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As the technological world advances at breakneck speed, you’re no doubt left wondering whether modern smart bulbs are compatible with regular light switches inside your home.
Smarts bulbs do work with traditional light switches. In order for a smart bulb to be controlled remotely using apps on a smartphone, there must be a constant power supply to the light fixture at all times. Because smart bulbs are controlled remotely by WiFi, they essentially make your regular light switches redundant.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about compatibility, as well as the pros and cons of pairing smart bulbs with smarts switches.
How do smart bulbs work with regular switches?
Smart bulbs screw into your light fixtures exactly the same way as regular bulbs do. It’s extremely simple to set up smart bulbs in your home, and you don’t need to do any additional wiring.
All you need to do is plug a box into your internet router so that your bulbs and other devices are all connected. Once connected, you are able to control them all from the app on your phone even when you are not at home.
Using the app, you can set the times you want them to switch on and off or adjust other settings such as brightness or color.
Smart bulbs need a constant power supply
Smart bulbs need to have power at all times, which means you must always leave the switch in the “on” position when used with normal light switches.
They need constant power so that even if you turn them off with the app, the power is there so that they can be turned on again later.
While it won’t harm your smart bulbs to turn them off occasionally via the light switch, it will mean that they won’t be able to be turned on using an app. Any automatic routines that you have set, such as turning on at specific times, will also not work if the light fixture switch is off.
By the way, smart bulbs shouldn’t be confused with smart plugs. Unlike smart plugs, smart bulbs can only be used with light fittings.
Do smart bulbs use electricity when they’re off?
Due to their design and their need for fixtures to be “on” at all times, smart LED bulbs do use slightly more electricity than standard LED light bulbs. However, it is not a significant amount and is still far less than the energy consumption of traditional light bulbs.
The situation is very similar to when you leave your TV on standby so that you can switch it on via your remote. The mains power is there ready for you to switch it on whenever you need it.
It would take around three months for a single smart bulb to use 1kWh of electricity, which works out to around four cents per bulb per month.
Should you pair a smart switch with your smart bulbs?
Smart switches can be a handy thing to pair with smart bulbs. Several modern ones allow you to turn them on and off while still providing power to the smart bulb, allowing it to also operate as usual via your app.
More and more smart switches have this feature as standard, which allows you to disable the power relay that would normally prevent power from traveling to the bulb when the switch is in the “off” position.
Beware of smart switches using old technology
Unfortunately, most smart switches still don’t have this useful feature. This means that when you turn them off, it prevents the power from traveling to your smart bulb, resulting in the smart bulb not working with your app or any other devices until the switch is turned back on.
Although it might seem like a good idea, pairing a smart switch with a smart bulb is actually not the best idea for most people, and there are a few reasons why this is.
Smart bulbs should not be continually powered on and off
First of all, smart bulbs are not designed to be constantly switched on and off via a switch. It’s the bulbs themselves that are supposed to decide how much power they need, and using a switch with them can significantly reduce the lifespan of your smart bulb.
Turning smart bulbs off using a switch now and again is not going to do them any harm, but if you plan to constantly use a switch in that area, then your smart bulb should be moved to a more suitable place where you don’t need to cut of the power supply.
Dimmers on smart switches can damage your smart bulbs
Another reason that smart switches are a bad idea when paired with smart bulbs is the dimming capabilities of the switch. This is because smart switches dim light bulbs by reducing the voltage that is travelling to the light fixture.
If the amount of energy that they are receiving is constantly being reduced, they will not be getting the amount of power that they need to work properly.
This can actually seriously damage your smart bulbs because they won’t be receiving the constant power necessary to function properly.
Smart switches are intended for multiple-bulb setups
A smart switch is only really designed to be used with standard light bulbs for rooms where there are several bulbs that need to be switched on or off all at once.
Which are the best smart switches to pair with smart bulbs?
If you want to use a smart switch with your smart bulbs, then you will need one that is able to allow a constant flow of power to the bulbs. In order for the pairing to be practical, there are a few simple requirements that your smart switch needs to meet to be effective.
It should be easy to use, responsive, and easy to install. None of the smart switches on my list need any additional wiring doing, you just plug in and go. Here are the ones I like:
The Philips Hue dimmer switch is a good choice as it can be mounted anywhere you want. It’s low-cost and has up to five different cycles that you can use.
The switch is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The only limitation it has is that it must be used with Philips Hue lights.
Check out the current price and excellent reviews of the Philips Hue smart switch over on Amazon now.
The Luton Aurora dimmer switch is also for use with Philips Hue lights and is a great choice if you are looking for something that is simplistic and easy to use.
It meets all of the initial requirements mentioned, can be installed in less than two minutes with no wiring, and has basic on/off and dim features that are super simple to use. It can even be used should the power to your WiFi go down.
Check out the current price of the Luton Aurora smart switch, as well as its glowing reviews on Amazon.
If you are looking for a smart switch that has more features, then the Inovelli Red series of smart switches is an excellent choice.
They have all of the RGBW controls, plus options for scene or group selection. Also, despite being Z-Wave switches, you can use them with any smart bulb so long as you use a compatible hub.