Best and Newest Z-Wave Hubs for 2018

Z-Wave Hubs for 2018

It’s a great time to bring your home into the 21st century and take advantage of what home automation has to offer. Z-Wave hubs lead the way with many advancements that make it easier than ever to automate your home.

And the winner is...

If you're just looking for the results, we won't keep you waiting. The best selling Z-Wave hub, and the one we recommend, is the Samsung Smart Things Smart Home Hub. Grab yours now on Amazon.


Three trends in smart home technology

  • Improved voice control for Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and other voice assistants
  • Smart products that help you take better care of yourself
  • Deeper integration with kitchen appliances, including air fryers and sous vide machines

What Is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave is a wireless protocol used to allow smart home devices to communicate with a central hub or each other. Z-wave operates at 900MHz. This prevents interference from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi channels. Z-Wave is also optimized for reliability and performance, with data rates of up to 100kbs.

Z-Wave Hubs logo

According to the Z-Wave Alliance, Z-Wave currently supports at least 1,300 different smart home products.  Currently, there are over 2,400 Z-Wave products around the world. To learn more about Z-Wave and the Z-Wave Alliance, check out these resources:

What is Z-Wave Plus?

Z-Wave Plus certification identifies products that take advantage of the latest advances in this technology. Other names for Z-Wave Plus include: Z-Wave for Gen5, 5th Generation, or the 500 Series. Look for the Z-Wave Plus Logo to identify state-of-the-art smart home devices.

Z-Wave Plus logo

Exciting advances in Z-Wave Plus technology improves performance with extended capabilities that include:

  • Faster processors
  • Increased operating range
  • Mesh networking to eliminate dead spots
  • star
    Over The Air (OTA) upgrading
  • star
    Additional wireless channels
  • star
    Extended battery life
  • star
    Easier installation and setup
  • star
    Improved device profiles
  • star
    Better self-healing

Creation of your smart home has never been easier. Take control of home comfort, lighting, and security at the touch of a few buttons. Z-Wave Plus smart devices send you their status so you won’t wonder if you forgot to turn the oven off before you left.

To take full advantage of Z-Wave Plus technology, be sure to buy a Z-Wave Plus controller. If you purchased a Z-Wave hub, your Z-Wave Plus devices will fall back to Z-Wave compatibility.

What Is a Smart Appliance?

Smart appliances are equipped with controls and sensors that allow you to program them  through the hub. For example, a smart freezer will send you a text or email if it's not staying cold enough.

Many popular brands, such as GE, Kohler, Kenmore, and others make Z-Wave compatible products. Just look for the Z-Wave logo on the product. If you see the Z-Wave logo, it’s compatible and will work with your Z-Wave hub.

Newest and Best Z-Wave Hubs of 2018

How to Choose the Right Z-Wave Hub for your Home and Budget

There are some important considerations when thinking about a Z-Wave hub for your smart home, including:

  • Smart appliances you already own
  • What you want to automate in your home
  • How much you plan to invest in home automation
  • Installation of your Z-Wave system

Smart Appliances - Do you have any smart appliances in your home, or do you plan to make smart appliance purchases in the near future? Take a few minutes and check your electronics (TVs, etc.) and kitchen appliances to start. You may be surprised at how many smart appliances you already own!

Smart appliances are equipped with controls and sensors that allow you to program it through the hub. For example, a smart freezer will send you a text or email if it's not staying cold enough.

Home Automation - What do you plan to automate in your home? The most common home automations include:

  • Security
  • Lighting
  • Heating and Cooling

Other automation possibilities exist that include lawn irrigation, outdoor lighting, and entertainment systems.

Budget - How much do you plan to invest in your smart home? Think about the cost of installation plus any smart devices you need to buy.

Installation - Do you plan to hire a professional for installation, or are you planning to do all installation and setup of appliances yourself?

Top 5 Z-Wave Hubs for 2018

Simple setup and ease of use drive Z-Wave’s popularity. For 2018, we have the top 5 Z-Wave hubs with different options to suit your smart home needs and budget.

Samsung SmartThings
Smart Home Hub
Wink 2 Hub
Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5
Vera Control 
VeraPlus-US
Smart Home 
Controller Hub
Wink Connected Home Hub

CPU

1GHz ARM

Cortex-A9

n/a

n/a

880MHz

MIPS SoC

n/a

RAM

512MB DDR3

512MB 

n/a

256MB DDR3

n/a

Flash 

Memory

4GB

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

USB Ports

2

1

Battery Backup

Video

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Compatible

With

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Bluetooth

Wi-Fi

Kidde

Lutron

Clear 

Connect

Z-Wave

Z-Wave

ZigBee HA 1.2

Bluetooth LE

Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 4.0


Z-Wave

Operating Frequency

Z-Wave: 908.42MHZ

ZigBee: 2.4GHz


2.4GHz

5GHz

n/a

n/a

n/a

Operating Range

130 feet

n/a

492 feet

n/a

n/a

Connectivity

Ethernet

Ethernet

Wi-Fi

USB Port

Ethernet

Ethernet

Mesh Network

n/a

n/a

n/a

Device Capacity

Z-Wave: 232

ZigBee: No Set Limit

n/a

Z-Wave: 232

75 - 125 devices

n/a

Wireless Channels

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Bluetooth LE

Clear Connect

Z-Wave Plus

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Bluetooth

Z-Wave Plus

Cloud-Based Operation

Home-Based Operation

Application

Availability

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Echo

Google Home

Assistant

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Echo

n/a

Amazon Alexa

n/a

IFTTT Recipes

n/a

n/a

n/a

Monthly Fees

1. Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub

This second-generation hub allows you to connect a broad range of smart home devices and appliances. Lights, switches, speakers, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more are available. Increased processing power and faster performance make this smart hub a great value.

To simplify home automation, Samsung offers a variety of kits, such as this home security package, for monitoring your home while you’re away.

Use the free Smart Things app on your Apple, Android, or Windows phone. Improved layout and controls make using the app to control your smart home easier than ever. It is one of the only hubs compatible with Google Home as well.

Pros

  • AC adaptor with backup power from 4 AA batteries
  • Operating range of up to 130 feet
  • Google Home and Amazon Alexa Integration
  • No monthly fee

Cons

  • Must be connected to a router with Ethernet cable (included)
  • Cloud-based operation may cause random outages
  • Laggy live video

Evaluation - The Samsung SmartThings Home hub has a lot going for it with high performance and a wide variety of applications. A good choice for anyone looking to create a smart home.

Wink Hub 2

The Wink Hub 2 works with a wide variety of devices and protocols, making it one of the most widely supported hubs available. Increased processing power, more memory, and improved security are among recent improvements. Other upgrades include Bluetooth support and much easier setup and pairing with devices.

Alexa users can control the hub using voice commands. For more advanced smart home users, the Wink Hub 2 also works with IFTTT recipes.

Pros

  • Cloud-free in-home operation
  • Wireless installation operation
  • No monthly fee

Cons

  • Lacks battery backup
  • No USB ports

Evaluation - Support for virtually all wireless protocols makes it an easy choice for the smart home novice and techie. With Alexa voice control commands, the Wink Hub 2 is a great choice.

3. Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5

The Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 is a USB stick allows you to create your own Z-Wave hub and host it locally on your desktop or laptop. Compatible with Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus devices, you can control up to 232 different devices at a time.

The Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 USB stick gives you full control over your smart home network, security, and privacy. Use your own desktop or laptop to create a Z-Wave gateway for your smart home system.

Optimized to run on both conventional PCs and low-powered PCs such as the RaspBerry Pi, the Z-Stick Gen5 works with open-source software that includes Domoticz, OpenHab, OpenHab 2, and Home Assistant. You can use the stick with commercial software, too, such as Indigo for MacOS, Homeseer, and Axial Control.

Pros

  • Greater range and faster data rates
  • Cloud-free, in-home operation
  • Use your favorite home automation software
  • Upgradeable firmware
  • Build and configure your smart home network the way you want
  • Run on Windows PCs, Macs, Linux, or Raspberry P
  • Use GUI to include or remove Z-Wave devices
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium battery for power
  • Immune from multi-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interference
  • Operating distance up to 500 feet in normal mode
  • No monthly fees

Cons

  • Need to download and install Z-Stick drivers and software
  • May be overwhelming for a tech novice to get up and running
  • Inclusion/removal of items may be confusing for first-time users

Evaluation - The Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 is a Z-Wave gateway device that is better suited for DIYers. If you are comfortable installing drivers and software, then setting everything up from scratch, this is the gateway for you. The Z-Stick offers a lot of flexibility for the DIY techie who wants to build out a secure, state-of-art smart home network.

4. Vera Control VeraPlus-US Smart Home Controller Hub

The VeraPlus controller works with a broad variety of smart home products and security brands, including Alexa, Schlage, Yale, First Alert, Nest, and others.

Use the VeraPlus controller for Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE, and multi-band Wi-Fi compatible smart devices. This model allows you to connect up to 125 different smart home devices and has multi-band Wi-Fi compatibility.

The free mobile app places smart home management at your fingertips, no matter where you are. Intuitive, organized interface layout offers options for each aspect of your home's automation.

Pros

  • Cloud-free local operation
  • Easy to add/remove smart devices
  • Compatible with most smart home devices

Cons

  • Battery backup must be purchased separately
  • Device capacity is a little over half of that for other similarly priced hubs
  • Must connect with router using an Ethernet cable
  • May be difficult for novice smart home users to set up 

Evaluation - The VeraPlus is a smart home hub that asks a lot for the price and comes up a bit short on value. Other products in the same price range are easier to set up and use, and allow connection for up to 200 devices or more. This is nearly double the 125 devices you can connect with the VeraPlus. in the spec list.

5. Wink Connected Home Hub

The Wink Connected Home Hub comes in at about a third of the cost of the other hubs on this list. Like it’s cousin, the Wink Hub 2, it offers cloud-free operation that prevents outages even if the internet goes down.

The Wink Connected Home Hub also boasts compatibility with a wide range of protocols and smart devices that include Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Lutron Clear Connect, and Kidde.

To stay connected with your smart home, download and install the free Wink app from the Apple Store or Google Play. Manage your smart home from anywhere through it’s easy-to-use UI. Use Shortcuts to control several smart devices at once, and create Robots to control the way your smart devices talk to each other.

Oddly, the Wink Connected Home hub requires that it be connected to a 2.4GHz router that runs WPA-PSK, open security, or WEP. It does not currently support 5GHz networks. Recently, non-broadcasting was added to further improve its security.

Pros

  • Cloud-free local operation
  • Easy to add/remove smart devices
  • Compatible with most smart home devices

Cons

  • Battery backup must be purchased separately
  • Device capacity is a little over half of that for other similarly priced hubs
  • Must connect with router using an Ethernet cable
  • May be difficult for novice smart home users to set up 

Evaluation -The Wink Connected Home hub is inexpensive. Multiple limitations make this device less desirable, even at its much lower price point. A quality smart home hub should not require the user to go through multiple steps to ensure that everything will work. Rather, the hub should be basically ‘plug and play’, capable of working with the router you already have (assuming it’s only a few years old). The added inconvenience of having to look for a specific type of Z-Wave compatibility on smart home products may be a deal breaker for some consumers. Other hub options may be more expensive, yet they will be much more likely to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

The Future of Home Automation Is Here

Thousands of smart devices have flooded the market as more people become aware of the convenience and value of a smart home. Want to cool the house down for an afternoon nap? You can do that with a smart hub through its convenient mobile app.

Need to go shopping for a couple hours while roasting prime rib in the oven? Set the temperature you want it cooked to and let your smart oven do the rest, all through your hub’s app.

Save money with a smart energy management strategy that uses your smart home network to control all of your plugged in devices. Turn all non-critical devices off with smart outlets that can be completely disconnected while those devices are not in use. This can save you up to $100 or more on your annual energy bill.

Leave your home without a single worry with a smart security system that you can monitor and control from anywhere. Get text or email notifications when someone approaches the door to your home or if there is motion detected near your house while you are gone.

What are some of the ways you can think of to bring your home into the 21st century? Let us know in the comments below!

Let's talk

Tony Dean

Author at Z-Wave Zone
I'm a husband, dad and maker, interested in all things creative and constructive. Home automation and smart home gadgets are fun right now, plus arduino, rasp pi, solar heat, and lots of other stuff.
Let's talk
About the author

Tony Dean

I'm a husband, dad and maker, interested in all things creative and constructive. Home automation and smart home gadgets are fun right now, plus arduino, rasp pi, solar heat, and lots of other stuff.

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