Want to have your home lights turn on and off at a set time, or make it look like you’re home when you’re on vacation? Smart light switches let you do just that. With these switches, you can also control your lights through your smartphone, and connect them to other smart home devices, so that your lights will turn on if your security system detects an intruder, or your smoke detector senses fire.
After testing numerous models, we think the best smart light switch is the Leviton Decora Smart in-wall switch. It supports three-way switches (so it will work in rooms with more than one light switch), has a robust app, works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Nest, and doesn’t require an extra piece of equipment to connect to your W-Fi network.
The best dimmer switch is the Lutron Caseta Wireless Dimmer Kit, which comes with a remote, so you can control your lights without having to go to the switch itself. Its app is also excellent. It’s more expensive than the others because it requires a bridge (included) to connect the switch to your Wi-Fi network. A good alternative that does not require a bridge is the Leviton 1000-Watt Dimmer Switch, which, at $41, is still a good deal.
If you have Philips Hue lights, then the Philips Hue Dimmer ($24.9 on Amazon) is your best bet. Not only is it the least expensive option, but it’s also the easiest to install, as you merely attach it to the wall — no wiring necessary. Plus, you can pop it off and use it as a remote control.
How to Install A Smart Switch
Unlike most smart home devices, which merely require you to plug them into an outlet, installing a smart switch involves replacing a current in-wall switch. Since few, if any light-control products include professional installation as part of the package, you will need a basic understanding of electrical work, which includes turning the circuit breaker. For full wireless access, you then replace the entire existing unit with the smart switch by attaching all the wires to the new switch, including the neutral wire.
Smart switches are often bulkier than their traditional counterparts, so if they don’t fit in the electrical box properly, you may need to get a new box, which is probably a job for an electrician. Similarly, some older homes don’t have the right wiring, so an electrician is a good idea here, too. Finally, some smart switches won’t work if you have multiple switches controlling a single light (which is called three-way or four-way lighting).