Smart lighting is a common entry
point to home automation and it brings about both convenience and security.
When you’re on the buying trail, though, things quickly get quite confusing.
Maybe you’re a complete beginner and you’ve never really investigated smart lighting before. You’ll immediately be confronted with a batch of options you might not be sure about. And that’s where we step in.
We’ll walk you through the primary benefits of smart light switches and answer one of the questions we’re most frequently asked, “How much does a smart light switch cost?”
After that, we’ll give you a
capsule review of several of the strongest options at your disposal.
So, why should you bother with smart light switches in the first place?
Why Choose a Smart Light Switch?
If you want more than a few bulbs smartened up, the most cost-effective approach is to go all-in with smart light switches. While a single Philips Hue bulb for a smart home beginner might make sense, once you start needing multiple bulbs, the price soon mounts.
Aside from the financial side of things, here’s a snapshot of the main selling points of smart light switches.
- Improved Security
- Streamlined Control
You’ll be able to automate the workaday basics of lighting then intervene in-app on your smartphone, which is the main draw with smart light switches.
You’ll be able to go beyond the basics of on/off and dimming depending on the ecosystem you have in place using nothing but your cellphone.
From easing into your day with the bedroom lights coming on
gradually to whole-house programming, scheduling gives your daily routine a
You can also make sure that all lights automatically go off
when you leave home to save wasted consumption.
While you’ll enjoy all of these benefits, you’ll still be
able to use the wall switch so guests or elderly relatives won’t be troubled.
Beyond the primary goal of convenience, smart light switches fall in line with the second main tenet of home automation and that’s security.
An unoccupied property is always likely to attract burglars. Why make it easy for them?
Installing smart switches throughout your house allows you
to have your lighting randomized so it looks like someone is home.
You’ll also be able to build out a more ambitious ecosystem
comprised of motion sensors and smart outdoor lighting. Throw in an alarm
system and you’ve encircled your precious home with a superb overall security
Ease of control extends beyond the lighting itself. You can
easily get your lights working in sync with other compatible smart devices.
Think about coming home to the temperature adjusted
immaculately, hallway lights ablaze, your blinds closed and Alexa calling up a
playlist to welcome you home. That’s all easily achieved.
And, whichever way you want to use your smart lighting, control couldn’t be easier with your phone or voice commands.
The final key benefit of smart light switches is their
Energy Star suggests that lighting makes up roughly 12% of
the average family electricity bill. To put that into perspective, we’re
talking about maybe $250.
By installing smart light switches you can make savings on your consumption by perhaps 10% or more. You’ll see much more ambitious figures than this thrown around, but the claims tend to be made by manufacturers of smart light switches. It’s hard to take that data at face value. That said, by using energy-efficient LEDs that also last much longer along with occupancy-detection and optimized automated efficiency, you should make noticeable savings.
Check out our study of the differences between smart plugs, smart switches, and smart outlets if you’re still not sure which makes the best fit for you.
And if you are sure, we have some great examples for you after looking at how much smart light switches costs.
How Much Does a Smart Light Switch Cost?
This is a question that’s tough to answer and might be better reframed.
You should consider this from the same angle as you should
use with any smart home purchase. How much do you need to spend to get the best
solution possible within budget? Looking at it that way, you won’t be motivated
purely by the bottom line.
We also want to add that even the best smart light switches aren’t particularly expensive. This means making a nominal saving probably won’t be worthwhile for many of you, especially if it comes at the cost of quality.
The super-cheap switches coming out of China are best
avoided in our opinion. If you check out smart tech that’s off-brand and comes
with no kind of track record, you’re likely to get a glitch experience at best.
WiFi-only switches don’t offer you the same level of dependability and redundancy as you’ll find with Insteon’s top-notch switch.
Installation of Smart Light Switches
The other element you need to factor in when pricing up a smart switch is whether or not you’ll need an electrician. If so, be sure to get some quotes before committing to purchase so you can make sure this fits with your budget.
All of the smart light switches we outline here today are priced at around the $50 mark, so that should give you a general benchmark.
On top of this and the possible cost of installation, think also about whether you’ll need a third-party home hub. If so, factor that into the equation too.
Expect to pay somewhere around $50 for a solid and utterly reliable smart
switch from a major brand you can trust.
On which note, we’ll round out with some direct recommendations if you’re looking for the best smart light switch.
3 of the Best Smart Switches
Our personal favorite smart switch is the classic Insteon dimmer that comes competitively priced without stiffing you on the performance front. After all, it’s senseless looking for cheap smart lighting if you end up inconvenienced rather than having your life simplified.
As with all Insteon devices, you’ll benefit from the inbuilt redundancy of the dual-mesh network. If you run into any issues at all with your WiFi, signals are still transmitted through the power lines in your home.
You install this dimmer just like a regular switch, except you’ll need a connection to a neutral wire.
The remote control is seamless as with all Insteon tech. If you want to get the most from this lighting, invest in the Hub Central Controller. This is also available in a HomeKit-enabled version. With this foundation in place, you’ll be able to build out a more sprawling Insteon ecosystem. Adding in the hub also gives you the option of voice control. For this, you’ll also need a Google Home or an Alexa smart speaker or smart display.
You’ll be free to tweak the ramp rate so lights come on as bright or dim as you prefer. You can also manipulate how long it takes for the lights to go off completely when the day’s done.
Creating scenes and scheduling is a stress-free experience in-app. Another nice touch is the ability to build out virtual multi-way switches, which is ideal when multiple switches control a single load.
You’ll need to buy a wall plate
screwless Insteon plates make a wise match.
If you like the sound of reliability, flexibility and a rock-bottom price tag, we urge you to think seriously about this Insteon dimmer switch. You’ll end up using less electricity while eliminating the tedium of controlling lights manually.
If you’re looking for a bargain
Wemo smart switches are a must.
Just like with the Insteon switch, you will need a neutral wire for connection. If you have an older home or you’re not sure if you have this extra crucial wire in place, call in an electrician to make sure.
What you won’t need is a home hub and there’s no call for a subscription either. Simply install this switch then add it to your home Wi-Fi network.
This switch is designed to support all types of bulbs from incandescent to CFLs to LEDs. You’ll be good to go with any single, double or multi-switch rocker-style plates.
When it comes to voice control, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant all play nicely. You’ll need the requisite smart speaker to support your preferred digital butler, then you’ll get hands-free convenience. Imagine not needing to constantly get up when you’re watching a movie to manipulate brightness levels. Automate the majority of your lighting then step in to take remote control when required.
As with all smart lighting, an inbuilt advantage is one way you can make your house look occupied when you’re out. Activate Away Mode and you’ll get randomized lighting so it seems like you’ve got a house full even if you’re on vacay.
Check out our recent glimpse at
the best Belkin-owned Wemo products right
here for more inspiration.
Another strong contender for the best cheap smart light switch crown, this Z-Wave smart dimmer from GE represents stellar value while delivering impressive performance.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you can use a Z-Wave controller to take the helm. If you don’t have one and don’t want the extra expense, use the app on your smartphone instead.
The wireless range extends an ample 150 feet. With Z-Wave Plus you’ll get more pace and reliability than ever before.
This switch calls for in-wall installation. This means you’ll need a neutral wire and hard-wired connections, so this doesn’t make the most renter-friendly solution. Unless you’re fairly confident with electrics, you’ll likely want to call in a professional contractor. If so, make sure you budget for this.
Compatible with LEDs, CFLs and incandescent dimmers, you have a versatile piece of tech at a rock bottom price. What’s not to love?
One thing to keep in mind is that you might not love any of these switches if you don’t have a neutral wire in place. Luckily, there are some workable options if you don’t have that all-important C-wire.
Best Smart Switch If You Don’t Have a Neutral Wire
Designed to install with no neutral wire required, you’ll
get extremely dependable wireless connectivity with Lutron’s proprietary Clear
You can buy this switch individually or bundled as we have it here with the Smart Bridge you’ll need for optimum functionality. Compatibility is robust and you’ll be able to use your digital assistant of choice for voice control. This lighting also makes a smooth fit with most other major smart home players.
Geofencing is a neat touch and allows lighting to be
fine-tuned in line with your location.
Control is seamless in-app on your phone and you’ll be able to alter colors, shades, and brightness levels from a distance.
Make your life simple and sidestep the issue of a missing C-wire and go for the Lutron Caseta dimmer instead.
Remember: If you
don’t have a neutral wire, make sure you opt for the Lutron dimmer. The regular
smart switch does demand a C-wire.
Choosing a smart light switch might initially seem confusing, but there’s really not much to it once you clear up the basics.
Whether you’re looking for the utmost reliability of Insteon or you prefer to roll with a purely WiFi-based solution, you’re spoiled for choice. That said, we tried to strip this choice down and serve you up with just a trio of powerful models to make your life easier.
We have more of the latest smart home news coming up to round the week out. Don’t forget to bookmark our blog and you can follow us on social media, too. We’re ramping up our Instagram presence right now and you should also check out our YouTube channel.
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