Best Smart Home Hubs of 2020 – Tom's Guide

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There are hundreds, if not thousands of smart lights, digital locks, security cameras, thermostats, and more, but if you want to control them all from a single interface, then you’re going to need a smart home hub. Based on our extensive testing, the Samsung SmartThings Hub v3 is the best smart home hub for the majority of consumers. Not only does it cost less than $70 and works with a wide range of devices, but its logic lets you set up fairly robust rules to trigger devices. Still, there areas where it can be improved.

Our favorite budget smart home hub is the third-generation Amazon Echo Dot; while not a hub in the traditional sense—you can only control devices connected to Wi-Fi— you can link lots of smart home devices in the Alexa app, and then trigger them using the Dot. Alexa’s Routines also let you control multiple devices with a single command. Plus, the third-generation Dot has much improved audio over the previous model. Similarly, you can use Google Assistant to set up routines with Google Home-compatible smart home devices. 

Make sure you check out all of our top picks for smart speakers, lights, locks, and more on our best smart home gadgets page. 

Two new, inexpensive smart home hubs have recently emerged: The Ezlo Atom ($29.95) is a small USB dongle, and the Ezlo PlugHub Energy ($39.95) is a smart plug with a smart home hub built in. Both can link to Z-Wave and Wi-Fi-connected devices, and are controlled via the Vera app. 

If you have a Wink smart home hub, you may want to consider switching to something else. According to The Verge, the company’s headquarters have been closed, the customer support line isn’t working, and users have reported that a number of third-party integrations no longer work.

Samsung SmartThings Hub v3

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung SmartThings Hub v3

Best Smart Home Hub

Size: 5 x 5 x 1.2 inches | Works With: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave | Ports: Ethernet, USB | Battery Backup: No

Wi-Fi makes installing this hub easier

Allows for more automation than other hubs

Works with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices

Still missing Nest integration

Difficult to upgrade from older hub

The third-generation Samsung SmartThings hub can connect to hundreds of devices — more than most other hubs — and lets you create a wide range of different scenarios for all of the gadgets in your home. The newest version of the hub has Wi-Fi, which means you have more flexibility in where you can place it in your house, but it’s lost its battery backup, so you won’t be able to control connected smart home devices if the power goes out. Nvidia Shield owners can go a less expensive route with the SmartThings Link for Nvidia Shield ($39.99), which plugs into the streaming device and turns it into a SmartThings hub.

Read our full Samsung SmartThings review.

Amazon Echo Dot

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Amazon Echo Dot

Best Budget Smart Home Hub

Size: 3.9 inches (diameter) x 1.7 inches | Works With: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Ports: 3.5mm audio | Battery Backup: No

Inexpensive

Nice design

Vastly improved audio

Can’t change its look

At just $49, the Echo Dot is half the price of most other hubs, making it an inexpensive investment for those just getting into smart home automation. While it lacks Zigbee or Z-Wave, Amazon has partnered with a number of other smart home device makers to make it easy to connect their products via Wi-Fi.

The third-generation Dot has a larger and more powerful speaker than the previous model, and it has an updated design with a more attractive cloth cover. In addition to turning your lights and other devices on and off, the Dot can also read news headlines, weather reports, sports scores, and a host of other things.

Read our full Echo Dot review.

Best for Power Users

Hubitat Elevation

(Image credit: Habitat)

3. Hubitat Elevation

Best smart home hub for power users

Size: 2.5 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches | Works With: Zigbee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, Wi-Fi | Ports: Power, Ethernet | Battery Backup: No

Works with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices

Allows for complex interactions between smart home devices

All smart home logic stored locally

Steep learning curve

Hub has to be plugged into router

The Hubitat Elevation hub is not for smart home novices, but advanced users will appreciate the depth and complexity with which they can connect all of their smart home devices. The hub itself is small, but can connect to both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. There’s a learning curve to Hubitat’s web interface, and there’s no mobile app yet, but you can do far more with Hubitat than SmartThings. 

Read our full Hubitat Elevation review.

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Gen)

Alexa-enabled smart home hub

Size: 5.9 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches | Works With: Zigbee | Ports: 3.5mm audio | Battery Backup: No

Great audio

Friendly design

Easy to set up

Temperature sensor

Limited smart-home features

The second-generation Echo Plus is larger, and delivers a much larger sound, than other Echo smart speakers. The Plus also has a built-in Zigbee radio, which lets so-equipped smart home devices (such as Philips Hue lights) connect directly to your network—no bridge needed. The Plus sounds great, and connecting smart devices was a cinch, but it lacks the more complex interactions you can get with other hubs, and it doesn’t support Z-Wave devices.

Read our full Amazon Echo Plus review.

Amazon Echo Show

(Image credit: Future)

5. Amazon Echo Show

Alexa smart home hub with a big display

Size: 9.7 x 6.9 x 4.2 inches | Works With: Zigbee, Nest, Philips Hue, SmartThings, IFTTT, WeMo, Honeywell | Ports: microUSB | Battery Backup: No

Excellent audio with bass

Convenient smart-home hub

Two-way doorbell and camera audio

Clunky browsing experience

Nasty screen glare

The second-generation Amazon Echo Show improves upon the original in every way: The screen is bigger and brighter, the design is much more attractive, it has a better camera for video calls, the audio is richer, and you can do more with its display. Plus, the Echo Show has Zigbee built in, so you can connect smart home devices directly to the Show. 

Read our full Amazon Echo Show review.

Google Home

(Image credit: Google)

6. Google Home

Best smart home hub for Google Assistant users

Size: 5.62 x 3.79 inches | Works With: Chromecast, Nest, Philips Hue, SmartThings, IFTTT, WeMo, Honeywell | Ports: None | Battery Backup: No

Integrates with your Google tools

Controls Google Cast-enabled devices

Booming bass

Limited add-ons at this point

Lacks balanced sound, especially on vocals

This Amazon Echo competitor also has a built-in speaker, can respond to voice commands, and can both control smart home devices and stream music. But where the Google Home separates itself is its integration with Google Assistant, which lets you search for everything and anything. Plus, if you also have a Chromecast, you can control it via voice through Google Home.

Read our full Google Home review.

Apple TV 4K

(Image credit: Apple)

7. Apple TV 4K

Best HomeKit smart home hub

Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.9 inches | Works With: HomeKit | Ports: Ethernet, HDMI, microUSB | Battery Backup: No

Fantastic 4K HDR content

Intuitive home screen

Simple iOS and macOS integration

Expensive

Fiddly remote

No digital audio or USB ports

You can use a variety of Apple products as a HomeKit hub—an iPad and the HomePod also work—but the Apple TV 4K is the least expensive method, and it lets you stream content in an easy-to-use interface. We’re not fans of its remote, though.

Read our full Apple TV 4K review.

Samsung Connect Home

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Samsung Connect Home

Smart home hub and mesh router in one

Size: 4.7 x 4.7 x 1.6 inches | Works With: Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, SmartThings | Ports: Ethernet | Battery Backup: No

Simple setup

Home automation hub

Mesh extensions available

Not a lot to adjust or configure

Can’t use an iPad for set up

Can be expensive

If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi router and smart home hub in one, Samsung’s Connect Home Hub mesh router has its SmartThings hub built in. We liked its ease of setup, its fairly speedy throughput, and the ability to expand its reach with extenders. Samsung offers the Connect Home (which offers speeds up up to 866 Mbps/5GHz and 400 Mbps/2.4GHz), or the Connect Home Pro (1733 Mbps/5GHz and 800 Mbps/2.4GHz).

Read our full Samsung Connect Home Pro review.

Apple HomePod

(Image credit: Apple)

9. Apple HomePod

HomeKit smart home hub and smart speaker in one

Size: 6.8 inches x 5.8 inches (diameter) | Works With: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Ports: None | Battery Backup: No

Excellent audio quality

Attractive design

Easy setup

Can stream only from Apple Music (other services require AirPlay)

Siri is very limited compared with Alexa and Google Assistant

Expensive

Apple’s smart speaker sounds fantastic, thanks to its multitude of speakers and microphones, which automatically tune the HomePod to whatever room it’s in. However, Siri can’t do nearly as much as Alexa and Google Assistant, and HomeKit lags when it comes to smart home device integration. And, the HomePod’s base can stain some wood surfaces.

Read our full Apple HomePod review.

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