If you're not convinced ZigBee or Z-Wave is the way to go when choosing a Smart Lighting technology, read this page first. If you're ready to get going, let's start by choosing a control bridge first. While ZigBee seems to conquer the EU, Z-wave is more common in the US. Not sure which smart bridge or hub to choose? Have a look at the 4 most common approaches:

1.Philips Hue Bridge: if you're looking for convenient smart lighting

If you're looking for a no fuzz deployment, you don't mind spending the money and don't expect advanced automation or other Smart Home features, this probably is your best option.


  • no fuzz solution, especially when remaining within the Philips Hue product portfolio
  • integrates nicely with Amazon Alexa & Google Home, Google Nest
  • native buttons & switches are available, including an impressive smart button> that can be customized via the Hue app. 
  • offers 'Ambilight' possibilities, syncing colors on your PC screen with your surrounding light bulbs 
  • affordable, especially when part of a Hue starter pack.


  • not all their products are compatible with one another
  • a bit pricy compared to other

2. Samsung SmartThings: if you want to keep your options open

If you're a Samsung fan (Smart TVs, tablets and/or smartphones), another option might be the Samsung SmartThings Hub, supporting both ZigBee and Z-wave bulbs and power plugs, as well as WLAN camera, sensors, and other smart devices.


  • Supports Z-wave, ZigBee & Wifi devices, full list here 
  • Supports groups, scenes, and automation routines 


  • seems to take a challenger position, with mixed software stability and maturity reviews
  • not commonly used in the EU

3. Amazon Echo smart speaker with smart hub: if you're married to Alexa

Some of the Amazon Echo devices, such as the Echo Plus (1st and 2nd generation), and the latest Echo Studio have an integrated ZigBee antenna. This could be sufficient if you only need to control your ZigBee plugs and bulbs through Alexa.


  • native Zigbee support from Alexa devices and routines, no separate Zigbee bridge, account linking or  integration to be done


  • does not seem to support ZigBee input devices such as buttons or sensors. Alexa only processes triggers from Alexa voice commands or routines.
  • only interesting when there is a real need for the integrated smart speaker

4. Open Source Hub for the control freaks & raspberry pi lovers

Are you looking for extreme control, advanced routines, interfaces, integrations, ... then you'll need to go for a home control server approach, which can perfectly run on a Raspberry pi, on the condition you equip it with a Zigbee or Z-wave antenna


  • unlimited possibilities, automation, integrations


  • definitely not plug and play, requires some Linux & scripting skills, and overall IT savviness.

Preferred combinations

I think there are 2 smart combinations you can choose:

1. Philips Hue bridge combined with Amazon Alexa

If you're looking for advanced light control only, the Hue bridge is a bit more reliable and mature compared to SmartThings, and this would be the perfect combination. The Hue bridge will make sure you can still use some switches and buttons to control your ZigBee lights, while Alexa would be the master controller, offering Voice Control, managing groups and routines, and complementing the ZigBee bulbs with other (Wifi) devices. The only limitation you will find is that the Hue switches and buttons will not be able to control the Wifi devices, controlled y Alexa.

2. Samsung SmartThings combined with Google Assistant/Alexa

A combination that I have not tested myself, but looks very promising, is the SmartThings hub combined with either the Google or Amazon voice assistant. In this case, most intelligence would be in the SmartThings hub, as it can natively support ZigBee, Z-wave, and Wifi devices, as well as connecting buttons, switches, and sensors.

Luckily, it will not take much effort to migrate my current situation (Alexa Echo Plus ZigBee hub) towards this setup, registering all ZigBee and Wifi devices to the SmartThings hub, while keeping Alexa only as voice extension.

nach oben