With the latest technology available, homeowners have started playing around with home automation. Millions of Americans are enjoying the confidence, control and convenience that home automation brings.
With a large variety of home automation options available, such as video cameras, automated door locks, automated lights that allow you to control your home lights from anywhere in the world. Usually all you need is a computer or a mobile phone to easily control and monitor the many aspects of your home, but now a days players like Honeywell, Vera, Relov, Belkin, and many others have joined to make solutions more consumer friendly.
There are a number of decent home automation companies that exist today. However, these home automation products all vary in features offered and installation costs. In this article we are looking at 4 different Home Automation Hub systems and we are testing to see which provides Value and functionality.
The 4 Home Automation Hub systems:
- Control4 Home Automation Hub
- Honeywell Tuxedo Touch w/ WI-FI
- SmartThings Home Automation Hub
- Vera3 Advanced Z-Wave Controller with WiFi
Home Automation Test Devices.
- GE Wireless Z-Wave Lighting Control Kit
- Eco Bee Smart Si Thermostat
- Nest Learning Thermostat T200577 2nd Generation New!!!
- Kwikset Smartcode Lever Z-Wave Keypad Door Lock
- Aeon Labs Door/Window Sensor
- Z-Wave Motion Detector w/ Temperature Sensor
Control4 was founded in 2003, and call themselves “a life style company whose mission is to deliver an attractive and cost effective way to control and automate many features of the home.” That includes music, video, energy, lighting, and security. Their flexible product architecture can be utilized in a single room and then expanded to the entire house, and is designed to work with over 7,000 consumer electronics products. Many of which can be found at BestBuy.
During testing the Control4 Solution was awesome and we liked that Control4 provides both wired and wireless options for those that are renting, have an older home or plan on moving in the near future and want to take their system with them. Their where significant issues when it came to cost and initial setup. But overall if you want a great solution, and don’t mind the price or paying for installation then this is a great solutions.
Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company that is well known for inventing and manufacturing technologies for home, work and even government applications. Usually technologies such as energy efficiency, clean energy generation, safety and security, globalization and customer productivity. With approximately 132,000 employees worldwide, including more than 22,000 engineers and scientists worldwide these guys are definitely a major player.
For the past 3 weeks we had the interesting pleasure of playing with their Honeywell Tuxedo Touch w/ WI-FI, although it is a great solution at $599 we did feel it a bit limited to functionality and flexibility. We loved the built in display and support was above and beyond expected for a big company. Overall, the solution did put up a fight and is great for someone with a mid level understanding of technology and networking. I would definitely not recommend this to a novice user.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Smartthings, the company was a kickstarter funded project that has taken off. Their amazingly simple and affordable Home Automation solution provides a simple, ingenious way to add some smart features, a variety of home automation devices and smartphone controls to your home. SmartThings also provides responsive technical support at the touch of a button and more importantly their developers are always working to make new solutions like Nest work without the need to spend hours figuring out how to set them up.
With much of the same functionality of other home automation systems, SmartThings gives you several ways to take control of your smart home. The user interface is very easy to use and operates within either an Android or an iOS smartphone app. These apps help the system stay simple.
SmartThings gives you the ability to set simple triggers that work with many types of sensors and devices. For example, when the system detects a presence key fob by the front door, it will unlock a compatible deadbolt without the need for you to use a key. The triggers can also be activated manually, randomly or on a schedule.
The Control4 unit has a very intuative interface earning it the 9 score, but for the price both the Smartthings and Vera3 devices worked very well at a fraction of the price.
All 4 devices had Mobile support for Android and IOS devices and all had a fully featured app. We did experience a minor issue with the Vera 3 android app working on one of our tablets which made it a little difficult during testing but after a few calls with support we ended up trying a different android device and app worked well.
Not much to say here everyone performed very similar although it seems Control has a lot more compatibility as it has a well established ecosystem that comes at a price of course.
Help & Support:
Support score is based on, wait time, support knowledge, patience, and quality. Now a days much of the support is outsourced and very little to no training is given. Everyone did fairly well although Vera support did seem to be out of the country as the rep had a heavy accent which we had a hard time understanding from time to time.
Ease of Installation
We did set up all 3 units in a brand new 1500sqft home. For the most part it was fairly simple to setup with exception to the Control4 unit which requires professional installation. The other units do require some know how when it comes to installing peripherals, but the units them selves are fairly easy to setup.
Vera3 package: $399+
Smarthings: Know and Control Kit : $329
Honeywell Tuxedo w/Wifi: $399+
Overall all 3 units performed fairly well and we had tons of fun coming up with unique ways to play with each unit. We went as far as to try controlling our sprinkler systems. In the end we did all agree that the Smart things unit is the only unit providing the right level of simplicity for the average consumer to be able to build up their own home automation. These days consumers want to save and build as they go and The smart things Hub definetly does the job at the best price, which is why we would like to award it our Editors Choice Award.