Best Z Wave Controller

Choosing the best Z wave controller for your home automation needs can be quite difficult. There are many products in the market using Z wave technology. In this review, we identify some of the best controllers in the market, based on consumer rating, price and features.

What is a Z-Wave Controller?

A controller also called a gateway or a hub is a device used to control a Z wave System. It allows a user to create rules to control different devices in your home. The controller can be used to control devices automatically. For example, you can use the controller to control lights, cameras and other sensors in your home.

Generally, z wave controllers allow a person to control devices remotely using either a smartphone or a computer. With a Z wave controller, you do not have to hard wire your devices. Instead, the controllers allows you to automate all devices. No wires hanging around your home!

A z wave controller uses radio frequency waves to connect all devices. The waves are similar to Wi-Fi but do not depend on internet connection, making them good for any home, regardless of whether it has an internet connection or not.  You can plug and play all devices using central controller, in this case the Z-wave controller.

Choosing the Best Controller

All controllers are similar in terms of their ability to connect and control other devices remotely. There is however, some differences. You need to consider the following when selecting a hub for your home.

Price: of course, you need to consider the price of any device you want to install your home. Some devices require you to only buy the device and plug it to your home system. Some other devices require yearly, or monthly payments. Such devices can be costly in the long term

Reach: All z-wave controllers operate within a specific distance. For a small home you might not require extensions. But if you have a large home, a device with a higher reach is required.

Cloud Control versus Local Control: some controllers communicate with other devices using a local network. Others require an internet connection as they are controlled through the cloud. If your internet connection is not constant, then you need a cellular backup if you are using cloud controlled devices. On the other hand, if your hub uses local network, you do not need an internet connection for your hub to operate.

Protocols: protocols are simply the language that the hub uses to talk with other devices. The protocol of a controller determines the devices that are compatible with the hub. Some hubs use Z-wave protocol alone and may not be compatible with devices that use other protocols such as those that use ZigBee. Others use multiple protocols and can communicate with devices that use Wi-Fi, UPB, ZigBee and others.

Access: the best hub is the one you can access even when you are aware from your home, either using a smartphone, tablet or a PC computer.

Scenes: different hubs come with the ability to perform different actions. The complexity of a hub determines the extent to which you can create different scenes to control your devices. The best devices are those that allow you to create the most complex rules.

Best Z Wave Controllers for your Home Automation Needs

Mi Casa Verde Vera Control Veralife: Best Bang for the Buck

This is the one of the cheapest controllers in the market. In addition to affordability, this controller has multiple features that allow you to automate your home. Some of the key features include:

  • Convenient user interface with easy to follow up steps during setup and operation.
  • Remote control: you can connect this device to the internet and control it remotely, whether you are at work or far from home.
  • Energy monitoring function: you can control the energy consumption of your devices
  • High compatibility: compatible with other devices including Z-wave devices. Is compatible with more than 650 z-wave devices.
  • Allows for video streaming; you can monitor your home using cameras controlled through this hub.
Positives
  • Affordability: it has the least price in the market and comes loaded with features present in other premium devices
  • MIOS App store: the manufacturer of this device has developed iPhone and android based apps to allow you to control the hub through the internet.
  • High compatibility: with this device you can control up to 70 devices, and is compatible with over 650 z-wave devices in the market
  • Plug and Play: easy installation and use. You just need to plug it to your internet connection and the z-wave protocol for use.

Negatives
  • Poor interface design: requires some technical know-how to create conditions and rules, since the hub does not have a drag and drop functionality.

Samsung Smart Things

  • In terms of features, the Samsung Smart Things takes the lead. It comes with so many features that make home automation seamless. You can control multiple devices remotely and this device has been touted as one of the best in the market. The good thing is that it comes in a sleek modern design. The device has the following features:
  • Ability to control multiple devices: whether you want to control sensors, speakers, locks, thermostats, lights and other smart devices, this is the best controller.
  • Easy installation: easy installation guide. This is a plug and play device and easily detects devices installed in your home.
  • Languages: compatible with devices that use cloud to cloud, Wi-Fi, IFTTT, Zigbee and Zwave protocols
  • Access: you can access the hub through your phone, tablet computer or personal computer, but requires internet connection

Additional features

  • App control, through IPhone or Android platform app.
  • Access to Smarthings lab, a community of developers who will allow you to troubleshoot any problems you experience during use.
  • Hello Home: comes with a SMS-like hub control. You can use this function to monitor the device through short messages.
Positives
  • IFTTT functionality. You can use this protocol to code various events, variations and rules.
  • Easy installation and use: detects devices in your home, allowing you to connect seamlessly.
  • Comes with coding functionality, through an app known as Groovy, if you are a techie.
  • Simple and easy to use interface
  • Easy integration with hub software and Alexa
  • Easy recognition of z-wave devices
  • Comes with access to SmartThings lab, an active community that provides information on frequently asked questions and how to use.
  • Has inbuilt 10 hour battery backup

Negatives
  • Requires cellular backup connection and a stable internet connection. If your connection is not stable, then you might not be able to use this hub.
  • Requires monthly subscription for video monitoring. If you want to capture and store video clips, you will have to pay 4.99 dollars every month.
  • Can be tough to set-up, especially when using the companion app.

VeraPlus (Vera)

Named one of the top six controllers in the home automation, VeraPlus comes with all the functionality you need to automate your home. If you are looking for a controller with impressive range and precision, then this is the best choice.

Features

  • Multiple wireless protocols: comes with four inbuilt protocols, Bluetooth BLE, Z-wave, Zigbee and Wi-Fi. You can connect the hub with devices that use these protocols.
  • High compatibility: developed with the sole aim of being the brain of your house, Vera Plus is compatible with practically almost all home devices including those manufactured by Nest, Amazon Alexa, Fibaro, Aeon Labs, First Alert, Kwikset and others.
  • Scene and mode setting: you can easily create scenes to control your devices using this controller. Comes with inbuilt scenes to control devices, depending on whether you are on vacation, at home or it’s during the night.
  • Remote control through internet protocols
  • Comes with access to Vera Services, such as Vera Sentinel to record videos using your security camera and Vera protect, a security monitoring service. You can use Vera protect to call the police, dispatch ambulance or fire fighters in case of an emergency.
Positives
  • Cloud independent. You do not have to worry if you have an internet outage. You can control the device even when there is no internet as it is not cloud dependent.
  • Manufacturer support. The company has a decent customer support system and will readily assist you if you have difficulties installing or configuring your system.
  • High compatibility and support for different devices: you can control more than 200 devices using this controller. Whether it is lights, locks, or sensors, you name it.
  • Easy access through laptop, tablet or phone operating system.

Negatives
  •  Poor user interface design: the web and app interface is not slow and buggy and can be frustrating.
  • There is lack of documentation for Lua programming that allows you to create custom scripts and scenes
  • Issues with plugins. Some customers have complained that some the plugins that come with the hub are outdated or broken. However, you can contact the manufacturer to assist you.

Wink Hub 2

Wink Hub 2 is the successor of Wink Hub 1, and comes with improvements over its predecessor. The features of this controller are impressive and include:

  • Voice control: works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control. These devices are however bought separate.
  • Connectivity: you can connect the hub to any smart home device, may it be speakers, alarms, appliances, sensors, lighting or doorbells, you name it.
  • Single App control: using the Wink app, you can control all your devices on the go. This app allows you to create scenes and scripts. So if you want to turn off the thermostat at a specific time, then you just use the app.
  • Wireless protocols: Wink Hub 2 is one of the devices that supports almost all protocols, including Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth LE, among others.
  • Multiple connections points: you can connect the hub through either an Ethernet port, or Wi-Fi.
Positives
  • Sleek and modern design
  • Simple to use, and allows for control through a single app.
  • Automatically detects devices installed in your home and pairs to the items.
  • Multiple connections points. You can use Ethernet connection if your Wi-Fi is not working as intended.
  • Hub migration is easy. You do not have to repair anything. The device will detect devices and pair automatically.
  • Simple to use.
  • Multiple wireless protocol support. Wink Hub 2 is one of the devices that supports almost all protocols, including Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth LE, among others.

Negatives
  • Lacks IFTTT compatibility; this means that programming scenes is difficult.
  • Pricey as compared to other devices.

Nexia Z-Wave Bridge

With a simple and robust design, Nexia is the best choice for simple controls in home automation. It allows for easy control of your complex security system, lights or sensors. Furthermore, it allows for interconnect-ability of devices.

Features

  • Secure encrypted communication protocol to reduce security vulnerabilities.
  • Compatible with other devices such as Z-wave products and other leading brands
  • Ability to control more than 200 z-wave products at the same time.
  • Communication range of 60 to 100 meters when using Z-wave wireless protocol.
  • Remote control and access through Nexia system (requires subscription)
Positives
  • Simple and easy to use user interface that allows you to control devices seamlessly.
  • Affordable
  • Allows for conditions and rules for automated relationships between devices in your home.
  • Easy to install and configure
  • Impressive range
  • Easy maintenance.

Negatives
  • Requires monthly subscription to access remote automation tools
  • Lacks IFTTT support

Conclusion

While all the devices seem to have similar features, there are some subtle differences in pricing, support, compatibility and protocols that they use to communicate with other devices. Overall, Mi Casa Verde stands as the best in terms of price and support for automation processes. SmartThings is perhaps the best for complex home automation processes. If you are looking for simple automation for a good price, then Mi Casa is your best bet. However, if you are looking to develop complex conditions and rules for home automation, then SmartThings is the best choice. Of course, it comes at a higher price than Mi Casa.

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