Does your home have a lot of built-in light fixtures, such as recessed lighting, chandeliers, or wall sconces? If so, replacing all those lights with smart lights can get expensive quickly. A more economical way is to install a smart light switch.
A smart light switch looks and acts like any traditional light switch or dimmer, but it can do a lot more. Once connected, you can control it from your smartphone, set schedules for when the lights should turn on and off, and connect them to other smart home devices using 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.
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. We've also divided the guide into two sections: Smart light switches that replace traditional switches, and smart light switch accessories, which can do many of the same things as smart light switches, but are easier to install.
The best smart light switches
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) and a No-Neutral Switch ($44, Amazon), which work with the Decora Smart Wi-Fi Bridge ($20, Amazon); all are compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Home, and look to be good, less expensive alternatives to Lutron's lineup.
Leviton announced that its second-gen Decora Wi-Fi 2nd Gen Dimmer and Switch will be gaining Matter support in early 2023.
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.
However, it's unlikely that current GE Cync products will be updated to support Matter.
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, Siri/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.
Brilliant said its devices would support Matter sometime in 2023.
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, Google Home, and Siri, and it works with a plethora of other smart home system,s 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.
If you think that the Caseta dimmer looks too busy, Lutron also has the Diva Smart Dimmer Switch kit ($119, Amazon); this switch has a simple rocker, with a small slider along one side to dim and brighten your lights.
Read our full Lutron Caseta Dimmer Switch Starter Kit review.
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, 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 switch accessories
Below are a number of smart light switch accessories; while they act like a smart light switch, they don't require you to replace an existing switch. However, with all of these, you'll either need a smart switch already installed in your home, or have smart lights that will work with this product.
+ Works with Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
+ Lots of customization
- Only works with Philips Hue lights
If you have Philips Hue bulbs, the Philips Hue dimmer can be used as a wireless remote. There's a power button, a dimmer in the middle, and a button on the bottom that you can program to activate a specific scene. (The original dimmer, which you can still find, lacks this last button.)
+ Works with Philips Hue, Zigbee
+ Works with Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
If you have a wall switch that controls an outlet, rather than a light fixture, the Lutron Aurora lets you smart up that switch without replacing it. That way, the outlet can stay on, so you can use it for other appliances, like a clock or radio, and not worry that someone's going to flick the switch and cut its power. The company also makes a model for paddle switches as well. It works with Philips Hue and Zigbee smart lights
Read our full Lutron Aurora review.
- Only works with Lutron products
If you have Lutron smart light switches or plugs, you can use the Pico Dimmer remote to control them, too. The Pico is much smaller than a typical switch, so it can be easily lost, but it can also be wall-mounted wherever you like.
The Lutron Pico comes in four colors (white, black, light almond and ivory) so it should fit in with most of your decor. However, it only works with Lutron products.
How to choose the best smart light switch for you
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.
Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or Matter?
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. A new standard, called Matter, has recently come online; While there are only a few devices that currently have this enabled, we expect plenty more to come in the near future.
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.
Single-pole vs. three-way switches
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.
Even if you don't have a three-way switch, there's an easy way to get around it; many smart light switch makers now offer a remote, or companion switch that's battery-operated. All you have to do is attach the switch to your wall using screws or adhesive — no wiring required.
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!
Smart home connectivity
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.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need an electrician to install a smart light switch?
No, you do not need to hire an electrician to install a smart light switch. However, it is important that you take the proper safety precautions. Make sure that you turn off the circuit breaker to the switch before starting any work, and be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions on how to install a smart light switch. If you're unsure at all, it's worth calling an electrician.
Can I replace a normal switch with a smart light switch?
Yes, you can. The majority of smart light switches are designed to replace traditional light switches. However, you may need to determine if your existing switch uses a neutral wire, or is connected to another switch, so you know to purchase a compatible smart light switch.
Do smart switches work with any light?
For the most part, smart light switches will work with any light — incandescent, LED, halogen, and fluorescent. However, certain types of bulbs may not work properly with a dimmer switch; if you turn the switch down low, your bulb may start flickering, for instance. It's best to consult the manufacturer's site before purchasing a smart light switch.
How to install a smart light switch
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.
How we test smart light switches
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:
- Design: Is it an attractive switch? The best will come in multiple colors to best match your decor.
- Installation: How easy was it to install the physical switch, and how easy was it to connect to our home network?
- Functionality: Does it support three-way or four-way connections? What other features does it have?
- App: How easy was it to use the app that works with the switch? What sort of features do you get, such as scheduling when lights turn on and off?
- Smart Home Compatibility: Does the switch work with other smart home devices? How many?
- Price: Smart light switches are generally more expensive than traditional switches, but even do, some offer more value than others. As they've become more popular, the price of smart light switches has dropped, so that most cost around $50-$60, though you can find models for less.
Other smart home guides
If you're looking to outfit your house or apartment with other smart home devices, be sure to check out some of our other guides.
Seems obvious. Clicking buttons on the wall seems so 1980s. Google home / Alexa voice controls + motion sensors = I should rarely have to go touch the wall like a cave man. :P
I am checking out the Meross though (Thanks @dubinskd)