As you build your smart home room by room, you may begin to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of devices to keep track of, especially if every device has an app on your phone. If you want to organize all your smart home devices in one place, you need a smart home controller, otherwise known as a smart home hub or smart speaker.

Like a streaming device brings together all your favorite streaming platforms, a smart home controller centralizes the command center for all the smart devices in your home. Smart speakers can also be considered smart home controllers, as they perform many of the same functions, just with different technology.

By controlling all your smart devices in one app, you can free up some space on your phone, set schedules, and get your devices to interact and work together to create the smart home experience you want.

Woman adjusts the temperature in her home using a smart home hub

How does a smart home hub work?

Using a wireless connection, home automation hubs organize and consolidate your smart home devices so you can control them in one place. These tools use different wireless networks to connect smart home devices, including WiFi, Bluetooth®, or Z-Wave® and Zigbee. Once your various devices are all connected to the smart home hub, you can manage and monitor them remotely with an app.

Because there is little standardization within the smart home industry, many smart home devices use different systems and networks to connect, which can make them incompatible with each other on their own. But by connecting to the signals broadcasted by a smart home hub or through a cloud-based system, like Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, or Apple Homekit®, your devices can talk to each other and work together.

Smart home hubs come in all shapes and sizes. Some have display screens, which offer touch screen functionality and allow you to call your family and stay connected as well. Others allow you to organize your devices by floor or room in your house. And still others are smart speakers that do a lot more than play music; you can use Alexa or Google Home™ to control your smart devices, too.

Man uses his smartphone to control his smart home

What can you do with a smart home hub?

With a smart home hub or speaker, you can control your devices from your phone, set up schedules, and even create routines so your devices interact with one another.

  • If you’ve set a schedule for your smart blinds to close in the middle of the day to regulate heat, you may also connect your smart thermostat to kick in the air conditioning simultaneously, so your space is the right temperature when you come home.
  • If you’re away for vacation and want it to look like someone is home, you can schedule your lights and queue up a playlist to deploy at the same time each evening.
  • Set your bedroom lights to turn on a specific time, for your coffee to brew, and for the shower to start to make your morning routine easier.

What else do you need to know?

There is a level of home automation available for every household these days. Whether you want to start small with just a smart plug, or want to automate your entire apartment, you have options. But whatever you choose, keep these points in mind:

  • Because so many devices use WiFi to connect and communicate with each other, you’ll want to make sure you have enough internet bandwidth and a strong WiFi connection.
  • You can add a WiFi extender to your home to broadcast the signal further for better coverage.
  • It’s crucial to secure your WiFi network; many smart devices can be hacked if you don’t take measures to protect yourself.
  • It’s critical to choose a smart home hub or speaker that will be compatible with your other smart home devices. Check with the manufacturer or user guide to ensure that your smart devices and smart home hub have the same functionality (using WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, etc.).

What will you automate first? Let us know at @CenturyLinkHome on social media. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with!