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Do Arlo Essential cameras require the Arlo Smart Hub?

Arlo makes some of the most popular smart home cameras. They’re reliable, easy to install, and supported by platforms such as Apple Home, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa. Many of its best devices fall into the Essential family, which includes the Essential XL, Essential 2K, Essential Indoor 2K, and Essential Video Doorbell.

Alongside these products, Arlo offers something known as a Smart Hub. This is available in two formats (Ultra Smart Hub and Pro Smart Hub), and both make it easy to connect your Arlo devices to the internet. But do you need an Arlo Smart Hub to use Arlo Essential cameras? Or can you get them online without purchasing the secondary hub?

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about Arlo Essential cameras and Smart Hubs.

What is an Arlo Smart Hub?

An Arlo Smart Hub on a wooden table.

An Arlo Smart Hub serves as a central location for all your Arlo devices. Cameras can sync with the Smart Hub to quickly get online or provide you with the option for local storage of your video files. In other words, a Smart Hub serves as the brains of your smart home.

Arlo offers two types of SmartHubs — the Arlo Pro Smart Hub and the Arlo Ultra 2 Smart Hub. These two devices work in much the same way, but there are a few notable differences. For one, the Ultra supports microSD cards for local storage, while the Pro uses USB Type A. For a detailed rundown of exactly what’s offered by each Smart Hub model, be sure to check out the official Arlo comparison page.

Do Arlo Essential cameras require the Arlo Smart Hub?

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera (Gen 2) with the Privacy Shield enabled.

No, Arlo Essential cameras do not require an Arlo Smart Hub. Arlo notes that all Essential products are capable of directly connecting to your Wi-Fi network, negating the need for a Smart Hub. However, a Smart Hub is still useful if you’re interested in local storage. Using a Smart Hub may improve the battery life of battery-powered devices or offer long-range connectivity — but there’s no requirement to purchase the device to use the basic features of your Essential camera.

Here’s a look at a few Arlo Essential cameras that do not require an Arlo Smart Hub, along with a few products outside the Essential family:

  • Arlo Essential Indoor Camera
  • Arlo Essential XL Camera
  • Arlo Pro 4
  • Arlo Essential Wired Video Doorbell
  • Arlo Pro 5S

What devices can connect to the Arlo Smart Hub?

The Arlo Pro 5S installed outside on a wall.

Thinking about picking up a Smart Hub for your Arlo devices? Here’s a look at which ones can connect to the base stations.

  • Arlo Ultra 2
  • Arlo Ultra 2 XL
  • Arlo Ultra
  • Arlo Pro 5S 2K
  • Arlo Pro 4
  • Arlo Pro 4 XL
  • Arlo Pro 3
  • Arlo Pro 2
  • Arlo Pro
  • Arlo Cameras
  • Arlo Essential Spotlight
  • Arlo Essential Spotlight XL
  • Arlo Essential Indoor
  • Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell
  • Arlo Audio Doorbell

Be sure to check the exact specs of your model, as there are some minor differences between the Arlo Pro and Arlo Ultra 2 Smart Hubs. And while you’re free to connect your Essential cameras to the Smart Hub, remember there’s no requirement to do so. Most people will find it to be easier (and cheaper) to directly connect their cameras to Wi-Fi, but those that want to use local storage as a backup might want to consider investing in a Smart Hub.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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