7 Savvy Answers to Common Questions About Smart Light Switches

This overview will help you decide which smart light switches will work best with your smart home setup.

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What Are Smart Light Switches?

Smart light switches are WiFi-enabled buttons on or in your wall that allow you to customize how you control lighting in your home.

How Do Smart Light Switches Work?

When you press buttons on smart light switches, they send wireless signals to control your smart lights (typically via WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee or Z-Wave). Smart light switches can turn lights on and off, adjust brightness or cycle through your presets (often called scenes) with your preferred color and brightness combinations. Most smart light switches require some setup using a smartphone app.

What Are Some Smart Light Switch Features?

Besides on/off, dimming and scene control, smart light switches can provide other features that allow even more customization and creative solutions. If you need three-way switch support or built-in motion sensors, seek out products with those features to zero in on your best option. Some smart switches can link to smart outlets, allowing you to control a reading lamp with a traditional bulb, Christmas tree lights or your space heater — and set a shut-off timer so you can’t accidentally leave it on all night!.

What Are The Basic Types of Smart Light Switches?

There are two: in-wall, which are typically wired, and on-wall, which are typically battery powered.

In-wall smart light switches can replace your existing traditional light switches. It’ll take a little more work to wire an in-wall switch; be sure to check that you have neutral and/or ground wires if required. But then you don’t need to deal with batteries, and you can control your existing wired circuits. A stand-alone switch can easily stick on your wall and may be a good solution to add a switch where there is no wiring, or if you don’t want to deal with wiring.

What Are Some Smart Light Switch Benefits?

Smart light switches can provide convenience with quick operation of multiple lights and intuitive access so anyone in your home can control your smart lights. Centralized control and the option of a portable switch remote can add accessibility benefits for the elderly or anyone with mobility challenges.

Are Smart Light Switches Compatible With My Smart Home System?

Yes, you can find a smart light switch to run any smart home system. But communication standards vary, so make sure the switches and your system are compatible before buying. If you need it to work with Alexa or Google Assistant, look for the compatibility logo on the box. For a more complex setup, determine whether the switches use Zigbee, Z-Wave or another standard. Or if you’re starting with a particular brand of lightbulb or switch, start there and look for compatible products. Lutron, for example, provides a searchable compatibility guide.

Have You Considered Smart Motion Sensors?

While a smart light switch may be the best solution for a space where you mostly sit, like your living room, consider a smart motion sensor for areas you pass through, like your stairwells or laundry room. Motion sensors may also provide significant benefit for people with mobility challenges. Wyze has affordable smart bulbs and sensors that can go hand-in-hand with your smart light switch plan and help you build the best setup for your home.

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Nick Wiesneski
As a writer, handyman, and general Renaissance guy, I draw on my broad set of skills and experiences to bring clarity to my writing. I enjoy putting my skills to use for good, helping people, and solving hard problems.​ I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and enjoy finding big and small adventures with my wife and two daughters. I recharge my batteries with fresh air and exploration of the great outdoors by foot, or boat, or four-wheel-drive. Personally and professionally, I try to leave it better than I found it.