Best smart light switches in 2022 | Tom's Guide

2022-11-27 05:02:58 By : Ms. Christy Cassey

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The best smart light switches let you control your lights with a phone or voice assistant and can save you money Signal Light

Best smart light switches in 2022 | Tom

If you have a lot of lights in your ceiling or chandelier and don't want to swap them out for smart bulbs, one of the best smart light switches could be the answer. 

A smart light switch looks and acts like any traditional light switch or dimmer, but because it's connected to the cloud, it can do a lot more. For starters, you can control it from an app on your smartphone to create a schedule, and link them to Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. 

Many of the best smart light switches even have a vacation mode, which will turn your lights on and off randomly to make it look like you're home. But more than just safety, they can make sure you're not leaving your lights on, which makes them one of the best smart home gadgets to save you money.

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We've tested a number of smart light switches to find out which are the easiest to install and use, and which will fit the best with your home decor, if you don't want your smart light switch to look too tech-y. As you're going through our list and you're looking for a smart light switch that can automatically turn the lights on when you enter a room, look for ones with motion detectors. 

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The Leviton Decora Smart WiFi Motion sensing Dimmer (D2MSD-1BW) is our favorite pick for the best smart light switch for those who want a dimmer switch with a motion sensor. We like its clean look and simple design, nice for those who want tech but don't want their switches to look too gadgety. 

You can set specific dimming levels for times of the day (such as a nightlight), can handle a wide range of lights including LEDs, CFLs incandescent, and the less common Magnetic Low Voltage (MLV) type. It also supports a large number of smart home platforms, including the big three: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit. About the only thing we didn't like is that it requires a neutral wire, which may be an issue for older homes.

If you don't care for a motion sensor, Leviton also makes a dimmer-only version and an on-off only version of this switch, among others. For those with older homes, Leviton has the Decora No-Neutral Dimmer ($49, Amazon (opens in new tab) ) and a No-Neutral Switch ($44, Amazon (opens in new tab) ), which work with the Decora Smart Wi-Fi Bridge ($20, Amazon (opens in new tab) ); all are compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Home, and look to be good, less expensive alternatives to Lutron's lineup. 

Read our full Leviton Decora Smart WiFi Motion sensing Dimmer review.

The GE Cync Smart Switch isn't the sexiest or sleekest, but it's the best smart light switch because it gets the job done and is packed with features. The Wi-Fi-connected switch works with all kinds of bulbs, has apps for iOS and Android, and lets you control lights with a touch, voice, motion or remotely via a smartphone.

Installation, as with most other smart switches, requires a neutral wire, but it's fairly straightforward. The switch includes an ambient light sensor (so it can be set not to come on in daylight) and a motion sensor to automatically trigger the light. The latter feature worked seamlessly. If you turn it off with the switch, after a few minutes it will engage the motion sensor again, or you can disable the sensor via the app in case you don't want it switched on in the middle of the night.

Like other Alexa-enabled switches (it also works with Google Assistant), the dimmer responds to voice commands, but the Cync Android app needs some work; setting up an automation for a room is confusing, and it can even be difficult to tell when you've scheduled it to go on and off. At around $70, it's more expensive than most other smart light switches, but the GE Cync Smart Switch gives you a lot for the price. The switch is sold in two configurations: One that's compatible with homes that have neutral wires, and one for homes without neutral wires.

The Brilliant touch-screen light switch lets you control not only your lights, but also other smart home devices, such as cameras, speakers and more. The panel has a large touchscreen, which you can use to look in on your security cameras, play music through smart speakers, and more. A touch-sensitive slider to one side is a simple way to change the brightness of the lights. Brilliant sells models with multiple sliders, in the event you have multiple light groups.

In addition, the panel has built-in motion sensors, so it can turn lights on and off as you enter and leave a room; a small camera lets you use multiple Brilliant panels as video intercoms. The Brilliant panel also works with a wide range of smart home systems, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Ring, August, Ecobee, Honeywell, Sonos, Philips Hue, and Genie. 

However, the Brilliant control panel is expensive, as it starts at $299 for a single-switch panel. 

Read our full Brilliant smart home controller review.

The Caséta line of switches from Lutron offers an impressive list of features: geofencing, which means your lights will automatically turn on or off when you leave or arrive at home; the ability to schedule your lights to turn on or off at particular times or days; dimming capabilities; and compatibility with a long list of smart home platforms. You can also control the system using your voice through Amazon Alexa and Google Home, among many others. It's one of the best HomeKit devices, too.

Lutron's smart starter kit comes with one in-wall switch, one wireless remote and one smart bridge (hub), which can also be used to connect other Lutron products to the cloud and control them.

The switch itself looks high-tech, with several buttons laid out to control the numerous options Caséta offers. Lutron has gone for function over fashion for the most part with this dimmer: The white and gray buttons are front and center, not hidden by touch-sensitive controls, as is the case with other dimmers in this category.

The only downside is that the switch, like all of Lutron's products, must be linked to the Smart Bridge. The bridge itself must be plugged into your router so that you can control it from your smartphone. 

In some households, wall switches control an outlet, rather than a light fixture, so you can plug in a floor or table lamp, and then switch it on or off from your wall, rather than the lamp itself. But if you also use that outlet for devices that have to stay on all the time, like a clock radio, then you have to tape over the wall switch or resort to some other method to keep from accidentally flipping the switch and turning off power to everything connected to the outlet. 

The Lutron Aurora is a simple, elegant solution to that problem. It clips onto the toggle switch, but links directly to Philips Hue lights, letting you control them by tapping or turning the dial, all while maintaining power to the outlet. While this is a specific use case — and you also need Philips Hue lights — it works well. The company also makes a model for paddle switches as well. 

Read our full Lutron Aurora review.

For those who have outfitted their homes with Philips Hue bulbs or don’t want to replace their wall switches, the Philips Hue dimmer is a handy little device. It can be used as a wireless remote or as a wall switch, but this switch doesn't need any installation, apart from peeling the covering off the adhesive on its back.

This switch works with only Hue bulbs, though it's almost magic when it does. Just turn on the light containing the Hue bulb as you normally would (even if it's via a traditional wall switch); then, start using the Philips dimmer, and it will automatically work. And don't worry — there's no interference or conflict between the Hue Dimmer and your normal wall switch. The magic in the dimmer lies in the Philips Hue bridge, which is required ($59) for the dimmer to work (and is required for any Philips Hue system).

The Philips Hue app is full of fun controls and creative themes for your Hue bulbs. You can set schedules for your Hue bulbs, which can be controlled by your voice through Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit. It's also compatible with a host of other smart home platforms.

Calling a smart light switch Universal is a bold claim, but this Legrand switch gets pretty close, as it can communicate with the holy trinity of smart home systems: Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There’s no direct support for IFTTT or Zigbee devices, though. 

The universal moniker also applies to what it is controlling, with Legrand claiming that it auto-detects and calibrates with LED, CFL, halogen, incandescent, and EFL bulbs. It can control up to 450W of LED and CFL or 700W of halogen and incandescent, which should cover most light sources. We tested it with a number of dimmable LED and incandescent sources and found that it worked as advertised, controlling these light sources without problems. 

The paddle switch itself has a nice clicky feel to it, but it is smaller than most: those who like to bash paddle switches with the side of their hand may prefer the larger Leviton Decora switches. Next to the main switch is a dimmer switch, along with seven small white LEDs to show the dimming level. Next to this is the air gap switch, a tiny switch that turns the entire switch mechanism off when installing bulbs. 

Although the Tru-Universal dimmer lives up to the name, those who use HomeKit may prefer the Leviton Decora DH6HD (opens in new tab) , which is less expensive.

For those who have one of the best smart home hubs, the Jasco Enbrighten Z-Wave dimmer is a very good smart light switch. It's a cinch to install, as there's no neutral wire needed and the terminals are agnostic. A simple paddle switch handles both on/off duties as well as dimming functions. 

If that's all you need, then you're all set. However, more adventurous types can also modify the switch's code to change what happens when you press its switch. The Enbrighten can also work with a host of other smart home systems once you connect it to a hub, too. We only wish it came with a cover plate.

Read our full Jasco Enbrighten Z-Wave No Neutral Smart Dimmer review

The original Wemo Smart Dimmer had a cool LED status light, good construction, and we liked the app’s different lighting modes, including night mode. This time around, the dimmer loses the big status bar LED at the bottom and uses the ring around its power icon to accomplish the same task, which we believe is the right choice, making it just a little more classy in its appearance.

The switch retains the little finger groove that you slide your finger in to adjust brightness. It's an intuitive control mechanism that is very satisfying to use — as you slide your finger, little dots along the groove light up to let you know to what percentage brightness you’re setting your bulb. Overall, it has a clean, simple design that even extends to the back of the device, which is now a touch shallower, making it easier to install. The color-coded wires coming from the back make for simpler installation as well.

As regards smart home compatibility, Wemo is broadly compatible, hitting all three major voice assistants and working with IFTTT. Wemo’s dimmer is very responsive to voice commands via Siri, our chosen test assistant in this case. However, certain smart home devices can be very finicky on some networks, and Wemo is no exception: In testing, it routinely became unresponsive to voice commands and the Home app and had to be reset. The problems disappeared when we switched it to a smart-home-friendly mesh network, but it’s worth noting that not all the smart home devices on the previous network had this issue. 

If you use the Wemo app, you’ll find some nice features, such as long press to toggle other Wemo devices, and a schedule which sets the switch to a given brightness level if used during certain hours (this is the night mode we mention above). However, the app lacks two factor authentication; given that you can access Wemo remotely, this is inherently less secure. Because the switch retains its core functionality when solely connected to HomeKit, however, we can still recommend it. 

This smart light switch is being discontinued in favor of a newer model that supports Thread; it too, will only work with HomeKit. 

Smart light switches vs. smart light bulbs vs. smart plugs

First thing to consider is whether you need a smart light switch or a smart light bulb. The difference is, with a smart light bulb, you can control the bulb itself with your phone, rather than the switch. Because of this, smart light bulbs are a good option if you’re just trying to control a single light. If that’s the case, we’ve rounded up the best smart light bulbs to help you choose. You should also check out 9 things you never knew you could do with smart lights while you're at it. 

Smart light switches are a better option if you have lots of bulbs though or multiple rooms you want to control. They also tend to be much more cost efficient than splashing out for lots of smart light bulbs. 

If you’re old school and your home is lit via floor and table lamps, then one the best smart plugs is likely the best option for you. You simply connect your lamp straight to it, and then the smart plug into your wall socket, no wiring involved! Smart plugs tend to be less expensive than smart light switches as well. 

Smart light switches usually connect to your internet via Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Zigbee. Through Wi-Fi, your switch links to your router, whereas Z-Wave and Zigbee use smart home hubs. While the latter options mean you will need to purchase a separate hub, it does mean you will still be able to use the smart light switch when the internet is down. Later in 2022, a new standard, called Matter, will also come online; we don't expect many devices to use it for a while, but it could become very popular in a few years' time.

Do you need a neutral wire?

Some smart light switches will need a neutral wire to work. Homes which were built in or after the 1980’s likely will have one, but older homes might not. Because of this, it’s a good idea to check whether your home has a neutral wire before you make a purchase. If you’re unsure, here’s a breakdown on what’s a neutral wire and what to do if you don’t have one. 

If a light fixture is controlled by more than one switch — for example, when you have a light switch at the top and bottom of a set of stairs — then you'll need to get a three-way smart light switch. However, if there's only one switch controlling an outlet, you can get a "single pole" switch. 

Some smart switches have a dimmer function, so you can adjust the level of the lights' brightness. While these generally cost more than non-dimmer switches, it's nice functionality to have. If you do opt for a dimmer switch, you should also know that CFL, incandescent, and LED lights will all react differently — some LEDs may flicker if you dim them too much.

If you don't want to bother actually pressing a light switch, then check out models which have built in motion sensors. These can sense your presence in a room and turn the lights on automatically. Just be sure that it's in a place where it can sense you the entire time you're in the room, or else it'll turn the lights off on you!

Most smart light switches will work with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit, so you can connect them to other smart home devices, and control them using your voice.

This is a feature we like: If a smart light switch has this feature in its app, it will automatically turn your lights on and off randomly while you're away, to make it look like you're home. 

Unlike most smart home devices, which merely require you to plug them into an outlet, installing a smart switch involves replacing a current in-wall switch. Since few, if any, light-control products include professional installation as part of the package, you will need a basic understanding of electrical work, which includes turning off the circuit breaker. 

Smart switches are often bulkier than their traditional counterparts, however; so if they don't fit in the electrical box properly, you may need to get a new box, which is probably a job for an electrician. Similarly, some older homes don't have the right wiring, so an electrician is a good idea here, too. 

Best smart light switches in 2022 | Tom

E Stop Button To test smart switches, we either installed them ourselves, or had an electrician install them in our house. We then evaluated the switches based on the following criteria: