Smart Bulbs vs Smart Switches
Ever try to think about which one to use, but you're not too sure? Well, in this quick article I'm going to lay out some information, recommendations, and ideas for you to comb over so you can make the best decision for you and your home!
Both, smart bulbs and smart switches, have their "prime" uses inside the home, but knowing which one to use where (and more importantly why) can be a little tough! If you're just starting out in the smart home adventure, I would highly recommend that you comb over the idea of where you want the smart product first. It may seem obvious, but when you think it over, you may end up changing your mind. The room you are in the most or are most frequently in and out of the most may be the best idea for some people, but not others. "Why's that?" you ask? Simple! If you have a room (or garage) where you may occasionally carry heavy or large objects, it may be best to start with those areas first! Consider this: you just picked up a heavy box and you've started to move it into another room when suddenly the door closes just enough for you to not really be able to see where you're going. Now, most people still keep going, but now you really can't see where you're going or what you're near, so you're not even sure if you can put your heavy box down safely. This would be a PERFECT situation to use your smart product to turn on the lights. BOTH, smart light bulbs and smart light switches would be a perfect way to shed some light on the situation (literally). A simple "Okay Google, turn on the garage lights" can turn on your lights (assuming you have a Google device either in your pocket, aka your phone, or another type of Google product nearby).
In the same sense, a smart light bulb or smart light switch in a room you go into a lot makes a ton of sense too. There's nothing more annoying than having to get up when you're watching TV or trying to cook and it's getting a little too dark outside and your lights aren't on! A simple "Okay Google, turn on the living room lights" will light you up in no time! Once you decide which room (or rooms!) you want to start in, you're almost there. Now it's time to figure out if you want to do a smart switch or simply install smart bulbs. Again, both have their pros and cons, but I'm here to help so don't worry! Let's start with smart bulbs.
Smart bulbs are a great idea for several reasons which I'll touch on now. Smart bulbs are easy to install! You plug them in, add them to your Google or Amazon account and you're good to go! I'll argue that it's typically harder to get Google or Amazon or Smart Life to see the smart bulb than it is to twist in a light bulb. Unless your lights are in a vaulted ceiling that you can't reach, it's just worlds easier to twist in a smart bulb than it is to do electrical work on a switch. Also, if you want bulbs with COLOR, then you can only do that with smart bulbs. Whether it's RGB or just different "temperature" bulbs, there's no equivalent on a smart switch. No smart switch (as of 2020) can change the bulb color or temperature. If you don't own your home, bulbs are obviously a better choice since when you move (and hopefully buy a house!) you can take your bulbs with you. Beyond that, you never know how a landlord may feel about you "upgrading" their home and I'd hate to see you lose a security deposit over something dumb like a smart switch (oxymoron? lol!). Some of the downsides are that it can definitely be expensive. If you have fans in your home, most take three to four bulbs, so you're looking at a minimum of nine bulbs if you have three fans! I'm in Southern California, so I have fans in just about every room and I would need a total of 12 bulbs! Another downside is if you turn your lights off at the source, such as the wall switch or at the fan, they will not work until you turn the power source back on.
What about smart switches now? Well, I feel like they look absolutely beautiful! A few years ago, my wife was complaining about how the hallway was too dark and she couldn't find the light switch if she needed to get up in the middle of the night, so I went out and bought a "dumb" switch that had a light inside that would come ON if the light was OFF. Easy enough right? Now she could see the LED light-up inside the switch when it was off. All smart switches act as a "nightlight" of sorts. They aren't the brightest in the world, so they won't keep your seven-year-old from thinking there are monsters under the bed, but you'll be able to see ANY of your switches across the room unless there's a feature on your particular smart switch where you can turn off the nightlight. Smart light switches are coming a long way and their functionality is perfectly on-par with your typical light switch. Flip it and lights turn off. Flip it again and the lights are back on! If you know how to do BASIC electrical work, like "matching-up-colors-on-wires" basic, then you shouldn't have a problem with this install. With that said, the smart switches DO take up more room in a gang box, so you may need to replace your boxes if there isn't enough room in them, so now you're talking more money and more time. Wiring is TIGHT and you're sure to get frustrated if your boxes aren't the cleanest. But most, if not all, smart switches come with a new faceplate which snaps on, so they'll look a LOT cleaner.
So What Do I Get?!
It depends. If you have the room and knowledge, I would ALWAYS opt for a smart switch. If you have lots of lights on one switch, smart light bulbs can be very pricey. If you want your bulbs to change temperature or color, I would have to say get smart bulbs. If you want a nightlight on your switch, then smart switches have those! You could also do both! For example, I have a fan with three bulbs in a small room with my computer in it and I originally had smart bulbs in this room, but I wanted to switch over to smart switches. Once I installed the smart switch (non-dimming), I realized the lights were just too bright for me, so I ended up installing the bulbs back in. Now, I have the convenience of still using Google commands, but I can also dim the lights (bulb side) or pushing the power switch to turn the bulbs on and off. There are plenty of options, it's just deciding what's best for you!
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