Your Buying Guide For Finding The Best Home Automation Gear

Your Buying Guide For Finding The Best Home Automation Gear

Home automation technology is an exciting new trend that can make your life not only more convenient and energy efficient but more exciting! But there are literally thousands of different products out there so how do you know which ones are the best home automation products?

We’ve put this quick guide together to help you get a handle on what your options are. We’ll include some information about home automation security, energy saving, and other exciting applications for the technology. And we’ll also include home automation hub reviews and reviews of other home automation products!

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The Best Applications For Home Automation Technology

There are so many great applications for smart home tech. Let’s just take a quick look at a few of the most impressive ones:

  • Save on Energy. Smart products use less energy because they can automatically turn themselves on and off depending on whether you need them. Never leave a light on in an empty room again! And forget about fretting about whether or not your turned your thermostat off before leaving the house!
  • Give independence to the elderly and disabled. With home automation, it becomes easier for the elderly and disabled to get around their house and manage their lives with a degree of independence that would be impossible with regular home appliances.
  • Improve security. A smart security system with cameras, sensors, and alarms can not only make your home more secure but give you more control. Lock and unlock doors remotely from your home. Check in on different parts of your house by using your phone to watch a livestream from your camera. This kind of reassurance and control is worth every penny!

There are tons of other applications for this technology but these are definitely the most popular ones. So with those in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best home automation hubs on the market!

The Top 5 Home Automation Products

A home automation hub is what allows you to manage all of your different devices from one central interface (or hub). Since most devices have apps for your phone, you might think your phone will be enough of a hub. However, having a different app for each device can start to eat up a lot of your phone’s storage space. So we recommend getting a dedicated hub like one of the options below.

Amazon Echo – Black

When it comes to home automation, amazon echo is one of the best places to start. It can become the central home automation hub that links together all of the smart home devices you have in your home. And beyond being pretty much the best home automation hub, it is also full of apps or “skills” of its own.

With the amazon echo, home automation becomes a breeze. You can start with this voice controlled home automation device and then build on to your system piece by piece from there. Check out the key specs below:

  • Thousands of “skills”
  • 360 degree omnidirectional speaker for immersive sound
  • ​Totally hands free voice control
  • ​Voice recognition is functional even from across the room
  • Compatible with smart products from leading brands like Samsung, WeMo, Nest, and more.
Amazon Echo Black Review

The Alexa home automation software is super easy to use because it is voice controlled. And the software is getting smarter all the time as various companies are creating new apps (or “skills”) designed specifically for Alexa.

In addition to the thousands of skills, it can also link up to many other smart home products (just check that they are Alexa compatible when you are buying). Any product hooked up to the Alexa home automation software instantly becomes voice controlled since you can simply command Alexa to control that device!

At the moment, there is very little we can say to criticize the Amazon Echo. It’s very well priced and super functional and even fun to use. However, it is worth noting that Google has entered the scene with a competing product, the Google Home.

At this point in time, the Echo is still the stronger of the two in terms of functionality. But the potential of the Google Home is huge. The base software is “smarter” and easier to communicate with so when it does finally have as many “skills” as the Echo has, it will be a worthy rival you may want to consider buying instead.

On the whole, the Amazon Echo is equal parts functional and fun. It has so many cool features and skills and new ones are being added all the time. It’s a great standalone device or a great hub for all of your smart devices!

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All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White

While the Amazon Echo was already pretty affordable as far as hubs go, their new Amazon Echo Dot makes it so affordable, it is almost ridiculous not to get one! Check out the key specs below:

  • Hands free voice control with Amazon Alexa software
  • Connects to speakers or headphones via Bluetooth or audio cable.
  • ​Controls any compatible smart device connected to it.
  • ​Far-field microphones allow for across the room voice recognition.
  • ​Includes a small built in speaker.
  • Includes all of the thousands of skills and features of the Echo
  • Retails for about a third of the price of the Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot 2nd Gen Home Automation

Basically, the dot is all the functionality and smart hub capabilities of the Echo but without the impressive omnidirectional speaker. It has the Alexa home automation software, complete with voice recognition and it can link up to any compatible smart device.

Basically, if you already have a great sound system in your home and don’t really need the speaker on the echo, you might as well save yourself some cash and just get the dot!

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Wink Hub 2

The sleek and modern home automation hub from Wink is a strong contender in the market. Check out the key specs below:

  • Compatible with a diverse range of products (using different protocols).
  • Automatic discovery of smart products in its presence.
  • ​Easy setup process
  • Convenient and intuitive Wink app for managing all of your devices
Wink Hub 2 Specifications

Overall, this is a dependable and good looking hub using your regular internet connection to connect to all of your devices. It’s affordable and functional. If you already own some smart products, this is a great option because it understands multiple protocols (but double check to make sure it understands all the protocols your devices are using).

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Amazon Tap - Alexa-Enabled Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The Amazon Tap is the third release in Amazon’s line of smart home automation hubs. Where the dot is meant to be the budget friendly version of the Echo, the Tap is meant to be the portable, travel version. Let’s take a look at some of the key specs below:

  • Voice control capabilities
  • 360 degree omnidirectional speaker
  • ​Wireless design so that it can be used on the go.
  • ​Battery life of up to 9 hours.
  • All of the thousands of skills and features available with Alexa (although limited if you are using without internet).
Amazon Tap Specifications

The reason it is called a Tap is because, when you aren’t connected to Wifi or a mobile hotspot, you have to tap on the device to activate it. However, once you’ve tapped on it, you can make verbal requests. So it is still mostly voice controlled. And when you are connected to the internet, you don’t need to tap. You use it just like you would the Echo or Dot.

This is the best way to take the convenience and functionality of smart devices on the go! And it is cheaper than the Echo so you could even use it as your home automation hub as well.

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Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd Generation

Samsung has made its own home automation hub which is primarily designed to work with its products but also works with anything using the same protocol. Check out the key specs below:

  • Connects wirelessly to compatible smart devices
  • Continue to build by adding new smart devices as you get them
  • ​Use either the SmartThings app or Amazon Alexa to control your home
  • Connects via your regular internet connection.
Samsung Smart Hub 2 Specs

The main drawback here is that it is not as universal as, say, an Echo (or any of Amazon’s other options). However, this new hub allows you to use either the SmartThings app from Samsung or Amazon Alexa software to control your devices so this has improved the versatility quite a bit. It’s still not as a versatile as an Amazon hub but it’s definitely a great option to consider!

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Final Word

When shopping for smart home products, you need to be aware of home automation protocols. A protocol is essentially the language your device speaks. For a truly smart home, you’ll want every device you have to speak the same language so that they can all communicate with each other. Failing that, the best hub for home automation will be one that speaks all the languages your different devices speak so that it can act as the sort of translator between them.

Starting with a smart home automation kit is a great way to make the set up process easier. Plus, with a kit, you can be sure that every device in it is using the same protocol so communication between devices will not be an issue!

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