One popular debate is if you should change the light switch or the bulb when automating the lighting in your home.
I chose to convert all my regular light switches to Smart switches for a few different reasons.
It was important to me that all the switches throughout the house were the same. I wanted it to look modern, and classy, and be easy to use for people that aren’t familiar with smart switches. this meant that I needed a switch that had two buttons (instead of one), so that the traditional on-off system would be maintained.
Our house has mostly custom light fixtures – we have Edison bare bulb lights over our breakfast bar. There is an antique chandelier in the entry way that has been in the family for generations. Even the ceiling fans in the bedrooms use proprietary halogen bulbs that are hard to find (and replace).
All of the lighting has been carefully designed with color temperature and style in mind. I didn’t want to change that by replacing all the bulbs with smart light bulbs. That’s not to say I don’t have any smart bulbs – I do, but they have their own place and use that you can read about in an upcoming article.
Plus the average house has about 2x as many lights as switches. Even though it is a bit more work to change the switch (there will be some wiring involved) It ends up being less expensive in the long run as the switch doesn’t ever burn out and need to be replaced.
Hard wired Smart Switches
When I was looking at Smart Switches to automate my house I had a couple of requirements that were important to me.
If you read the article about my very first Home Automation installation, you will remember that I got it at my local big box hardware store. They had an in-store display that I could play with and try out the different switches and devices. I knew that if I ever needed another one I could easily go to that large chain again and get more (which I have done several times).
- Ease of Installation
- Compatibility with Apple HomeKit
- Flexibility of use
The first few that I changed over were purchased that way, but I found it was better to buy them on-line.
Smart Light Switches
There are just a few Smart Light Switches that work with Apple Homekit. They all work with Siri, and can be used for Automations and scenes.
- Eve Light Switch
The Eve Light Switch is easy to install, and has a clean sleek, modern look. It is essentially one big button. You can use it with Automations and Scenes in the Home App and of course it is Siri Compatible too. It is one of the more affordable switches, but I don’t like how you don’t know what you will get when you press it. I prefer an on/off arrangement where I know if I press the top the light will come on, and if you press the bottom the light will go off – call me a traditional guy.
- Lutron Caseta Smart Home Switch
My favorite choice is the Lutron Caseta Smart Home switch. The most basic model has two buttons (one for on, and another for off), but you can also get some that have built in fan control, dimmer capability, and other features. Of course it works seamlessly with HomeKit so I can tell Siri to “turn off the dining room light”. I also have the ability to make scenes and automations.
There are also 3-way switches, remote controls, and other colors (besides white) if you want to match your room’s decor.
- Wemo Smart Light Switch
The Wemo Smart Light Switch is another hard wired solution. It replaces the traditional switch on the wall that you use to turn on and off lights. The Wemo Smart Switch adds HomeKit Compatibility with Siri, Automations and Scenes. You can get different switches depending on your wiring configuration too – single pole, 3-way, and multi packs to save money.
- Leviton Decora
If I were to pick a runner up, I would choose the Leviton Decora Switch as it also has separate buttons for on and off
The cost of Smart Light Switches for my entire house
To calculate how many switches you will need, all you have to do is walk around and count the number of light switches you have. I keep track using my iPhone (I haven’t used paper notes for years).
The first rooms that I converted were rooms that always seemed to have the light on when nobody was there (my kids’ playroom, the laundry room, and the closet. Next I converted my office, the garage, and the outside lights for the house. Finally I went around and did the other bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. I even put an automatic light switch in my attic so I know if I left the light on after I changed my air filters.
Most bedrooms have 1 switch (some have 2 for fan control). The same is for the bathroom. Your kitchen probably has 2 or more. Living room = 2 as well. Just go around and take count. Remember you don’t have to change them all at once, you can do it room by room like I did to save on the cost of converting your home to Automation.
Of course every house is different, so I can’t say what it will cost for your home. I was able to learn that the average house has approximately 21 light switches that control 41 different lights.