Do you have a smart home, or are you planning on turning your home into a smart home soon? Then you’ll probably need a smart home bridge.
A smart home bridge may not be the most glamorous part of a smart home design, but it is essential for getting your home to work. These bridges form a means of communication between the internet and your home devices. Without them, your home can’t really be “smart” – they’re one of the most important parts of smart home design.
- Control your door from anywhere.
- Connect your August Smart Lock to Wi-Fi. Requires North American outlet with 110-240V.
- Always know that your door is locked.
Whether you already have a smart home see an upgrade in your future, understanding your options means you make the best choices.
What’s a Smart Home Bridge?
Smart home bridges do the most important job in a smart home: connecting things you need, so they work together.
You can add all kinds of “smart” items to your home: lights, thermostats, vents, locks, and so on. However, if they don’t work together, or you can’t control them easily, they’ll do you no good. A smart home isn’t just about the fancy devices – it’s about the connections between them that make life easier.
Your smart bridge, sometimes also called a smart hub, is the crucial connection between your home’s “smart” elements. These bridges connect all your smart devices with the internet, which allows control of those devices from anywhere. This means easily monitoring what’s happening in your home no matter how far away you are.
Is a Smart Home Bridge Right for You?
If you only have a few smart home items, you may not need a bridge. These bridges are best-suited for people who want a centralized way to control lots of different smart home devices from different companies. But if you just want to automate a single aspect of your home, like the heat, you may not need a hub.
- VOICE ACTIVATED: With the Philips Hue Smart Hub, add up to 50 Philips Hue smart lights of your choice with this ZigBee-controlled hub necessary for voice control with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant
- CONTROL YOUR SMART LIGHTS FROM ANYWHERE: The heart of your Philips Hue system, this hue hub also enables you to control all of your Philips Hue products via the Philips Hue app, even when you're away from home
- FULLY AUTOMATE YOUR SMART HOME: Enhance your Philips Hue system by setting timers and alarms, connecting to a variety of apps, dimming the smart lights and more (cannot be used with conventional dimmers)
These hubs or bridges are also ideal when you want to get your devices to work with each other automatically. For example, if you want the lights in your hallway and your thermostat to turn on automatically when you unlock the front door, you’ll need a smart home bridge to make it happen.
The smart home bridge is also necessary if most of your devices use communication methods like Bluetooth or Zigbee, instead of Wi-Fi. Smaller smart home devices, like locks, usually use these forms of radio communication. They don’t take a lot of power, which is ideal for small devices, and they don’t require many battery changes. But since they don’t have Wi-Fi, controlling them from your phone or tablet requires a bridge.
However, some smart home devices have built-in Wi-Fi. Others come with a Wi-Fi bridge, so you won’t need to buy a separate smart home bridge for controlling these devices from your phone.
Some smart home devices, by design, communicate with each other without any bridge at all. You can check with the manufacturer to see if this applies to your devices.
However, the more smart home devices added, the more likely it is that you’ll need a bridge. Some popular types of smart home bridges include the following.
Smart Home Bridge Models
Which smart home hub is best for you? Here are some of the most popular models to consider when shopping for a smart home bridge.
If you’re a fan of Apple products, you’ve probably seen the term “Apple Homekit” before – but what is Apple Homekit exactly?
As with many Apple products, their home kit design is simple and user-friendly, even for non-techies. For straightforward smart home connection and use, this might be the right bridge for you.
- Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately). Compatibility- Requires an installed 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat or Nest Thermostat E.Not compatible with Nest 1st Generation or Nest 2nd Generation thermostats
- SAVE ENERGY WITH NEST: Nest introduces the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat. With four beautiful colors to choose from and an easy to read display, this thermostat will help make your home not only smart but energy efficient. With just a few manual adjustments, the Nest Thermostat can learn your habits and start to save you money by automatically adjusting the temperature.Range- Up to 50 feet away from your Nest Thermostat. Range can vary depending on your home's construction, wireless interference and other factors
- READ THE DISPLAY FROM ACROSS THE ROOM: The Nest Thermostat does something new. It's called Farsight, and it lights up to show you the temperature, weather or time. You can even choose a digital or analog clock face. Farsight is big and bright on the beautiful display - you can see it from across the room.
Apple Homekit gives you control of all your smart home devices using your iPhone. You’ll use the Apple Home app; controlling the lights, heat, locks, and more from anywhere in your house, or from a distance.
However, one drawback of the Apple Homekit is that it isn’t compatible with the widest range of devices. But for those getting started with a smart home, and wanting simplicity, for now, this is a good choice.
Another of the most popular home kit devices is the Google Home kit. Google’s smart speaker aims to compete with smart home systems like Amazon Echo. Like the Echo, it’s not just a speaker – it also can control your home devices.
- To set up your free bulb, plug in and set up your Echo Plus, plug in your bulb, and ask, "Alexa, discover my devices."
- Echo Plus has a built-in Zigbee hub to easily setup and control your compatible smart home devices, and an improved sound for streaming music.
- Premium speakers powered by Dolby play 360° audio with crisp vocals and dynamic bass response. You can also use your voice to adjust equalizer settings or pair with a second Echo Plus (2nd gen) for stereo sound.
Google Home syncs with smart home devices from certain brands, such as Nest and SmartThings. However, this system’s main limitation is that it’s not compatible with that many devices – just like the Apple Homekit. The smart speaker does look visually attractive, with a sleek, modern design, which is a draw for some people.
As you can see, there are some gaps in popular smart home hub designs. The Pairot KNX Bridge seeks to fill those gaps.
This Homekit KNX system actually pairs with Google Home, Apple Homekit, and similar systems, rather than replacing them. Adding more to your smart home is easy because it connects with a wider range of smart home devices.
If you use the KNX home automation system, you’ll definitely want the Pairot Bridge, which makes using it a breeze. You may not have heard of the KNX system yet – it first achieved popularity in Europe, and made its way to the U.S. more recently.
Although there are some competitor systems, the KNX does a good job of integrating devices from different manufacturers. Some people have avoided using it because the system is more complex than its competitors. But the Pairot Bridge helps fix this issue, by allowing the use of more familiar systems like Google Home with a KNX system.
Which Smart Home Bridge Will You Choose?
Smart homes are a fairly new technology, and the best way to sync smart home devices is still getting worked out.
If you aim to have a simple smart home design with only a few devices, Google Home, Apple Homekit, or a similar system will work well for you. However, when you want to make your smart home more elaborate, you’ll need a bridge that can keep up. That’s where systems like the Pairot Bridge come in.
Do you think the Pairot Bridge is worth it, or will you stick with other, more well-known hubs for your smart home? Leave a comment and let us know!
Featured image CC0, by geralt, via Pixabay