Smart Home conundrum: should you get a smart light switch or smart light bulb?
Turning your humble abode into a smart home can be a complicated and expensive affair if you go “all in”. For those new to the smart home game, there are a few products that make for an easy way to dip your toes into the smart home market without going full throttle. The most popular entry points tend to be smart speakers and smart light bulbs. Both require minimal setup and are apartment/rental friendly.
Smart light switches are a bit more complicated, but are they worth investing in? Good question.
Here are a few real advantages to buying a smart light switch:
- A smart light switch replaces a conventional wall switch and can be manually turned on or off, as well as controlled via an app or smart speaker.
- One switch can control many lights, which could actually end up saving you money over replacing every light bulb in your home with smart light bulbs.
- If a traditional wall switch is off, a smart bulb can’t be controlled. Smart switches eliminate this problem, which is particularly helpful if you have young people who are going to be flipping off your switches or house guests that might not be accustomed to using voice/apps to turn lights on/off in your home.
Here’s the downside to smart switches:
- They involve wiring which makes them a no-no for renters, unless your landlord gives you permission.
- Smart light switches typically don’t work in older homes due to the need for a neutral wire. There are a few workarounds for this, but they generally aren’t ideal.
- Smart switches just turn your lights on and off, they don’t allow for dimming or color changing – unless you have smart switches and smart bulbs. There are also dimmer smart switches, but you’ll need to make sure your existing light bulbs will play nice with it (or upgrade them).
If you want the best of both worlds, it is possible to configure your home with smart lighting and smart switches though this adds complications of its own when it comes to organizing all your smart devices through apps, hubs, and so on. It also can get pretty expensive fast.
Okay, but should you bother with a smart light switch?
For most people, smart light bulbs are probably the best route. They do a lot more in most cases and are easier to install (you just screw them into a light socket!). But if you’re a parent of small child, smart light switches might be worth checking out. If you’re a completionist that wants the smartest possible home and feels like a manual wall switch makes the experience more clunky, you also might want a smart switch.
If a smart light switch sounds like something you’re interested in, there are a ton of options out there. The best smart light switch is arguably the Wemo Light Switch or the Wemo Dimmer light switch. If the idea of Alexa built into a light switch sounds epic to you, we also highly recommend the Ecobee Switch Plus, just keep in mind it’s about double the price of other more basic smart light switches.
Agree with our picks for the best smart light switch? Have any other options you feel deserve at least an honorable mention? Let us know in the comments.