In the journey towards total home smartness, the search for the best smart switches can be a challenging (or even overlooked) endeavor… but it shouldn’t be. While they might not be the sexiest of smart home devices, smart switches can add a lot of personalization and convenience to your life, which is sort of the whole point of smart home tech. 

Smart switches bring big bonuses to the mix, both when you’re home and away, such as: the ability to control your home’s lights from anywhere, the ability to set schedules and “scenes” (more on that below), and improvements in home safety. 

We rounded up five reliable picks, each excelling in its respective category. Read on to discover the best smart switches that will take your lights far beyond boring old on and off. 

Best Overall: Caséta by Lutron Smart Dimmer Switch with Pico Remote
Best With a Motion Sensor: Kasa Smart WiFi Dimmer Switch, Motion Activated
Most High-Tech: Brilliant All-in-One Smart Home Control
Best for Alexa and Google Assistant: Leviton Decora Smart Voice Dimmer with Amazon Alexa Built-In
Best Budget: Kasa Smart WiFi Light Switch

How We Picked the Best Smart Switches

When building this list we compared lots of different smart switches from multiple manufacturers. Along the way we looked for a few specific criteria.

Compatibility: One of the most important considerations when upgrading your home to a smart home is compatibility. If you have smart light switches that won’t talk with your smart home hub of choice, that’s, well … dumb. To qualify, our picks had to pair up with at least two of the three major voice assistants used in home hubs (Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant). 

Top features: We eliminated any picks that didn’t offer all of the big three smart switch features: scheduling, scenes (lighting schemes), and away settings. Since converting your home to a smart home is all about preference, we prioritized options that set themselves apart in a distinct way, whether it's all-in-one home control, motion detection, or simplicity paired with affordability. 

Reliability: The final and most critical factor we looked at is reliability.We only considered smart switches that showed themselves free of performance and reliability issues. 

Best Overall: Caséta by Lutron Smart Dimmer Switch with Pico Remote

Switch It All. Lutron

Why It Made The Cut: Using their own radio frequency technology to communicate, Lutron’s Caséta switches offer reliable responsiveness and pair up with an impressive array of other smart home brands, plus the app offers a full range of programmable options. 

Specs:
— Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Ring, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Logitech Harmony, Sonos, and more
— Dimmable: Yes
— Requirements: Caséta Smart Bridge, router, smartphone, no neutral wire required 

Pros:
— Works with an impressive number of smart home brands
— Included remote offers easy manual control
— Neutral wire not required
— Dependable connectivity and operation 

Cons:
— Expensive
— Requires the Caséta Smart Bridge for app & voice control

The biggest potential disappointment with any smart home tech is non-responsiveness; things start to feel pretty un-smart when you’re jabbing at your phone as it fails to get a light switch to work. When it comes to reliability, Caséta by Lutron continues to satisfy, offering reliable Smart Dimmer Switches to those who are willing to pony up a little more cash. 

Caséta smart switches offer the full suite of expected programmability, with schedules, programmable scenes, and away functions (in other words, all of the features that set a smart switch apart from a dumb one). Caséta pairs up with your preferred voice assistant, be it Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri and also works with IFTTT recipes, Ring doorbells, ecobee thermostats, and more.  

Unlike many smart switches, Caséta is the only smart switch on our list that doesn't require a neutral wire for installation. This means that it’s easy to install in older homes, which might not already have neutral wires in their switch boxes. The switches can also function as single and three-way switches, meaning they can control lights hooked up to one switch or two, such as a hall light that has a switch at both ends of the hallway. The inclusion of the Pico remote is nice, as it essentially functions as one more manual switch, which you can mount on a wall using the included hardware.   

The caveat here is definitely price. Each switch will run you around $70 (which is in the mid-to-high range), and you’ll also need to purchase Caséta’s Smart Bridge, currently priced around $80. The Bridge plugs into your router, and connects your switches to other smart devices, like home hubs, and it’s required to use the app. Without the Bridge, Caséta smart switches are basically just nice-looking standard switches. Once installed, you can link up to 75 Caséta devices to the Bridge, so you’re likely covered for a whole-home smart switch setup.

Best With a Motion Sensor: Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch, Motion Activated

Skip The Hub. Kasa Smart

Why It Made The Cut: The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch, Motion Activated is feature-rich, has a built-in light/motion sensor, and can be controlled using the app without the need for a separate hub. 

Specs:
— Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Brilliant
— Dimmable: Yes
— Requirements: WiFi, neutral wire, smartphone

Pros:
— Affordable
— No hub required for app control
— Motion and ambient light sensor offers more advanced control

Cons:
— Requires neutral wire
— Won’t work with 3-way switches
— Doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit

TP-Link has been making routers and other networking hardware since the ‘90s, and launched Kasa in 2015 as their smart home brand, covering switches, plugs, bulbs, and cameras. Kasa’s range of smart switches is fairly wide, with a bargain basement, smart switch-only option for $20 (covered below). But their newest offering, the Kasa Smart WiFi Dimmer Switch, Motion Activated, might be their most exciting when it comes to smart functionality. 

Thanks to its wide-angle, long-distance lens, the switch can pick up ambient light and motion, offering even smarter control. In addition to the standard smart switch functions like programmed schedules, lighting schemes, and away functions, you can also set the switch to come on automatically when you walk into the room — and switch off when you’ve been gone for a while. Since the switch can detect ambient light, you can also set it so that it won’t turn lights on in broad daylight when you don’t need the light.  

Unlike other switches, the Kasa smart motion sensor light switch will work with the app straight out of the box (after installation, obviously) since it uses internal technology to connect to your home WiFi. If you want voice control options, you’ll need to connect your Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled home hub. Unfortunately, this switch won’t work with Apple HomeKit. You’ll also want to ensure your home has neutral wires at the light switch boxes, as they are required for installation.

Most High-Tech: Brilliant All-in-One Smart Home Control

Powerful Functions. Brilliant

Why It Made The Cut: Brilliant’s All-in-One Smart Home Control goes beyond a simple switch upgrade, transforming nearly any light switch into a smart home command center.

Specs:
— Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit. Samsung SmartThings, Sonos, Ring, Philips Hue, and more
— Dimmable: Yes
— Requirements: WiFi, neutral wire 

Pros:
— Controls multiple smart home devices from the display
— Video and audio intercom abilities
— Can replace your smart home hub
— Works with a huge range of smart home devices

Cons:
— Expensive
— Requires neutral wire 

With most WiFi smart light switches, you need a smartphone to access most functions, but not with Brilliant’s All-in-One. Instead of a simple toggle, or even a multi-button switch, this device converts a simple light switch into a control center, allowing you to do far more than just adjust the lights. You can also talk to Alexa (or Siri or Google Assistant), unlock doors, intercom with other All-in-One controls, or play a playlist.  

Brilliant is a sleek, wall-installed home hub that happens (rather cleverly) to fit into a light-switch box. Once you’ve installed at least one All-in-One panel, you can opt for the simpler Brilliant Smart Dimmer Switch for your other switches. You’ll need the app for full control over those switches, and at $70 each, they’re not exactly cheap, but you can also pair up the All-in-One with cheaper smart switches (like the budget Kasa pick below). 

In addition to smart home hub duties, the All-in-One also covers its core lighting duties admirably, offering schedules, lighting scenes / schemes, dimmability, motion sensing, and app control. It’ll also work as a single or three-way switch. 

Possibly the best thing about the in-switch display is that the interface is intuitive. The babysitter, your friends, your parents, or anyone else who comes over can tweak the  controls without a connected smartphone. While the $400 price tag is a real limiting factor, it’s worth considering that if you haven’t yet sprung for a home hub, this switch certainly lessens the price’s blow.

Best for Alexa and Google Assistant: Leviton Decora Smart Voice Dimmer with Amazon Alexa Built-In

Switch On Voice Controls. Leviton

Why It Made The Cut: Leviton’s Decora Smart Voice Dimmer with Amazon Alexa Built-In is perfect for those who want Alexa’s help without the need for a separate hub. 

Specs:
— Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, and Schlage
— Dimmable: Yes
— Requirements: WiFi, neutral wire, smartphone

Pros:
— Built-in Alexa voice control
— Control Alexa in locations where your Echo speaker can’t hear you 

Cons:
— Requires neutral wire
— Clunky aesthetics 

Leviton has been in the light switch business for more than a hundred years. While they make far more than switches these days, their Leviton Decora Smart Voice Dimmer with Amazon Alexa Built-In is a good example of how well the company has transitioned into the smart era. Like the name makes clear, this is a switch in which Alexa’s abilities come standard – however, it also works great for Google Assistant. It could easily serve as your only Alexa or Assistant device, but we see it more likely acting as a secondary Alexa unit in a room where your main hubs can’t hear you. 

The Voice Dimmer Switch gives you everything you want in a smart switch, like scheduling, lighting schemes, and even programmable fade rates for slower-dimming (like when you’re exiting a room). But thanks to Alexa’s presence, you can also ask for jokes, the weather, music, and all the other things Alexa does for you. Keep in mind, the small speaker isn’t going to give you room-filling sound, but it’s enough to throw a little Olivia Rodrigo your way as you brush your teeth.

You’ll need WiFi for the switch to function, and a neutral wire is required, so older houses that haven’t been updated are out. The Leviton App is straightforward and unflashy, getting the job done as advertised; also the switch itself isn’t the most attractive, with a rather industrial look. Finally, there’s no HomeKit compatibility here, but that’s to be expected from an Alexa-focused device.

Best Budget: Kasa Smart WiFi Light Switch

Cheap Switchin’. Kasa Smart

Why It Made The Cut: At a very affordable price, with compatibility that plays nice with two of the three voice assistants, Kasa’s Smart WiFi Light Switch is the best way to put smart switches in every room of your home. 

Specs:
— Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Brilliant
— Dimmable: No
— Requirements: WiFi, neutral wire, smartphone

Pros:
— Great price point for a smart switch
— Sleek design

Cons:
— Won’t work with 3-way switches
— Doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit
— Requires a neutral wire 

TP-Link wins again with another Kasa product. If you’re planning on outfitting as many rooms as possible with a smart switch, your wallet will get tired pretty quick. That’s why at its affordable price point, the Kasa Smart WiFi Light Switch is such a good deal, especially considering it doesn’t sacrifice function and reliability for the price. 

Offering simple on and off (as opposed to dimming), the switch connects to your WiFi and uses the Kasa Smart app for scheduling, setting scenes, and away controls. The switches will pair up with hubs running both Alexa and Google Assistant. If you opt for Brilliant’s in-wall home controls (discussed above), your Kasas will still play well with all your other switches under the same control.  

Installed in the wall, the switch looks sleek, and has a simple paddle control with a find-it-in-the-dark LED nightlight and recessed reset buttons that you aren’t likely to accidentally trigger. As the simplest switch Kasa offers, this switch doesn’t offer three-way functionality, but Kasa does offer a three-way version for just a few dollars more.  

Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart Switch

Installation 

Smart switches are a bit different than, say, a smart plug or a smart bulb, in that installation is required. All of our picks come with step-by-step instructions (some include videos) so that you can do the installation yourself, but if you carry a healthy wariness of electrical DIY projects, it’s probably better to hire a professional. To get a feel for smart lighting without installation, go for a smart bulb. We picked the best smart bulbs here.

One important factor to keep in mind is the neutral wire. Some smart plugs require your switch boxes to have a neutral wire and some don’t. If your home was built after the 1980s, you probably have neutral wires in your switches. If it's an older home, it may not. Rather than pay to rewire your home, you can pick a switch that doesn't need a neutral wire. Our top pick from Lutron doesn’t require a neutral wire, while most of the others do. 

Customization

A good smart switch will offer three important customizations: away functions, schedules, and lighting schemes—usually called “scenes.” Away functions simply randomize turning on and off your lights, so that it looks like you’re home when you’re not. Scheduling is just what it sounds like: a function that enables you to preset when your lights go on and off, aligned with your work, sleep, or other daily routines. Scene functions allow you to customize which sets of lights remain on, and at what brightness, according to an activity parameter. You might set a scene to turn on all the bright lights in the dining room for homework, or dim the lights in the living room for a movie night. You could even set a “party scene” and pair up these LED strip lights with your smart switch.

Safety

Smart switches can help keep you safe. In nearly all cases, customization is done through the smart switch’s app or through a compatible home hub. Controlling the lights can be done manually, through the app, or using a connected voice assistant. Because you can control your lights remotely, you’ll never walk into a dark house or stumble across a dark room looking for the switch. When you’re away, the randomization feature can keep your home safer from intruders and really increases security, especially if you decide to layer in some security cameras

Compatibility

As more companies get in on the smart home bandwagon, compatibility becomes increasingly important. If you already have a smart home hub (such as Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest Hub, or Apple's HomePod) it’s critical to make sure that your smart light-switches will work with them. Some smart switches can also control other devices, so if you’ve got smart home devices (locks, cameras, etc) that you want to integrate, it’s a good idea to check that they're compatible with your new smart switch. We listed compatibility for each smart switch we picked. 

FAQs

Q: How much do smart switches cost?

Smart switches cost anywhere from around $20 to about $400, depending on the features you want. The simplest smart switch connects to your WiFi and offers control via an app or a home hub, in addition to manual controls. More elaborate smart switches can act as a home hub, controlling many other smart home devices. 

Q: Is it better to have smart bulbs or smart switches?

It’s better to have smart switches, because that way neither you nor your family can accidentally disable your light controls, by flipping off the light switch. Without power, smart bulbs can’t function, but smart switches are always connected. Also, if you have a lamp or light fixture with multiple bulbs, smart switches also make more sense because you only need one switch instead of multiple smart bulbs. 

Q: Do smart switches work without WiFi?

Smart switches don’t usually work without WiFi. Our top pick for smart light switches, from Caséta by Lutron, will work if your WiFi is down because it communicates through radio frequency from its Smart Bridge. Our high-tech pick, from Brilliant, can control lights without WiFi, but WiFi is required for setup and communication with most other smart home devices. 

Q: Do smart switches work with LED lights?

Smart switches will work with LED lights. Keep in mind that if you have a dimmable switch, you need to use dimmable LED lights. Most smart switches will also work with most CFL, incandescent, and halogen bulbs. 

Q: How many three-way smart switches do I need?

You need the same number of three-way smart switches as the number of three-way regular switches you have in your home that you want to convert to smart switches. Three-way switches are switches that control a single light, or set of lights from two different locations, such as at either end of a hallway, or at the top and bottom of a staircase. Not all smart switches are three-way compatible, however, our top pick from Caséta by Lutron is three-way compatible.  

Final Thoughts on Smart Switches

In the end, we picked Caséta by Lutron’s Caséta by Lutron Smart Dimmer Switch with Pico Remote as our overall favorite smart switch. Yes, it’s more expensive and yes, the Smart Bridge is basically required for use, but those factors may not matter to those who want the rock-solid reliability of Lutron’s own RF wireless technology. The fact that it has a wider compatibility than most smart switches also puts it at the head of the class. 

The Brilliant All-in-One technically pairs with more smart home devices than the Caséta, but the fact that it's a full home control-hub as well as a light-switch means it might be overkill for some. Kasa’s options should not be discounted, two of them made our list, and their budget pick should probably find its way into any household looking to install a large number of smart switches. 

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


Share This Article