Smart light switches are a way of configuring a home’s lighting to respond to verbal commands, program light timers, or notify users via smartphone alerts of problems in the lighting system. An upside is that, while many of these switches are compatible with smart home systems, there are plenty that operate via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Ahead, learn what to look for while shopping for the best smart light switch, and find out why these picks are among the top performers in home lighting.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smart Switch
There are some features to consider before investing in a smart lighting switch. The switch must be compatible with your home’s wiring, network connection, and the wattage of your light fixtures.
Traditional light switches can perform a variety of functions, and smart switches need to perform the same functions plus offer a few additional features. Before deciding on the right type, consider the lighting needs in each room when choosing a type of switch. The following are common types.
Most smart light switches sync with popular smart home systems, such as Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. By syncing with one of these systems, users can control the switch and the other connected smart home components (such as security cameras and thermostats).
Most smart switches connect with a 24 gigahertz (GHz) Wi-Fi home network, and others connect with either a 24 GHz or a 5 GHz network. However, some don’t connect with a 5 GHz network, so be sure you know the network’s capacity before buying.
Typically, a router features a label on the back that says whether it’s a 24 GHz or a 5 GHz system. If not, consult the owner’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website to determine the router’s capacity.
Smart switches work with standard, ordinary bulbs, with a caveat being dimmer switches. In order to dim a bulb, the bulb itself must be dimmable.
Smart switches can control most smart bulbs; however, depending on the switch, all of the bulb’s functions may not be available. For example, if a smart bulb features color-changing hues, controlling those colors may not be possible from a smart switch.
The user must control the bulb’s special effects through a separate app that coordinates with the bulb. Examples of smart bulbs are Philips Hue, Wyze, and Sengled Smart bulbs.
Just like light bulbs, the switches that control them have a wattage rating. Wattage is a measurement of the amount of electricity flowing through the circuit per hour. If the light fixture uses a 60-watt bulb, then the switch should be rated at least 60 watts.
For multi-bulb fixtures, the wattage rating is for the total of all the bulbs added together. To be compatible with the multi-bulb fixture, It’s also important to purchase a smart switch with a matching (or higher) wattage rating. Typically, switches have ratings of 150, 300, 600, and 1,000 watts.
The point of smart switches is to provide the user with greater lighting control, and they can be controlled in a few different ways. Most of these devices offer voice control with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and other Bluetooth and Wi-Fi software. Some require smart home hubs, while others work through a smartphone.
Remote control capability is also made possible by mobile apps, which allow users the ability to control the switch from virtually anywhere. If the goal is for the light to come on when someone walks into the room, choose one with motion sensors.
Dimmable smart switches allow the user to dim the light remotely. These are beneficial for saving energy by not running the light at full illumination all the time. But there’s a catch: In order for a smart switch to dim a bulb, the bulb itself must be dimmer enabled. Attempting to dim a non-dimmable bulb could destroy the bulb or reduce its useful life.
Some smart switches have a sensor that detects motion when someone enters the room and automatically turns on the corresponding light. Depending on the app, it may also be possible to configure the switch to turn the light off after a few minutes of inactivity.
Installing a smart switch is no more difficult than replacing a standard light switch. Before tackling the project, check with the local building authority. In some communities, DIYers are not permitted to replace electrical switches, and a professional electrician is required.
Before getting started with the installation project, make sure to follow the instructions that come with the unit, including shutting off the power to the switch before removing the cover. Smart switches often require a neutral wire, which transmits a small amount of electricity to the switch. This minimal power is necessary for the switch to communicate with the home’s Wi-Fi network. If the wiring in the switch box contains a neutral wire, it can often be found at the back of the box capped with a wire fastener. If not, an electrician will need to install one.
The second part of installation requires downloading the app associated with the switch and following the prompts to connect it to a smartphone or smart-home system. Smart switches that connect with a central hub, such as Philips Hue switches, require plugging the hub directly into the router and then following the prompts to configure the switches.
Our Top Picks
Whether you’re looking for a simple switch that will detect motion and turn on the lights when you have an armload of groceries, or you’re looking for a way to save money with a switch that automatically turns off lights that are not in use, we’ve got you covered. The following list includes some of the best smart switches on the market, organized by category.1Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Looking for the best smart switch for Alexa? The TanTan smart switch comes with Alexa preinstalled. Buyers will receive a set of four smart switches designed for use on a single-pole wiring setup, which means the switch is not a 2-way or 3-way switch—it controls only a single light, and no other switch controls the light.
The switch requires a neutral wire for installation. Once installed, it can be configured to work with Amazon Alexa or Google Home for use with voice commands, and no hub is necessary. The corresponding app allows the user to turn the lights on and off, set a shut-off timer, or schedule a time for them to turn on. The Gosund smart switch connects with a 24 GHz Wi-Fi network, and buyers will receive step-by-step installation instructions.
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If precise functionality is what’s needed, the GE 26933 smart switch would be an excellent choice. This in-wall switch connects to a Z-Wave smart-home network and provides just the right level of lighting via programmable dimmer settings. It features motion-sensing tech, voice-control capability, and works with the Enbrighten mobile app for remote operation and notifications. A Z-Wave certified gateway, such as SmartThings, Wink, ADT Pulse, Trane, Vivint, or Nexia, is required.
The onboard motion sensors respond to movement within a 180-degree field of view, up to 45 feet away. Choose from three motion-sensitivity settings. As an added security feature, set up notifications to alert if the motion sensor is activated. Paired with dimmer presets, the motion sensors can automatically trigger select settings at just the right moment.
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Get a smart home started with this budget-friendly smart switch by Kasa Smart. This single-pole switch replaces a standard on-off light switch. It allows all the basic smart functions expected from a switch: voice control, remote control via a mobile app, and timer control for automatic on-off.
This switch requires a neutral wire connection to maintain its connection to a 2.4 GHz home Wi-Fi network. It is voice compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and no additional smart-home hub is required. Use the Kasa mobile app to monitor lighting status or to control the lights from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet.
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Like other smart switches, the Kasa light switch can be controlled remotely from the Kasa app on a smart device or synced with Alexa or Google Home to issue verbal, hands-free commands. Like many other smart switches, the Kasa switch connects only with a 24 GHz Wi-Fi connection.
The Kasa app walks the user through the installation process, which is slightly different from single-pole installation because the Kasa Smart switch must be installed on the load side of the 3-way wiring setup for its smart functions to work. The app explains how to identify the correct switch in the wiring setup by its wire configuration.
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For multi-switch setups with three or more switches, a 4-way switch can divide the load. This Smartyuns Wi-Fi light switch integrates with the Smart Life mobile app for remote operation and connects with Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control. The scratch-resistant touch screen for manual operation adds a sleek, modern touch.
The Smart Life app can control the lights and other integrated devices with a smartphone. Wi-Fi connectivity means there is no need for an additional smart hub. A timer can be programmed to automate on/off times throughout the day.
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With just a Wi-Fi signal and this plug-in switch outlet, you can convert any plug-in lamp or small appliance into a smart device. The switch plugs into a standard household electrical outlet and connects to the My Leviton mobile app over a Wi-Fi network. Add it to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit for voice control capability.
As a stand-alone product, this plug-in smart switch offers the convenience of remote or voice on/off for any lamp or appliance. It also integrates easily with Leviton wireless wall switches for additional control options.
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With the Lutron Caseta smart dimmer switch, there’s the choice of app, remote, touch, or voice control. It works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Ring, and other voice assistants to control virtually any light fixture. Add the Smart Bridge for options such as timed schedules and seasonal adjustments.
Unlike most smart switches, no neutral wire is necessary for the Caseta. It is compatible with both old and new homes, but not for low-voltage applications. Choose from four popular colors to match a home’s trim.
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This motion-sensing dimmer smart switch gives a full range of control options. Use the mobile app or voice control connectivity for remote, touch-free applications at home or away. The system also allows for preset dimmer settings, an automated on/off timer, and motion activation. It is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, without an additional smart-home hub.
Download the C by GE mobile app for monitoring and control from anywhere. The app also works with C by GE smart light bulbs installed in conventional lamps and switches for total home lighting control from a single screen.
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Install the Lesim WiFi Smart Switch to control the lights from anywhere. This sleek double switch comes with scratch-resistant glass panels on the surface, so it will look every bit as smart as it functions. The Lesim switch can replace an existing two-gang switch; an example might be an outlet with a switch for a porch light and a second switch for a garage light. The Lesim switch is not compatible with a 3-way outlet, and it requires a neutral wire for installation.
The Lesim smart switch syncs with Alexa (a hub, such as an Echo Dot, is necessary) for hands-free voice control. Just say, “Alexa, turn on the garage lights.” The switch is also compatible with Google Assistant or can be controlled remotely from a smartphone using the downloadable Lesim app.
Additionally, the switch syncs with the IFTTT (If This Then That) subscription service. The service (available for a fee) allows users to connect other smart devices and control them all from the single IFTTT app. A 24 GHz Wi-Fi connection is required.
With several outstanding products on our list, the two best smart switches in our opinion were the Gosund smart light switch, and the Kasa Smart HS200. Both are single-pole switches that easily integrate with home Wi-Fi networks and mobile apps for easy voice and remote application.
How We Chose the Best Smart Switches
We considered dozens of competing smart switches to compile our recommendations. The top two considerations we weighed were network connectivity, with most using either Z-Wave or Wi-Fi, and control options.
While there are new Z-Wave devices entering the marketplace daily, most homes are already set up with Wi-Fi. It is true that Z-Wave can offer a more reliable signal, but at this time, Wi-Fi is more affordable, more accessible, and more convenient for most buyers.
The basic functional requirements that shoppers want in a smart switch are voice control and mobile access. We selected switches that easily integrate with the most popular voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit) while also offering remote control access via easy to use mobile apps.
FAQs About Smart Switches
Like many smart-home components, smart switches can make life easier and can help save on energy costs. If this is your first time shopping for a smart switch, it’s common to have a few questions. Below are answers to some popular questions asked about smart switches.
Smart switches and other smart home devices rely on a wireless connection, which makes them vulnerable. Hackers can access vulnerable networks via the radio frequencies that connect wireless devices, or they can combine the processing power of many small devices to launch major cyberattacks. Take action to protect your smart-home network, beginning with a strong method of encryption on the Wi-Fi.
Yes. Although the light or other device may be turned off, the smart switch receives a small electrical load through the neutral wire.
Possibly. It all depends on the type of switch. Some smart switches connect directly to a smartphone and do not require a hub, which is also called a “controller.” Others, such as Zigbee-enabled switches, connect to a Zigbee hub.
The user’s smartphone or other digital devices also connect through the hub to control the lights and any other connected components.
Unless you’re familiar with wiring techniques, installing a smart light switch may best be left to an electrician. If you decide to tackle the project, you’ll first have to turn off the power to the switch, remove the existing switch, and then connect the wires (as shown in the directions that come with the switch).
Once the switch is installed into the wall, you’ll need to download the corresponding app on your digital device and follow the prompts to set up the app and control the switch.
Yes. A 4-way smart switch can control all the functions of an existing 4-way switch. The trick is to replace the existing switch on the load side, which means the switch that sends feedback to the other two switches. The instructions that come with the 4-way smart switch will help the user determine which switch to replace.