The Best Z-Wave Hub to Automate Your Home in 2017

Best Z-Wave Hub of 2016

A common question I receive from people looking to get into home automation is "What’s the best Z-Wave hub?" or "What Z-Wave controller should I get?"

Unfortunately, there isn't a "one size fits all" in the home automation world, so I cannot tell you exactly what hub to get, but I can give you some suggestions to help lead you in the right direction.

In this article, you will not only learn which Z-Wave hubs are available and what my recommendations are, but also what a hub is and what to look for when purchasing one.

Don't want to read reviews? Here are the top best selling home automation hubs on Amazon at the moment!

If you want to read more in depth about these hubs, continue on!​

Best Selling Hubs on Amazon

SaleBestseller No. 1
Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub
1776 Reviews
Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub
  • Your smart home needs a brain, so get started with a SmartThings Hub. It connects wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices and makes them work together.
  • Add smart devices and put your home to work. Choose from a wide range of compatible devices, including lights, speakers, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more.
  • Use the SmartThings app or Amazon Alexa to control your smart home. Teach your house new tricks by telling it what to do when you're asleep, awake, away, and back home.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Wink Hub 2
528 Reviews
Wink Hub 2
  • Wink allows your diverse collection of smart products to speak the same wireless language so you can easily control them from the free Wink app
  • Auto-discovery and a revamped setup process make getting your smart home up and running easier than ever
  • A more powerful Wi-Fi radio and Ethernet port connect your products smoothly, while a stronger processor and more memory make your smart home faster
SaleBestseller No. 3
LUTRON L-BDG2-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, HomeKit-enabled, works with Alexa, White
101 Reviews
LUTRON L-BDG2-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, HomeKit-enabled, works with Alexa, White
  • Provides simple and personalized control of your lights, shades and temperature from anywhere using the FREE Lutron app iOS and Android
  • Works with Alexa and Siri for control of your lights
  • Schedule lights simply to turn on or off at specific times or at sunrise / sunset; schedules automatically adjust as seasons change, so no one ever comes home to a dark house

Last update on 2017-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Don't feel like reading the whole article? No worries, here's our top pick:​

Here's our Favorite Z-Wave Hub!

VeraPlus is a very versatile Z-Wave hub and in our eyes, it's the best Z-Wave hub available.

It features 4 wireless protocols: Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, BLE, which gives you quite a bit of flexibility in your home automation setup. In addition to that, the Vera community is very active, so there are quite a few third party applications to help you integrate all your devices!

Click here to learn more.

Let's Start Simple: What is a Z-Wave Hub?

A Z-Wave hub is a stand along controller used to control your devices. In other words, it's the brain of your home automation system. Without it, your gadgets wouldn't be able to communicate with each other, nor would you be able to connect to all of them at once.

For example, a hub allows you to monitor and control your home's temperature, appliances, and lighting (anytime, anywhere). Since it's such a vital part of your home automation system, it's extremely important to pick the right one.

Quick Tip

A Z-Wave hub should be your first purchase when setting up your automated home. If you buy devices before the hub, you run the risk of compatibility issues.

I know firsthand that it can be quite difficult to settle on the right hub. I spent over a week researching them when I first entered the home automation world. Fortunately, you don't need to waste your time researching, because this guide is all you need.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Z-Wave Hub

  • Functionality

    The first thing you should look for when choosing a Z-Wave hub is it's functionality. Is it difficult to install? Does it require a lot of set up?

    If either of those answers are yes, then you may want to look at a different hub. Spending hours setting up a hub or tweaking it's settings cuts into the time you could be installing devices or programming the logic of your system.
  • Flexibility

    Another thing to consider is the flexibility of the hub.

    Does it support third party apps and devices? For example, if you have a device hooked up in your house that doesn't use Z-Wave, like Nest, you'll want to make sure there is a compatible app that will let you control it through your hub.

    Is there a mobile app and does it work well? Nowadays it's hard to find a hub that doesn't have at least one mobile app, however, you'll want to check the reviews to see if it works well.
  • Accessories

    Does the hub support accessories? There are many types of Z-Wave hub accessories such as alarm panels, phone dialers, and backup batteries. If that's something you need, you'll want to make sure your hub supports it.
  • Technologies Supported

    Does it only support Z-Wave or does it have support ZigBee and Bluetooth as well? You'll want to make sure your hub stays up to date and supports the latest technologies.

    If you don't plan on utilizing any type of device other than Z-Wave, then it won't matter if it supports other wireless protocols.
  • Support and Community

    This may not seem like a necessity, but it is. If there's no support or no community, then chances are the product will not be around long. The best way to check on this, is to see if the hub has a forum. If it does and it appears to have a lot of participation, then it's well supported!

    Another reason you want to make sure your hub is well supported, is the warranty. A warranty is great, but if a company's support sucks, you'll have a hard time getting any warranty work done. That being said, hopefully you never need any warranty work done.
  • Reviews

    Reviews are important to look at, but you want to make sure you're looking at them correctly. For example, if an item has a 1 star review from someone who did not know how to correctly set up their hub, then you can mark that down as user error. On the other hand, if multiple people complained about something breaking after a few weeks, then you should take that to heart and figure out if that's something you want to deal with down the road.

    Reviews are a great way to gauge a product, so make sure you read them thoroughly.

Comparison of the Best Z-Wave Controllers Around

VeraPlus

Smartthings

HomeTroller

Aeotec Z-Stick

Network Protocols

Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi, Bluetooth

Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi, Bluetooth

Z-Wave, Insteon, UPB, X10

Z-Wave                                                  

Cost

$$$

$$

$$$$

$

Plugin Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Works As Router

Yes

No

No

No

​Supports Z-Wave Plus

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Our Top Picks for the Best Z-Wave Hub of 2016

VeraPlus Z-Wave Controller

Pros

  • Multiple Wireless Protocols
  • Works as a Router and Z-Wave Hub
  • Quick Setup
  • Scene Creation Is Easy
  • Multiple Third Party Applications
  • Very Active Community

Cons

  • Updates Are Not Released Often
  • Scene Creation Is Very Limited
  • It's Underpowered

The VeraPlus Z-Wave Hub is an affordable, powerful, and flexible device that offers advanced home security features as well as versatility that is unmatched, all without a monthly fee!

I have a lot of experience using the Vera Hubs (3, Lite, Edge, and Plus) and it's easy to see why VeraPlus is the best of the ​of them. It offers many features in a small, easily hidden, piece of hardware. There's no doubt in our mind, that it is the best Z-Wave hub available!

Features​

  • Prior Vera hubs could only control Z-Wave devices, but with VeraPlus, you can control over 200 devices via Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi, and Bluetooth.
  • Local and cloud access built in. This adds security and convenience to your home automation.
  • VeraPlus is built on top of a 802.11ac router, so you can control your home and connect to wifi with one device. No need to buy an extra router!
  • Z-Wave Plus is built in so you can control the next generation of Z-Wave devices.
  • Energy monitoring is built in to the Vera ecosystem. This is a feature that many people struggle with, so it may make more sense to use an aftermarket meter.

What Others Say

Customer Review

VeraPlus is the latest in the line of Smart Home Controllers from Vera Control, Ltd (formally Mi Casa Verde) out of Hong Kong. It has the highest specs of the 3 controllers from Vera the VeraLite, the VeraEdge and now the VeraPlus… it is also the most expensive.

Built on the MiOS patform, the VeraPlus cam bridge Z-Wave, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, Wi-Fi Direct, Insteon, BACnet, PLC or X10 technologies. Unlike some of the Home Controllers the Vera products have No monthly Fees and No Contracts. It also is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices and is PC Accessible.I use the Android, Window App and the PC browser Accessible control. Adding the devices and configuring them require a little more skill than simply Plug-n-Play so just be aware.

Even though this is a newer controller than the VeraLite and VeraEdge it still has some teething problems. Vera is good at updates and their tech support is capable (with your permission) of taking over and solving some of the problems you might stumble upon since there is a vast array of devices out there that this unit works with. Even things on the Vera “Works With” list can have some problems but customer service generally can get it working or one might have to wait for one of the system updates. There is also a large community out there that will help through Forums and custom programs.

-AZEqualizer

Conclusion​

VeraPlus has a lot of features, a large community, and great support. That isn't to say it has everything, because it is lacking in scene creation and constant updates, but unfortunately, no Z-Wave hub is perfect. That being said, if you're looking for an affordable Z-Wave Hub that can be customized to do pretty much everything you need, this is the best Z-Wave hub for you.

Samsung Smartthings Z-Wave Hub (2nd Gen)

Pros

  • Multiple Wireless Protocols
  • Affordable
  • Quick Setup - Designed For Anyone To Use
  • Very Integrated With Other Home Automation Devices
  • Backup Battery Built In
  • Large Community

Cons

  • Updates Are Not Released Often
  • Programming Is Convoluted
  • Primarily Cloud Based
  • Migrating From Gen 1 to Gen 2 Is a Nightmare

The SmartThings Hub (Gen 2) from Samsung is one of the most popular choices among consumers. Why, you ask? Well, because they integrate with anything and everything. Not only that, but their hub is also very affordable.

SmartThings supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and WiFi devices, so that you can connect an array of devices, which ultimately makes your life easier and your home more secure. This device is well designed, but sadly, it's better marketed than it is supported.

Features​

  • Just Like Vera, you can control well over 200 devices via Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wifi, and Bluetooth, making your home automation system very flexible.
  • SmartThings integrates with virtually every home automation company out there (ie. IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Samsung TVs, and More.
  • Most applications are cloud based, which means that it takes the processing off your device, however, that also means if you lose internet, you're out of luck.
  • The community is very active, so if you have struggles, many forum members can help you.
  • It's affordable compared to other options.

What Others Say

Customer Review

I started off with Iris. The 1st generation did what I wanted, the second generation, which I was eventually forced to use, was way more complicated. Nothing was easy. Smartthings has been incredibly easy to use. Also, all of the features are offered without paying a service charge.

-ADP504

Conclusion​

Samsung's 2nd generation SmartThings hub is great at a lot of things including third party integrations, fast processing by offloading tasks to the cloud, and a cheap price point, however they do lack in certain areas such as support, and scene creation. If you are just getting started in the smart home world, this would be a good hub for you, but if you're looking for a long term solution, I suggest you find another hub.

HomeSeer HomeTroller Zee S2 Z-Wave Controller

Pros

  • Supports a Lot of Protocols
  • Very Customizable
  • Integrates With Many Other Home Automation Devices And Services
  • Extremely Fast - Great Processing Power

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • Can Be Difficult to Setup Due to The Vast Amount of Customization

HomeSeer is one of the must customizable Z-Wave hubs available, however, it's also the most expensive. The HomeTroller Zee S2, which is the predecessor to the original HomeTroller released in 2007, is HomeSeer's cheapest hub, but at double the price of SmartThings, it's not really that cheap.

Not only that, but HomeSeer requires you to buy plug-ins to operate with other applications instead of releasing them for free. This is good and bad, because you don't necessarily need every plugin, but if you use a lot of them, it can get expensive quickly.

Features​

  • The HomeTroller can control hundreds of devices via Z-Wave, Insteon, UPB, X10 and more! It offers a lot of flexibility via multiple wireless protocols, so this controller makes for a very flexible home automation setup.
  • HomeSeer hubs can integrate with virtually every third party application, however it will cost you.
  • You can connect to your HomeTroller via your local network or via the cloud, so you can access it anywhere.
  • HomeSeer's HomeTroller is a great piece of hardware. It's fast, powerful, and very customizable.

What Others Say

Customer Review

This hub is for you if you are a techy. It requires a lot more work up front to get it setup and working how you like than other hubs, but it's also much more flexible than others. Also, note that it's more expensive since you have to buy all the plugins you'll use.

Conclusion​

If you can get past the cost of HomeSeer and it's plugins, it's a very solid ​home automation hub. In fact, it's often regarded as one of the best, so if you have the money, this may be the hub for you. Just make sure you are willing to put in the time to program it and customize your home automation setup.

Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Z-Stick Z-Wave Controller

Pros

  • Very Cheap
  • Easy Setup
  • Integrates With Many Other Home Automation Devices And Services

Cons

  • Only Supports Z-Wave
  • Need Another Piece Of Hardware To Use

The Aeotec Z-Wave Stick from Aeon Labs is above and beyond the cheapest Z-Wave controller out there. The only issue is that you need a computer (or Raspberry Pi) to plug the Z-Wave stick into. Fortunately, that's something you probably already have set up, if you're looking to get into the home automation world.

Features​

  • Aeon Labs makes it easy and cheap to add Z-Wave compatibility to any computer. No need to buy a hub when you can just buy this USB stick.
  • This Z-Wave stick gives you the ability to use whatever home automation software you want, so if one doesn't work how you like, you can just move to another without having to buy a new hub.

What Others Say

Customer Review

I've been using this with openHAB for around 9 months now... no issues at all. Installation was simple and it worked right away. I have it paired with 5 Z-wave devices so far and it seems to have good range.

-S. Martin

Conclusion​

If you want to dip your feet into home automation, but you don't want to spend a lot, this Z-Wave stick is a good option. It's affordable and very customizable, just make sure you look into what software you want to use prior to purchasing the stick, otherwise you may be disappointed.

Conclusion

The best Z-Wave hub for you may not be the best Z-Wave hub for someone else, but you now know which ones are available and how to pick the best Z-Wave controller for your needs. That being said, before deciding on a hub, make sure you understand it's strengths and weaknesses.

Happy automating!

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