Logitech Harmony Hub vs Hub IR vs IR - please help me understand!


I posted a question some time ago trying to understand the integration of ST with the Harmony system. It was extremely helpful and someone mentioned info about the different types of Harmony remotes. I came back to it a few times as I was reading on other sites and I thought I understood the differences between them. But with some additional reading, I’m now thinking that maybe I don’t fully. I honestly don’t know if I trust peeps on other sites to know what’s what on this and I’m hoping for some clarity in understanding the different systems.

From what I do comprehend, there are three types of Harmony systems:

The original older IR version (setting aside that some of these may have RF boosters for the remote to operate an IR box - without line of sight - that sits near the equipment and sends IR signals)

The latest types which are hub based and like the Home Connect can control things like Hue lights etc (though they must do some IR conversion for TVs, etc)

The third is where I get fuzzy and can’t find reliable information as I’ve read that there are relatively recent models that are hub/IR based and they distinctly separated those from the type listed above of which the Home Connect is one. So I don’t know if these do a hub-to-ir conversion and the new ones don’t (though that doesn’t make sense as so many TVs, DVD/Blu-ray players, A/V receivers etc still use IR for remites). Or if the remote is communicating to the hub via IR vs wireless of some sort (BT, WiFi direct, etc). I’m just not sure.

Could anyone please help me with this? I truly want to learn and know which is which so I don’t make any mistakes. I know I could just try to find a deal on a newer one but I really prefer to understand. If I don’t have the concept of thise first two types that I mentioned correct, please let me know. And I’d love to read get the difference between the wireless and IR hub based systems. If there’s a link with the info please feel free to post as I don’t want to cause anyone extra work.

Thanks so much. I truly appreciate this community and the kindness and patience shown to newbies like me.

I’ve exclusively had Harmony remotes for more years than I can count and I’m fairly certain there are only 2 current types - IR universal remotes and home connect/smart hub versions. In the past there was also the series that communicated (via RF) to a hub which was an IR blaster. The new harmony hub does the IR blasting still but also connects to your home network via wifi for integration with other systems (like ST) and for the remote control phone/tablet apps. I’ve never specifically researched it but my assumption has been that the actual remote connects to the hub via bluetooth since it obviously doesn’t use IR. Whatever protocol it uses is definitely RF rather than IR. I don’t have a Harmony Elite so the remote that comes with that may also have IR, I’m not sure.

Does this help?

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Not sure if this will help.

I was similarly extremely confused when I wanted to buy a new Harmony remote last year. At that time, Harmony was selling the Harmony Smart Control and had just announced the Harmony Home Hub. The Smart Control was not compatible with home automation, but Harmony promised a software update to make it compatible. This was eventually released around the second quarter, if I remember correctly. I picked up one of the Smart Control remotes for $80 at Best Buy, hoping that Harmony will keep their promise. I’ve been using it with SmartThings since they beta tested the Harmony firmware.

The Home Hub and Smart Control hubs look identical, and the little physical remotes are very similar. The newer home remote has buttons to control lights and switches, while the older remote does not. It has buttons to control a DVR, which is the main reason I wanted the older remote.

They also sold older RF remores like the Harmony One, that has no compatibility with home automation.

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What are you trying to achieve with the Harmony remote?

The newer Harmony Hubs sends commands from the remote or the app to devices using IR, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless signals. Harmony Home Hub Extender integrates ZigBee®,Z-Wave™, and Z-Wave Plus compatible devices with your existing Harmony Hub. With the Home Hub, an additional controller (ST) is not necessary. Original Hubs only sent IR.

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Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and knowledge. Yes, it definitely does help. It’s actually quite super as each of the responses includes different info all of which is going a long way to helping me understand the Harmony system better.

Hi Dan,

It definitely helped! Thank you so much for your help and taking the time to respond. I had heard of the promised upgrade to the Smart Connect system so that it would respond as the newer Home Connect but I wasn’t clear from older forum posts and other articles if they had followed through. Glad to hear that they did! This may in fact be where some of the confusion came from in what I had read because for quite awhile, the two hubs that were available at the same time couldn’t handle the same things (meaning Smart Connect & Home Connect). It sounds like this is less of a big deal now with the upgrade and that. the primary differences between the two come down primarily to the layout of the remote and available buttons are primary. Really helpful.

Thanks so much for confirming this info. That is very helpful to know the basics of how the different systems operate. The RF would be a big help for a lot of reasons. I’m fairly sure this was answered in a previous thread but am I correct in that having the ST hub takes out the need for the Harmony Home Hub Extender which would basically repeat what ST does in terms of interfacing the Harmony protocols with the home automation technologies? I’m hoping so. No real reason that I can see to have both but I could be wrong so please correct me!

Hi Rodolfo,

Fair question. The most truthful answer is I’m not entirely sure, at least not in terms of the specifics. From a basic idea, I want to be able to integrate as many things as possible hopefully with the outcome of making it extremely easy to control several things from one place. I want other people in my family (who aren’t the tech freak that I am) to be able to easily control multiple things without worrying about an stool, smartphone etc. It just seems to offer a level of ease of use that would be great. I’m sure as I get my head around more of what’s possible with the integrations, I’ll be have many more ideas.

I finally feel like I’m getting why the confusion between the Harmony hubs. However, I have one other piece that is still not entirely clear. The Smart Connect and Home Connect remotes are basically the same with a different button layout. But I thought I read that there were more significant differences between the Ultimate and Elite remotes which are both the upgraded versions of the two remotes already mentioned (Smart and Home Connect) with both having an LCD screen. Is it true that there are more major differences beyond button layout? Or do they pretty much work the same now that the promised hub upgrades are available?

My other question is whether the newer or upgraded Harmony hub would work better with things like a Roku 3 which uses WiFi to pair the remote? I’ve noticed much better response from controlling WiFi capable devices via WiFi rather than IR. Much faster, no line of sight required, etc. If the newer remotes with the hubs can connect via WiFi to devices like Roku, it would vastly improve our use. Thanks so much!

Okay. From this I’m assuming you have a family that doesn’t know how to control all the remotes from the TV, Roku, BD player, game console, and possibly an AV receiver. Harmony is the way to go. My wife has never been happier since I go it. No more fighting about how to watch Netflix or a Blu ray or TV.

I’ll make it easy for you. The Harmony hub is the same one for the Home Control, Ultimate and Elite. The difference in between these ones is buttons, ergonomics, backlit buttons and the LCD touchscreen. Keep in mind that while the LCD makes it easier to have almost an unlimited number of activities, it will require you to treat the remote as an electronic equipment, so no drops, careful about spills and scratches and you have to keep it charging. The order of things was like this:

  1. Smart Control (smart connect): Has three buttons atop for activities
  2. Home Conrol: Added specific buttons from the remote to have control over some lights
  3. Ultimate: Added LCD touchscreen and backlit buttons
  4. Elite: Different placement of buttons, full backlit and honestly, I don’t know what else.
  5. Hub Extender: Adds Zigbee and Z-wave to the mix of WiFi, IR, RF and Bluetooth

My recommendation: Go simple and get the Home Control. Wait for Best Buy to get it on sale, go on eBay or look in Woot.com as well. Or just snatch one from Amazon. I got the white version of it because for some reason it is cheaper, and works the same way. Give it a go and if you don’t like it, return it. If you do like it and want a touchscreen, you can always return and get the Elite or Ultimate, as long as they with the hub. OR, if you like the Home Control and along the way you feel like adding the Ultimate or Elite, you can do it. There is an option in the Harmony app to “Upgrade Harmony”, which means, pair a new remote to the hub and that way you only need to get the Ultimate or Elite without the hub.

Hope this helps. After you get either of those, you can start playing with what to do in SmartThings.


One small note:

The Harmony Hub Extender is for people who don’t have SmartThings. You could pair a zigbee motion sensor to either the Harmony Hub Extender or SmartThings, but not both. The Harmony extender product runs locally, which is good, but has very limited functionality compared to SmartThings, both in the devices it supports and the features of those devices. It’s has no notification capability (it won’t send you a message if a sensor detects something) and very limited scheduling. Its primary purpose is to let Harmony customers use sensors to trigger Harmony activities, but if you have SmartThings you already have that.

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With the Harmony Hub, you will have the option to use either a WiFi or an
IR connection to the Roku 3. I think most people do use WiFi. You can get more info on that from the Logitech Harmony forums. :sunglasses:

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Hello my name is Nick and i was just reading this forum. From what I’ve read so far i think I’m in the right place. So let me start out by saying I’m pretty knowledgeable about hardware and making connections, but i lack in software. My question is i just built a home theater and I’m looking to be able to control everything with one remote. I have alot of components that i would like to be able to control, some of which are blutooth, wifi, and IR. I’m using the Lutron Casseta remote controlled dimmers and the wifi hub that comes with them. I have the ultimate one harmony remote with the harmony hub. According to the specs for the harmony hub, it can only control up to 8 devices, but the remote can control up to 15 devices. Can i use an additional IR reciever in line with the hub? Do i need both of the hubs (Lutron, harmony)? What order would i wire the components (harmony hub, and or additional IR reciever)?

This forum is for people who are using the Samsung SmartThings home automation platform, so any answer you got would be in the context of that, and it doesn’t sound like you have a SmartThings hub. There is an official Harmony/SmartThings integration, but unfortunately those answers won’t help you.

You’re probably best off asking your question in the harmony forums:


You should be aware, though, that the eight device or 15 device limitation applies only to devices which are communicating via IR. Harmony calls those “entertainment devices.”

Devices which use LAN or cloud to cloud communications, which include both the Wemo and the Lutron, are in a different category, “smart home Devices”. You can have an unlimited number of those and they don’t count against the 8/15 limit.

Ok thank you for the info and pointing me in the right direction. I just ask Google and this ous the forum that came up. Thanks for the help

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