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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Forget Smart Bulbs, Buy a Smart Switch

A light bulb leaning against the inside of a model-size, wooden house frame.
sommart sombutwanitkul/Shutterstock

Smart bulbs are easy, convenient, and great for many smarthomes. But do you know what’s even better? Smart light switches. They fix all the biggest problems with smart bulbs (with a few compromises).

As your smarthome grows, one of the first areas you want to control is your lighting. Smart bulbs might seem like the most straightforward option to accomplish this, but that’s not always the case. Instead, you might want to consider installing smart light switches.

Smart switches offer several benefits over smart bulbs. They solve the light switch problem, are easy for everyone to use, cost less, and even eliminate any naming issues. 

The Biggest Smart Bulb Problem, Solved

A standard light switch in the off position.
Who turned off this switch again? Josh Hendrickson

If you have smart bulbs, you’re probably already aware of their biggest flaw. If a light switch controls a smart bulb, and someone turns off that switch, you now have a dumb bulb.

It makes sense that the switch cuts power from the bulb, and without electricity, how can it be “smart?” But we’re creatures of habit, and trying to tell yourself (or anyone else in your home) not to use the switch is an exercise in frustration. Sooner or later, someone (perhaps even you) will flip that switch.

To use smart light switches, you keep your standard dumb bulbs, and the switch handles the smarthome part. So, you’ll never have to worry about bulbs without power again.

Everyone Can Use a Smart Switch

A smart switch with a paddle-style toggle in a wall next to a sign that shows an NES controller and the words "Classically trained."
This smart switch always resets to a neutral position. Josh Hendrickson

If you’ve never seen a smart switch before, it looks like a paddle-style wall switch. However, instead of locking in the on or off position, the paddle always resets to neutral. The switch contains extra electronics to interact with your smarthome. When someone uses the switch, it communicates whether it’s on or off to your smarthome.

If you use an app or voice commands to control the lights, that signal also goes to your smart switch. But the beauty of a smart switch is you don’t need to use voice commands or an app to control it. Any guest or family member can turn the lights on and off just as they would in any other home.

That’s a bonus if you’re worried your smarthome might intimidate guests.

One Switch Is Cheaper Than Bulbs

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