Smart Home Routers

Comparing the Best Routers for Smart Home Owners

Now that you have all of your cool new smart home devices, you need to figure out the best way to connect them to the internet. There are many different routers for connecting devices wirelessly but they aren’t all created equally, and they don’t all connect in the same way. Each of these routers has a common goal, to get your devices connected. But each router has its own selling point. Google WiFi focuses on a mesh or blanket of Wi-Fi to cover your entire home with strong wireless internet. The Securifi Almond 3 is a touchscreen, which is said to allow for easier access and simpler set up. While Google OnHub TP-Link version focuses on simplicity. Choices, choices, choices…

Product Pricing and Range

If you are expecting to drop an easy fifty bucks, that isn’t going to happen with these devices. They range from $130 to $150 for one router and up to $400 if you choose to purchase multiple units. Google OnHub covers up to 2500 sq. ft. for $142. Google WiFi is the cheapest options if you are buying a single router at $129. But if you want to take advantage of the meshing feature, you can purchase a 3-pack for $299. The Securifi Almond 3 can cover 1300 sq. ft. with a single unit for $149. For larger spaces, up to 5000 sq. ft., you can buy a three pack for $399.

Getting the Most Out of Your Router’s Smart Home Features

From a meshed blanket of Wi-Fi and smartphone apps to home security and lighting controls, routers are no longer just used for connecting to the internet. Each of these routers has features that you can take advantage of throughout your smart home.

Almond 3

The Almond 3 prides itself in being compatible with the Amazon Echo. This allows you to create scenes that can be voice activated for hands-free control of multiple devices at the same time. A scene consisting of multiple rules can be activated by telling Echo, “Alexa, tell Almond to activate (scene name)”. For example, if you have a scene named “good night” and there are three rules under that scene: arming the alarm system, setting the thermostat to 70 degrees, and turning off the bedroom light, you can do it all using one short sentence.

You can also use the Almond 3 as part of your home’s security, if you want to self-monitor. You can connect motion detectors and door/window sensors to the Almond 3 so that you can monitor your home. Not only will you receive notifications through the smartphone app when unusual activity is detected, but there is also a built-in siren that will sound to ward off intruders. You can set rules for home and away mode. Unusual activity detection will be based on events that break the rules. For example, if your light is turned on by motion detection in your home while the device is set to away mode, this will be detected as an unusual event, and the Almond 3 will respond accordingly.

For easy access to technical support, the Almond 3 has ZigBee 1.2 built-in, and if you prefer, you can use Z-wave by plugging in the USB dongle directly into the device. A dongle is a small device that can grant the router unique features, such as, access to Z-wave. Almond 3 can also use a Bluetooth dongle which would allow you to connect via Bluetooth. But there is only one USB port, so you will have to choose between Z-wave and Bluetooth. Along with Bluetooth USB dongles, the Almond 3 also supports IFTTT which allows access to third party services and devices like Amazon Echo, ecobee, and Nest Cam.

Almond 3 also works with many of your favorite brands and smart devices directly such as Nest thermostats, Phillips Hue lights, and Yale door locks. For a list of the devices that can be connected to the Almond 3, check out the Securifi website.

Finally, Almond 3 can be paired with Securifi’s newest pride and joy, the Almond Click. The Almond Click is a smart button that is set to begin shipping in December 2016. You can pre-order now at Securifi.com. Each button can be paired with a long list of smart home devices in your home and you can perform multiple actions from one button by either pressing, double pressing, or long pressing. For example, press the button once to turn on your lights and activate Almond 3’s built-in siren.

In short, Almond 3 creates a Wi-Fi mesh when you use multiple devices, allows for voice control through Amazon Alexa, and acts as a smart home hub.

Google OnHub

The Google OnHub TP-Link version was released in 2015. Its main selling point is its simplicity. From installation to setting up via the smartphone app, Google wanted using a router to be as simple as possible. On certain Android devices, you can open the Google On app when you’re near the OnHub, and it will connect automatically. Once your device is connected, you can continue the initial setup process using the App. The Google On app is also available on iOS devices but will not automatically connect to the OnHub. To use the OnHub, you must have a Google account, for those already using Gmail, this isn’t an issue, but everyone else will need to create an account before they can use the device.

The Google OnHub boasts 13 antennas to help boost Wi-Fi range. They claim you can connect 100+ devices to the router, allowing you to connect all of your Smart Home devices without fear of slowing down your internet speeds too much. For those who are curious about how fast their Wi-Fi speeds are, the Google On app has a built-in speed test. The app also includes access to separate guest Wi-Fi connections. Some people have said that the Google On app is simple and to the point, while others have said it is almost too simple and lacking in features, like parental control.

The OnHub includes many features that will be activated in the future such as a built-in speaker (plays sounds when the OnHub is connecting to certain Android devices automatically), USB 3.0 (can be used with a printer now but nothing else), Bluetooth, and ZigBee.

Google WiFi

If you’ve already purchased the Google OnHub router, you can still take advantage of the Google WiFi features, such as meshing. By using it to extend and strengthen your already existing OnHub Wi-Fi signal.

You can use the smartphone app to make changes to your router settings, control hotspots, and monitor your kids’ Wi-Fi activity. Google WiFi also has a special feature that allows it to analyze the strength of your connection and the activity on the channel you are connected to. It will move your device to another channel if one channel becomes too slow and congested. This is supposed to allow Google WiFi to provide a constant and strong internet connection for all of your connected smart home devices.

Individuality: Aesthetics

Each of the routers has a relatively unique look though they all have plastic exteriors. Both Google WiFi and Google OnHub have a cylindrical shape. Google WiFi comes in white, and the OnHub comes in blue. Google WiFi is by far the smallest and lightest of the three routers, coming in at only 11.8 ounces with a diameter of 4.7 inches and a height of 2.7 inches. Google OnHub, with a taller cylindrical design, has a diameter of 4.1 to 4.9 inches and a height of 7.5 inches and weighs about 1.9 pounds. The Almond 3 is the most unique of the three routers. Not only is it rectangular, but it also has a touchscreen to allow the user to change the settings without a computer or smartphone. The Almond 3 is also the heaviest of the three routers, weighing 3.5 pounds with measurements of 1.9 x 5.3 x 4.6 inches.

Ready to Purchase?

If you know which device you want and you are ready to purchase, you can purchase Google OnHub from Amazon.com. You can also purchase the Securifi Almond 3 from Amazon.com. If you are interested in Google WiFi, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer. You can pre-order the device now from the Google store, it will begin shipping on December 1, 2016.

The Breakdown

Here is how the three routers compare with each other. Due to the pending release date of Google WiFi, some information has not yet been released to the public.

Google WiFi Securifi Almond 3 Google OnHub
google wifi securify googleonhub
Purchase Price $129.00 $149.99 $141.89
Color: White Black or White Blue
Material: Plastic Plastic Plastic
Wireless Signal: Dual Stream 802.11ac Dual Stream 801.11n 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Range: Unknown 1 unit – 1300 ft² Up to 2500 ft²
Connectivity: WiFi and Ethernet WiFi, Ethernet, USB 2.0 WiFi, Ethernet, USB 3.0
App Compatibility: iOS and Android iOS and Android iOS and Android
Security: WPA2-PSK Unknown Unknown
Frequency: 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz
Purchase Price $53.95 $199.99 $199.99
Number of wired LAN ports: 2 2 1
Parental Controls Yes Yes No
Size: 4.2 x 4.2 x 2.7 in. 1.9 x 5.3 x 4.6 in. 4.6 x 4.1 x 7.5 in.
Weight: 11.8 ounces 3.5 lbs 1.9 lbs
Buy Now Google store Amazon.com Amazon.com

If you want to connect all of your devices with ease, the Google OnHub is for you. If you are more concerned with Wi-Fi range, then the meshing system of Google WiFi is a great option. If you just want to be able to control your Smart Home with ease, Almond 3 is probably the best choice.

In the end, the choice is yours. Each router contains its own cool and unique features, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. You have to decide which router is the best match for you and your smart home.