What is a smart dimmer light switch and why do you need one?

WeMo Smart Dimmer Switch
WeMo Smart Dimmer Switch (Image credit: Belkin)

Best answer: A smart dimmer light switch is a replacement for a traditional built-in light switch on your wall that works by sending wireless signals through your home Wi-Fi or mesh network. These switches control your lighting, ceiling fans, or anything connected to that switch and even adjust your lights' brightness.

What is a smart dimmer light switch?

When creating a smart home, one of the first ways to get started is by transforming your home's lighting. You can do so in several ways by setting up smart plugs, installing smart light switches, or replacing existing bulbs with smart light bulbs. While all of these options have pros and cons, a smart dimmer light switch is one of the more permanent ways to get your smart lighting up and running.

A smart dimmer light switch acts much like an ordinary light switch, except it operates wirelessly through a low-energy mesh network such as Zigbee and Z-Wave or directly through your home Wi-Fi network. Thanks to this, you're able to control your light switches through an app on your smartphone, via voice control with Alexa or Google Assistant, or manually on the switch itself.

Why do you need a smart dimmer light switch?

Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer Light Switch

Source: Caseta Wireless (Image credit: Source: Caseta Wireless)

A smart dimmer light switch comes with a lot of the same features as some of the best smart light bulbs, but they'll transform the bulbs you already own into smart ones without the extra cost. With the help of a smart dimmer light switch, you're able to dim your lights when you want to watch a movie or when dinner's ready, as well as make them brighter when it's time to work. You can even schedule your lights to turn on or off at a certain time and set specific lighting scenes and control your lights when you're away from home.

Most smart dimmer light switches work flawlessly with Google Assistant and Alexa, so when you really don't want to get up off the couch, you can ask your voice assistant to change the lighting. You can also use an app on your smartphone, or if you can't seem to find your phone, you can use the switch manually like you always used to.

Keep in mind that not all smart switches have dimming capabilities. Smart dimmer light switches will typically cost you a bit extra, but if controlling brightness is important to you, then it's definitely worth the extra investment.

Things to keep in mind before buying a smart dimmer light switch

Nokia Smart Dimmer

Source: Nokia (Image credit: Source: Nokia)

A smart dimmer light switch is a great solution for your home if you already have a lot of lights but don't want to go through the hassle of replacing every bulb with a smart light bulb. Brands such as Philips Hue are excellent, but they'll cost you. In the end, it can actually be more cost-effective to install a few smart dimmer light switches instead, though the installation process is initially a little bit trickier.

When installing a smart dimmer light switch, you need to make sure that it's compatible with the bulbs you already own and that the bulbs themselves are dimmable. Also, you'll need to connect your smart dimmer light switch to a neutral wire most of the time, which you might not have if you own a home built before the 1980s. There are, of course, exceptions, and you'll still be able to find certain smart light switches that don't require a neutral wire.

Though the process of installing smart light switches may be a bit more complicated than simply screwing on a new smart light bulb, these switches do allow you to control multiple lights at once (for instance, if multiple bulbs are controlled by one light fixture). They're also convenient when guests come over and may not know how to operate your lights since these switches work manually.

Olivia Lipski

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.