Want to have your home lights turn on and off at a set time or make it look like you're home when you're on vacation? Smart light switches let you do just that. With these switches, you can also control your lights through your smartphone and connect them to other smart home devices, so that your lights will turn on if your security system detects an intruder or your smoke detector senses fire.
After testing numerous models, we think the best smart light switch is the Leviton Decora Smart in-wall switch. It supports three-way switches (so it will work in rooms with more than one light switch); has a robust app; works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Nest; and doesn't require an extra piece of equipment to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
If you have Philips Hue lights and don’t want to replace your wall switches, then the Philips Hue Dimmer is your best bet. Not only is it the least expensive option, but it's also the easiest to install, since you merely attach it to the wall — no wiring necessary. Plus, you can pop it off and use it as a remote control.
Make sure you check out all of our top picks for smart speakers, lights, locks and more on our best smart home devices page.
Latest News and Updates (July 2019)
- Legrand has launched a few smart light switches that work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit. Among them is the Smart Tru-Universal Dimmer ($63.48) which can be paired with a remote, and features a small LED so you can locate the switch in the dark.
- Lutron is upgrading the firmware in its devices so that you'll be able to control up to 75 devices from a single bridge. This increase, from 50 devices, will go into effect July 8. All owners need to do is update their Lutron app after that date, and the change will take effect.
- GE has a suite of new Z-Wave dimmer switches with two new features: QuickFit and SimpleWire. These switches are 20 percent smaller, making them easier to fit into smaller junction boxes, and SimpleWire can automatically detect the line and load wires, making it easier for homeowners to install.
Best smart switch
The C-Start Smart Switch isn't the sexiest or sleekest, but it gets the job done and does so in a more capable way than most. Reasonably priced at about $40, 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 C-Start 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 and HomeKit), the C-Start dimmer responds to voice commands, but the C by GE 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. Still, if you don't mind its looks, the C-Start Smart Switch gives you a lot for the price.
Leviton's switch won't win any design awards, but we like its no-nonsense approach: a large paddle switch, with a smaller toggle on the right, which lets you dim the lights in increments. A row of LEDs shows you the brightness level, and a small status LED on the bottom lets you locate the switch in the dark.
Unlike Lutron's switch, Leviton's connects directly to your Wi-Fi, so there's no bridge needed. It also supports three-way switches, which is helpful for larger rooms.
The Leviton app is pretty robust. You can set how long the status LED and the dimming LEDs remain on, specify the type of bulbs you're using and adjust the rate at which they dim and brighten. The app also lets you create schedules for the lights to turn on and off, such as at sunset or sunrise.
Overall, though, Leviton’s Decora is the best bet for homeowners looking for a great all-around smart wall switch.
Most-connected smart light switch
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.
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 (such as its smart plugs and smart shades) 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 (you can get it packaged with the switch for $90). The bridge itself must be plugged into your router so that you can control it from your smartphone.
Homeowners with toggle switches that control an outlet know that if they want to plug a lamp into that outlet, they have to tape over the switch or resort to other methods to keep from accidentally flipping the switch and turning off power to the lamp. 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. It's a specific use case, but it works well.
Read our full Lutron Aurora review.
Best for Philips Hue lights
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.
High-tech touch screen
Brilliant's touch-screen panel lets you control not only your lights, but also other smart home devices, such as cameras, speakers and more. 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, and it has Alexa. However, the company needs to add more smart home partners before it can truly justify its high price.
Read our full Brilliant touch-screen light switch review.
Alexa built in
Ecobee's Switch+ is more expensive than some other smart switches, but it has a ton of next-gen features. For starters, a motion detector can automatically turn the lights on and off in a room as your enter or leave. A small night light can be activated to help you find your way in the dark. It also has Alexa built right in (along with a microphone and speaker), so you can more easily use Amazon's assistant. The Switch+ also has a temperature sensor, which you will be able to link to the Ecobee thermostat to better control the climate in your house. One caveat: You can't use the Ecobee Switch+ in a three-way setup, and it requires a neutral wire.
Read our full Ecobee Switch+ Review.
Pricey but shows promise
Orro's touch-screen switch is packed with sensors and enough intelligence to know when you're entering or leaving a room, and it provides an ambient light sensor, too. The company is promising a lot more smart home interactions and controls, so its rating may improve as its functionality does. But $199 is a lot to spend on a promise.
Read our full Orro smart light switch review.
Simple dimmer switch
The WeMo Dimmer looks cool, with its glowing LED status lights, but remembering what each light means (there are seven different statuses, each with its own special LED color) is virtually impossible. One standout feature of the switch is that it calibrates to work with any kind of light bulb for maximum dimming and minimum flickering.
WeMo has included a number of small but nice touches that put the switch at the forefront of this genre of switch. For example, just run your finger along the gutter in the middle of the switch and you can dim or brighten the light the switch is hooked up to. There's also a clever night mode that keeps you from blinding yourself with full-on bright lights when you're headed to the bathroom after hours.
The WeMo app supports numerous smart products and has lots of features, including light scheduling and various lighting modes. You'll also be able to review power-consumption data and to control multiple WeMo devices with a single swipe. It's not compatible with a ton of smart home systems, but the WeMo Dimmer does work with Alexa, Homekit and Google Home, which should be enough for many users.
High price, limited smarts
We expected a little more from this $70 smart light switch. A small LED in the center (whose color you can customize) is the only indication that there's something more underneath. You can remotely trigger the switch via an iDevices app as well as schedule on/off times and make it a part of a coordinated scene. It doesn't require a hub, and it works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. (For the last feature, there's a pull-out tab on the switch with a HomeKit setup code.)
Installation and setup were relatively straightforward and include testing the type of bulb you have. The program also tests dimming levels, which you can adjust.
However, there's no faceplate in the package. In small print on the box, iDevices notes this fact, but faceplates come standard when you buy a rocker switch, smart or otherwise. If you are simply replacing a similar rocker switch, you can use the old plate. Alas, we were testing it on an older light, which precipitated another trip to the hardware store to buy a faceplate (about $2).
The iDevices Dimmer Switch is well connected in terms of software support, although for the price — nearly double that of the GE C-Smart Dimmer — it should also have a built-in motion sensor … and a standard faceplate.
Smart Wall Switches vs. Smart Lights and Smart Plugs
There are a ton of smart light bulbs on the market that you can control using your phone, so why would you need a smart switch? Smart switches make the most sense when you have a room, or rooms, with many ceiling lights.
Adding a smart switch can be much more cost effective than adding four or more smart lights, each of which can cost as much as a single switch.
If your room is lit by floor or table lamps, then smart plugs are the way to go; you simply connect the lamp into the smart plug and then the plug into the wall outlet. Plugs are generally less expensive than in-wall switches and are easier to set up — there's no wiring involved.
How to Install a Smart 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. For full wireless access, you then replace the entire existing unit with the smart switch by attaching all the wires to the new switch, including the neutral wire.
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. Finally, some smart switches won't work if you have multiple switches controlling a single light (which is called three-way or four-way lighting).
How We Test Smart Light Switches
To test smart switches, we first had them installed (by an electrician) 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.
- Functionality: Does it support three-way or four-way connections?
- 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?