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  • WHICH: How to buy the best smart home hub

    WHICH: How to buy the best smart home hub -  by Martin Pratt

    Fancy using your smartphone to turn up the heating? Or switch on the lights with your voice? You can do all this with a smart hub.

    As more of our household gadgets become internet-connected, from thermostats to light bulbs, it can be hard to keep track of which app controls what device. This is where a smart hub comes in, providing a central hub to manage and monitor your smart home.

    The best smart hubs enable you to control multiple smart devices through a single interface. You can turn gadgets on and off with a swipe of your finger, or, in some cases, with your voice.

    And with the best smart hubs, you can sync gadgets together by setting intelligent rules, such as, 'if my wireless camera detects movement then turn the radio on'.

    Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings and more are fully tested in our smart home hub reviews.

    Is a smart hub right for you?

    Smart hubs are designed for people who already have, or are considering buying, multiple connected gadgets. If all you want is a wireless security camera in your kitchen, having a smart hub designed to control lots of devices is probably not necessary. If you're only planning to have one or two smart devices, a hub may not be necessary. However, if you want proximity sensors on a window or door, a wireless camera keeping an eye on the place and sockets you can switch on and off with your smartphone, a smart home hub will funnel all those devices into a single interface.

    Smart hubs come in a variety of different packages. You can usually buy just the hub and add your preferred gadgets, or purchase starter kits with various sensors and extras included. Prices can range from less than £100 to more than £500 depending on what set-up you want.

    What makes a good smart hub?  

    Connectivity: Many hubs connect to your internet router using a physical Ethernet cable. That should give a steady internet connection, but also requires the hub to be close to your router. Some use Wi-Fi, which has the advantage of enabling more freedom in where you place the hub. However, if you have a large house with multiple floors or thick walls, range can be a factor. If you've ever experienced problems getting your Wi-Fi signal to reach the far corners of your home it's possible your Wi-Fi smart hub will have the same trouble.

    Compatibility: If your smart hub doesn’t work with the devices you want to use, it could end up as an expensive ornament. Some manufacturers' hubs will only work with their own smart devices, whereas others can incorporate devices from a range of brands. Always check the devices you own, or are considering buying, are compatible with the hub before you buy. We list the device compatibility for every hub we test in the technical specs.

    App or interface: The best smart hubs have an app or user interface that makes it a breeze to link up your smart home set-up. If an app is the main user interface, make sure it's compatible with your Android, iOS or Windows phone or tablet. Alongside everyday functions, it should be simple to sync your devices together in set scenarios. For example, when you walk through your front door, your proximity sensor will signal your lights to turn on and set the thermostat to your preferred temperature.

    What else should I look out for?

    Voice control: Some smart hubs enable you to control your devices with your voice. This can be a great feature as you don’t have to fiddle with menus and interfaces. However, only a few smart hub systems support voice control, such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and new Apple HomePod, and there are often limits to what you can actually do with just your voice.

    If this then that (IFTTT): Alongside setting scenarios directly from the app or user interface as covered above, some hubs support IFTTT principles. You sign up on the IFTTT website or download the iOS or Android app, and then follow the instructions to set your preferred scenarios or routines. Do bear in mind, however, that not all hubs support IFTTT and, even if they do, its uses can be limited.

    Privacy and security: As with any internet-connected gadget, there are some privacy and security concerns to consider with a smart hub. This could be security loopholes that a hacker could exploit, or companies not properly looking after your personal data. We run extensive privacy and security tests on all smart hubs that we test to reveal the ones that take privacy and security seriously.

    How much should you pay for a smart hub?

    The price of a smart hub varies depending on what devices come with it. Typically, individual hubs cost around the £100 mark, but add devices and the price can more than double. Manufacturers will often advertise their hubs with a string of first-party accessories, but most will also sell the hub separately, so don't feel you need to buy one with devices you don't need or already have.

    Voice-controlled hubs, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, tend to cost a little more due to the fact they have speakers built in. If you want something more conventional and you don't need a wireless speaker you could save money and go for a hub you control from a smartphone app.

    There are even free apps that act as a smart hub. Apple HomeKit for iOS devices won't cost you a penny. You can see if it's as good as a dedicated hub in our Apple HomeKit review.


    Read more: - Which?

  • LOT 20 and what it means for you......


  • How to Measure Your Pond

    Pond Volume Calculations 

    A common issue that customers have when they are trying to decide which pond pump, filter and aerators to use in their pond is how to measure their ponds. You may have been taught these calculations at school, but you didn't imagine you would have a fish pond then and certainly didn't pay attention! Here is a simple guide to help you measure your pond accurately enough to work out the capacity of your pond in litres.  Continue Reading

  • A Guide to Bathroom Zones

    A Guide to Bathroom Zones

    The IET 17th Edition BS7671:2008 wiring regulations stipulate that electrical equipment must only be used in certain “zones” of a bathroom as defined by their IP rating. An IP rating for an electrical product indicates its level of protection from the ingress of foreign objects or water. The bathroom zones are designated by their distance from showers, baths, sinks and any other washing device that splashes water. The regulation does not apply to emergency facilities, e.g. emergency showers used in industrial areas or laboratories. Continue Reading

  • IP Ratings

    IP Ratings


    The IEC protection code (International Protection IP)

    The IP codes are used to define protection against the ingress of solid foreign objects and water with harmful effects. The protection against the ingress of solid foreign objects is also used as a means of specifying protection against accidental contact with live parts and therefore serves two different but related purposes. Continue Reading

  • Electrical & Electronic Symbols

    Electrical & Electronic Symbols

    Continue Reading

  • A Guide to Dimmer Switch Selection

    What Dimmer Switch do I need?

    A very common problem that faces the enthusiastic home decorator and even seasoned electrician is which dimmer switch is correct for my lights? There are so many out there with different wattages and fancy names that for even technically minded people, this area can become a bit of a mine field. Continue Reading

  • Basic Electrical Equations

    Watts, Volts & Amps

    The most commonly used equation in electrics is the relationship between Watts, Volts and Amps. This can be displayed in a simple triangular reference diagram:

    Continue Reading

  • Electrical Units & Definitions

    Electrical Units Table

    Continue Reading

  • Air Purifiers Can Help Prevent Migraines


    Take the “pain” out of Migraines!

    If you are a sufferer then you will know how debilitating migraines can be, but did you know that it could be the air in your environment, either at work or at home that is causing them?

    That’s where Air Purifiers can help. If you feel like you have tried everything but with little success, then why not consider an Air Purifier from Air Con Hut? If your migraine is triggered by substances in the air of your surrounding environment,  an Air Purifier can help alleviate the problem by eliminating a potentially major irritant of your pain.

    Scent and strong fragrances can often be a trigger and one that can be hard to avoid in many situations, as it is often the result of someone around us.  Research indicates that scent induced headaches are a reaction of blood vessels in your nasal passage caused by the offending scent – this affects our circulation, which eventually brings on a headache. For scent induced headaches or migraines we recommend an Air Purifier with a carbon filter. The active carbon filter is highly absorbent, trapping any strong odours, gases and large dust particles in the air which cause your air to smell stale.

    However if the trigger for your headaches is mostly from breathing indoor allergens such as dust and mould spores then we recommend an Air Purifier with a high efficiency filter like an  Air Purifier with a HEPA filter and ioniser . Chronic head pressure brought on by nasal allergies and sinus congestion can be helped significantly just by introducing an Air Purifier with a HEPA filter and ioniser to your environment, as it reduces both strong odours and potentially headache triggering dust and pollen particles. Even if you are not quite sure what triggers your headaches, these type of Air Purifiers make a great solution as they will eliminate most airborne triggers.

    If you are suffering from these types of migraines then why not consider an Air Purifier from the Delonghi range at Air Con Hut?

    Delonghi have developed a range of intelligent and stylish Air Purifiers suitable for varying room sizes of up 40 meters squared. The Delonghi Air Purifiers can even monitor the quality of the air in your room. Delonghi models AC150 & AC230 have a visual colour indicator – orange for poor, green for moderate and blue for optimal air quality, so you can visibly see the quality of your air improving. The Delonghi Air Purifier range also have a multi-stage filtration sensor system, which improves air quality by removing particles large and small. The multi-level filtration system can remove things like pet hair, human hair and dander, invisable dust and gases, smoke and odours. At Air Con Hut prices start from just £159.00.

    Tired of the pain? Then this could be just what you need to aid in the prevention of your environmentally caused headaches and migraines. Browse our range of Air Purifiers at Air Con Hut now, by clicking here - Take me to the range at Air Con Hut.

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