I apologize for such a simple question (new to this), but I’m a little confused. Do I need a brand specific hub for each brand of product I use or will the SmartThings hub control any Z wave compliant device? In other words, if I have a SmartThings Hub and say a GE dimmer switch, do also need a Wink hub?
The SmartThings hub will work with many, many Z-Wave and Zigbee devices. The SmartThings service (not the hub) is also integrated with other cloud-based services with which it can interact (Amazon Alexa, etc). Here is a page full of devices that ST officially supports:
In addition to that, user-developed and supported extensions are available that will allow your hub (and the service) to work with many other devices and services.
I have 150+ devices, only a single hub.
LIFX (wifi, cloud to cloud)
Nest (wifi, cloud to cloud)
Aeon Labs (zwave)
Wemo (wifi, lan/cloud to cloud/lan, I think this might actually be lan, not cloud)
Roku (wifi, lan to lan)
Cooper / Eaton (zwave)
Some users that have the Hue bulbs are using the Hue hub attached to the SmartThings network. I don’t have Hue so I can’t comment on specifics. I also know that some users have paired the Hue bulbs directly to SmartThings but I think there are a few downsides to this.
The Z-Wave and Zigbee HA stuff “mostly” works with no help. There are a lot of great products/devices that come on both protocols that work well with SmartThings.
I have some Phillips Hue bulbs and they need their own zigbee hub/bridge to be fully controllable. Then there are a bunch of products that use other technologies (mostly their cloud to the ST cloud) to integrate. Amazon Echo/Nest/Logitech Harmony/Belkin WeMo/etc.
You’ve gotten several excellent answers, but I thought I’d give you the simpler one:
The SmartThings hub is a certified Z wave controller/gateway. That means it will be able to do at least basic on/off control of any other certified Z wave device from the same region. ( US hubs cannot control UK switches or vice versa.)
A device may have some advanced capabilities which will not work with the stock Z wave device type handlers (code) provided by SmartThings, but in most of those cases it will be possible to use a custom device type handler. And most of the popular Z wave devices on the US market already have custom handlers created by SmartThings community members.
Specifically in the case of the GE switches sold at Lowe’s, you’ll see in the product description that they say:
Compatible gateways and home automation systems include Iris Hub, ADT pulse, SmartThings™, Staples Connect, Nexia, Vera and more
So you’re good there, and indeed the GE switches are very popular.