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TECH4 Blog

Smart Light Switches vs Smart Bulbs

by Craig Walker
Smart Light Switches vs Smart Bulbs

If you're looking to take your first step into the world of smart homes then you may be wondering what the difference is between smart light switches and smart bulbs.

There are a few key differences and requirements that will help your decision along.

In this blog we'll give you an overview of smart bulbs and light switches, the pros and cons and a bit more insight into how they compare.

 

Smart Light Bulbs

Smart Bulbs

 

Smart light bulbs are truly plug and play, you simply remove your existing light bulb and insert the new smart version, connect to your WiFi via the app and you're up and running!

We think that smart bulbs are a great introduction to smart home, you can achieve a lot for little money.

There is one downside, you need to leave the light switch on for full smart functionality. If you turn the light switch off then you kill the power to the bulb so it cannot communicate with the app.

In practice it's not as bad as it sounds as you will probably find yourself using Alexa/Google to control your lighting through voice commands - however it can be a bit awkward for family and visitors if they aren't used to the system, and likewise if you don't plan to use voice assistants.

Smart bulbs are perfect for people who rent their homes as no modification or re-wiring is required.

Simply replace the bulbs and you've got a smart home!

 

Smart Bulb Pros & Cons

Pros
Plug & Play
Low Cost
Fully Featured

Cons
Must leave light switch on else the smart features won't work.
Whilst still possible, it can be a bit awkward and expensive if you have a lot of GU10 down lights.
 

 

Shop Smart Bulbs Here

 

 

Smart Light Switches

Smart Light Switches

 

Smart light switches are a more permanent solution, you'll still have that fixed wall position to turn your lights on and off which keeps it easy for family and friends but you'll also have the full smart features such as voice control, app control and schedules etc.

You'll no longer need to worry about whether the light switch is on or off, with smart light switches they always remain powered ready to be controlled by voice, schedule or app.

Next step is to consider whether you want to be able to dim the lights or not. A lot of smart light switches don't have the ability to dim the lights. They're just on or off. 

Likewise some of the dimming options such as Lightwave RF don't have the ability for a simple on/off so the lights you connect to the circuit must be dimmable.

 

Smart Bulb Pros & Cons

Pros
Plug & Play
Always Ready To Use
Control From Wall, App, Voice etc.
Fully Featured

Cons
Requires deep back box
Some switches require neutral
Some switches don't dim
 

There is also a range of wireless lighting control solutions which are far easier to retrofit such as Lutron RA2 Select or eNet Smart Home as these use wireless light switches.

We'll cover them more in future blog posts as they are a bit different to standard smart light switches.

 

Shop Smart Light Switches Here

 

Conclusion

 

To sum it up, both smart bulbs and smart light switches are great solutions. 

If you are either renting, have a low budget, unsure about smart homes and want to test it out or want a quick easy smart home them smart bulbs are the way forward.

If you own your home, are doing an extension or refurb and want to budget £60 or so per light switch for lighting control and smart home functions then we'd highly recommend going for smart light switches.

Now that you understand more about the differences we'll go into much more depth about each type in our buying guides which you can read below.

 

Smart Bulb Buying Guide

Smart Light Switch Buying Guide

 

As usual our expert team are on hand to help with questions and to assist with designing and specifying the correct products for your home project. Feel free to email, live chat or call on 02392 006118.