operate and personalize their experience with every device in their unit. From smart lights to smart thermostats, music speakers to ceiling fans, a smart home hub brings control over an entire home automation system into a single interface. 

It’s easy to see the allure of smart homes—they’re packed with fun and thrilling features from autonomous HVAC systems to touch screen lighting controls. However, many newcomers to the smart home revolution are left with an important question: why exactly do I need a smart hub? 

Why do you need a smart home hub?

While there are only a handful of languages (known as “protocols”) in which smart devices receive their commands, they’re inherently monolingual. 

Without a hub, users can only use smart devices that speak an identical language. Smart hubs pose as the translator, breaking down the language barrier to allow devices of different dialects to communicate freely. 

A hub unleashes the power of mesh networking

Two of the leading smart hub protocols are Z-Wave and Zigbee, due to their ability to form a mesh network. Laptop or tablets can only send and receive commands via their leader: the WiFi router. 

On the other hand, a mesh network encourages devices to communicate amongst one another. This chorus of chatter boosts dependability: devices far away from the hub can still be communicated with reliably. A hub cultivates this reliable connection style, guaranteeing no more dead spots in a smart home without signal.

Grant residents the power to create dazzling routines

Another benefit of a hub’s mesh network? The ability to establish reliable routines. Routines (sometimes known as “automations”) are how residents can exercise the most creativity over their smart ecosystem. 

Residents can use routines to link together a chain of events to suit their unique preferences. A morning routine can do things like turn on bedroom lights, set the optimal temperature in your home, get your coffee pot started, and more.

Hubs create a convenient—and secure—smart system

Smart home devices have risen in popularity due to their sheer convenience. The ability to control lights, temperature, doorbells, and music at your fingertips is a dazzling amenity. What’s the use if you’re constantly swiping between apps to separately control each and every device? 

A hub centralizes control of the entire environment, allowing you to use a single app to interact with every device within your intelligent ecosystem. 

This not only creates the most convenient experience for residents, but bolsters security by funneling all activity through a single, well-secured application. 

Key features to keep in mind when choosing a smart hub

While a hub is the key to cross-device compatibility, some companies still relegate users to one brand of devices rather than giving users a variety of devices to choose from that fit their visual and functional needs. 

Avoid hubs that only communicate using a single protocol or only operate within an exclusive catalog. 

To best future-proof your system, you’ll want to select a hub that speaks each of the smart home languages so you can easily add third-party gadgets into your smart suite. Double-check that your chosen smart home hub is compatible with the following protocols:

  • Zigbee and Z-Wave: These two smart home heavyweights communicate quietly along the lower end of the radio frequency spectrum. They are purpose built protocols for IoT devices that are able to host a bustling mesh network of automated devices. 
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth is the language of choice for linking devices in close proximity. You experience Bluetooth nearly every day: it’s how wireless earbuds pair with your laptop and the way your car can make hands-free calls via your cell phone. Smart homes use Bluetooth in a similar way, like disengaging a smart lock when a paired device is in proximity of the front door. 
  • WiFi: WiFi is the gas guzzler of signals charging along the radio frequency superhighway. 8K videos, Twitch streams, and Zoom conference calls require significant power—and WiFi bears the brunt of these heavy-duty tasks. Since it’s typically such a crowded lane, competing signals can often interfere with those transmitted by smart home devices. Devices linked on WiFi are also subject to outages, which can devastate critical functions like lights or door locks. However, many devices, like those from IOTAS, can continue to operate as analog devices even if a signal drops out. 
  • Cellular: If you do not have WiFi access, many devices can receive commands via a cellular chip. While it is not the most popular selection when building out a powerful ecosystem of devices, it’s a great fallback for users without a WiFi connection. 

It’s a good idea to select your hub before choosing your smart devices. A heavy shopping bag of devices is rendered useless if your hub cannot communicate with them. So whether you’re looking for something that works with Alexa, Google Assistant, other voice control devices, smart speakers, Apple TV, security cameras, or whatever smart home products you’d like, make sure to pick your hub first.

Convenience, personalization, and reliability are the most compelling reasons residents flock to multi-family complexes that offer smart apartment features.Now that you know why a smart hub is critical to your home automation initiative, you can start to build out a suite of devices that will dazzle and delight both current and incoming residents.