Wink Hub 2 Review

Wink Hub 2 – In Depth Review

Chip Wink Leave a Comment

 

Is the Wink Hub 2 worth your home automation dollars? Read my Wink Hub 2 review for an honest review of the lovable smart hub.

Wink Hub 2 Review: Does the new hub do anything but look better?

I ventured into the Smart Home world by investing in a Wink Hub 1 – the lovable Hub that won over many home automation enthusiasts that wanted to live in an automated home but didn’t want to learn programming to do so.

Today, several years after the Wink Hub 1, you may not need a Smart Hub. But I decided to bite the bullet on the new Wink Hub 2 when it came out. The main reason? SPEED. I wanted more local control and speed.

What is local control on a smart hub?

Local control on a smart hub is simply being able to process different tasks on the device itself. Many people don’t know that when you make a request (like when the Wink Hub 1 came out), it would actually send that command to the cloud, the cloud would respond and tell the hub what to do. Internet congestion and simple “hops” can make slow down your request. A request from a motion sensor to trigger a robot would go:

Motion Sensor -> Hub -> Cloud -> Hub -> Light

Obviously, that’s simplified, but it’s a lot of areas for failure.

Why did I chose Wink?

Simply put: I didn’t want to program (AKA “write code”) to have a smart home. I was initially drawn to the simple interface that was approachable. There is also the “wife factor.” Every tech product I use has to be approved by my wife. It has to be easy to use.

I looked at SmartThings, and while it integrates to more products, the interface wasn’t friendly. During the time I looked, SmartThings had a massive outage and terrible reviews. I’m still happy I went with the Wink Hub for home automation.

Wink + Home Automation Basics

I had one big requirement with my home automation system. My wife had to be able to operate it without getting her phone out (she usually doesn’t have it on her, anyway!). This is a good rule of thumb to have, anyway. After all, it’s home AUTOMATION, not replacing switches with a phone. Right?

In Wink, there are three main features that allow this to happen:

Wink 2 Shortcuts

Shortcuts are exactly what they sound like. They are a “button” in the Wink App that allow you to trigger a pre-defined set of actions. Here’s what my selection screen looks like:

My Shortcut screen in Wink

My Shortcut screen in Wink

They are easy to set up. You simply tell Wink what you want each button to do. Here’s “TV”:

My Wink Shortcut "TV"

My Wink Shortcut “TV”

You can see what a pain it would be to manually set each one of those each time I wanted to watch TV. It, in short, turns down the lights and makes some of them brighter (by the bathroom door and fridge).

Wink 2 Robots

Robots are the next item that allow you to not depend on your phone. It allows certain items (and shortcuts) to be triggered when other items are trigger. For example, I have a motion sensor upstairs. In the morning, when I get up, as soon as the motion detector senses motion, it turns on the upstairs lights AND the downstairs light. Here’s how that is set up:

 

My morning Robot in Wink.

My morning Robot in Wink.

This turns on all the lights upstairs and downstairs. It also triggers other robots to make sure they are active if I’ve either manually turned some of them on or off. This works perfectly every morning. Robots can also trigger shortcuts and groups.

The biggest reason I upgraded to the Wink Hub 2 was speed – especially around robots. I’ll post a video soon (follow Smart Home Review on YouTube) to show you the speed.

Wink Hub 2 Schedules

I actually use schedules the least of the three. Some people must just have more predictable lives than I do! The only schedule I have set is to turn on the light by the dog’s food at 5 p.m. so I don’t forget to feed him. I used to have the outside lights turn on at a certain time. But I changed that to having the motion in the Ring trigger the lights when motion was sensed.

Wink Hub 2 – Lighting

Lighting really deserves it’s own section. So, I created the ultimate guide to Smart Home Lighting. I talk about the pros and cons of Philips Hue, LIFX, GE Link, Osram and more! Instead of trying to fit them all into one, I decided to break it out. Read about Smart Home Lighting here.

The one thing to know about the Wink Hub 2 and Lighting is what works and what doesn’t. Lights connected directly to the Hub (Cree, GE Link and Osram Lights) respond INSTANTLY. While it’s improved, Wink Hub 2 doesn’t trigger Philips Hue lights very fast. I haven’t been able to confirm, but it’s my guess that the Hub has to go to the cloud to trigger Hue lights, while the other lights are controlled locally.

Wink Hub 2 + Home Security and Home Automation

The first thing you should do is install a Ring Wi-Fi Doorbell. I consider this a security feature because you can see if there is motion outside of your door, but more importantly, see who is at your door. We used to live in a very urban environment and this wi-fi video doorbell, saved us several “magazine subscriptions.”

You can then add a couple of GoControl Motion Sensors and Door Sensors for added security. I have a sensor in my main entry way door to turn on all the lights when the door is open, if I’ve been away. This package even includes an alarm. Wink has a great tutorial on how to build a security system with Wink.

For me, the Ring Doorbell gives me the protection I need. If I’m on vacation, I can set up a Robot in Wink let me know if something happens. Here’s one set up I have:

 

Get an alert when there is motion.

Get an alert when there is motion.

Wink Hub 2 + HVAC – Heating and Cooling

I have two Nests – one for each floor. There are some other thermostats that do more or have more features than Nest. However, you can’t get an easier to install or operate smart thermostat than the Nest. The one thing that doesn’t work well with my set up is Home/Away. Instead, I bought the app Skylark for my wife and I. It does a much better job of knowing when I’m home and when I’m away.

Wink Hub 2 + Irrigation

My newest toy is the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. I’ve never had a lawn before, so I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. The current controls (like Hunter) are less sophisticated than a pocket watch (and a lot less sophisticated than my Apple Watch). The Rachio is a WiFi connected Smart Irrigation Controller. Read my full Rachio Smart Sprinkler Control Review.

Better yet, many local municipalities offer a rebate. My city gave me $100 for a $200 device. Not too shabby.

Wink Hub 2 – What’s the final verdict?

If you want to connect several different Smart Home devices (and you’ve made sure you can’t connect them automatically with a service like Stringify), I’d recommend getting the Wink Hub 2. Even if you can save a couple of bucks on the original Wink Hub 1, I’d go with the Wink Hub 2. It’s way faster and is more future proof.

Here’s where I’ve found the best deal on the Wink Hub 2.

Whatcha think? Have a question or comment?