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

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.

Read this: The best outdoor smart bulbs

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

From $99.99, Amazon | casetawireless.com

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 the best.

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.

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 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.

the ambient verdict
Lutron Caseta Dimmer
If all you care about is compatibility, then the Lutron Caseta Dimmer is for you. Not only will it work well with LED bulbs, it works with nearly every smart home ecosystem out there. It can even go beyond smart lights and dive right into natural light with Serena Smart Shades. Needing a bridge is a bummer though.
PROS
  • Compatibility
  • Simple setup
  • Remote for added convenience
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Ugly
  • Needs a bridge

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

iDevices Dimmer Switch

$79.95, 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 the color of. Some other switches use their lights largely as indicators, or only turn on the night light when it's dark out.

The default color is purple, but there are plenty others to choose from. You can even customize the saturation and brightness. This may seem a bit extra for a little night light, but some people will appreciate it.

The other features are a bit more useful. It 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 up brightness 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.

the ambient verdict
iDevices Dimmer Switch
iDevices' Dimmer Switch is primarily aimed at HomeKit users, and for them it delivers. It not only provides a good HomeKit light switch, it provides features that solve some problems with the platform in the pull tab and the companion app. It's also got some neat software features, though it doesn't come with a face plate, making it feel more expensive than it is
PROS
  • App is good Home alternative
  • HomeKit code pull tab
  • Dimmer memory setting
CONS
  • No faceplate
  • Alexa and Google feel like afterthoughts
  • Expensive

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

Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer

$39.95, meethue.com

There's a problem with most smart lights, and we all know what it is. 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.

the ambient verdict
Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer
The Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer is a great little gadget which solves a major smart lighting pain point for retrofitting smarts into existing homes. At $40 it has less functionally than the cheaper Philips Hue Dimmer switch, but a lot more simplicity - and it's a more fixed solution. In short, it’s a brilliant band-aid device, a quick, simple fix for a problem that, if the smart home fulfils its promise, hopefully won’t be a problem for long. In the meantime, if you have couple of switches that have been driving you crazy, hand over your cash immediately.
PROS
  • Easy to use
  • Works without a bridge
  • No wiring required
  • Works for 3-way switches
CONS
  • Only works on toggle switches
  • Only works with Philips Hue bulbs
  • Bridge needed for more function
  • Expensive

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, and 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. There’s no HomeKit support, but now that Wemo has updated the Mini Smart Plug with HomeKit support via software update, it’s probably best not to totally write off the possibility yet.

Setting up the Wemo Smart Light 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. Ours did not require it.

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. And you don’t need a hub or a bridge to get it going with your system. We were able to get it up and running with Alexa fairly quickly, especially when using an Echo Plus.

the ambient verdict
Wemo Smart Light Switch
The Wemo Smart Light Switch is the steady, solid option. It may even be your best bet if you’re not fully dedicated to Apple’s HomeKit platform. It’s got a unique combination of features, affordability and simplicity that really make it one of the best smart switches you can get.
PROS
  • Good looking
  • Away Mode
  • Affordable
CONS
  • No HomeKit
  • Takes time to adjust to
  • Setup not the easiest

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

Philips Hue Dimmer Switch

$24.99, Amazon | meethue.com

The Philips Hue Dimmer strikes a balance between the past and the future. It’s a switch with 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.

the ambient verdict
Philips Hue Dimmer Switch
The Hue Dimmer Switch keeps things simple, but offers more for those who want it. It's easy to install, simple to use, and gives you an alternative to the app, which can be restrictive for guests and certain members of the household.
PROS
  • Easy to use
  • Works without Bridge
  • No wiring required
CONS
  • Need third-party app for deep customizations
  • More limited without Bridge

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

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 too, and if you have an Ecobee thermostat, you can pair the two together, taking advantage of the switch's built-in temperature sensor. One drawback: The 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.

the ambient verdict
Ecobee Switch+
The Ecobee Switch+ is one of the more expensive light switches you can get, but it's also crammed with so many features that once you make the jump you probably won't look back. Alexa is the name here, but smart on and off are the stars of the show, giving you a smart lighting experience without scheduling.
PROS
  • Alexa is built in
  • Smart on/off
  • Motion sensor
CONS
  • Ugly
  • Expensive
  • Setup is slightly messy

Lightwave Smart Dimmer

From £59.95, Amazon | lightwaverf.com

UK company Lightwave has been in the home automation game for longer than most, and the second-gen range of connected switches, which includes the smart dimmer, adds Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit to the mix too.

They're available in single, double, triple and quad faceplates and are finished in white metal or stainless steel. Lightwave’s smart switch option is straightforward to install and there’s a nice bracket in the box, giving you the option to mount it flush to the wall, or a few millimetres out; with the latter doing a good job of hiding any untidy paintjobs around the backbox.

You will have to fork out £180 for the starter kit, which also includes the Link Plus hub – but the good news is that hub will also act as the brains for any other Lightwave connected kit you choose to invest in, such as the smart power sockets and the heating system.

The Lightwave app, once paired up to the Link Plus, works without issues, and the app does allow for away from home controls, as well as timers, but the big selling point is the HomeKit/Alexa/Google Assistant integrations that let you ditch your display and open up a world of scenes, automation and voice controls.

the ambient verdict
Lightwave Smart Dimmer
Lightwave’s smart light switches look pretty slick and boast strong third-party integrations. Yes, you’ll have to fully buy into the platform to make it cost effective but the Link Plus hub should also be pretty future-proof for any more connected tech Lightwave has up its sleeve.
PROS
  • Easy to use app
  • Great integrations
  • Slick design
CONS
  • Bit pricey
  • Needs the hub
  • UK only


Energenie Mi | Home Smart Light

From £22.99, Amazon | energenie4u.co.uk

Coming in at around half of the price of the Lightwave (for both the switch and the hub), Energenie’s smart switch solution may feel a bit more "budget" than some of the others on test here – but it works a treat.

Available only in a single switch fitting, sadly (although slave switches for two-way controls are on offer), there are four finishes to choose from, with the white plastic model costing just £22.99 (yup, this is another UK brand). It’s £5 more if you want nickel, chrome or stainless steel and you’ll also have to cough up £69.99 for the hub. There is a dimmer version on offer for £49.99 too and bundles of three switches, a hub and a remote control can be picked up for under £130.

The downside to those monetary savings is that you’re not getting quite such a rich set of features – the app is a bit hit and miss and it’s Alexa-only on the voice assistant front – but the Energenie range is huge. There are gang plugs, sensors, radiator vales, thermostats and more, so, while the Mi|Home Smart Light is a more than capable product on its own, it’s as part of a wider, budget-friendly platform of connected tech that it really excels.

The finish is a bit plastic-fantastic and the little red light looks a bit naff, but if you’re looking for a smart switch solution without breaking the bank then you should definitely consider Energenie’s effort.

the ambient verdict
Energie Mi | Home Smart Light
If you’re new to the smart home world and you’re looking to expand your connected kit without spending too many readies, then Energie has you sorted. Sure, it looks a bit cheap, but it works well and the Alexa integration means you can easily add it into your existing routines.
PROS
  • Cheap as chips
  • Simple setup
  • Expanding Mi|Home ecosystem
CONS
  • Build quality not the best
  • Only single sockets
  • No Google Assistant / HomeKit

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

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 itself, 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. 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 customise to your needs. You can set the motion detection to only be 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.

the ambient verdict
Switchmate Rocker
The Switchmate is designed to turn your existing wall switches smart in the most affordable and simple way possible: you simply place it over your existing switch. You then get to control your lights from your phone and add features like motion tracking and scheduling. While it works with Google Assistant, it doesn't work with Alexa – at least not without jumping through some hoops.
PROS
  • Easy to install
  • Feature packed
  • Affordable
CONS
  • No Alexa support
  • Bulky
  • Quite loud


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