When you’re creating the perfect smart home, the hub (aka, the controller) is the single most important device you’ll buy.
Because, even though you can have the coolest Z-Wave devices in the world such as a smart thermostat and LED color changing lightbulbs, it won’t matter if you don't have a Z-Wave controller to make everything work together seamlessly.
Your hub is just that, the thing that makes the whole system work, and it needs to be a good fit, not just for your devices, but for you as well.
Why Is Having the Best Z-Wave Controller So Important?
Without a hub, you can’t program scenes or control different devices remotely at the same time without switching apps. What a Z-Wave controller does is coordinate everything in one place, so you can access all your devices at one time via one app. A great smart home hub will also seamlessly accept new devices, allow for programming various scenes and events, and communicate with you through an app on your cell phone, computer, or tablet.
So hubs are great, but do you really, really need one? Let’s look at a real-world scenario...
Say, you’re out of town and find out you need to stay another day. Without a hub, you would need to use your wifi thermostat app to make sure your AC stays off, then use a different app to keep your lights programmed correctly, and then open a completely different app to check the security cameras around your house, assuming you have proprietary wifi devices for each of these.
Smart homes are supposed to make your life easier, right? That doesn’t sound easy. With the best Z-Wave controller around, or even just a mediocre one, you can see all of that in one place, as well as program everything to work together. If you had a good smart home hub, all you’d have to do in the scenario laid out above, is extend the “Vacation” mode for another day. It's as simple as that!
A Look at the Best Z-Wave Controller
After being around the smart home world for a while, it's easy to see that not all smart home hubs are created equal, and neither are all homes or homeowners!
From installation to interface, there are many different perks and quirks that different hubs have. There are also many different types of homeowners looking to smarten up their home, which is why we’ve created a collection of "the best Z-Wave controller" based on user needs.
If you want to program the whole thing yourself or you don’t even know the difference between Z-Wave or Zigbee, we’ll help you find the best smart home controller for your needs!
Comparison of the Best Z-Wave Controllers
Z-Wave, Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee
Z-Wave, Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee
Z-Wave, Insteon, UPB, X10, and more
*Since each device uses a different processor, we rated the devices with "+ symbols. The more "+" symbols, the faster the processor is comparably.
Best All-In-One Z-Wave Controller
Vera Control VeraPlus-US Smart Home Controller Hub
The VeraPlus Smart Home Controller is truly the best all-in-one Z-Wave controller. Why do we call it that? Because, it features multiple different communication protocols, including Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth BLE, and Zigbee! That means it can connect with a thousands of different products from brands like Nest, First Alert, Schlage, Kwikset, and Yale.
No single brand makes every type of smart home device, so your system will definitely be piecemeal, which is truly where Vera shines, since it can integrate with all of these different devices!
The VeraPlus is also an upgrade from the VeraEdge, so it features more RAM, more processing power, and more communication protocols than the other Vera devices. Don’t get us wrong, the Edge is a great controller, especially if you're on a budget, but the Plus features some pretty significant upgrades to support more Z-Wave devices.
Their tech support is also top notch, with a truly global network of users and experts to help you figure out what went wrong if you need it.
If you're looking for a device that will bring your home into the 21st century, this is it!
Best Z-Wave Controller for Beginners
Samsung SmartThings Hub V2
If you're just getting into home automation, all these devices and hubs may seem overwhelming, but even complete home automation newbies can work the Samsung SmartThings Hub V2.
This device is extremely use-friendly, as far as hubs go. All you need to do is plug and play! Seriously. Once you get the hub home, plug it into power, set up the internet connection, and the app automatically registers your hub and any devices you may have already have installed. What could be easier than that?
The SmartThings development team is constantly working on updates and patches, so SmartThings always integrates with new home automation devices that come to market. Just like VeraPlus, it has the ability to integrate with Zigbee, Wifi, and Bluetooth devices in addition to Z-Wave.
Samsung also makes multiple SmartThings branded devices that are reasonably priced, so you can easily get a whole integrated system using just SmartThings devices. This Z-Wave hub also has a backup battery that allows it to work even if the power goes out or it comes unplugged for some reason. That little feature gives you peace of mind as well as ease of use.
The reason this hub is for beginner's is the fact that it doesn't require much programming. There are many different smart apps that do the programming for you, so you just set those apps up and you're good to go. The only problem with this is that you can't always do everything you want to with your smart home, which is why we suggest VeraPlus and HomeSeer for more advanced users.
Best Z-Wave Controller for Experts
HomeSeer HomeTroller Zee S2 Home Controller
If you’re an expert in all things home automation or you have a programming background, you’ll need a little more customization out of your hub, and the HomeSeer HomeTroller-Zee S2 Controller will definitely deliver.
The HomeTroller is basically a tiny, super powerful computer that will program scenes and event sequences with ease, all thanks to it's massive amounts of processing power.
The great thing about this hub is all the plug-ins it features that allow for integration with multiple different devices, and you can physically plug in controllers into the USB ports or download software to connect different devices.
What do we mean by plug in? The SmartStick is a great example, as it features Z-Wave+ and provides stronger Network Wide Inclusion, so you can easily pair your devices.
Software plugins also upgrade the capabilities of the Homeseer HomeTroller hub. The only problem, is that the plugins cost extra with Homeseer, unlike with other brands.
You can also get the pro version that comes with pre-installed software plugins, if you’re ready to tinker out of the box. It’s this high level of customization that makes it the best Z-Wave controller for home automation aficionados.
If you’re still on the fence about which is the best Z-Wave controller for your unique smart home, that’s fine. Look around and see what’s out there. The great thing is that there are a ton of different Z-Wave hubs to choose from, and they all have different pros and cons for different kinds of users.
If ease of use is important, consider SmartThings. If you’re an advanced user, check out Homeseer. If you want the best of both worlds, get VeraPlus. Whatever your needs, there’s a Z-Wave compatible home automation hub out there that will help you make your house into the coolest home on the block.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments!
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