When using cloud-based jobs its a great cost-effective solution however thing to consider when using a cloud-based hub are:
With this type of setup there is no physical switch connected to the controller, so if the internet supply fails or the hub fails, there is no control of the light or automation.
If your smart home automation is using only WiFi devices and your automation needs are simple, you won’t need a hub. As long as your Internet and WiFi router is working you can talk to Alexa or Google to control lights and locks.
Things to Consider
Let consider reality
What is that?
Is your router and WiFi are never glitchy?
You never have to reboot the router right?
Is your internet always up?
Interesting considerations. If you’re planning to install lots of WiFi devices and running on a $60 router or the free one from your Internet retailer company you may want to at least think about an upgrade to something better and more stable. Perhaps something more business class and secure.
Also with any cloud-based hub solution, the latency involved in transacting this simple automation would be noticeable under the best of circumstances.
Integrating devices via the cloud works just fine. However, do keep in mind that means when something happens in the house. Let’s say you open the door and you want the WiFi lights to turn on. The lock has to connect to your router, send a message to a cloud server, then it has to send a message to IFTTT. It then has to send a message to the cloud server for the lights. Then, the message goes back down to your house and the light turns on. Some days that might all happen quickly. Other days, not so much. Lots of moving pieces when there’s a network, WiFi and 3 cloud servers in the mix.
At the same time, we might consider a few things.
How critical is it that the light turns on when the door opens?.
How important is it that this happens really quickly?.
How stable is your network and router?.
Do you care if you can’t access devices without Internet?.
How many devices are you going to have?.
If you plan to have a lock, a few light switches, some voice assistants and a thermostat it’s probably not all that concerning. But if you’re planning to roll out whole-house automation with 20, or 30 dimmers, 4 keypads, cameras, 4K TV’s streaming Netflix, wireless audio and music streaming? That’s a different story altogether.
Benefits of Smart Home Hubs
Enter the smart home hub and technologies like Insteon, ZWave and Zigbee. None of these technologies relay on WiFi or your network. They have their own communication protocols and they talk device to device and device to the hub.
With these systems, your router or the Internet can go down and you can still trigger a lighting scene with a keypad. Lighting scenes happen directly and inside the home so they’re much faster. If you have a hub with enough horsepower and memory, then all the processing and triggers also happen inside the hub and inside the home – so the Internet can still go down – and when you open the front door your foyer lights still turn on – pretty much instantly.
If you switch out for a new router or get new Internet service, you don’t have to reassign IP addresses for your dimmers, r worry about IP ranges or WiFi coverage. Your Netflix, audio streaming, downloading and gaming won’t be competing with your light switches.
Your wall dimmers won’t be competing for IP addresses with your computers and TVs.
Smart Home Hub or Cloud?
Do I need a smart home hub or not? The answer depends on your short and long term goals for your smart home.
Ultimately, all of these devices are amazing – whether the technology is WiFi, Insteon, Zigbee, ZWave or UPB.
We are not trying to ditch our WiFi for ZWave or use Insteon over Zigbee.
Take some time to look at different options and think about whether you plan to “go big” or just basic with some key pieces. It’s possible to have a WiFi installation with over 90 smart devices or an Insteon installation with only 2.
That being said for a larger installation, where speed matters, where rules and automation triggers need to be more advanced, where Internet interruptions aren’t tolerated – a smart home hub is very definitely the way to go.
Most hubs feature local brains in the installation and will help bring all of the home’s smart devices together. The more powerful hubs will let you create true automation that requires less user input and more smart convenience.
Smart home hubs can provide much more powerful automation rules, triggers, schedules and scenes. They also tend to do a much better job of bringing together disparate systems. So for example you might be able to create an automation rule. It turns on all the lights and shuts off the furnace fan motor in case of a fire. Or and send an email or text about it too, while your alarm system reaches out to the monitoring station. It can also call the fire department for you. Or you might want to turn off the main water supply when you arm your alarm to vacation mode. Oh and turn down the heat when you arm it as you leave the house.