• Last Updated:
  • Dec 14th, 2019 9:03 pm
Dec 27, 2017
312 posts

Do I need a smart hub?

So, here's my situation:
- 4x Sengled Classic smart bulbs connected to a Sengled hub
- 2x TP-Link Kasa smart plugs
- 2x TP-Link Kasa wall switches
- 2x smart plugs called "ECO Plugs" - some generic brand
- 2x D-Link outdoor smart plugs

I would like to add the following additional devices (welcome suggestions on those too!):
- smart door sensor or two
- smart plug-in dimmer plug (to control LED strip lights)
- a button such as SmartThings button to control some of the above

My goal is to not add more "stuff" than necessary to the pile and consolidate the apps as currently, I have a Sengled app, Kasa app, ECO Plugs app, D-Link app.
And chances are that if I find the additional devices, they will come with their own app.

Is it possible to control the above with one app? Can I connect all of the above accounts to, for example, Alexa app and get that "all-in-one" app? Would Echo Dot than be a suitable hub-like thingy for this or does it just add voice control if I don't want to pull out my phone?

Thanks for any direction!
6 replies
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12143 posts
There's no off the shelf SmartHub that will consolidate those products and allow you to use "One-App"

You'll need to DIY your own hub either with Home assistant (hass.io) or OpenHAB.

Out of the box the closest you can get by is to awkwardly use the Alexa or Google Home App to create routines and to communicate over the cloud with them.

Adding an Echo won't help you it just gives you voice commands.
Deal Guru
Aug 26, 2002
13765 posts
Toronto, ON
You'd need a hub such as SmartThings if you want to have the various devices across the various platforms talk and control one another, or program routines and rules that span more than one platform. But you'll need to check whether each of your platforms are supported (officially or by 3rd party device handlers) by SmartThings. I know for a fact the TP-Link and Sengled devices are officially supported. I'm not sure about the D-Links and definitely not too confident about any generic plugs. To check whether there's support for a particular brand/device, go check:

Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 14, 2010
1349 posts
Barrie ON
Most hubs will support Zwave and Zigbee protocols, and sometimes Wi-F and others. So without taking the time to lookup the protocol of each of the devices you listed, I suggest that in the future, you only purchase Zwave (1st choice) or Zigbee (2nd choice). I would stay away from Wi-Fi devices because as your network grows, you will experience more interference between your devices and your Wi-Fi internet. Any other protocol than these 3, will probably only operate with a small number of hubs, and perhaps only with a hub made by the manufacturer of the device.

There are at least 3 reasons why you would want a hub, The obvious reason is that you want to control all your devices from a single app. If you purchase a hub that is supported by Google Home or Alexa, you can also control your devices with voice commands. The other reason is that without a hub, you only have remote control of your devices, you don't have true automation.

In other words, your current situation allows you to pull out your phone and turn on the porch lights when it gets dark. With a hub you can have your porch lights come on a dusk automatically, even though the time of dusk is changing each day of the year. You could also say that when I unlock the front door at night to turn on some interior lamps to avoid walking into a dark house. I use my Vera hub to turn on the coffee maker in the morning, but turn it off when I arm my home alarm system to prevent fires while I am away from the house or sleeping. "The sky is the limit" when it comes to what you can do with real automation. The great thing is, that you can buy a hub for less than the cost of 2 smart Z-wave devices (YMMV).

I would also recommend that you get a hub that will work when the Internet is down. My Vera hub only requires the Internet if I want to control my home from a remote location. I can still operate all my devices when I am on my own Wi-Fi with the Internet failed, and the hub will continue to run things automatically.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33304 posts
East Gwillimbury
Is always better to get a hub. This way you only have one interface to deal with.

No one wants to run multiple apps to control your house.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 9, 2010
2749 posts
You can consolidate all of that into one "app", but you'll be using IFTTT if any of that stuff is wifi (which I am assuming the TP-Link stuff, at least, is), which is kludgey at best.

I have Hue, Nest, Google, and an array of Zigbee/ZWave items connected to SmartThings. I NEVER use the apps, because they're all garbage (especially the two SmartThings apps ... honestly, unfortunate) compared to just telling my Google Mini what I want. I suppose that makes the Google Home app as the "main" app, but I only open it to set things up. Everything else just happens based on rules.

If you're looking to add a hub, I suggest the Hubitat hub; it's like a better version of the SmartThings hub. Support is great, because the apps use the same system as SmartThings, and it's all locally run, so things happen quickly, and don't need the Internet (much like Vera above, except without the limitations of Vera).
One who is offended by truth, has no place among those who seek wisdom.
Dec 27, 2017
312 posts
Thank you for all the advice.

So, if all my current devices are wifi-based and don't require a hub, even when I get a hub, they will remain wifi based, correct?

In other words, unless I actually replace them, I am kind of stuck with these on my network rather than using Zigbee and hub. Do I have that right?

And the Kasa app does have ability to set schedules and actions etc., which works for me.

If TP-Link made a door sensor that does not require a hub, I'd be set, but I get that supplying enough power for wifi is tricky for battery-powered thingies.
A smart button would be useful for my wife who refuses to use any app and she instead goes and physically turns on 5 switches.