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Bridges and Hubs

The brains behind your smart devices

While you may normally think of speakers and light bulbs as integral parts of a smart home environment, bridges and hubs are essential parts of these ecosystems as well. Bridges and hubs, which are used synonymously to refer to the same type of device, are simply wireless linking points that allow you to control your smart devices that are connected to your WiFi network from your smartphone. In reality, they're essential for creating a fully integrated smart home environment.

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Why bridges and hubs?

There are numerous benefits that come with using bridges and hubs to control your smart lights. While you may have to buy a separate bridge or hub separate from your smart lights, they increase the overall usability of your smart lighting system.

Simple installation

While bridges and hubs may sound like complicated pieces of hardware, installation couldn't be simpler. After plugging in the bridge or hub, you then have to connect it to your router. Once that's finished, you're able to add bulbs that are tied to the bridge through your smartphone and you have everything you need to brighten your home.

Control more lights

While one advantage of Bluetooth control is that you don’t need a bridge, this does reduce the overall number of bulbs that you can control with your smartphone. Bridges and hubs allow you to control far more bulbs with your smartphone, which allows you to cover all the areas in your house. The other benefit is that you can literally be anywhere with an internet connection and effectively and instantly control whether your lights are on or off. This is perfect for when you're away on a business trip and want to make it look as if someone is home in the evening while not leaving the lights on all night. All you need to do is pick up your smartphone and turn on the lights when you wish. Another approach is to set an automatic schedule for your smart lights to turn on and off at the time of your choosing.

Bridges/hubs and smart home compatibility

Similar to smart home speakers and security cameras, you should check the compatibility of your bridge or hub with the smart home ecosystem that you're using. It's important that if you buy Philip Hue smart lights that you make sure to buy a Philips Hue Bridge as well. Moreover, different bridges are compatible with different smart home ecosystems. In the case of Philips Hue, their bridges are compatible with all three of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. In the case of the Ring bridge, the compability is limited to only Amazon Alexa. This is important if you wish to control multiple smart home devices from a single app.

Control from anywhere

Whether you're inside your home or a few miles away at work, with a bridge or hub, you always have full control over your lights. This allows you to make sure that your lights are on when you get home from work or even turn off lights you forgot about once you have left. All you need is a WiFi connection with your smartphone and you're able to take advantage of all the features that smart home lighting has to offer.

WiFi vs. Bluetooth connections

Bridges and hubs are sometimes sold separately from smart lights which adds additional costs to your plans for creating an integrated smart home environment. For some, buying and using only Bluetooth-enabled bulbs is a cheaper decision, especially when you only have a few smart bulbs that you wish to control. However, with this option, you limit the overall number of bulbs you can control and can only actively control the bulbs when you're near them. Bridges and hubs have WiFi control that's enabled to solve both of these issues while allowing you to control more bulbs from anywhere inside or outside your home. The right choice for you depends on the size of your smart home lighting needs and your budget.