If a search for finding the best Z-Wave controller had you overwhelmed at first glance, you’re not alone. It is often difficult to find the best smart home controller for your home with so many options. We’re here to simplify your search. To help, we’ll explain why you should go with a z-wave smart hub and we’ll help narrow down your search with a look at the current best Z-Wave controllers that you should consider for your smart home automation system.
What Is a Home Automation Controller?
As technology advances, homes are becoming “smarter”, meaning you are able to control various devices in your home from anywhere in the world via the internet. You can remotely turn appliances and lights on and off, control the temperature and humidity, open and lock doors, open and shut your garage, monitor the energy usage in your home and even detect any movement on your property.
Owning a “smart home” jam-packed with “smart devices” sounds fantastic, however, controlling all of these devices using different apps can make running your smart home a headache. This is where a home automation controller comes in to play.
A home automation controller, also referred to as a smart hub, is the brains of your connected home which allows you to remotely access and control all of your home automation devices using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Think of it as a universal remote that you can use to control all of the smart devices and equipment in and around your home, all from a single interface.
How Does a Home Automation Controller Work?
Once setup, the smart hub connects to various smart devices in your home using protocols. There are many various protocols that you may opt for when choosing a smart hub. Before you purchase a smart hub, it’s important to know what protocol the hub uses as this will be the basis for all smart devices you purchase going forward. Each protocol is essentially a language that your smart hub uses to communicate with other devices in order to instruct them to carry out various actions.
Ultimately, smart hubs make your smart home much easier to manage. Having several smart devices across different brands often means needing different apps to control and run your smart home and managing several different apps can become quite a hassle. A smart hub is the solution for this and allows you to control all of the different devices in your home from a single, user-friendly interface. This helps to save time and effort in a big way. No more scrabbling around your phone to find the correct app for the right device!
Best Z-Wave Controllers for Home Automation
The Samsung SmartThings Hub tops our list with support for Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave devices. These three protocols are expected to be the future of Home Automation in the subsequent years. The SmartThings Hub was originally launched by SmartThings, a US-based company, which was acquired by Samsung in 2014 that introduced the 2nd Generation Samsung SmartThings Hub.
Samsung’s SmartThings Hub is equipped with a powerful processor, video camera support, battery backup, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The controller is easy to install and allows you to control most of the devices connected to it from your smartphone.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is reasonably priced and is one of the best home automation controllers available currently in the market.
Key Features of the Samsung SmartThings Hub:
- Quick and simple installation and setup
- Compatible with many connectivity protocols: ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Compatible with most smart devices
- Compatible with iOS (8.1 and above), Android (4.0 and above) and Windows phones (8.1 and above)
- Compatible with Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple watch
- Battery backup: 10 hours
Wink Hub 2 is the second-generation z-wave controller from Wink. It is sleek and slim and can connect to many smart devices. Wink Hub 2 is equipped with a more powerful processor and an intuitive interface. The versatility and affordability make the Wink Hub 2 a very desirable home automation controller.
Wink also develops a number of products that work directly with the Wink smartphone app and does not require you to purchase the controller.
Features of the Wink Hub 2
- Connects to many devices: ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde
- Built-in support for Google’s Thread interface
- Powerful processor
- Equipped with 5 GHz Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port
One of the first Z-Wave home automation controllers was the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite from Vera Control. VeraEdge and VeraPlus were launched subsequently. VeraLite has an easy plug-and-play installation. You can just plug-in your existing internet router and use the Z-Wave protocol to control all your smart devices wirelessly. One hub can be used to control up to 70 devices at a time.
VeraLite’s mobile app is very intuitive and is compatible with iOS and Android devices. You can also access the VeraLite app from a Windows-based laptop or PC. The VeraLite hub is one of the most affordable smart hubs in the market today.
What really makes us add the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite in our list of best smart home controllers available is the fact that this z-wave controller comes with an energy monitor. This monitor optimizes the monthly energy consumption of the users and cuts down on on your energy bill.
Features of the Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller
- Compatible with Z-Wave technology
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Easy and quick plug-and-play installation
- Customized text and email alerts
- Highly intuitive mobile app
HomeSeer S6 is ideal if you have several different devices that you want to streamline and control using one single access point. You can control things around your home such as thermostats, lighting, security, door locks, irrigation, etc., using your smartphone. You can also access the HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 via the cloud with any computer, tablet or smartphone. The free cloud-based “myHomeSeer Remote” service allows you easy remote access and does not store any of your sensitive data in the cloud.
Features of the HomeSeer HomeTroller S6
- Supports all types of iOS and Android devices and all major protocols
- HS3 control software, text-to-speech processing, voice programming / control / recognition, HSTouch Lite GUI, App Store updater
- 2GB RAM memory and 32GB SSD HomeSeer standard free cloud storage
- Windows 7 operating system
- Z-Wave and HSInsteon software plug-in
- Email or text alerts
- 15 watts energy consumption, environment-friendly
The Bottom Line
If you want a smart hub that is simple to setup and easy to use, we highly recommend the SmartThings hub as the best z-wave controller currently available. If you want something more advanced, go for the Homeseer smart hub or if you want something in the middle, we recommend the VeraLite.
Whatever the case, these are the best z-wave controllers on the market today and once your first smart device connected, you’ll be looking for more ways to automate your home!