We know what you're probably thinking – what's so smart about putting another switch on your wall? Aren't we all yelling at smart speakers to do all the work for us? You couldn't be more wrong: smart light switches and dimmers can give you much more control over your home lighting, while offering something physical that Grandad can still use..
But unlike smart lights, switches require a bit more consideration. It might sound like a case of simply taking out your existing switch and swapping in the new one, but there are things you must consider – wiring, measurements, compatibility – before going mad with that screwdriver.
Below, we'll walk you through the key considerations you need to make before ripping those light switches off your walls. Then we'll tell you which smart light switches and dimmers we think are worth your money.
Smart light switches: Things to consider
You may have a bunch of smart lights in your home already, in which case you're probably wondering why you'd want to install a smart switch when you can already control everything through Alexa/Google Assistant/your smartphone. It's a fair question, and in some cases, that will be enough.
But smart light switches give you smart control over "dumb" lights already in your home; not only can you switch them on or off from thousand of miles away, you can also adjust the brightness and, in some cases, colour. If you have any lighting fixtures in your home that are incompatible with smart bulbs, a smart switch is your answer.
Our advice is to do a cost-benefit analysis. Wiring your home with smart light switches can be a pricey endeavour, especially with larger homes. But then, the cost of installing smart bulbs and smart plugs all over your crib may cost more in the long run. Do the maths.
Connections and compatibility
Okay, this one's key. First of all, we're going to be covering US and UK smart switches in the list below, but that means some vital differences in how they're wired and how they work. All aforementioned considerations apply to both, but when reading our recommendations, just be aware that wiring and models are going to vary depending on which side of the pond you're on.
The main point of confusion lies in the multiway switching, which allows you to control certain lights in your home from more than one location. In the US, a three-way switch is what allows you to control lights (or anything else, like a ceiling fan) from two locations, while in the UK this is called a two-way switch. To confuse matters even more, having more than two control locations for a light in the US is called a four-way switch, but an intermediate switch in the UK. You'll need to think about what you have before replacing it, so make sure the new switch does what you want it to. Knowing the lingo is half the battle.
You also want to make sure your existing lights are compatible with any smart switch you're installing. You'll usually find that information on the company website.
And now for the most important advice of all: know what you're doing when replacing a wall switch. You'll need to know how to turn off the circuit breaker first, and then re-attach the wires to the new switch. If you don't know what you're doing, get a professional to help.
Best light switches and dimmers: Tested
Below we've listed our pick of what's out there. We've put all of these through thorough testing, and keep checking back because we'll be adding more.
Lutron Caseta Dimmer
Let’s get out of this way real quick: Lutron Caseta isn’t going to win any awards for designing the most beautiful light switch of all time. Instead, the Lutron Caseta dimmer is all function and little form. You can see that from its diagonal-heavy design. That said, it's easily one of the best smart switches out there – possibly thebest.
There’s a button for dimming the light and one for increasing the brightness. These join the traditional on and off switches. There’s also a release down at the bottom that’s intended to help you change bulbs. You don’t want to shock yourself when you’re replacing smart bulbs – a normal oversight, to be fair.
Installation is easy, simpler than even the Wemo below. You’ve only got two wires here; you just tie them up and you’re good to go. Installation is done through the Lutron app, and there’s also a hub you’ll have to plug into your router.