Smart controllers are breeding like rabbits with so many major home tech vendors, startups and energy companies getting in on the act.
Opening up your home to the possibilities of automation and smart technology is easier than you’d think, but picking the right one is essential to allow for the right type of technology in your home, and how you play to expand it.
Home automation provides improved home safety, energy savings as well as making it easier for the less able to operate their home switches and devices.
Two of the leaders in home automation are HomeSeer and VeraLite, from controlling the heating in this gloomy northern winter to automating lights, music and other features of the home, which one is best.
We compare both units by their key features, specifications and pros and cons to work out which one could offer you the best value and most appropriate set of features for your smart home.
Key Features of Both Controllers to Consider
- Built for the Z-Wave Power User: The HomeSeer is definitely the power user’s choice in this comparison. It offers Z-Wave compatibility and can be upgraded with other radios, a more powerful processor for faster response and more storage for a greater variety of settings, apps and functions. What does that mean to the user? Well, it offers the ability to manage your home controls via a smartphone or other device and it is compatible with most Z-Wave light switches, thermostats, door locks, smoke detectors and other home sensors.
- Powerful Processor: On the box is an Intel Inside logo, which hints at the power inside, with a dual core processor basically making this a mini PC. Even so, it is still a small and compact hub.
- App Control: The HomeSeer comes with a free mobile app for remote control or you can buy an Android tablet with it to control all things smart home from one device.
- Powerful Potential: On the market a year now, at the heart of the HomeSeer is its automation engine, app store and range of range of connectivity that lets users customize settings with a high degree of fidelity, interaction and smartness.
- Cost Conscious: The VeraLite is half the price of the Homeseer, so you’d expect less. Right? Well, not really…
- Good for the Starter to Intermediate Smart Home System: As such, it only supports the Z-Wave specification, even so it claims compatibility with over 900 devices, so should cover most situations. It can manage up to 70 devices, so that should be enough for most homes, as long as you’re happy in an all-Z-Wave home.
- Easy Integration with Popular Smart Devices: Apart from the usual fun and games, and much button pressing, to set up your Z-Wave devices, once that is done, managing them via the app or browser is straightforward. With support for iOS and Android devices to manage the app, and plug-ins for the likes of the Nest thermostat, DSC alarm panel and many more.
Why are we comparing a more powerful product to the VeraLite? Well, there is a VeraEdge model (see full review here), but that has had many issues, so we’ll stick with something that’s more mature and has had a good reception from the market.
Pros and Cons of Both
- Pro – Best for Tech Savvy Homeowners: As a more advanced product, the HomeSeer will appeal to the more technically minded smart homeowner who wants total control over every device and setting. In my mind, a good analogy is the PC vs Mac users in the early days (customization vs user friendliness). The Homeseer can relate events and change devices depending on the weather or sensor variations.
- Pro – Locally Stored (Secure) Data: Storing the data locally on its SSD is a key advantage here, as it means you don’t need constant cloud or web access to keep your smart home ship sailing, something that can cripple other solutions in an outage. That powerful processor also means it is quick to react, with a rapid boot time and
- Pr0 – Added Insteon Compatibility: For smart home digital media users, there’s also the advantage of Insteon compatibility, which for those with DirecTV and iTunes devices, plus a range of other services through the use of third-party plug-ins.
- Con – Expensive: Perhaps the only issue here is the price, you don’t even get a Z-Wave controller for that money, its an essential extra. Even then, this is double that of the recommended price of the Veralite, and you can probably find that product for a lot less (check this listing for the latest pricing). Still, the Homeseer seems to maintain its value, which is an indication of the type of user it is aimed at.
- Pro – More User Friendly and Accessible: The VeraLite is a solution the “everyman” smart home user, claiming plug in and play, via Ethernet to your router, simplicity.
- Pro – Easier to Use App Control and Setup: The VeraLite app also looks a bit more modern and is easier to configure. Setting up is simple to do, create a room, create a device that’s in that location, set up some rules for it and you’re good to go – all done via a web browser or iOS app.
- Pro – Can Use Backup Battery Power: It does have the advantage of running of the mains or battery, briefly, which could be handy if your property suffers frequent power outages or brownouts. One useful feature of this, is you can stand next to any smart home device you’re setting up to press the appropriate buttons without rushing to and from.
- Pro – More Regular Updates: The VeraLite also gets regular firmware updates to keep it in touch with the latest Z-Wave devices, although perhaps not as fast as some users would like.
- Con – Some Issues with Smart Cams: Some users report having issues setting up generic or non-common cameras with the VeraLite, but there’s generally a solution to be found among the strong user community.
Comparison: VeraLite vs Homeseer
|Dimensions||4.5” x 2.25” x 4.25”
|4.6” X 1.7” X 3.7”|
|iOS, Android, Windows Phone|
|Storage||32 MB flash RAM; 64 MB DDR2 storage||2 GB, 32 GB SSD storage|
|CPU||1.58 GHz Dual-Core with 1 MB Cache||500MHz MIPS|
|Price||(For the latest prices check here)||(For the latest prices check here)|
|WiFi||802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz, 5GHz. Z-Wave,
Final Recommendation – Which to Go With?
There’s a clear cost benefit to owning the VeraLite in this comparison, if you just want a simple but expandable smart home, this will do the job, unless you need large numbers of cameras, locks and controllable lights or other features.
If you’re heading that way, then the HomeSeer is looking more like your type of device. That also adds radio flexibility so you can use non Z-Wave devices at a little more cost.
- Tech Savvy users who have plenty of smart home experience will likely prefer the horsepower and advanced capability of the Homeseer
- First time users or those who want an easy to implement solution will be better served by the VeraLite.
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