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Smart Bulbs vs Smart Switches: Key Differences and Optimal Choices

When it comes to smart home lighting, you might be wondering which route to take: smart bulbs or smart switches.

With both options offering unique benefits to your home’s lighting setup, the decision may not be an easy one.

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To help with your decision, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each type of smart lighting, helping you make an informed choice based on your needs and preferences.

Smart Bulbs and Smart Switches Basics

Smart bulbs and smart switches are two essential components of smart home lighting.

By integrating these smart home devices into your daily routine, you’ll enjoy an enhanced level of control, convenience, and customization in your living space.

Let’s get into the differences between the two.

Smart Bulbs

Smart bulbs are basically light bulbs that can connect to your smartphone, tablet, or smart home hub.

You can control their brightness, color, and power with just a few taps or even with your voice.

These bulbs are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and versatile – with a wide range of prices from around $20 and up.

Some popular brands include Philips Hue, LIFX, and GE Lighting.

Smart Switches

Smart switches are just what they sound like.

They replace your traditional wall switches, allowing you to control your existing non-smart light bulbs and fixtures remotely, either through an app or a voice assistant.

Prices for switches typically start around $40, but, unlike smart bulbs, smart switches can control multiple lights on the same switch.

Some well-known brands include Leviton, Lutron, and Ecobee.

Smart Bulbs and Smart Switches?

Now you may be wondering if you have to choose between the two – smart bulbs or smart switches – and the answer is no.

You can use both smart bulbs and smart switches in your smart home, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

Smart switches are perfect for making your entire lighting setup controllable, while smart bulbs shine (pun intended) when it comes to customizing colors and ambiances.

Key Features Comparison

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With smart bulbs, you can control their brightness, color, and schedules through an app or voice commands via assistants, like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, and set up scenes for specific moods, events, or use cases.

Smart bulbs are an excellent way to customize your lighting experience.

Smart switches allow you to control your existing lights using a panel or your phone.

They don’t offer as many features as smart bulbs, but can be convenient if you just want simple smart control.

You can set schedules, trigger automations, and control your lights remotely.


When it comes to compatibility, there’s a wide range of options for both smart bulbs and switches.

Popular platforms, like SmartThings, Apple’s HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa, are supported by many smart bulbs and switches.

But you may need a separate hub. Philips Hue bulbs, for instance, require a Hue Bridge to connect to these ecosystems, while Lutron Aurora switches have native compatibility.

With the upcoming Matter standard, compatibility should become more seamless across different devices and brands.

While this won’t help you at this precise moment, it’s something to keep in mind while planning your smart home lighting setup.

Installation Process

Smart bulbs are easy to install – just screw them in like regular bulbs and connect them to your app.

No extra work needed.

Smart switches require a bit more effort.

You’ll need to replace your existing light switches with the smart versions.

This involves electrical work, like dealing with wiring and a neutral wire. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you’ll probably need to hire an electrician.

Connectivity and Control

Most smart bulbs and switches offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

This means you can control them using an app on your phone, or through smart home integrations, such as Google Home.

Connectivity is essential for smooth operation, and it’s important that they’re compatible with your home network.

Both smart bulbs and switches can be controlled using voice assistants, like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

Voice control is a convenient way to manage multiple devices in your smart home setup.

Advancing Smart Home

Smart bulbs and switches play a crucial role in advancing your smart home ecosystem.

They easily integrate with other smart home devices like smart locks, security cameras, video doorbells, and media controls for movies and music.

With the right combination of smart devices, you can create the perfect intelligent home environment that caters to your needs.

Popular Brands and Models

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Philips Hue

When it comes to smart bulbs, Philips Hue is a leading contender.

You’ll find a wide range of options that work with various hubs, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit.

These bulbs are available in different shapes, sizes, and color options.

With Philips Hue bulbs, you can dim, change colors, and create schedules using their app or voice assistants, giving you full control over your lighting.


Lutron is a big player in the smart switch market, known for their reliable and high-quality switches.

They offer products like the Lutron Caséta Wireless system, which replaces your standard switches and works with dimmable LEDs, halogen, and incandescent bulbs.

Lutron switches also support major voice assistants and can be controlled through their app for easy automation.

Belkin WeMo Light Switch

The Belkin WeMo Light Switch is another popular smart switch option.

This system allows you to replace your existing light switch and control your lights from anywhere using the WeMo app.

It’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices and supports voice assistants, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri.

It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a simple, user-friendly smart switch solution.


Previously known as C by GE, Cync offers a variety of smart bulbs that deliver features like scheduling, voice control, dimming, and scene customization.

These bulbs connect through the CYNC smart home app and come in two easy connection options.

Like other smart bulbs, Cync bulbs are compatible with popular voice assistants, making them a versatile option for your smart lighting needs.


Lifx smart bulbs are another solid choice for customizable lighting.

With a simple setup that doesn’t require a hub, these bulbs connect directly to your Wi-Fi network.

The Lifx app lets you control color, brightness, and schedules.

They’re compatible with the most common voice assistants, so you can control your lighting with just your voice.


Wyze may be known for their affordable smart home security products, but they’ve entered the smart lighting game with the Wyze Bulb.

This budget-friendly option offers features like scheduling, dimming, and voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

While they might not have as many options as more established brands, like Philips Hue or Lifx, Wyze bulbs are worth considering for those looking for affordable smart lighting solutions.

Cost Analysis

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When it comes to the price of smart bulbs and smart switches, you can be talking a major difference in initial price outlay, depending on your current setup.

When going smart with your lighting, smart bulbs are generally cheaper upfront.

You can find some for as low as $15, and they go up to $50 or $60 for higher-end models that change colors on demand.

That said, if you have multiple lights to control, replacing each of them with a smart bulb can get pricey in the long run.

Smart switches often cost more initially, but keep in mind they control multiple lights on a single circuit.

This makes them a more cost-effective option for some scenarios.

That said, if you don’t have the right wiring for a smart switch, you’re getting into electrical work, which can increase the price exponentially.

Here’s a quick summary to help you weigh your options:

  • Smart Bulbs:

    • Cheaper upfront
    • Can get expensive if you have many lights to control
    • Greater variety in features, like color-changing options
  • Smart Switches:

    • More expensive initially
    • Can save you money by controlling multiple lights on a single circuit
    • Fewer options for customization but still provide smart control
    • May need rewiring

When taking your budget into account, it’s critical to think about how many lights you’ll need to control, what features you’re looking for, and whether you value the customization options of smart bulbs over the broader control provided by smart switches.

Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your needs and doesn’t break the bank.

Pros and Cons

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Smart Bulbs and Smart Switches offer different sets of benefits for your home lighting system.

Let’s check out some of their advantages:

Smart Bulbs:

  • You can customize color and brightness for different moods or activities.
  • They are easy to install as they simply replace your existing bulbs.
  • Integration with voice assistants, like Alexa or Siri, is a common feature.
  • Many smart bulbs offer energy-saving features.

Smart Switches:

  • They are compatible with any type of bulb, including LEDs, CFLs, and incandescents.
  • There’s no need to replace the bulbs if you upgrade your lighting because the switch controls the fixture.
  • Physical switches help you maintain a familiar way of controlling your lights, useful for guests or family members who aren’t familiar with smart home systems.
  • Once installed, less maintenance is usually required as they don’t need frequent changes compared to bulbs.


While there are clear benefits of using smart bulbs and smart switches, you might face some challenges as well:

Smart Bulbs:

  • The initial cost can be higher as you need to buy multiple bulbs for different rooms.
  • If you move out, transporting and reinstalling smart bulbs in your new place can be a hassle.

Smart Switches:

  • Installing them often requires modifying electrical wiring within the walls, which can be an issue if you don’t own the property.
  • The switch installation process can be intimidating for non-experts and may require professional help.

Maintenance and Packaging

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When it comes to maintenance for smart lighting, smart switches have the edge.

Once installed, they tend to be lower maintenance compared to smart bulbs.

Just like regular switches, they don’t need frequent replacements or upgrades.

Now, onto packaging. With smart bulbs and switches, you can find both hub and no-hub options.

That means, depending on your preference, you can go for a centralized hub controlling all your devices or seek out a more independent setup.

Here’s a quick comparison for your convenience:

FeatureSmart BulbsSmart Switches
BrightnessOften adjustableUsually adjustable
Color ControlMany have color optionsMostly no
MaintenanceMore frequentLess frequent
Price RangeComparableComparable
Hub and No-HubAvailableAvailable

Putting it all together, smart bulbs and switches share plenty of similarities.

You can control them the same way, adjust brightness, and they come in similar price ranges.

Whatever route you go, just make sure your lighting suits your needs, and you’ll be glowing golden.

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