Wink Hub 2: Should I get it for my smart home?

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5/5 on May 28, 2017

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547 reviews

If you’ve already started to put together your ideal smart home automation set up you know how quickly it can become complicated. Old fashioned timers for that light in the den have given way to an entire system of lights with commands preset to turn multiple lights on and off at certain times. Of course, you can always overwrite those commands by logging into your smartphone light control app to turn on the downstairs lights and turn off the upstairs lights while you are walking towards the stairs.

A little later you’ll need to log in again as well as log into the thermostat app and maybe a motion detection security app when you leave the house. Life becomes simpler in one way but more complicated in another.

Wink Hub 2 is a smart hub that enables you to control all these devices through one connection over the Internet to your controller. It turns your Wi-Fi connection into a permanent home management connection.

This universal hub that can connect to various smart devices in your home so that you just need to open one app on your phone or on a Wink relay, and then control your devices from there. Simplicity is restored in a Wink (sorry, couldn’t resist).

An upgrade to the Wink Hub

The Wink Hub 2, as you might have guessed by its name, is an upgrade to the previous Wink Hub. It is a compact device that has dimensions of 7.25” x 7.25” x 1.25”. Compared to the previous version, this is much thinner even though it houses more features than the previous one.

First on the list of upgrades is the networking hardware. There is now an Ethernet port so that you can directly connect it to your router. It also supports a wireless connection through 802.11n Wi-Fi radios. This enables users to link the hub to the router using either 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

Another upgrade is the addition of available memory. The previous version only had 64MB, while the Wink Hub 2 now has 512MB of memory; that is eight times the previous onboard memory, and this helps speed up the response time of some of the smart devices.

The previous model had to rely on the cloud due to the lack of memory. In this setup, the command still needs to be processed by the servers in order for the device to respond and do as commanded. On the other hand, the Hub 2 improves this because more can be done just by using the home network and the larger memory.

Speaking of upgrades, you can continue to use a Wink Hub alongside a Wink 2. You could also have more than one Wink 2 if your device and home Wi-Fi network is particularly large. For most people, this size of a network won’t be needed. If you’re just upgrading your Hub instead of expanding your network, you can easily transfer over all your devices. The instructions to do so are very intuitive.

Using the Wink Hub 2

Setting up the Wink Hub 2 is easy. Simply plug it in for power and for the Ethernet connection to your router. If you wish, you can also use its Wi-Fi capabilities. You can make use of your smartphone or a controller, and download the app, which will instruct you on how to connect the smart home devices to the Hub 2.

This Wink also connects to your chosen controller through Bluetooth LE. In the event of a storm that knocks out power, or an Internet outage, you can still connect to all your devices using the app on your cell phone. In fact that the Wink 2 even supports the Lutron Clear Connect and Kidde proprietary protocols which make it the most inclusive choice for a smart home hub.

The Wink 2 supports all generic Z-wave and Zigbee protocol devices so you should be able to manage upgrading your existing sensors, lights, etc. without a problem. If you are building a new home automation system around the Wink 2, Flex (Wink’s manufacturer since 2015) does, of course, recommend that you stick with Wink certified products for 100% reliability.

Wink Relay

You have three options when it comes to controlling your Wink Hub 2. The first is the Wink 2 app for your smartphone, tablet or PC. In addition, you have two options for in-home control; voice controllers or the Wink Relay visual controller.

The Wink is compatible with both the Apple Homekit and the Amazon Echo. It’s expected to integrate with Google Home soon. Right now, though, you can control most of your devices (we can’t say “all” without knowing exactly what you own) with voice commands to Alexa or Siri.

Your other control option in your home is through a Wink Relay. The Relay is a touchscreen control panel that can be installed in place of any light switch in your home. That gives you a visual command center that connects with 3rd party apps like Uber and Fitbit. It also has IFTTT capabilities, so its uses will continue to expand.

Wink 2 Compatible Devices

There are a lot of Wink-compatible devices including the Philips Hue and Cree lights, the Nest and Ecobee thermostats, Schlage locks and Canary Flex cameras, and so on. Most major brands can be connected through a simple discovery method. On the other hand, connecting the Lutron Caseta Dimmer plugs involves more steps because the plugs first have to be reset because of the protocol boundary.

While the connections may be simple, sometimes there are operational limitations to be aware of. For example, the Wink Hub 2 doesn’t allow you to view a livestream video of what the camera sees, but it can show still frames that refresh at a regular interval.

When you have linked the other smart home devices to the Wink Hub 2, you have to remember that all the settings and schedules on their own apps will not be transferred to the Wink app. You have to set schedules once again using the app. Through the app, it is also possible to create “robots,” which are automated actions done by various devices due to a specific predetermined condition. For example, you can set the lights to turn on when the cameras detect movement.

Like other hubs, the Wink 2 is offered in a couple of different “starter kits” at Amazon, so you can get started building your whole home system. Both options include the Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. The first option pairs that with a Leviton Z-wave light switch. The second is a Leviton dimmer switch.

Conclusion

Wink is a great choice when you already have smart home devices that you want to combine to form a system that you can easily control. It is also a good choice if you are thinking about adding smart devices for your home because it is compatible with products from many name brands. The Wink Hub 2 works well in connecting devices, but the functionality of your smart home will still depend on the each smart device that you have on your system. All in all, it’s a solid performer in a sleek package. Smart and simple; just like we like it.

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