Smart Switch vs. Smart Bulb: Which is a Better Buy?

Smart switches and smart bulbs offer incredible savings on your monthly electricity bill. Of course, both have advantages and disadvantages, but which option is the better buy?

Smart Switches are a better buy than smart bulbs. They offer more options for efficiency, are compatible with multiple lightbulbs, cost less than smart bulbs, and can work with Alexa, Siri, or Google Home. 

Smart Switches offer more flexibility in the way they are used and more convenience for the customer. Read on to find out what makes the smart switch a better buy than the smart bulb and some disadvantages of smart bulbs. We will also compare some smart switches to find the best option among them and learn more about their features. 

Why is the Smart Switch a Better Buy?

Smart switches offer an array of features that make them a better buy than any smart bulb on the market. Smart switches have a higher potential of electrical efficiency with programmable features and automation for the devices smart switches are used with. 

Smart Switches provide the ability to use any type of bulb, whereas smart bulbs come in very few sizes and are not compatible with bulbs used in chandeliers. Smart switches are compatible with fluorescent, incandescent bulbs, smart bulbs, floodlights, and many other sizes and lightbulb types. 

Smart switches come at a much lower cost than smart bulbs, with most options around $25 or below. One smart switch can control a room with several connected lights. If your fixture or room requires multiple bulbs, Smart Bulbs can cost you hundreds of dollars at $40 per bulb and come with fewer uses than smart switches.

Smart switches will last much longer than smart bulbs, making their cost even lower than a lifetime of smart bulbs. 

Smart switches often provide a convenient way to control your devices, including a specific app that can be used anywhere, even if you are not at home. 

Smart switches that work with:

  • Amazon Alexa 
  • Google Home
  • Siri
  • Google Assistant
  • Smart Switch Phone Apps 

All of these options offer the added convenience of voice control. Let’s discuss efficiency, bulb options, cost, and convenience in detail to see why smart switches are a better investment than smart bulbs. 

Smart Switches Offer Greater Efficiency

Smart switches offer greater efficiency in their features and how they can be used. These switchers offer light switch automation, scheduling, and 24/7 monitoring and access to your devices.

  • Light Switch Automation:
    • The automation of your smart switches gives you the ability to use features like sunrise/sunset. Your lights can be programmed to turn on when the sun rises and off when the sun sets, preventing unnecessary energy use. 
  • Light Switch Scheduling:
    • The ability to schedule the usage of your device, similar to automation, can save money for those on different schedules. Smart switches offer the ability to set your lights to turn on and off at select hours of the day. 
  • 24/7 Monitoring and Access to Devices:
    • Most smart switches come with a specific app that lets you control the switch from anywhere at any time, something smart bulbs do not offer.

Smart switches give you the ability to schedule, automate, and access and monitor your lights and devices. This gives you a great deal over the total cost of the switch and the efficiency it can provide you. These features are some of the most prominent features that make smart switches a better buy than bulbs. 

Smart Switches are Compatible with Multiple Bulb Choices

Smart switches offer the added convenience of being compatible with most bulb types while still being more efficient. This feature creates a further advantage in the cost of the entire system. Most standard bulbs are drastically less expensive than smart bulbs. 

Smart switches can be used with different sizes and shapes of bulbs, including longer fluorescent bulbs, a shape that smart bulbs aren’t offered in. Some other compatible bulbs that smart switches can work with.:

  • Standard Bulbs
  • Long Fluorescent Bulbs
  • Smart Bulbs
  • Incandescent Bulbs
  • Single Pole
  • Dimmable Switches

Another added bonus is that some bulbs, including chandelier bulbs, lamps, some ceiling fan bulbs, and any fixture that uses smaller than standard bulbs, are not compatible with the single size of smart bulbs. Smart switches are a way to get around that problem since they are compatible with most bulb types.

Smart Switches Offer Significantly Lower Costs 

Smart bulbs are often thought of as single components, but a smart switch is considered a complete system. A single smart bulb can run you nearly $40, two and three packs for fixtures, and rooms requiring multiple bulbs can cost upwards of $100. Rooms will typically require multiple smart bulbs or a single smart switch.

A Smart switch alone can cost much less at $25 per switch and can operate all of the lights connected to the switch at one time. The relevancy of the cost of a complete system costing less than four single components of a system is unavoidable. Outfitting your entire home in smart switches would be a much lower cost than if you were to outfit your home in smart bulbs.

  • You could outfit your entire home with smart switches for a cost that is much lower than one single room of smart bulbs.
  • Smart bulbs typically last between 15,000 and 25,000 hours, which is an incredibly long time compared to traditional bulbs. They’ll still need to be replaced at least twice in a lifetime, unlike smart switches.
  • For a lower cost, smart switches can mimic any features of smart bulbs while offering the flexibility to control fixtures with multiple types of bulbs and devices on a single switch. 

Smart switches provide a better way to control your devices at a much lower cost. Two smart bulbs alone can cost more than a smart switch. Multiplied by two to eight bulbs per room, depending on the lighting features, smart switches are a far better buy when the cost is a priority. 

The Convenience of Voice Control With Alexa, Google, or Siri

Most smart light switches on the market give you the added convenience of voice control, with their specific apps and with the use of Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Siri directly on your iPhone. Some smart bulbs come with apps as well, but they depend on the hard light switch being constantly on. Smart switches eliminate that inconvenience. 

  • With a few simple commands, you can control any of your switches with Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google Home. These simple phrases include:
    • “Alexa, turn on the kitchen light.”
    • “Alexa, turn down the living room lights.”
    • “Hey Google, set the kitchen lights to shut off at 7 pm.”
  • You can use some similar commands to automate your switches or sync them to your favorite music. 
  • Voice control that uses the switches app will give you the freedom of voice control whether you are at home or not. 

The convenience that smart switches offer is not comparable to smart bulbs. The option for 24/7 control from anywhere with the smart switch’s app and the voice control feature offered with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri make smart switches the superior buy compared to smart bulbs. 

Disadvantages of the Smart Bulb vs. Smart Switch

There are some blaring disadvantages of smart bulbs compared to switches that make them the worst buy. Smart bulbs come with a higher cost to operate, use electricity when in standby mode, and only come in the standard A-shape bulb, making them incompatible with some fixtures. We will discuss these disadvantages in detail, as well as some of the few advantages that smart bulbs can offer. 

Smart Bulbs Pose a Higher Initial Cost

Smart bulbs can range anywhere from $13 – upwards of $50. If you are curious how much that would run you, the average home has around 45 light bulbs on average and at an average cost of $22; outfitting your home with smart bulbs would cost you roughly $990.

Here are a few of the leading smart bulbs on the market, their performance, and their cost:

Bulb BrandMin-Max Brightness (Lumens)Cost (Dollars)
Lifx Mini LED Bulb6 – 644$17
Nanoleaf Essentials800$20
Philips Hue White (Bluetooth version)13-850$30
Philips Wiz Connected800$13

When compared to a smart switch with an average cost of $25 for the whole system, replacing the 10-15 light switches in your home would run you between $250-$350. The higher cost of outfitting your home with smart bulbs is one disadvantage they have and part of what makes smart switches a better buy. 

Smart Bulbs Only Come in Standard A-Shape with Limited Features 

Smart bulbs come in primarily in A-Shape or standard bulb shape, limiting the number of devices they can be used in. Smart bulbs are not available for fluorescent lighting fixtures with long bulbs. Smart Bulbs in many of the smaller sizes for chandeliers aren’t available, eliminating the number and type of fixtures that you can use smart bulbs in. 

One major flaw that smart bulbs have is their inability to use smartphone app features if the hard wired light switch is in the off position. The light switch must be left on to be controlled by the app. Most people control their smart bulbs with the wall switch or on their app. The latter could confuse guests, especially in communal rooms. 

Use Electricity When in Standby Mode (Vampire Device)

Smart bulbs are in a class of devices known as Vampire Devices, meaning they use electricity even when they are not powered on. Smart bulbs require a constant Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connection, meaning they are constantly using electricity, and though they appear off, they are constantly on. 

Smart bulbs use only a few cents a month when in standby mode. That may not amount to much, but if you have more than one bulb, let alone a house full of smart bulbs, those cents can start adding up into dollars. The amount can be noticeable on your monthly electricity bill in the form of five to ten extra dollars monthly. 

If electricity cost is one of your main concerns, smart switches will be a better buy in all aspects. They will eliminate that added cost as well as save you money with the initial purchase. The advantages of smart switches include efficiency and lower costs, so if you are worried about increasing electricity costs, choose a smart switch instead of a bulb.

Advantages of Smart Bulbs

A few advantages come with smart bulbs, but not enough to outweigh all of their disadvantages. Smart bulbs offer some color-changing, dimming, and automation options. A few bulbs on the market come with their own apps to control the bulb as well. However, they are often a confusing and inconvenient feature to use in tandem with a hard wall switch. That being said, some benefits to smart bulbs are:

  • Ambient Lighting
    • Smart bulbs that come with an app can let you adjust the brightness and even color of the lighting right from your phone.
    • Some bulbs allow you to sync the lighting and color changes to the beat of your music or in sync with dialogue in a movie. 
  • Automation and Dimming Capabilities
    • Smart bulbs with apps can automate different color changes according to the time of day, as well as advanced dimming capabilities.
    • These features are usually not available without a constant Wi-Fi connection and can only be controlled via your smartphone app. 

Though smart bulbs come with few advantages like color features and ambient lighting, they come with disadvantages that outweigh them by a considerable amount. The disadvantages of smart bulbs, including their limited bulb shapes, the added electrical cost, and their astronomically higher cost, make them a worse buy than smart switches. 

Which Smart Switch is the Best?

Smart Switches are superior to smart bulbs when it comes to convenience, cost, and flexibility. Each smart switch offers:

  • A more convenient way to use, including voice and app control.
  • A much lower cost when compared to smart bulbs.
  • The ability to use them with a variety of light fixtures with multiple bulb types.

Smart bulbs are no competition to smart switches, but which smart switch on the market is the best of the bunch? Let’s look at a few different models and their advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other. 

Kasa Smart Light Switch

The Kasa Smart Light Switch sold on Amazon is a smart switch that offers easy installations and various ways to control, including Alexa and Google Home, all for a reasonable price of $19.99. The Kasa Smart Light Switch is easily one of the best smart switches on the market. 

  • It comes with the Kasa app that guides you through the installation step by step. 
  • You can turn your electronics on and off from anywhere using the Kasa App. The switch requires a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection. 
  • Control the Kasa smart switch with just your voice using Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
  • Kasa offers a three-pack of their smart light switch for $34.99, further lowering the cost of a smart light switch like this one.
  • The Kasa Smart Light Switch comes with a 2-year warranty.

The Kasa Smart Light Switch is one of the best and most reasonable prices on the market. The Kasa Light Switch is superior in cost, convenience, and flexibility when compared with any smart bulb.    

Honeywell Home Econoswitch

This Honeywell Home Econoswitch sold on Amazon is a 7-day programmable light switch that comes with its own App, the ability to control devices via a central control, and a schedule to control your devices. One downside of the Honeywell Home Econoswitch is its lack of an app or voice control and a slightly higher cost of $49.99

  • The Honeywell Home Econoswitch comes with the ability to schedule on/off cycles of your devices seven days a week to save both time and energy. 
  • Offers easy installation and compatibility with LED, CFL, incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Comes with an automated function or scheduled cycles, saving you money in electricity.
  • This Smart Switch offers an added convenience by automatically syncing and adjusting your schedules for daylight savings time. 
  • A “Random” setting is convenient when away from home for extended periods of time. The Honeywell Home Econoswitch will turn lights on/off at random when in this setting to give the appearance of occupants which decreases your chance of a break-in. 

The Honeywell Home Econoswitch is a 7-day programmable smart switch compatible with most lightbulbs. This switch will save you just as much money, if not more, than any smart bulb on the market and offers much more flexibility in how you can use it.

Rather than just one bulb for the same cost in one fixture, this smart switch can control multiple devices and end up saving you much more money. 

Leviton Decora Smart Switch

The Leviton Decora Smart Switch is available on Amazon and requires an Amazon Alexa or Google Home for use but works with voice control, on a schedule, or with the Leviton App. The Leviton Decora Smart comes with a 5-year warranty, unlike the other smart switches we’ve covered. 

  • The Leviton Decora Smart Switch allows you to program your devices to turn on/off on a schedule, saving you money on electricity. 
  • This smart switch does not require a hub but does require an Amazon Alexa or Google Home to operate; both are sold separately.
  • The Leviton Decora Smart Switch is compatible with single pole or multi-way dimming switches.
  • Made in the USA and comes with a 5-year warranty.

The Leviton Decora Smart Switch will save you much more money on electricity than any smart bulb on the market and will let you control multiple devices with one function. This switch comes with the highest price tag at $71.99, not including the other required devices. 

These three switches on the market show some of the greatest advantages that smart switches have when compared to smart bulbs and prove that they are a better buy. The low cost of all of these switches, their convenient voice and app control, as well as their superior efficiency and compatibility with multiple bulbs make them a better option.

More About Smart Switches and Smart Bulbs

We have determined that smart switches are a better buy when compared to smart bulbs, but there is some critical additional information to consider when deciding between smart switches and smart bulbs. It is important to consider:

  • The wiring present in your home before investing in smart switches.
  • How smart bulbs may not be operated without the internet.
  • The possibility of developing a reliance on the convenient technology of both. 

Though it doesn’t negate that smart switches are a better buy between the two, these variables of smart switches and bulbs that are mostly out of your control may be the reasons why you’ll choose one or the other. 

Some Smart Switches Require Specific Wiring

Even though they are traditionally the better buy, smart switches will not work in every house. Most smart light switches need to be wired in homes that provide a neutral wire. In some older homes, there are no neutral wires in the lightboxes. Typically, houses made after the 70s will have a neutral wire.

Neutral wires will be found in the junction box of your existing light switch and usually are white. If you cannot safely identify the neutral wire, an electrician can do so for you and even install your smart switch. 

It is important to check your wiring setup to see if neutral wires are present and whether you will be able to use a smart switch in your home. If your wiring does not support smart switches, smart bulbs will work in any home with traditional sockets as they do not require any wiring. 

If your wiring is not compatible with smart switches, meaning that no neutral wire is present, it may be optional to upgrade your wiring, and not a bad idea if it was installed before the 70s. Compared to outfitting your entire home with smart bulbs, upgrading your home’s wiring may be a similar cost. 

Smart Bulbs Cannot be Used When Your Internet is Down

Smart bulbs require a constant connection to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If for some reason, your Wi-Fi signal is not very strong, your smart bulb may not work as quickly or as well. In some cases, you may notice a frustrating lag when using the smart bulb’s app. 

Likewise, if your internet is out for any reason, your smart bulb’s routines and schedules will not work, and in some cases, you will not be able to use the smart bulb’s app at all. Both of these provide an extreme inconvenience in the usefulness of smart bulbs. Smart switches are hardwired into your home’s wiring, bypassing these inconveniences.  

Ambient Color Features of Smart Bulbs End Up Unused

Smart bulbs offer ambient color-changing features that can seem cool or trendy, but these features can often end up going unused because they are time-consuming to change with your smartphone app. 

If you find yourself spending $20-$50 per bulb solely for that feature, you may consider a smart switch instead. Smart switches offer similar features, without the added cost to get them. Smart bulbs make it inconvenient to adjust these settings and to turn your lights on and off constantly with a smartphone app. It would be a good idea to opt for the less expensive smart switch that has similar features. 

Smart Bulbs and Developing a Reliance on Convenient Technology

The color-changing, scheduling, automation, and dimming effects of a smart bulb cannot be controlled with the standard wall switch. To access these features, you must use the app on your smartphone. This is going to cause you to spend a lot more time on your smartphone, which can be a major disadvantage to the smart bulb.

In cases where an unknowing house guest turns off your standard wall switch, you may have to spend the time to completely reprogram the smart bulb using its accompanying app. Not only is this incredibly inconvenient, but it is also time-consuming. 

With all the advantages and disadvantages of both smart switches and smart bulbs considered, there is still no doubt that smart switches are the better buy. It is important to be sure that they will be compatible with your home’s wiring, but for most homes, that is not an issue. 

Conclusion

Smart Switchers are a better buy than smart bulbs for a number of reasons. Smart switches are more efficient and cost less than bulbs. These switches also offer voice control from an app or with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Siri. 

Some of the disadvantages of smart bulbs include their dependence on a strong internet signal, their higher cost, and their waste of energy when not turned on. Smart switches have many advantages that make them a far superior buy than smart bulbs. 

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HomeStreamliner

This blog aims to share my research and first-hand knowledge in a helpful way. My goal is for you to be able to save time and find happiness in a streamlined home.