Wink Hub or SmartThings Hub: Which Works Better?
These home automation hubs were tried out in this home to see which better handled connecting its smart devices.
Many of us got into this industry because we like playing with toys. Sure, we call it work, but at the end of the day, it’s kind of fun to face a challenge head on, figure out how something works and master a new technology or two. As a consultant, I’ve always tried to stay on top of technology, but nothing beats hands-on.
That’s why we started testing and reviewing products for Security Sales & Integration, and that’s what got me headed down the rabbit hole.
Let me explain. One of the products we got in to review was a Kwikset SmartCode 916 electronic door lock with Z-Wave and ZigBee support. We had reviewed its predecessors, the SmartCode 912 lever and SmartCode 914 deadbolt locks (June 2014) with positive results.
I had seen the 916, which features a touchscreen interface, at ISC West 2015 and was impressed with the construction, features and usability. Kwikset locks offer a number of features that differentiate them from the competition, and I was looking forward to playing with this one. But, as in the past, we weren’t really planning on focusing on the ZigBee and Z-Wave support; those were just along for the ride.
At some point, we took a hiatus from the product reviews and the 916 was boxed up to send back, along with other products in the queue. Art Sesnovich, the Kwikset representative I had been working with, told me to keep it, so I thought I’d play with it when I next had some time.
I had a Schlage pushbutton lock on my front door, so around Thanksgiving 2015 I decided to swap them out. Little did I know the events this seemingly innocuous decision would set in motion …
HOME AUTOMATION BASICS
While this article is not intended as a primer for home automation, there are a few things you need to know.
- Home automation products, including locks, switches, sensors and the like, communicate using a number of protocols. Some of these are proprietary to a certain manufacturer’s equipment, while others are more equipment agnostic. Perhaps the two most agnostic are Z-Wave and ZigBee, with the former appearing to be a tighter standard as there’s more of a testing and certification process involved.
- These products communicate with each other using a central control device, or “hub.” Most hubs support a number of protocols, and devices that use these protocols can generally work with a number of different manufacturers’ hubs.
- With many protocols, including Z-Wave (the one discussed here), devices that are not battery powered such as light switches and controlled outlets, also act as signal repeaters. As such, the more devices you incorporate into your system, the greater the range and reliability.
Lock Unlocks a New World
Once the lock was installed and running (there will be a full review of the SmartCode 916 and the Z-Wave Signature Series deadbolt on SSI at a later date), I decided that I would try out the remote control feature. To do this I needed to select a protocol and a hub. I landed on Z-Wave and the Wink Hub; the former due to research, the latter due to reviews on Amazon. I connected the hub, integrated the lock and next thing I knew my door was unlocking automatically every time I got home and locking itself after I’d been gone for t minutes. Pretty slick, right?
Well, not really. After all, it’s just a lock. So I picked up a few lamp and switch modules at Home Depot and connected up some lights. Now when I got home at night, the lock would unlock and a lamp would turn on. And when I shut off the back porch lights at night before going to bed, the front door would lock itself, if it wasn’t locked already.
This made me take a look at all the lamps I had on timers, including outdoor lighting. There was no way to turn them all on or off at once, and the timers, even good ones that turned lamps on at sunset and off at 2 a.m. or so, got out of sync. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could all be set to a master clock, so they didn’t need constant attention? Another shopping excursion at Amazon and I had more modules and switches, and my security and outdoor lighting was automated. Life was getting good.
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