Home Controls 2021 Guide to Smart Home Hubs

Written by
Home Controls
Published on
June 21, 2021 10:30:00 AM PDT June 21, 2021 10:30:00 AM PDTst, June 21, 2021 10:30:00 AM PDT

Smart home controllers are becoming a mainstay in most homes, whether you are using a standalone automation hub, a virtual assistant device like Amazon Echo or Google Mini, or a combination of both. Searching for the right controller to fulfill your needs or work with your preferred or existing devices can be exhausting amongst the sea of available options and compatibility restrictions.

Home Controls is here to help with its updated guide to find the right smart home hub for your home.


Getting Started


There are a lot of available home automation and security systems, but each system comes with its own set of compatible devices, wireless communication channels, and mobile apps to operate. The key is to have one central device – a “hub” – that is capable of managing and controlling the devices you want and creating the automated functions needed to make your home a smart home.


This is the criteria we used to distinguish between the various hubs available on our web store:


  • Price: This one is pretty self-explanatory; how much money will you have to spend to get the home automation controller you want? Certain hubs only require that you purchase the product itself, while others may require a monthly subscription fee for integral or additional services.
  • Languages: How many different protocols can your hub “speak”? In other words, what kinds of devices are compatible with it? Certain devices not only speak Z-Wave, but also ZigBee, UPB, Wi-Fi, and more!
  • Access: Can you access the hub when you’re away from home? Is it accessible through your smartphone and computer, or just your smartphone?
  • Size and Scenes: With any hub, you will be able to automate your controlled devices to perform actions based on various criteria. Where hubs differ, however, is in how large and complex your automated networks can get. Different hubs can support completely different amounts of devices and scenes depending on their specifications and communication protocols. The level of complexity you desire in your automations make a difference in which hub you ultimately choose.
  • Local vs. Cloud: Certain hubs communicate directly with paired Z-Wave devices through a local network created within the home. Other hubs communicate indirectly through a cloud server. This becomes important if and when the Internet in your home goes out. Those systems using cloud communication will only be able to connect to the cloud server if you have a cellular backup. If you don’t have a backup and your connection goes out, you’re out of luck and won’t be able to control the system. On the other hand, if your hub uses a local network and the Internet goes out, the system will still be able to communicate and your local remote controllers will function normally even without a cell backup. You just won’t be able to access the system over the Internet until your connection returns.
  • Voice Control Compatible: Many hubs support voice control functionality by pairing with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Having a hands-free option for controlling your smart home adds to the feeling of living in a personalized smart home!
  • Additional Features: Each hub may have features that we find unique or important to point out. Some of these additional features may even prove to be the deciding factor in selecting your Z-Wave hub!


Now that we’ve developed an understanding of the criteria needed to compare Z-Wave systems, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular hubs to find which one is the best fit for you.



EzloPlus (Vera)


  • Price: $119.95 (hub only, no subscription required)
  • Languages: Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi
  • Access: Smart mobile device (iOS 9.1+/Android 8.1+) or web portal
  • Scenes: Up to 2000 “nodes” consisting of connected devices and programmed scenes
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local
  • Voice Control Compatible: Amazon Alexa and Google Home, capable of bridging platform exclusivity with Ezlo VOI platform
  • Additional:
  • EzloCast decreases signal lag sent to grouped devices, speeding up scene control
  • Z-Wave 700 and Z-Wave LR increases the power, range, size, and security of your network compared to older Z-Wave devices
  • Ezlo VOI platform unites voice control services through the Vera app, allowing for virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa to command devices that are not natively compatible
  • Dedicated YouTube channel with plenty of “How-To” videos


The Ezlo Plus is one of Ezlo’s most powerful automation controllers. The Ezlo Plus includes the unique Ezlo VOI platform that brings all voice controllable devices, regardless of service compatibility, into a singular network through the Vera application. This allows virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home to command devices that are not normally supported by them by having the Vera app translate and redirect the message to through the compatible service and network protocol. It supports devices that communicate over Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave 700, the latest Z-Wave software which improves the size and range of a single Z-Wave network.


EzloSecure (Vera)


  • Price: $229.95 ($19.95 per month Ezlo Protect subscription required for 4G LTE backup service)
  • Languages: Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and RF 345/433 MHz
  • Access: Smart mobile device (iOS 9.1+/Android 8.1+) or web portal
  • Size and Scenes: Up to 2000 “nodes” consisting of connected devices and programmed scenes
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local with built-in backup
  • Voice Control Compatible: Amazon Alexa and Google Home, capable of bridging platform exclusivity with Ezlo VOI platform
  • Additional:
  • Built-in backup battery and 4G LTE module for continued performance in power or wireless outages
  • EzloCast decreases signal lag sent to grouped devices, speeding up scene control
  • Z-Wave 700 and Z-Wave LR increases the power, range, size, and security of your network compared to older Z-Wave devices
  • Ezlo VOI platform unites voice control services through the Vera app, allowing for virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa to command devices that are not natively compatible
  • Dedicated YouTube channel with plenty of “How-To” videos


The Ezlo Secure is effectively the Ezlo Plus with additional built-in features catered towards smart security networks. A built-in siren module, backup battery, and 4G LTE backup connectivity offer a layer of protection for your network in emergency situations. Compatibility with 345 and 433 MHz security sensors and devices increases the potential amount of security scenes and devices that can be added to your network. The built-in modules and additional device compatibility makes the Ezlo Secure the perfect choice for experienced smart home users and one the best automation and security controllers available.



FIBARO Z-Wave Home Center Lite (FIBARO)


  • Price: $149.00
  • Languages: Z-Wave & Wi-Fi
  • Access: Smart mobile device (iOS/Android) or web portal
  • Size and Scenes: Supports a mix of up to 230 devices and scenes
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local memory with disc backup
  • Voice Control Compatible: Amazon Alexa and Google Home
  • Additional:
  • Linux-based operating system
  • User friendly block-style interface simplifies scene creation
  • Geo-location assists in proximity based automation


The user-friendly interface of FIBARO app and website simplifies adding new devices and creating automation scenes. It is a perfect system for those of you who are committed to Z-Wave and want top-notch, reliable service all throughout the house.



Nexia Bridge (Nexia)


  • Price: $85.95 (hub only)
  • $9.99 monthly fee (required)
  • Languages: Z-Wave
  • Access: Smart device (iOS/Android/Windows), computer
  • Size and Scenes: Supports a mix of up to 230 devices and scenes. Can only be programmed on the computer.
  • Local vs. Cloud: Cloud
  • Voice Control Compatible: Compatible with Alexa via Amazon Echo, and Google Home
  • Additional:
  • Incredibly user-friendly interface
  • Uses SSL encryption for added security


The simplicity of the Nexia app and website interface makes working with the Nexia Bridge painless. The ability to terminate your subscription at anytime, penalty-free, is also a nice touch, although it shouldn’t be necessary due to the system’s hassle-free, reliable nature. It is a perfect system for those of you who are committed to Z-Wave and want top-notch, reliable service all throughout the house.



Qolsys IQ Panel 2+ (Qolsys)


  • Price: $555 (panel only, Alarm.com monitoring account required), varies with similar models
  • Languages: Verizon LTE, Z-Wave Plus, PowerG, 433 MHz, and Bluetooth
  • Access: Local touchscreen panel, remote smart device (iOS/Android/Windows)
  • Size and Scenes: Up to 5 Alarm.com Image Sensors, up to 152 Z-Wave devices and scenes, up to 128 RF devices and zones
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local memory with Alarm.com web account
  • Voice Control Compatible: Amazon Alexa and Google home
  • Additional:
  • Touchscreen panel includes 5MP camera, microphone and speakers, and MicroSD card slot
  • Dual path Wi-Fi and LTE wireless networks provides consistent connectivity
  • Built-in sensors, battery backup, and siren provide reliable security options


The Qolsys IQ Panel 2+ is loaded with plenty of built-in features that make it perfect for smart automation and/or security networks. The touchscreen display presents an organized and easy to navigate dashboard for managing your network and checking the status of devices and activated scenes. Finally, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2+ is battery backup, dual path Wi-Fi and LTE wireless network, and Alarm.com online connection keeps your system safe from completely deactivating in the event of power or network outages.



ZipaBox2 (Zipato)


  • Price: $152.63 (hub only, no subscription required)
  • Languages: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (with expansion options: Z-Wave Plus, ZigBee, 433 MHz, KNX, ONVIF, UPnP, DLNA)
  • Access: Smart mobile device (iOS/Android), computer
  • Scenes: Neat drag-and-drop block interface for creating complicated automations.
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local
  • Additional:
  • Helpful series of YouTube videos
  • Modular design provides select functionality (battery backup, security, ZigBee, KNX, and more)


Zipato’s ability to support complex automations is perfect for people who want a truly customizable network; with Zipabox2 you are paying for exactly what you are building towards. The unique modular design of this controller may lend itself to be better utilized by tech-minded individuals, but the online interface is both user friendly and incredibly useful for creating any kind of automated functions. Finally, Zipato’s online videos can help you realize this machine’s full potential.



ZipaTile2 (Zipato)


  • Price: $599.00 (includes free access to Zipato web portal)
  • Languages: Z-Wave Plus, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, EnOcean, 433 MHz, ULE, and 3G/4G wireless
  • Access: ZipaTile2 touchscreen, Smart mobile device (iOS/Android), or computer
  • Scenes: Use Zipato Rule Creator via the web portal to create “rules” for your connected devices.
  • Local vs. Cloud: Local with cloud backup
  • Voice Control Compatible: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Homekit
  • Additional:
  • ZipaTile tablet can be wall-mounted or sit on a tabletop stand
  • Touchscreen functionality
  • Built-in sensors, speaker, microphone, and camera
  • Can be used as a stand-alone security device
  • Available in black or white


Zipato’s ZipaTile2 is ideal for those who prefer having a stylish local controller for their smart home. The ZipaTile2 tablet is a very nice looking device that will add a modern aesthetic to any room’s decor, especially when mounted on a wall. The fact that this feature-filled touchscreen hub serves as the main command center for all of your home automation devices and includes multiple built-in sensors, as well as components to act as a video intercom, means it will absolutely take your smart home automation to a whole new level. Even though the ZipaTile2 serves as a complete system out of the box, it will best be appreciated by DIYers who aren’t afraid to put extra time into it to enjoy all of its wonderful features.