Z-Wave - Gateway Controllers
Z-Wave - Gateway Controllers
Without a doubt, Z-Wave has emerged World wide as the most complete and reliable wireless home automation solution available. If you are considering starting your smart home journey with Z-Wave, the first and usually the biggest decision you will need to make is which Z-Wave Gateway Controller (more generally referred to to as a "Hub") is right for you and your particular requirements. Let's take a look at an overview of some of the various Z-Wave hubs available for Australia and New Zealand...
The Aeotec Z-Stick is a Z-Wave Plus antenna that works with home automation software. It’s been designed to bring Z-Wave to every computer platform via its simple USB plug-and-play design. You can use it with a PC, HTPC or laptop, with Mac, Linux or Windows, single-board computers such as Raspberry Pi and even select NAS systems.
The Vera Edge is an excellent entry level and affordable Z-Wave hub. Perfect for smaller smart home setups where you are only looking to run a few Z-Wave devices for basic lighting control, security or remote management and monitoring of a property - including holiday rentals or Airbnb properties.
If you are looking for a small, cost-effective Z-Wave hub with lots of solid features, then the Vera Edge may be perfect for your application - It is not suitable for medium to larger rollouts - it simply doesn't have the processing power available and can be slow if you overload it.
The Vera Plus runs identical software as the Vera Edge (known as UI7) - however it has a significant boost in processing power, allowing you to run a larger Z-Wave smart system - while still being at the more affordable end of the Z-Wave hub options.
Vera Plus also includes support for a select few Zigbee and Bluetooth smart devices. Both the Vera Edge and Plus can be described as a bit "clunky" when compared to other Z-Wave hub options - but for the price they are a solid offering with some really excellent features and capabilities - perfect for anyone on a budget.
The Homey is unique among all of the Z-Wave hubs available - it tries to tackle one of the biggest issues plaguing the smart home market... fragmentation - this is where we are seeing a lot of different technologies and smart home devices that don't "play well together" and you end up with 15+ apps on your phone to control the different systems.
Homey does an excellent job of bringing these different technologies together into one cohesive system. Homey is able to do this because it supports so many different wireless technologies - if you are looking for a smart home hub that extends beyond just Z-Wave, Homey is an excellent choice.
Without a doubt, both the Fibaro Home Center Lite and HC2 are the best Z-Wave hubs available. They are rock-solid, fast, responsive and the user interface is beautiful and well thought out. If you are not looking to expand much beyond a Z-Wave smart home setup, then you will no be disappointed with the Fibaro system.
There are some limited, free "plugins" you can download onto the Fibaro hubs that allow communication with 3rd party smart devices (such as Philips Hue, cameras and more) - however you will not be able to expand much beyond Z-Wave - which may be fine... as the Z-Wave product range is huge!
Like its little sister - Home Center Lite - the Fibaro Home Center 2 features the same beautiful user interface, well designed app and rock-solid Z-Wave reliability. If you are planning to rollout a large Z-Wave system (30 or more Z-Wave devices), it may be worth considering moving up to the Home Center 2 over the Home Center Lite.
Besides supporting more Z-Wave devices (due to the increased processing power), the HC2 also supports a programming language called LUA - which can be very handy (but only if you are technically minded). You can read a full comparison between the Fibaro Home Cneter Lite and Home Center 2 here.
Choosing a Z-Wave Gateway Controller
As you can see from the brief overview above, there are a number of Z-Wave Hubs available, each of which has its merits - of course the manufacturers all claim theirs to be "the best" - which as we know is impossible - they can't all be the best! The truth is each Z-Wave Hub has its pros and cons... from affordability, usability, processing power and abilities to extend beyond just Z-Wave.
Below we will take a more in-depth look at each of the most popular Z-Wave Hubs available in Australia and New Zealand - giving you the "warts and all" rundown so you can make an informed decision on which Z-Wave Hub best suits your needs.