Smart bulbs vs. smart switches: pros and cons

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Updating your home’s lighting is a big project, and it can be easy to turn to smart lights. However, smart light switches can offer much the same convenience at a lower cost. Let’s put these two product categories face to face and find the one that best suits your setup.

Do i need smart bulbs with a smart switch?

You don’t need smart bulbs to install smart switches. This is really what is so convenient about smart switches. They provide connectivity to the lights without the need to change the bulbs themselves, so you can control them remotely from your phone, through voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, or by set automations to turn on at sunset. This feature is particularly useful when fixtures are installed in inaccessible places, which makes it difficult to replace bulbs. Smart switches are also handy as they can activate other outlets connected to different devices. It can give you the ability to remotely control more than just lights.

Do smart switches work with normal light bulbs?

The vast majority of smart switches work with normal light bulbs. However, you will need to check the packaging. Some smart bulb manufacturers make switches specific to their bulbs. For example, Philips has a dedicated switch that communicates wirelessly with all Hue bulbs in the house.

Smart switches that work with normal light bulbs will have their own apps and setup process where you need to connect them to your home’s electricity. They’ll also need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to the home network so you can control the Switch from your devices and create automations. On that note, you’ll want to make sure smart switches are within range of your Wi-Fi router to ensure consistent connectivity. So you may need to relocate your Wi-Fi router or get a network extension to provide coverage.

Are smart lights or smart switches more expensive?

Smart switches tend to be less expensive than smart lights. You can certainly find cheap smart lights, and the most sophisticated smart switches can hit the $ 100 mark. These high-end smart switches will often have features like built-in speakers and microphones so you can use voice assistants like Alexa.

In general, however, good smart bulbs cost anywhere from $ 20 to $ 40, while you can get a passable smart switch for $ 10. Whether this is a big difference will depend entirely on your budget. It might be worth the extra shell out for the color the smart lights provide.

Are smart switches or smart lights easier to install?

Smart bulbs are certainly easier to install than smart switches. For smart lights, it’s a simple bulb swap and a few taps on the app, and you’re good to go. Change switches involves dealing with electrical work that not all homeowners are comfortable (or skilled) in doing. You’ll want to check if the switch you plan to replace has a neutral wire to power a potential smart switch. Some smart switches require this DC power source, but others do not. You will also need to determine if other switches go to the same fixture. Often, smart switches are incompatible with these three-way layouts. The only real way to handle any electrical work is to use a mechanical switch like Switch, but they are quite large and clumsy in appearance.

On the software side, smart switches and smart lights are on more even ground. Manufacturers often have product families that can all be managed from the same application. Even if you carry a wide array of brands, third-party support for Google Home and Apple Home is common enough that you can otherwise manage all of your smart home gadgets from one place.

Which is better, a smart switch or a smart bulb?

In general, smart bulbs are better, but they are also more expensive. Smart lights are better for several reasons. On the one hand, you need to update the bulbs if you want to experience the additional colors they have to offer. This step may seem like a superficial thing, but when you factor in the subtle improvement in using warm whites over cool whites and the ability to sync lights with movies or music, smart bulbs begin. to be rather beautiful. Combine this with the ease of installation and that they can save you money in the long run, and the slightly higher price of smart lights becomes barely noticeable. Read our guide to smart bulbs to learn more about which models to buy.

Hope this clarifies the comparison between smart bulbs and smart switches. While these are different means for a similar purpose, there are tradeoffs in cost and labor in both cases.

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