Best Home Automation Hubs & Controllers in 2020



Philips Hue Smart Motion Sensor (Installation-Free Exclusive for Philips Hue Lights) Review:


If you are invested in the Hue system, this is a no brainer to buy. I've had it for over 2 months and it's been rock solid. This motion sensor is attached to my refrigerator and controls the over cabinet light strips. I would say that the motion sensor detects me when I'm about 3 feet away from it and turns on the lights before I even get to the kitchen.

The real downside to this device is the Hue app. It does not let you control a particular device, but only all devices in a room. Next, by default, you can only have two time periods, Morning and Night, that the motion sensor knows about. You need to depend on Philips, by going to the HueLabs website to enable more time slots. Their software is very rudimentary and does not give you a lot of choices. However, the motion sensor is rock solid, so that's why I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. I have other Homekit motion sensors, but the Philips Hue Motion Sensor controls my Hue Lightstrip, and the new candelabra bulb: Philips 468926 Hue White Ambiance E12 Candelabra 6 Watt Connected LED Bulb, Works with Amazon Alexa, much better than the other Homekit motion sensors I have. Specifically, the Homekit sensors always turn on the lightstrip and candelabra bulb, but they seem to have trouble turning them off after motion is no longer detected. This might be a Homekit bug. However, the Hue Motion Sensor works flawlessly with these products.

So, despite the rudimentary software, the motion sensor itself works great.

Update 10-10-2017
With the latest update, I converted this motion detector to work with Homekit devices. This motion detector is fast. It switches my lights on faster than the Fibaro, Elgato, and iHome motion sensors. The only downside is that Philips remove the motion detector timeout setting. Right now, that setting appears tot be capped at around 30 seconds. Hopefully, they will bring it back in a future update.



Philips Hue Smart Hub (Works with AlexaÃÃÃÃà Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant) Review:


I struggled with what to include in this review as the product itself is pretty straightforward and really has no meaningful functionality to "review," per se: it either works or it doesn't. In my case, the hub worked just fine, setup was easy enough, and I haven't had any actual trouble with the hub. Since most people looking at the hub are likely considering diving into the Hue system as a whole, my review, instead, will focus on my experience with a relatively built-out Hue system after a few weeks.

My current setup includes two BR-30 multicolor lights in my theater room, three of the same in my kitchen, a LightStrip with multiple extenders in the bedroom, and two A7 lightbulbs for our nightstand lamps in the bedroom. The only "smart" home product that I've owned prior to the Hue lights was two Nest thermostats and a Ring doorbell, so my experience with this category of technology is fairly limited.

Overall, this lights are just fun. Adding lights to the system was straightforward, the automatic detection worked well, and it was easy to get individual lights assigned to rooms and scenes set up. The Hue app itself is fairly easy to use, though some of the UI decisions in the most recent version of the app are a little annoying (for example, having different "tabs" for individual lights and scenes). I've had some hiccups with getting individual lights to "group" together for color changes when setting up scenes, though this has been relatively rare. Setting up scenes was straightforward, though I'll admit I almost immediately deleted most of the included presets since I thought they were a bit strange. But setting up individual scenes with custom colors and brightness was a breeze.

Getting used to using an app - rather than light switches - has been a bit of a challenge. This isn't a fault of the Hue system itself but is something relevant, I think, to the experience of switching to a smart lighting system. A few weeks in, I still accidentally use my light switches at times. I'm looking forward to getting some of the Hue motion sensors to see if this can make the system truly automated; I love the idea of lights turning on and off automatically based on need, and I imagine that this will improve my experience with the system immensely. For now, though, there's definitely a bit of a learning curve to getting used to using an app (and carrying a phone around) to turn your lights on rather than the much more convenient light switch.

The main problem I've had thus far is having individual lights being "unreachable" for, sometimes, long periods of time. Interestingly, the lights still respond to scene changes even when they're listed as "unreachable," but I can't control "unreachable" lights individually. I haven't quite figured out what the issue with this is, and I've verified that all of the firmware for the lights and the iOS app are up-to-date. This seems to mostly happen with the bedroom lights, which are located upstairs while the hub is downstairs, and I wonder if this is part of the problem. Perhaps it'll be less of an issue as I continue to expand the system and have a stronger mesh network throughout the house. But I will say that this has been quite an annoyance that I haven't been able to sort out completely. Not enough to say that I won't continue to buy Hue lights, but certainly something to be aware of if this might be enough to cause you to think twice.

Because of this issue, HomeKit integration has been spotty for me. While the Hue app will allow me to change the lights via scenes even when they're "unreachable," this isn't the case in HomeKit. As a result, I rarely use HomeKit, and frankly I just find the Hue app easier to use. Since I don't have a ton of smart products, I don't necessarily need the deep integration and automation that can be achieved with the HomeKit system.

The brightness and color setting are very granular, and you can create just about any lighting situation you can imagine. You're really only limited to your creativity. For day-to-day use, most of these features are a bit unnecessary, though even at times it can be fun to use some of the different colors. The adjustable brightness and color warmth are incredibly useful on a regular basis. But I can imagine this being a very nice touch for parties or big get togethers.

Overall, do I think the Hue system is work the admittedly high cost? After about $600 to be able to light three rooms, I have to say I don't think so. It's a very fun toy, and I'll continue to expand the system, but I don't see this as a huge game-changer. Maybe it's because I'm not using the system to its fullest extent (e.g., integration with a smart thermostat), but I see this as a very expensive amusement and nothing else. Hopefully the lights will last quite a while: at $30-40 for each replacement, this can very quickly become an expensive system. But for those looking for the ability to fine tune your home lighting setup and are willing to pay the high price, I would definitely recommend it, although perhaps try setting it up in just a room or two to see how it goes before you spend a ton of money for whole-house lighting.



Samsung GP-U999SJVLCAA Smart Things Water Leak Sensor - Automate Lights & Siren For Alert – ZigBee | Accessory to Smart Things Hub White Review:


I upgraded from the generation 2 SmartThings hub (Ethernet-only) and so far this new gen 3 hub works great, love the fact that it's Wi-Fi, I can now place the hub in a more central location. However, there are some caveats. First, I had to use the new SmartThings app to add this hub to my account. The new SmartThings app is pretty, but it lacks a lot of the functionality of the older SmartThings Classic app. For example, I'm not able to add devices that use my custom device handlers in the new app. And some of the custom automations are not available. So, once I got the new hub added to my account using the new app, I uninstalled it and reinstalled the classic app. From the classic app, I was able to set up everything just fine, including my Aeotec doorbell which uses a custom device handler. Once I had everything set up to my liking, I uninstalled the classic app and reinstalled the new app. Everything seems to be working now, except my Aeotec doorbell shows as "Checking status..." all the time (but the doorbell still works). It sounds like the new SmartThings app is still a work-in-progress, I hope they eventually get it updated to the same functionality as the classic app.



BOND | Smart Home Automation |Compatible with Alexa and Google Home |Compatible with iPhone or Android (Renewed) Review:


I can't say enough good things about this product. I have 6 ceiling fans in my home that were purchased within the last 2-3 years. All are stylish, sleek, have remotes, and they replaced 30 year old models. The thought of having to replace these new fans with smart fans, to add voice control and sync with my smart home made me sick. I purchased a certified refurbished BOND and in about an hour I had all 6 fans programed and working with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa. I did have a slight issue initially, because I didn't realize I had old firmware and needed to update, but the BOND customer service team responded within 5 minutes and walked me through the update process. I'd recommend just using "normal" fan features, like power on, power off, fans speed settings and light on, light off. Some of the more advanced remote features like light dimming, timers, random modes, etc... might give you issues. For basic fan/light operation, BOND works perfect.

For $90, I turned 6 ceiling fans that I love into smart fans. I'll also mention that BOND covers my 2,400 sq/ft three story townhouse, controlling all 6 fans split between the three floors. This smart home addition will give you more bang for your buck than any other device on the market. Buy with confidence and enjoy.



Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation [GP-U999SJVLGDA] Smart Home Automation Hub Home Monitoring Smart Devices - Alexa Google Home Compatible - Zigbee, Z-Wave, Cloud to Cloud Protocols – White Review:


I upgraded from the generation 2 SmartThings hub (Ethernet-only) and so far this new gen 3 hub works great, love the fact that it's Wi-Fi, I can now place the hub in a more central location. However, there are some caveats. First, I had to use the new SmartThings app to add this hub to my account. The new SmartThings app is pretty, but it lacks a lot of the functionality of the older SmartThings Classic app. For example, I'm not able to add devices that use my custom device handlers in the new app. And some of the custom automations are not available. So, once I got the new hub added to my account using the new app, I uninstalled it and reinstalled the classic app. From the classic app, I was able to set up everything just fine, including my Aeotec doorbell which uses a custom device handler. Once I had everything set up to my liking, I uninstalled the classic app and reinstalled the new app. Everything seems to be working now, except my Aeotec doorbell shows as "Checking status..." all the time (but the doorbell still works). It sounds like the new SmartThings app is still a work-in-progress, I hope they eventually get it updated to the same functionality as the classic app.



Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor [GP-U999SJVLAAA] Door & Window Sensor - Zigbee - White Review:


I upgraded from the generation 2 SmartThings hub (Ethernet-only) and so far this new gen 3 hub works great, love the fact that it's Wi-Fi, I can now place the hub in a more central location. However, there are some caveats. First, I had to use the new SmartThings app to add this hub to my account. The new SmartThings app is pretty, but it lacks a lot of the functionality of the older SmartThings Classic app. For example, I'm not able to add devices that use my custom device handlers in the new app. And some of the custom automations are not available. So, once I got the new hub added to my account using the new app, I uninstalled it and reinstalled the classic app. From the classic app, I was able to set up everything just fine, including my Aeotec doorbell which uses a custom device handler. Once I had everything set up to my liking, I uninstalled the classic app and reinstalled the new app. Everything seems to be working now, except my Aeotec doorbell shows as "Checking status..." all the time (but the doorbell still works). It sounds like the new SmartThings app is still a work-in-progress, I hope they eventually get it updated to the same functionality as the classic app.



Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor [GP-U999SJVLBAA] with Slim Design and Optional Automated Alerts - Zigbee – White Review:


I upgraded from the generation 2 SmartThings hub (Ethernet-only) and so far this new gen 3 hub works great, love the fact that it's Wi-Fi, I can now place the hub in a more central location. However, there are some caveats. First, I had to use the new SmartThings app to add this hub to my account. The new SmartThings app is pretty, but it lacks a lot of the functionality of the older SmartThings Classic app. For example, I'm not able to add devices that use my custom device handlers in the new app. And some of the custom automations are not available. So, once I got the new hub added to my account using the new app, I uninstalled it and reinstalled the classic app. From the classic app, I was able to set up everything just fine, including my Aeotec doorbell which uses a custom device handler. Once I had everything set up to my liking, I uninstalled the classic app and reinstalled the new app. Everything seems to be working now, except my Aeotec doorbell shows as "Checking status..." all the time (but the doorbell still works). It sounds like the new SmartThings app is still a work-in-progress, I hope they eventually get it updated to the same functionality as the classic app.



Samsung SmartThings Button [GP-U999SJVLEAA] One-Touch Remote Control for Lights, Appliances, and Scenes - SmartThings Hub Compatible - ZigBee - White Review:


I upgraded from the generation 2 SmartThings hub (Ethernet-only) and so far this new gen 3 hub works great, love the fact that it's Wi-Fi, I can now place the hub in a more central location. However, there are some caveats. First, I had to use the new SmartThings app to add this hub to my account. The new SmartThings app is pretty, but it lacks a lot of the functionality of the older SmartThings Classic app. For example, I'm not able to add devices that use my custom device handlers in the new app. And some of the custom automations are not available. So, once I got the new hub added to my account using the new app, I uninstalled it and reinstalled the classic app. From the classic app, I was able to set up everything just fine, including my Aeotec doorbell which uses a custom device handler. Once I had everything set up to my liking, I uninstalled the classic app and reinstalled the new app. Everything seems to be working now, except my Aeotec doorbell shows as "Checking status..." all the time (but the doorbell still works). It sounds like the new SmartThings app is still a work-in-progress, I hope they eventually get it updated to the same functionality as the classic app.



Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub - Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Iris, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Lutron Review:




Logitech 915-000256 Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub & App Review:


Programming has a learning curve, particularly since the manual doesn't tell you that some things require use of the computer application, you simply can't use the app to do them. Used tech support once, and they were very helpful, bounced a number of emails back and forth to accomplish other issues after we got off the phone.

One thing I do not like at all is when you use the app, or application, it has to connect to logitech servers. Haven't had an issue yet with not connecting, but it appears the remote will be useless without internet or if their servers go down. This also means they can discontinue support at any time leaving you with a useless universal remote.

Alexa integration still needs work, but overall is functional.

Another disappointment is how often the remote syncs. Even though I haven't made any changes in weeks, about 1 in 5 times I grab it to use, i have to wait while it syncs. less than a minute, but still, when I grab my remote, I likely want to use it right then not wait.

Another annoyance as covered in other reviews, to skip chapters, you need to hold the forward or reverse button down, otherwise you FF or rewind. That's a serious short coming for a remote that runs $200+ on it's own. They should have cut each button in half to add skip buttons, or just put them on the remote.

Most of my review is complaints because I gave it a 5 star review. I'm obviously recommending it, but rather than rave about the good things, I'd rather list my disappointments for others. Complaints are usually more helpful to me because I can decide based on those if I can live with a device.