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If you are looking to get on the smart home bandwagon, one of the best places to start is lighting. Like a smart bulb or smart plug, smart switches provide you with new ways to control your home – in this case for your lighting and other switch-wired devices, including fans or appliances. They also work with existing “regular” bulbs, so if you have many ceiling lights, smart switches are the best (and cheapest) option.
The tech experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test a range of smart home technology, from smart plugs to video doorbells. To find the best smart light switch, our engineers based findings on ease of installation and set-up, intuitiveness of the app, responsiveness to commands, compatibility with other devices, and real user feedback. Hundreds of hours and dozens of commands for testing later, we’ve settled on some great picks for your house, whether you’re an Alexa, HomeKit or Google Home household! Our 2021 top picks for the best smart light switches are:
What do smart switches do?
Like traditional light switches, most smart light switches have a physical toggle, paddle, or button to turn your fixtures on, off, or dimmed. With the integration of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, or a proprietary connection for home automation systems, smart switches can be controlled from your smartphone and/or voice assistants like Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit.
Smart switches allow for features like timers and schedules, so you can turn lights (or appliances) on or off from outside the home, adding extra home security. Here are the overall benefits:
✔️Convenience. Having the ability to switch the lights on or off remotely or with voice control is the number one benefit for most. When you’re tucked under the covers and need to turn lights off, you’ll understand why.
✔️Security. Use scheduled timers to enhance home security by controlling when the lights turn on or off when you’re away from home. Timers can be set for specific times or at random.
✔️Energy savings. Dimming capabilities and occupancy sensing can significantly cut down your electricity bill. It’s also worth noting that smart switches are a cheaper alternative to smart bulbs in a whole-house setup.
✔️Greater control. You can create a truly personalized experience using intuitive controls that work seamlessly with your existing home Wi-Fi network. A smart switch can turn on your outside lights when you’re minutes from home, or set your living room blinds to roll down at dusk.
See below for the best smart light switches 0f 2021 hand-picked by the pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute:
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Best Overall Smart Light Switch
C-Smart Motion Sensor Light Switch and Dimmer
$59.99 (20% off)
This Wi-Fi-connected smart switch works as a dimmer and motion-sensor all-in-one and is packed with features to enhance your standard light bulb’s functionality. Our engineering pros loved that the switch includes a motion sensor to trigger the light automatically (you have the option to turn it off so it doesn’t turn on at night, and it has an ambient sensor to stay off in daylight). This switch works with all kinds of bulbs, and if you happen to own other C by GE smart bulbs, the switch can also control them even if they aren’t wired to the dimmer.
We found using voice-control with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit compatible devices simple, as was the the accompanying iOS app. No hub is needed, but installation does require a neutral wire. (There is a 3-wire version available.) Some reviewers claim that the Android version of the app needs some work and that setting up automation for a room is a bit confusing at first.
- WiFi enabled, no hub needed
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit
- Built-in motion sensor and dimmer
- Design may take some acclimating
- Some reviewers found the Android app to be confusing
Best Value Smart Light Switch
Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch
Turn your home into a smart home for under $20 with this WiFi-connected smart switch and dimmer. With no hub required, this switch is easy to install as it only requires a neutral wire (no 3-way). It includes three buttons (for dimming, on, and off) plus a status light. Designed to support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and IFTTT for voice control, or you can also control your electronics from anywhere using the Kasa IOS and Android app.
In our testing, we found the app to be very user-friendly, particularly for automated scheduling and dimmer controls. You can even set the controls based on how you touch it (a long press or a double tap, for example, can instantly turn it on/off or fade.)
- WiFi connected; no hub needed
- Customizable settings and controls
- Not compatible with HomeKit
- Neutral wire needed, no 3-way configuration
Best 3-Way Smart Light Switch
Caseta Smart Home Dimmer Switch Kit
$49.99 (31% off)
Our engineering team noted they loved this switch so much because it works with so many smart home devices like motorized smart shades, ceiling fans, thermostats, and speakers. In addition to connecting over its own proprietary protocol using a not-included smart bridge (hub), this dimmer/switch supports 3-way wires, doesn’t require a neutral wire for installation and has an easy-to-use, multi-button keypad.
But the top cool-factor is all of the features, including scheduling, scenes, zones, and geofencing (which means your lights will automatically turn on or off when you leave or arrive at home.) Although it’s a bit more expensive than some other picks, the Lutron Caséta dimmer switch works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, as well as SmartThings, Sonos, and many other popular smart-home systems for ultimate control.
- Wide range of useful features
- Supports 3-way switches
- Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant
- Requires a hub (Smart Bridge), not included
- Lacks the ability to remember the last setting used
Best Smart Light Switch for Apple HomeKit
Tru-Universal Smart Dimmer Switch
If you want an easy-to-use, smart light switch that is packed with features and connects directly to your home WiFi network (no hub needed), then the Legrand Tru-Universal Dimmer is the one for you. Not only does this claim to control every standard bulb, but they say it auto-detects and calibrates with LED, CFL, halogen, incandescent, and EFL bulbs.
It is also compatible with Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, so you can use voice control with your favorite assistant. Simply install your smart dimmer using a neutral wire, download the IOS app on your iPhone (sorry, Androids), connect to WiFI, and start scheduling, dimming, and setting the scene.
- Works with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant
- WiFi connected; no hub required
- Not compatible with Android
Best Smart Light Switch for Hue Bulbs
Hue Smart Dimmer Switch
If you’re already a fan of Philips Smart devices, you will want this dimming switch for even more convenience and features. It can be used as a wireless remote or a mounted wall switch that doesn’t require any electrical installation, other than peeling the covering off the adhesive back. Although it only controls Hue bulbs and devices, having the power to set the scene and dim without having your phone nearby is magical. The Hue Bridge is required, but if you already have Hue bulbs, you have that set.
This dimmer/switch can be controlled by your voice through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. It’s also compatible with a host of other smart home platforms. The GH Institute experts love that the intuitive app for IOS and Android is full of fun controls and creative themes for your Hue bulbs. You can set schedules, timers, and custom scenes in seconds via your smartphone, voice, or with the handy remote that comes with the dimmer switch. When using your switch, use the on button to switch between four light recipes without the Philips Hue app for even more convenience.
- Installation-Free, no wires
- Creative and colorful themes
- Works with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant
- Hue bridge needed, sold separately
- Controls only Hue Smart bulbs
Best Smart Light Switch for Alexa
Decora Smart Dimmer
Designed with Z-Wave technology for increased communication range and no WiFi needed, this smart dimmer switch features two-way feedback, is scene capable, and is supported by security systems, hubs, and gateways that are Z-Wave enabled. The rocker style is simple and clean, allowing users to push the top of the paddle to turn on or the bottom to turn off. Wall plates come in six colors to suit your decor.
You do need a separate Z-Wave enabled hub, such as Wink or SmartThings, to schedule lights to dim or turn on/off automatically and control via app, or you can use voice control using Amazon Alexa. We found that installation was pretty easy; you just need a neutral wire.
- Uses Z-Wave Technology, no WiFi needed
- Works with Amazon Alexa
- Not compatible with Google Home or Apple HomeKit
- Requires Z-Wave hub
Best Smart Light Switch for Google Home
WiFi Light Switch and Dimmer
Not only does the WeMo Dimmer look cool with its glowing LED status light, but one of the best features of the switch is that it calibrates to work with any light bulb for maximum dimming with minimum flickering. Online reviewers love that it also has a night mode button that keeps you from blinding yourself with full-on bright lights if it’s the middle of the night. They did comment that it is virtually impossible to remember the seven different statuses, though.
Since this dimmer switch connects to your WiFi network, you don’t need a hub, but you will need a neutral wire. The WeMo app supports numerous smart products and offers many features, including light scheduling and various lighting modes. You’ll also be able to review power-consumption data and control multiple WeMo devices with a single swipe. Although it’s not compatible with a ton of smart home systems, it does work with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home, for hands-free voice control.
- Works with Alexa, the Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit
- No hub needed
- Sleek design
- Status modes for different situations
- Does not support more than one switch per light
- Remembering all of the status’ can be tricky
What are the best smart light switches?
Before you settle on any particular smart switch, there are several things you should think about beforehand. Here’s a quick rundown of things to consider:
Smart home compatibility: Looking to integrate with smart home platforms like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit? You might want to check that your switches are compatible before you buy them. You also want to check that your switches are compatible with your existing smart devices or ones you plan to buy in the future (i.e. thermostat or fans.)
Connectivity: The way the smart switches “talk” to your app varies. Some are controlled via a wireless technology called Zigbee or Z-wave, others over your Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth.
- Wi-Fi connectivity means that you can control your switches anywhere you have an internet connection.
- Bluetooth switches can only connect to a phone within a specific range.
- ZigBee and Z-Wave use wireless communication to send data back and forth to each other and to your phone. Hub-based switches like those using ZigBee and Z-Wave can work independently or collectively and can be controlled by multiple users. While ZigBee and Z-Wave aren’t directly compatible with one another, smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home now support one or more, helping to bridge the gap.
Setup: You will want to research how easy it is to set up the switches – in our testing, some required connection to a hub or gateway, others require more robust electrical work. You’ll also want to take into account how the accompanying app works, and how fast the switch responds to voice commands.
Hard-wiring: Most smart switches require a neutral wire (single-pole) to operate; some just stick on the wall; some require three-way wiring (three-pole). Although single-pole and three-way switches look almost the same when installed, there is one big difference: A single pole switch has “on” and “off” markings and one neutral wire, a three-way switch doesn’t. That’s because the three-way switch is used in conjunction with another three-way switch to power a single light fixture, and turning the light fixture on and off may require different lever positions.
Dimmers: Even though most modern CFL & LED bulbs are dimmable by design, make sure to check compatibility with the types of bulb you intend to control.
App features: Some lighting apps offer only basic on/off and scheduling options, while others include special effects or third-party integrations that increase the lights’ functionality.
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