Smart switch

When building a Smart Home, you have to start somewhere. Well technically, it starts with a Smart Speaker and a voice assistant. After that, there are many ways to go. When I started my smart home, I went all in with Smart Lights. I retrofitted all my lights with smart lights and grouped them all together. With my voice, I turn them on and off and change the colour with a single sentence. Soon after I realized something—voice commands don’t work if the light switch is off. Basically, you can’t use voice and the light switches at the same time. 

If I could do it all again, I would start by retrofitting all my light switches to Smart Switches. They give busy families the best of both worlds. Some family members can turn the lights off at the switch, while others might use their voice. That flexibility is what makes smart switches special. Like smart bulbs, you can group smart switches and control them with voice or remotely on a smartphone. Sounds like a good investment to me. Let’s look at all the different ways to expand your home with smart switches. 

Using a smart switch in the bedroom

The first room to install a smart switch is the bedroom. That’s where you can form the habit of turning the lights off with your voice. To do this, you will need a smart speaker or smart display in the bedroom. With voice commands, turn the lights on or off in bed. I do this every night. Usually, I read some news on my smartphone before bed. Once I start to get tired, I put my phone on the wireless charger, tell Alexa to turn the bedroom lights off, and lay my head down on the pillow. Installing that smart switch was life-changing, I use it every night now. 

Parents might want to consider installing a smart switch in their kids’ bedrooms. It’s a great tool to instill regular sleep patterns. In an app, parents can set a schedule for when the bedroom light turns off during school days. It’s a great tool to reinforce a regular sleeping schedule with kids. Once the lights go out, they know it’s time for bed. 

Smart dimmer switch

Installing a smart dimmer switch in the living room

Most living rooms use a dimmer switch where the light intensity can be adjusted. Thankfully, there are new smart dimmer switches that you can replace them with. Turn the lights on and off with voice commands, and even the light brightness. Imagine getting ready to watch a movie with the family. Once everyone is in place, turn the lights down with a single voice command before the movie starts. With a smart dimmer switch, no one has to get up. Anyone, at any time, can control the lights with their voice. You just have to know what to say. 

Recently, I installed the Lutron Diva Smart Dimmer Starter kit in my living room. It looks exactly like the existing Lutron dimmer switch I already have except one big difference—it’s smart. At any time, I can adjust the brightness level or turn the lights off. Or I could adjust the lights at the switch. A simple retrofit install forever changed the way I interact with my living room lights.

Grouping smart switches in a home

As I mentioned, if you’re going to install one smart switch, put it in your bedroom. Things get interesting if you decide to retrofit all your home switches to smart switches. You’ll be able to create groups like bedroom lights, outdoor lights, indoor lights, and all lights. These groups will be recognized by smart speakers. For example, once you get in bed and say, “Alexa, turn all the house lights off”. If you create a house group, they will all turn off. 

With groups, users can set daily schedules when the lights go on and off.  Set it so they all go off when the parents go to work, and the kids go to school. Schedules are also great when you travel. Set the lights to turn on so it looks like someone is home. It’s a quick and easy way to thwart would-be intruders.  

Smart switch

Are smart switches hard to install?

In most cases, users want to retrofit their old switch to a smart switch. Thus, there is some wiring required. First, you need to be comfortable working with electrical work. You will need to turn the breaker panel off before doing the install. This ensures you’re not working with live wires. Use an electric multi-meter or live wire tester to ensure the power is off at the light switch before removing the old one. If this information is news to you, my advice is to hire an electrician.  

If you are comfortable with electrical work, it’s an easy DIY install. Just make a note of the wiring on the old switch. My Handy Andy tip is to take a picture of the old switch wiring before you remove the wiring. If you forget, you can always look at the picture before installing the new smart switch. Once that is done, turn the breaker on to verify the connection. From there, add the switch in the app to connect it to your home network.

Smart switch

Smart switches are a great investment

We spend so much time at home, that it makes sense to invest in it. Smart switches are a great investment for several reasons. First, they are affordable. You can buy them in bundles or individually without breaking the bank. It’s possible to retrofit all your switches at once or over time. Second, you’ll use them every day. Think of all the times you turn the lights on and off in a day. Now you can do it via voice or set a schedule and not do anything at all. Third, smart switches are versatile. No one is saying you can’t turn the lights on and off at the switch. With smart switches, you can just do more. Schedules, remote functionality, and voice control provide different ways to interact with your home lights. 

If you’re new to the world of smart homes, read this buying guide. It will tell you everything you need to know about expanding your home with Smart Switches

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.


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