Smart Bulbs & Switches: What’s Better for a Connected Lighting System?

We’ve officially entered the era when a smart home is no longer a distant sci-fi fantasy, but a real-life actuality for many homeowners. From temperature to security, smart home products are giving homeowners the ability to customize home comfort with the touch of a button—or even voice control. Combining smart bulbs and/or smart switches with a home automation hub, homeowners can gain full control over ambiance with a connected lighting system.

There are dozens of smart lighting products on the market now that you can use to automate your home lighting system to greater or lesser degrees, based on your preferences. But which method is the best avenue for creating a whole house connected lighting system: smart bulbs or smart switches? Bonfe investigates.

Smart Bulbs vs. Smart Switches

First of all, what’s the difference between the two? A smart bulb goes right to the source of the light, embedding wireless communication capabilities right into the bulb itself. A smart switch, on the other hand, keeps the power over lighting where it’s always been: in the light switch.

You can create a connected lighting system using either smart bulbs or smart switches. But which method is better?

Smart Bulbs

Pros:

  • Quickest and easiest way to add a connecting lighting system into a smart home setup
  • Relatively simple installation, no rewiring required
  • Smart bulbs cost around $15/bulb, making them a fairly cheap smart home upgrade
  • Bulbs with built-in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radios don’t require a home automation hub
  • Easy to scale—just buy more bulbs!
  • Some fancier models have features like motion tracking and color changing

Cons:

  • Limited options—most smart bulbs are A-shape bulbs with standard-size E-shape screw-in bases, so if any of your fixtures require unique bulbs, you may be outta luck
  • If the fixture is linked to a dimmer switch, the bulb won’t cooperate
  • Not much variety yet in terms of brightness and color temperature
  • They may be “smart,” but they still won’t work if the light switch is turned off

Smart Switches

Pros:

  • Use any bulb you want, which is nice if you’re picky about light temperature or your fixtures require particular bulbs
  • Many smart switches include smart dimming capabilities that sync to your preferences
  • Smart switches offer more options for programming your connected lighting system
  • Unlike smart bulbs, the automated lighting capabilities will still work if the switch is turned off

Cons:

  • Installation process is more complicated, requiring you to tinker with your home wiring
  • More expensive than bulbs; switches start around $50 per switch
  • Labor intensive to scale up your whole system—each switch requires hands-on installation and rewiring

Connected Lighting System Verdict

Smart bulbs may be a better option if you’re interested in experimenting with automated lighting, while smart switches make more sense if you’re committed to building a truly connected lighting system throughout your whole house.

One thought on “Smart Bulbs & Switches: What’s Better for a Connected Lighting System?

  1. I didn’t even know that I could get smart bulbs and switches! After reading this, I think that getting smart bulbs would be the best option for me. I want to automate the lighting in my home, but I am just experimenting right now.

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