How to Choose Best Smart Home Controller?
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Think of a situation where all the devices are connected to the Internet! And here, we are not talking about just your Smartphone and computers, but absolutely everything – speakers, clocks, lights, cameras, doorbells, window blinds and windows, hot water heaters, household appliances, cooking utensils – anything, you just name it. Now just imagine what may happen if all these devices start talking and communicating to each other and to you also? Perhaps, they will get to send information to you, and execute the commands you give them. We are not speaking about a science fiction here – this is what Internet of Things (IoT) is all about and it is a main part of running smart homes and automated home system.
When we say home automation, it is exactly what it sounds like – you are basically automating your ability to control items in the household – from pet feeders to window blinds – simply by pushing a button or using your voice command. Some tasks, like configuring a lamp to turn on and off as and when required can be comparatively simple and does not cost anything significant. Other ones, like complex surveillance cameras may need a more extensive investment of money, time, and periodic maintenance.
So, let us understand some pertinent details in this article about smart home controller.
The Need of a Smart Home Controller
Every company that sells consumer electronics is now manufacturing its own line of smart devices for the home. This is good in a way because more competition leads to lower prices.
While every company wants that you buy all gadgets of their brand only but this blind brand loyalty is not that wise for the consumers. However, in most cases, the reality is that you end up buying devices manufactured by different companies. The standards used by these companies are different as well. The consequence is that the devices you have bought do not know how to communicate with each other and so you are unable to have seamless smart home experience due to lack of digital integration.
This is the reason smart home controllers are so important for enjoying the leverage of a smart home. They are rather like the interpreters at the United Nations Summit. Imagine a group of people from different cultural backgrounds who speak in totally different languages – interpreters understand these cultural and language differences and enable communication between the countries, or in our case, between the devices.
Requirements for a Smart Home Controller
Before you go for shopping of smart home controller or smart home hub, to convert your home into a seamless smart premise, figure out the requirements first. Some of them could be:
- Flexibility: The home controller should be a powerful and flexible system even if it is not too simple.
- Easy on the pocket: It should not be too expensive and should fit in your budget for the smart home dream.
- Scalability: The technology evolves fast, and smart home technologies are no exception. You should be able to add or modify the hardware or upgrade new wireless protocols if you want and whenever you want without much hassle and cost.
- Vendor Agnostic: The devices for the smart home may be from different brands, but the controller or brain of the smart home should be an independent device without problems of vendor constraints in general.
- Proven Platform: Smart home controllers often get modified and it happens quite frequently, but you should look for something that has already proven its worth in market.
The Best Smart Home Controllers
Now, let us take a look at some of the top smart home controllers available in the market today.
01. Amazon Echo Family for your Smart Home System
Amazon’s useful voice assistant, Alexa is the force behind the Echo, which is a Bluetooth speaker. Alexa is able to work directly with several smart home devices, and also with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control the other devices using “recipes” that you can make yourselves. It may need some amount of configuration, but Alexa can be made to control most of your home gadgets using the sound of your voice. If you already have a preferred speaker, you can connect the low-cost Echo Dot to it and add the functionality of Alexa. Check out the Echo Spot or Echo Show if you want a touch screen to view search results and make video calls.
02. Wink Hub 2 as a Smart Home Controller
The Wink Hub 2 works with devices that use Lutron Clear Connect, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Kidde, and Bluetooth. It is a home controller for the future. It can include almost everything from the spectrum of smart homes like Google Home, Philips Hue Lighting, as well as Net gear Arlo Camera, and many more. It is one of the most widely supported and reliable smart home hub models available.
03. Brilliant Control for Home Automation
A unique wall switch that connects and controls different smart devices in your home using Wi-Fi is all about the Brilliant Control. This home automation controller has a five-inch colour touch screen with button controls that are user friendly, and allow you to control lighting, play music, set the room temperature, check who is at the front door, and much more. It is compliant with several well-known smart home platforms like the Nest, Philips Hue, Ecobee, Sonos, and Ring, and has inbuilt support for Amazon Alexa voice control that allows it to do almost everything that an Echo device is supposed to do. The cost is a little steep, and you may need some knowledge of wiring to install it to set the device. However, it is a smart addition to a modern and high-tech home.
04. Logitech Harmony Elite for Smart Home System
If you are not inclined to talk and control devices and would rather do the old-fashioned way of using push-buttons, then Logical Harmony Elite is the best controller for you. It is the ultimate in universal remotes because it controls much more than just the stereo and the TV. The high-priced controller connects integrated in-built Harmony Home Hub to control other Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or infrared devices in your home.
05. iHome iSP6X Smart Plug as a Smart Device
A smart switch that does everything is not yet in existence. However, the iHome iSP6X Smart Plug comes quite close to this dream. It allows you to easily control appliances and gadgets from your Smartphone and also it has a unique level of third-party integration. It supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control, as well as it is functional with Nest, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink. It does not have the feature of energy monitoring, but does have some of the convenient facilities like stable scheduling options, easy installation, and an intuitive app.
Summing up, now that you know a little more about a smart home controller, why you need it, and the top ones available, it’s time to evaluate your home and the devices you have carefully installed. Of course your budget is one of the deciding factors for this smart modification. If all these points are manageable for you including budget, it’s time to get a smart home controller that will turn your home smarter than the rest!
(We earn a commission for the products purchased through some links in this article)
Indrani Ghosh – In the fourth decade of my life, I decided that I needed something more. I needed to tell everyone my story, but in a way that people would read it. So I have become a part-time writer. My main profession is that of a technical writer and I have been part of the IT industry for 19 years now. I have worked for companies like TCS and Ericsson and clients like Johnson & Johnson, Citi Cards, T-Mobile, Visa, and many more. I love my job and have a great passion for life. My husband is my best friend and he is as passionate about life as I am, though in subtly different ways. I am a loyal friend, a skilled professional, a loving wife and hopefully, soon a published author! I am Easily Reachable on – Facebook, LinkedIn.