Six reasons you may want to go with a smart dimmer instead of a smart light bulb
There are a few ways you can turn your home's lighting into smart lighting. Though the first method that typically comes to mind is installing smart light bulbs, these bulbs can quickly become expensive. If you have a large home or simply a lot of lights, another option is to install smart dimmer light switches. Not only can you use these handy smart dimmers to adjust the brightness of your lights from the switch itself, but they also come with smart features such as voice control. These are the top six reasons you might want to opt for a smart dimmer instead of a smart light bulb.
1. A smart dimmer can save you money over smart light bulbs in the long run
If you want smart lighting throughout your entire home, paying a bit more upfront for smart dimmers might be more cost-effective than replacing your existing bulbs. A three-pack of smart dimmers today costs around $50, whereas a two-pack of tunable white Philips Hue light bulbs costs around $40 — and that's not including the Hue hub you need to access all smart features.
Though there are several other cheap smart LED light bulbs you could go with, even these will add up in the end if you have a lot of light fixtures in your home. Smart dimmers, on the other hand, work with a lot of traditional light bulbs that cost much less. Also, one light switch oftentimes controls multiple lights, which ultimately can bring down the overall cost. If you have a large home or lots of lights, it's definitely worth considering.
2. With a smart dimmer, you can control multiple light fixtures
A smart dimmer allows you to make multiple light bulbs smarter in one go. For example, in many homes, you'll often find several light fixtures connected to a single switch in the kitchen. If you wanted to, you could go ahead and replace every one of these bulbs with a smart light bulb. Or, instead, you could simply replace the one light switch with a smart dimmer to control your existing bulbs all at once. Though you won't be able to adjust the brightness of each bulb individually, you also won't have to go through the process of installing and replacing each bulb.
3. You can use a smart dimmer manually
Having a smart home is great, but sometimes the music is on loud and you don't feel like trying to get Alexa's or Google Assistant's attention to dim the lights. And if you're anything like me, you've probably misplaced your phone more than once, meaning you're stuck with the current settings until you find it and open the Philips Hue app. In these scenarios, being able to walk up to a smart dimmer and adjust the lights to your liking is particularly useful (and nostalgic).
A physical smart dimmer is especially helpful for guests or family members used to tactile switches. For the most part, you have to keep your light switches on to power smart bulbs, only turning them off in the app. So if someone were to turn that switch off accidentally, they would likely disable your smart bulb's wireless connection, which can be incredibly annoying.
4. You get all the smart features of a smart light bulb with a smart dimmer
Smart lights bulbs are great because they come with a lot of smart home features, but smart dimmers do the same. By connecting directly to Wi-Fi or a smart bridge or hub, many smart dimmers are compatible with voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa. Thanks to this feature, you can dim the lights before starting a movie without leaving the couch. And unlike individual smart bulbs, you can shut down a whole room's worth of lights with a single command.
Smart dimmers also allow you to control your lights from an app, set schedules for your lights, and choose your favorite settings. Some will even let you gently wake up or fall asleep to slowly brightening or fading light, a useful feature that lets your eyes adjust. Best of all, smart dimmers (like many smart bulbs) can be controlled when you're away from home. If you forgot to turn off the lights before leaving, you could fix that through the app.
5. Like a smart light bulb, a smart dimmer helps set the right mood
If you purchase a color smart light bulb like one from C by GE, you'll be able to adjust your lighting's temperature between warm, amber, and cool, bluish tones. You'll also be able to pick from millions of colors, making smart light bulbs a better choice for you if color is something you want to play around with.
If, however, you're seeking to simply set the right mood for your dinner party with friends or a chill evening at home with a book and a glass of wine, a smart dimmer is all you need. You'll be able to adjust the brightness of your bulbs to your taste, and with some bulbs, you can even schedule a gentle fade as you drift off to sleep. Variable colors or warmth levels may not be something you need, if the bulbs you have already match your tastes.
6. Smart dimmers work with all types of inexpensive light bulbs
When working with a smart dimmer, you can choose from a wide range of bulbs as long as they're dimmable. To be sure, you should check the packaging before you purchase the bulbs, though most LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs today will be dimmable. This gives you a lot of flexibility when picking out bulbs for your smart home, ultimately saving you money. After all, even the best LED light bulbs cost much less than smart bulbs; and the bulbs you have installed now may be compatible.
Upgrade your home lighting with a smart dimmer
A smart dimmer is a great solution for many homes, especially for larger homes with tons of bulbs. They're handy when you have lighting that's hard to reach and perfect for anyone who doesn't particularly need or want color bulbs. By installing a few smart dimmers instead of replacing all of your existing bulbs, you're able to save some time and money.
Fortunately, smart dimmers also offer many of the same smart features that a smart light bulb would. They're compatible with voice assistants, can be controlled away from home, and even let you set schedules and timers. However, one caveat to keep in mind before buying a bunch of smart dimmers is that most of them require a neutral wire. Some homes built before the 1980s won't have one, in which case you'll need to buy a smart dimmer that doesn't require a neutral wire like the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch.
A smart dimmer for every home
The Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch will work in any home, old or new. You don't need to mess with any wires to connect this switch to your existing light bulbs, but you will get all the smart features.
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Olivia Lipski is a freelance writer for Android Central and loves testing out the latest smart home tech and discovering the best cell phone plans. When she's not busy running around NYC trying to find great food or coffee, she's in her kitchen trying to make it herself.
Agreed on smart switches. There are many that support 3- or 4- way configurations using "dumb" auxiliaries. Others have LED indicators, extra buttons as triggers, 2x switches in a single-gang box, or double-triple-tap as triggers. Plus if you use a mesh network (zwave, zigbee, eventually maybe thread), the switches act as relays, providing a better experience with your battery powered devices. Look at switches from HomeSeer, Innovelli and Zooz.