Smart bulbs and smart switches can both be used to automate your lighting.
But which is best?
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Hopefully, this article will help you decide which is right for you.
- 1. Smart Bulbs Vs Smart Switches – The Pros and Cons
- 2. When To Use A Smart Bulb
- 3. When To Use A Smart Switch
- 4. Related Questions
- Are smart switches or smart lights easier to install?
- Why not both smart bulbs and smart switches?
- Do smart switches work without smart bulbs?
- Do smart bulbs still work with normal switches?
- How long do smart bulbs last?
- Do smart switches work with LED lights?
- Can I use a smart bulb without a hub?
- Can smart bulbs work without Wi-Fi?
- Can you put a smart bulb in any lamp?
- Related Articles
1. Smart Bulbs Vs Smart Switches – The Pros and Cons
Smart bulbs are the way to go if you want a quick result. You screw in the smart bulb, add it your smartphone app, and you’re ready to go!
You can then put the smart bulb on a daily schedule and change the mood of your lighting.
With a smart switch, there’s a bit more work involved. You’ll have to fiddle around with wiring, or get an electrician in to do it for you.
And a smart switch doesn’t allow you to change the ‘temperature’ of your lighting – it is simply a switch and nothing more.
But smart bulbs are dimmable, they come with full color spectrums, and you can choose between ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ white.
On the other hand, smart bulbs don’t work very well with old-school wall switches. If you turn a smart bulb on or off at the wall, they tend to stop working and need to be re-connected to the Wi-Fi.
Smart Bulb Pros
When weighing up smart bulbs vs smart switches, one thing to consider is that smart bulbs are much easier to install. Unlike smart switches, there is no wiring involved. It’s as simple as screwing the smart bulb into the socket.
Also, if you’re in an apartment or renting, you may not have permission to change light switches. So smart bulbs are the best option if you are renting. This is another significant advantage of smart bulbs.
Smart bulbs allow you to adjust the color of your lights from cool white to warm white. If you have RGB smart bulbs, you’ll be able to change your lighting through the spectrum from red to blue. This ability to change the mood of your room is another clear advantage of smart bulbs.
Smart Bulb Cons
The most significant disadvantage of smart bulbs is that the wall switch becomes a problem.
Smart bulbs need to be connected to the Wi-Fi in order to work. If you turn the wall switch off, your smart bulbs are no longer connected. That means they can no longer be controlled from your smartphone or from a voice assistant.
For most people, the solution is to place masking tape over the wall switch. It works but it’s pretty unsightly.
Also, smart bulbs use more energy than a smart switch. That’s because a smart bulb always has to be connected to your Wi-Fi. This means that smart bulbs are phantom energy users – they use electricity even when turned off.
And finally, smart bulbs tend to be more expensive than smart switches. A smart bulb can be anywhere from $20 to $50, whereas a good smart switch can be as little as $10.
If you have multiple bulbs in a single light fitting, the price difference becomes even more noticeable: the cost of two or three smart bulbs compared with a single smart switch.
Smart Switch Pros
The biggest advantage of smart switches is that you can continue to use a wall switch. You can turn the light off at the wall and still turn it back on with either a voice command or by tapping a button on your smartphone.
Another advantage of smart switches is that they work with regular bulbs. If you decide to go with smart switches, there’s no need to change any of your existing bulbs.
Smart Switch Cons
The main disadvantage of smart switches is that they are not as easy to install as smart bulbs. You have to make sure that you connect the right wires to the right outlets on the switch.
Some people are not comfortable doing household wiring. And in some countries, such as Australia, it’s actually illegal to do your own electrical wiring. If you have to call an electrician to install your smart switches, they suddenly become a lot more costly than smart bulbs.
Another disadvantage of smart bulbs is that they don’t allow you to dim your lights or change the color temperature of your lights. A smart switch is simply a switch. If you continue to use regular bulbs, then all the smart switch gives you is the ability to turn your lights on and off with a voice command or from a smartphone app.
There’s another drawback to using smart switches: you can’t group your lights together in the way you can with smart bulbs.
Smart switches are constrained by the physical wiring of your house. With smart bulbs, you can group multiple smart bulbs into a single group. And that means you can turn off all the lights in a room with a single command.
You can’t do that with a smart switch because the physical wiring of your house determines how many bulbs a smart switch can control.
Finally, if you are in an apartment or if you are renting, you may not have permission to install smart switches. So for renters, smart switches may not be an option.
2. When To Use A Smart Bulb
There are three scenarios where smart bulbs are a better choice than smart switches.
When you want all of a room’s lighting on a single control. Smart bulbs are best when you want to be able to turn all of a room’s lights on or off with a single voice command or a single tap in your smartphone app. If you want the flexibility of being able to group different lights in a single control, go for smart bulbs
When you want to control the mood of a room. Smart bulbs allow you to dim your lights and change the color temperature of your lights. If the mood of your lighting is important, go for smart bulbs
You have an apartment or you rent. If you don’t have permission to change your light switches, then smart bulbs are the way to go.
3. When To Use A Smart Switch
You want to continue using regular bulbs. Smart switches are the best choice if you want to continue using regular light bulbs. Replacing all your regular bulbs with smart bulbs could be quite expensive. But with a single smart switch for each room of the house, you can automate your lighting at a fraction of the cost.
You want to continue using a wall switch. With smart bulbs, you have to stop using your wall switch. If someone accidentally turns the wall switch off, your smart bulbs won’t work anymore (until you turn the wall switch n again).
Using a wall switch has become second nature to all of us. And even if you and your family can get used to leaving the wall switches alone, what about when you have guests? So this is a clear advantage for smart switches.
4. Related Questions
Are smart switches or smart lights easier to install?
Smart lights are much easier to install than smart switches. Installing smart switches involves fiddling with the wiring of your house, whereas installing a smart light is as simple as screwing in a light bulb.
Why not both smart bulbs and smart switches?
In most cases, you won’t be able to use a smart switch and smart bulbs together. This is because a smart switch turns the power off to the bulb. A smart bulb needs to remain connected to the power otherwise it loses connection to the Wi-Fi.
Do smart switches work without smart bulbs?
Yes, smart switches work fine with regular bulbs.
Do smart bulbs still work with normal switches?
Yes, they do. However, you have to leave the normal switch on at all times. Once you turn the normal switch off, the smart bulb won’t work anymore.
The reason for this is that smart bulbs need to be always connected to the Wi-Fi.
How long do smart bulbs last?
The average smart bulb lasts 20,000 hours to 25,000 hours.
Do smart switches work with LED lights?
A LED light (or light-emitting diode light) will definitely work with a smart switch. But if your LED light is also a Wi-Fi bulb, you’ll have problems. When a smart switch turns off, the bulb loses electrical current and that means the bulb is no longer connected to your Wi-Fi.
Can I use a smart bulb without a hub?
Yes, definitely. If you don’t want to be tied to using a hub or a specialized standard like Zigbee and Z-Wave, you can use smart bulbs with built-in Wi-Fi. These smart bulbs connect directly to your home’s Wi-Fi and don’t require a hub.
Can smart bulbs work without Wi-Fi?
Yes, some smart bulbs use a connection protocol that doesn’t require Wi-Fi or an internet connection. For example, Phillips Hue uses a connection protocol called Zigbee that is independent of Wi-Fi. This is called a ‘bridge’ and it means your smart lights don’t need an internet connection.
Can you put a smart bulb in any lamp?
Yes. With smart bulbs, you are only limited by the fitting in the lamp. If the lamp fitting matches the bulb, you’ll be fine.
Smart bulbs vs smart switches is a choice you have to make when automating your home lighting. Each has advantages and disadvantages and the choice you make will depend on your circumstances and your priorities.
Smart bulbs give you more control over your lighting (brightness and color) whereas smart switches allow you to continue using regular light bulbs.