System Controllers

With the exception of Z-wave, most of the standards and protocols used in the smart home require a fixed list of suppliers and their devices, or an interface to another suppliers controller (hub). To compensate controllers now support multiple protocols.

Listed below are the key players in the smart home controller sector.

Amazon Echo + Alexa

Amazon now have the Echo, Echo PLus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show. The different models provide scale in audio quality and smart device controls, the Spot and Show models include screens. Echo Plus and Echo Show include Zigbee support.

Amazon's US website note: not all products may be available in Europe.

Apple Home Hub + HomePod or Siri

Apple iOS and MAC (Mojave) uses bluetooth for local device control (limit: max. distance 10m) and for distant or remote access Home Hub software, installed on HomePod, Apple TV (3rd Gen+) or iPad, is used to control certified compatible Home Kit devices. The Home Hub is also used to run scenes and stream IP camera video (on Apple TV requires 4th Gen).

Apple Home website

Fibaro Home Center

Fibaro is a manufacturer of quality Z-wave devices (called modules by Fibaro) their controller is the Home Center 2, (a Home Center Lite is available but with less capabilities). Note you do not need to run Home Center to use Fibaro's devices, these are Z-wave compatible and will work with other controllers including Home Kit, however, the Home Center is a pioneer in home automation and is worth considering.

Automation is achieved through the triggering of scenes created using IF THEN block logic or (HC2 only) with the Lua scripting language. Scene triggers can be on/off, power change, motion detection, temperature or light level change etc., timed processing is also possible. Global variables can be used to maintain state and when changed can also trigger scenes. Interfaces to non-Z-wave devices are available through "virtual devices", these are provided and maintained by other manufacturers and/or a team of enthusiastic users. You need to search for specific device support to determine if your preferred non-Z-wave device is supported.

Fibaro have Apple and Android apps to interface with the controller from local or remote locations. It accepts voice commands from Google Home and Amazon Echo and is compatible with IFTTT. The Home Center can be configured for offsite support by an installer.

Fibaro runs an active forum with enthusiastic members that are prepared to help, however, the official Fibaro documentation for Home Center configuration and customization is lacking in clarity and detail.

Fibaro Home Center 2 manufacturer's website

Fibaro User's Forum

Google Home + Assistant



Homey manufacturer's website


Logitech Harmony Hub

The Harmony range has its origins in universal remote controls for TVs, DVD/BD players etc. The Harmony Hub provides a controller by which either the harmony remote, or the harmony Apple and Android apps can replace various multi-media remotes and control additional ZigBee and SmartThings devices, the Hub Extender adds z-wave device support. Automation or chained commands are created within Harmony activities.

The Hub comes standard with bluetooth, WiFi and infra-red support, the latter either direct from the hub or via a fiber cable IR booster.

The Hub accepts voice commands from Google Home, Amazon Echo and Siri with HomeHub, it is compatible with IFTTT.

SmartThings Hub

Samsung's SmartThings Hub connects with SmartThings devices and those from some other manufacturers using ethernet, Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols.

SmartThings website

Wink2 (US only)



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