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Smart lights vs. smart light switches

  • October 07, 2018

People interested in making their homes “smarter” can now easily do so with smart lights and switches. For example, Brilliant recently released a smart hub that lets people control the lights and other connected aspects of their homes from a touch screen control panel. There’s also built-in Alexa functionality for voice-control capabilities.

This multitasking hub is an ideal solution for people who already have high-tech homes. But the bigger news about this offering is that it’s likely to make a greater number of people curious about the specifics of smart home gadgets.

Here are some of the standout differences between smart lights and smart light switches. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but the gadgets only seem the same at first glance.

Here’s what to know.

Smart bulbs are easier to install

Smart bulbs have integrated Wi-Fi capabilities, but you typically install them the same way you would screw in a conventional bulb. Then, you download an app that connects to your Wi-Fi network and controls the lights. Some brands also require buying a hub that “speaks” to the bulbs and costs approximately $50. However, there are also bulbs that don’t require hubs.

In contrast, smart light switches are not as straightforward with installation because they usually require altering the wiring in your house and adding a component that automates the switch functionality instead of the bulb. Often, that means replacing the current light switch with a newer, more advanced one.

One potential downside of installing smart switches is they may not work in homes built before 1990. That’s because they work with an available neutral wire or neutral line. Modern home codes require neutral lines for all switches in a home, but that’s not the case in older properties.

Smart light switches are more cost-effective

When people start browsing for smart switches and smart bulbs, they typically notice that the bulbs are cheaper, or at least it appears that way. Indeed, it’s possible to buy a smart bulb starting at about $15, but some high-end versions are twice that cost or more.

Then, there are the smart light switches that cost about $40 to $50 depending on the brand. The primary reason is that depending on how they’re set up, smart light switches might control several lights, such as all the ones in a room.

Plus, smart light switches work with any kind of bulb. Even though the selection of available bulbs is growing, there may be cases when people cannot find compatible smart bulbs for some areas of their homes that suit their budgets.

Due to the way that they work with any bulb and allow people to set the switches to control many lights instead of one, smart light switches can pay for themselves over time.

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