Bright ideas: The best smart light switches and dimmers for your home

You won't look dim with any of these on your walls

The best smart light switches
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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?

But you couldn't be more wrong; the best smart light switches and dimmers can give you much more control over your home lighting, while offering something physical that Grandpa 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 and more – before going mad with that screwdriver.

And you'll need to make sure they work with your smart home system - SmartThings, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant friendly devices are much more common that HomeKit compatible ones, for example.

Below, we'll offer up our favorite smart light switches and dimmers, then walk you through some key considerations to make before ripping those light switches off your walls.


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The best smart light switches and dimmers for your home

Best smart switch: Ecobee Switch+

From $79.99, Amazon | ecobee.com

The Ecobee Switch+ is crammed with features, which is why it's also one of the more expensive options in the catalogue. The switch actually has Alexa built in, who you can not only ask to control the lights, but call on to answer questions, read the news - whatever you'd do with any Echo device.

There's a physical button, but you also get a motion sensor that turns lights on when you enter the room – and switches them off when you're away.

The Switch+ works with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. If you have an Ecobee thermostat, you can pair the two together, taking advantage of the switch's built-in temperature sensor. One drawback: Ecobee's Switch+ won't work with a three-way switch – single switch setups only.

As for Alexa, the sound quality is very hollow and we certainly wouldn't recommend it for music, but it does the job. Its far-field microphones aren't as good at picking up your voice as the ones you'll find in Echo speakers, which is why we've had instances where we tried talking to the Ecobee+ and instead had our Echo Plus respond. Not a huge slight against the Ecobee+, but something to keep in mind.

What we love

  • Alexa is built in
  • Smart on/off
  • Motion sensor

What we don't love

  • Ugly
  • Expensive
  • Setup is slightly messy

Read our full Ecobee Switch+ review.


best smart light switches

Runner-up: Lutron Caseta Dimmer

From $99.99, Amazon | casetawireless.com

Let’s get out of this way: Lutron Caseta isn’t going to win any awards for designing the most beautiful light switch of all time – you can see that from its diagonal-heavy design. That said, it's easily one of the best smart switches out there.

There’s a button for dimming the light and one for increasing the brightness, which 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.

As for the smarts, the Caseta Wireless dimmer has a couple of secrets up its sleeve. First, it works with nearly every smart platform out there. Whether you’re on HomeKit or SmartThings, Alexa or Google Assistant, you're in luck; you'll have full control in turning them on and off remotely and setting a schedule. The Caseta is also compatible with LED light bulbs, something some smart light switches can’t handle too well.

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.

The Lutron Caseta also works with Lutron's Serena Smart Shades, so not only can you use it to control your lights, but also the natural light that filters into your room. There’s also the Pico remote control, which is basically a smaller version of the light switch that you can carry around or stick somewhere so you can control your lights away from the switch.

You will need to buy the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge to the Caseta though, which may make it expensive for some to add to their home.

What we love

  • Compatibility
  • Simple setup
  • Remote for added convenience

What we don't love

  • Expensive
  • Ugly
  • Needs a bridge

Top smart light switches

Best for HomeKit: iDevices Dimmer Switch

$59.95, Amazon | idevicesinc.com

At first glance, the iDevices Dimmer Switch seems like your run-of-the-mill option. It turns your lights on/off and, of course, dims them - but iDevices has put in some neat features here to make its Dimmer Switch stand out from the pack.

The most obvious thing is the customizable night light, which you can not only schedule, but change its color, saturation and brightness. A little extra? For some people, maybe, but we appreciated it.

The other features are a bit more useful. I remembers your brightness settings, so you don't have to keep changing it. You can also set brightness limits. For example, you can set the max at 90% and the minimum at 25%. This is to avoid things like flicker and a smoother dim, but we didn't notice much of a difference in each case. In our estimation, this is better if you've got a really bright lightbulb and you don't want people to be able to turn the brightness up all the way.

As for integrations, the Dimmer Switch has HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant integrations here. You'll be able to use all three assistants to dim your light in increments, which means saying something like "Siri, up the brightness by 25%."

One interesting thing about iDevices is that its companion app will pull in all your HomeKit devices as it syncs with iCloud. So if you're not a big fan of Apple's Home app, you have a legitimate alternative with the iDevices app. Your entire home is easier to see, and there are quick shortcuts in the home screen, plus scheduling.

The big negative here is that the Dimmer Switch doesn't come with a faceplate. You'll have to get that separately.

What we love

  • App is good Home alternative
  • HomeKit code pull tab
  • Dimmer memory setting

What we don't love

  • No faceplate
  • Alexa and Google feel like afterthoughts
  • Expensive

Best smart light switches and dimmers for your home

Best for Philips Hue: Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer

$39.95, meethue.com

We all know the biggest pain point of smart lights: when someone turns the switch off, they often become useless, which is why moving to smart switches is often the answer. And with the Lutron Aurora Dimmer, Philips Hue users have got the solution they've long been waiting for.

The Aurora simply pops over an existing toggle light switch, meaning your smart bulb never gets its smarts cut off. You can then use the knob to turn the lights on or off and dims or twist it to brighten/dim them.

Really, the beauty here in the simplicity of it all. But once installed, you can use the Philips Hue app to pair the Aurora with compatible smart bulbs or smart fixtures. You can pair up to 50 bulbs when paired with a Hue Bridge, or up to 12 bulbs without. Best of all, there's no wiring required and it works with three-way switches.

The downsides? It only works with Philips Hue bulbs - and it only works on toggle switches. For a little less money you could pick up the Hue Dimmer Switch (below) instead, but this is a more elegant solution to a problem.

What we love

  • Works without a bridge
  • No wiring required
  • Works for 3-way switches

What we don't love

  • Only works on toggle switches
  • Only works with Philips Hue bulbs
  • Bridge needed for more function

Read our full Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer review.


Best for keeping your existing light switch: Fibaro Double Switch 2

$49.95, Amazon

Polish brand Fibaro has been in the smart home game for a while now and has a range of sensors, switches, controllers and intergrations within its armory.

It's one of the leading brands when it comes to making your home smart, without necessarily making any cosmetic (or even noticeable) changes; it has a plethora of dimmer and RGB controllers that work with analogue light fittings, smoke sensors, CO sensors, intercoms, roller blind shutters, and a whole lot more.

This Double Switch 2 is a roughly 4x4cm insert that is designed to go behind your existing light switch, using the wiring that's already in place, to make a dumb switch smart. The idea is that, while the switch itself remains usable, there's a smart element behind it which can be used in automations, routines and the like.

Fibaro offers up its switches in both HomeKit and Z-Wave flavors and, as we said, there's a load of different options to choose from. And these inserts aren't just limited to lighting - you can use them to control sockets as well.

If you opt for HomeKit then you'll find the iOS app is essentially a mirror of the the Apple Home app. You'll get extra controls and settings for your Fibaro devices in the iOS app but you'll also be able to access your other non-Fibaro HomeKit gadgets. Any changes you make in the Fibaro HomeKit app – think room settings and the like – are mirrored in the Home app; and vice-versa.

For Android / Z-Wave users, the app is similar looking but is limited to the Fibaro devices in your smart home. Unless you add a Fibaro gateway into the mix; then you'll get access to control devices that it is compatible with. You can also use a hub like Samsung's SmartThings to control any Z-Wave Fibaro devices you add to your setup.

Self installation is easy enough, if you follow the videos like the one above, but Fibaro also offers a professional installation service if you're not confident enough to start hacking at your wires.

What we love

  • Hidden away
  • Cheap option
  • Z-Wave and HomeKit options

What we don't love

  • Need to be electric confident
  • Can be confusing choosing correct device
  • Fibaro app isn't great

Read our full guide to Fibaro.



Best for simplicity: Wemo Smart Light Switch

$49.99, Amazon | belkin.com

If you’ve used any Wemo products before, you know what to expect here. You’re getting the standard light controls, but you’re also getting Wemo’s Away Mode, which randomly turns your lights on and off while you’re on holiday so that potential burglars think there’s someone at home.

The Wemo Smart Light Switch does well on the compatibility front, with Alexa, Google Assistant and Nest in tow. HomeKit requires installing the Wemo Bridge (sold separately), which the 3-Way version of the switch doesn't require.

Setting up this Wemo dimmer switch is easy enough, though it’s also more complicated than something like the Lutron Caseta Dimmer. You have two wires to plug in, plus a third neutral wire you have to tie in. It’s not the most complicated thing in the world, but it’s an extra step. There’s also a ground wire, but you may not have to install that depending on your setup.

The Wemo Smart Light Switch is also a pretty good looking light switch. It’s got just enough of a futuristic look, with a little light in the black dot on the switch. You will have to get used to tapping it, however, because of the way the switch is set up, you’ll have to hit the bottom. If you’re used to hitting the top and bottom of a light switch, you’ll have a small readjustment period here.

Best of all, the Wemo Smart Light Switch is extremely affordable. We were able to get it up and running with Alexa fairly quickly, especially when using an Echo Plus.

What we love

  • Good looking
  • Away Mode
  • Affordable

What we don't love

  • Takes time to adjust to
  • Setup not the easiest

Bright ideas: The best smart light switches and dimmers for your home

Best for renters: Switchmate Rocker

$29.99, Amazon | simplysmarthome.com

The big draw with the Switchmate is that it can be placed on top of existing switches, making it incredibly easy to install. You simply plug in some AA batteries into the Switchmate Rocker device, then place it over your wall switch – in our case, a rocker wall switch, but there's a toggle wall switch model available should you need to use that.

Both have the same features, and both use magnets to stick to your wall plate. It's similar to the Hue Dimmer, but unlike the Hue Dimmer it doesn't just work with Hue bulbs.

As for those features, it works with both Google Assistant and the Wink Hub, so you can use either of those smart home ecosystems to control your Switchmate.

Further, the Switchmate comes with some interesting smart features of its own. The big one is motion detection, which you can customize to only come on during certain times of the day. For instance, you can set it up to only turn on with motion at night, which is handy when you're half asleep and stumbling to the bathroom.

You can also set the motion detection-activated light to turn off after a specified length of time, from one minute to four hours.

There are timers that activate the lights too, and a 'Welcome Home' feature that will turn on the lights once per day when you approach them. You can also use the companion app to turn your light on or off via voice, but you need to have the app open to use this.

We have a few niggles with the way it works. On our rocker model, the lights turning off and on is quite loud – that's because there's a little motor that's moving to flick your existing wall switch. Alexa support is also a bit convoluted, as you'll need a Switchmate Bridge Device.

But if you want a smart wall switch without having to deal with doing some light wiring, or you're not allowed to have a traditional smart light switch because of a rental agreement, the Switchmate is a pretty simple and affordable alternative.

What we love

  • No wiring needed
  • Cheap
  • Motion detection

What we don't love

  • Loud
  • Bridge needed for Alexa

best hue smart switch

Also great for Hue: Philips Hue Dimmer Switch

$24.99, Amazon | meethue.com

The Philips Hue Dimmer Switch has physical buttons for turning your Hue lights on and off, but it offers more customizations for those who want it. If you're already "in" with Hue, the Dimmer is a perfect addition to your existing setup, particularly in a home where some members are less tech-y than others, or just aren't bothered about bathing themselves in an Arctic aurora.

There are two parts to the Dimmer: the plate that attaches to the wall and the switch itself, which sticks to the plate magnetically and can be detached and used as a remote control. There are multiple ways to attach that plate to the wall, including the use of included adhesive strips, but there will be no wiring required whatsoever. That's because the Dimmer only talks to your Hue lights, either via the Bridge or directly.

That's right, you can actually use the Dimmer without a Hue Bridge and have it control your bulbs directly. However you'll only be able to connect a maximum of ten lights this way, while you can connect up to 50 if you have a Bridge. You also can't change the color of any color bulbs if you skip the hub.

The Dimmer shines best with the Bridge. In the app you can select up to five different light scenes or recipes, which will appear depending on how many times you push the switch's on button. For example, three presses on ours turns the bulbs to a "Relax" scene. You can only have the Dimmer Switch control a maximum of two different rooms at any time, but you can have multiple switches controlling a single room.

Oh, and there's HomeKit integration so you can use the Dimmer to control other HomeKit-compatible gear. And if you'd rather go deeper on the light customizations, you can download one of the third-party apps, which will let you set even more scenes and recipes.

What we love

  • Easy to use
  • Works without Bridge
  • No wiring required

What we don't love

  • Need third-party app for deep customizations
  • More limited without Bridge

Read our full Philips Hue Dimmer Switch review.


Smart light switches: Things to consider before buying

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, color. If you have any lighting fixtures in your home that are incompatible with smart bulbs, a smart switch is your answer.

It also democratizes control so less tech-adept family members don't get locked out because they don't know how to use an app, or they don't want to.

Our advice is to do a cost-benefit analysis. Wiring your home with smart light switches can be a pricey endeavor, 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 math.

Connections and compatibility

Okay, this one's key. When it comes to wiring, 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.

In the UK you'll also have the issue of more modern light switches not having a neutral wire; with most smart switches requiring a neutral wire.

Hubs can be another contentious issue. Most of the above recommendations don't require a hub (sometimes referred to as a bridge) to work as they have built-in Wi-Fi, but some do, or in some cases having a hub will open up other advanced features. If they do use a hub it usually means that the smart switches use either Zigbee or Z-Wave for connectivity.

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.

TAGGED    lighting    buyers guides

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