Home Automation

Iris vs Wink Relay Smart Hub – Which Smart Controller is Better?

(Last Updated On: August 25, 2017)

Smart hubs are an increasingly common choice for the discerning smart home owner, allowing buyers to take control of lighting, security, locks, thermostats and garden systems from one central command system. Modern smart hubs allow for remote control via your smartphone, and can link a range of varied systems together.

However, few vendors offer everything within one system and prices can soon spiral as you add more components to the system. That means buyers will research the market carefully for the right product for their home, at the right budget.

In this article, I compare the Iris Home Management System which tries to package in many devices against the new Wink Relay Smart Hub that prefers to let you choose what devices you add. The head-to-head comparison will see which one comes out on top. In doing so, I evaluate the two devices using the following criteria: key features, software, pros and cons, installation, and price. Let us know in the comments of your experience with these devices.

You can read my full – stand alone – review of the Wink Hub here.

Bottom Line Up Front: I much prefer the new Wink Hub 2 available here, as it has more of the features and a wider (and growing) compatibility list.

Key Features of the Iris vs Wink

Iris Home Management System

The Iris Home Management System can be found at most Lowes outlets and online. Available in various kits, it offers a smart home kit, a security kit and a comfort and control kit to help manage various aspects of your home systems. Anything beyond the basic service comes with a $9.99 monthly fee to access advanced device control, video streaming, email or text alerts, rule setting and voice control.

The Smart Kit includes a hub, door contact sensors, motion sensor, keypad, smart plug, smart thermostat and a range extender. for a discount here, it is better value than the other two kits, combining all their features, and you can add other elements as needed. To this you can add more Iris products or a range of third party smart devices from Honeywell thermostats to Schlage locks.

The basic system is a couple of years old, but Iris is constantly being updated, with support for ceiling fans recently added and GoControl Thermostats and GE Dimmers soon to join the list. When you open the box, the system is far from attractive, compared to all the smart touchscreen and dial devices we’ve seen recently. There’s a butt-ugly key pad control unit, cheap looking hubs and sensors and overly fussy user apps to control it all. A major plus, however, is the Panic button that you can hit to alert your contacts that something is wrong.

Wink Relay Smart Hub

The Wink Relay in comparison to the Iris, is a new and lean start up competitor. They’ve got the design down from the start, with a truly smart looking product, well designed apps and plenty of compatibility options. But, back the basics first.

The Wink Realy Smart Hub comes as a Command Center kit for $315 MSRP (or lower at this listing), but there’s no subscription to pay. It comes with its own touchscreen controller, with an app that can handle the majority of smart products from one interface. It claims compatibility with the likes of GE Link, Leviton switches, Nest thermostats, a range of sensors, locks and garage controllers and much more.

While Lowes is pushing the Iris, Wink is being promoted by the likes of Home Depot and Amazon, so should rapidly grow in popularity with its higher visibility.

Winner?

If you’re after a smarter home then the Wink is miles ahead in terms of interface design, technology adoption and it appears to be winning the battle out on the store shelves. If you want something that does the job, but without the bells and whistles, then Iris should suit.

Installation Comparison

Iris Home Management System

Iris plugs into your home broadband system with the hub connecting to your router. Then the battery-powered keypad needs to be paired with the hub before your screw that into a wall near your main door. The range extender can help link devices if you live in a large property. Each component can then be installed or linked to the service, with the Iris web page showing what’s connected.

Wink Relay Smart Hub

The wink will connect to your home in place of a two-socket light switch, with the removeable touchpad and two fixed buttons to help your manage your home smart systems. An electrician should install the Relay for you, if you’re not confident on working with electrics. It users the wall power supply, so there are no batteries and looks highly professional once in place.

Once installed, it will communicate with any WiFi and Zigbee radio-equipped smart products. And you can control home lighting or other features with the main buttons, or use the touchscreen for finer control and to change settings.

Software Comparison

Iris Home Management System

Since all the Iris features run a web interface, you can access it from any device with a browser. There is a smartphone app but they both show all types of products, including ones you don’t own which seems an impersonal way of running a smart home. Then there’s the subscriptions for the extra features that are fundamental to any smart home. That might be great for the company’s bottom line, but it doesn’t feel smart to the user.

Wink Relay Smart Hub

Since Wink is only selling the Relay Smart Hub, it doesn’t have to worry about anything else other than its own product and app functions. That’s probably why it looks like a true smart gadget, and the Android-based interface is smooth and efficient. The Wink touchscreen provides a neat menu through all the devices that you happen to connect to it, with fine-tuning of controls and settings.

Pros and Cons of the Iris vs Wink

Iris Home Management System

The main issue with Iris is that it relies on your Internet connection to work. No broadband, and you suddenly lose all control over your devices. The Iris Hub also needs to be installed next to your broadband router, leaving you limited on its positioning.

On the plus side, there is a simple set of rules to help program all your devices, but nothing for the power user to really feel in charge of everything.

Wink Relay Smart Hub

Wink works via your home’s own power grid, so will continue to work if the Internet goes down, which is a serious advantage. It can also communicate with more types of devices and be installed anywhere in the home. Its mix of smart wall-based device, physical buttons and the use of a smartphone apps makes it feel more futuristic and more part of a modern smart home.

Table Comparison – Quick Look

SpecsIris Smart KitWink Relay Kit
Compatible DevicesIris range, GE switches, RTOA thermostats, Schlage, Kwikset, First Alert, Blue Line, Orbit, Swann, Energizer, Honeywell, PetSafe,Bali, Cree, Ge, Honeywell, Kwikset, Lutron, Philips, Quirky, Rheem, TCP, Chamberlain, Dropcam, GoControl, Kidde, Leviton, Nest, Rachio, Schlage
Wi-FiWiFi, Z-WaveWiFi, ZigBee, Bluetooth
Pricesee here for latestsee here for latest

 

Final Assessment – Which One Would I Go With?

The Wink wins hands down in almost all areas if you’re after something will make your home feel truly smart. Its singular focus on being a hub means you can throw any and all devices into the mix, while the Iris range of kits reeks of compromise. The Wink is also better designed, better looking and offers a better user experience. If I had to encapsulate the two devices, the Wink you’d buy for yourself, the Iris is what you’d buy your parents! You can check out this listing to save on the Wink Relay system.

UPDATE: Check out the new Wink Hub 2 available here for the latest smart hub control (builds on/with the Wink Relay).

Still Can’t Decide? Take Our Smart Hub Finder Quiz

About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn't have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

1 Comment

  • I recently upgraded to the new Iris hub, and what a disaster. The original product worked flawlessly, but the new gen is garbage. Can’t schedule groups so each of my 17 devices has to be scheduled individually. No notification if your hub goes off line. Devices don’t always tun on or off as scheduled. I’m looking for a hub that will work with my existing switches, modules and thermostats. Lowes just promisses improvement with the next release, but it never comes.

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