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  • Smart Bulbs vs. Smart Switches: What’s the Difference? 

Smart Bulbs vs. Smart Switches: What’s the Difference? 

smart bulbs vs. smart switches

Are you a homeowner considering smart lights and comparing smart bulbs vs. smart switches? Choosing between a smart switch vs. smart bulb depends on your house’s requirements and preferences.  

From lighting control to custom colors, here are the differences between smart light bulbs vs. smart switches – and why whole-home wired lighting automation is the best solution.  

Smart Bulbs vs. Smart Switches: Which is Best for Your Home? 

So, you’re deciding between smart bulbs vs. smart switches for your home. Before buying, here’s a quick comparison guide to make a better decision.  

What are smart bulbs?  

Smart bulbs are a type of consumer-grade smart light. They’re typically LED bulbs that integrate with virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home. These smart bulbs usually have modern features like more energy efficiency, human-centric colors, pre-set brightness schedules, and built-in dimming.  

Many smart bulb options are available on the market because of their simple installation. It only requires screwing the bulb into an existing light socket and then powering it. The control setup is simple, too. Smart bulbs also come with their own mobile application for ongoing management.  

Even though many smart bulbs have built-in dimmers, not all are created equal. It’s important to note that some bulbs are brighter than others, which impacts dimming settings. 

What are smart switches? 

Smart switches are like standard home switches, except they manage regular lighting and smart bulbs more efficiently. Some features may include voice commands or mobile app lighting control and motion sensors.  

For installation, smart switches usually require a neutral wire integration by an electrician. However, control is simple because it can power on/off as you would with standard light switches. So if you’re considering smart bulbs vs. smart switches and want a DIY option, smart switches are not the right option.

Smart BulbsSmart Switches
Higher upfront costs for multiple bulbs throughout the home Lower upfront costs  
due to less switches required 
Dimming, colors, brightness, lighting control,  
pre-set schedules 
Lower upfront costs  
due to fewer switches required 
Simple DIY mounting installation Professional hardwired installation 
Controlled via smart device  
or single smart switch 
Only controls the bulbs it’s hardwired to,  
not total whole-home control, per-room basis 

Many people choose smart switches over smart bulbs for a more cost-effective solution to lighting control. Instead of investing in many smart bulbs, buying one smart switch for regular lighting provides a similar result to smart bulbs because of its basic automated features.  

However, smart switches only control the bulbs they’re hardwired to – so you can’t use one smart switch for whole-home control, only a per-room basis.  

People also buy both smart switches and bulbs so they have more lighting control in their homes. As long as they’re compatible, controlling smart bulbs with a smart switch can add more beneficial automated features.  

Smart Bulbs vs. Smart Switches: Why Whole-Home Lighting Automation is the Best Option 

Now that you know the differences between smart light bulbs vs. smart switches, which one is the better option? At AIS, we always recommend whole-home lighting automation with wired integration instead.  

It provides a stronger and more secure connection to access your lights, even when the Wi-Fi goes down. Smart bulbs and switches rely on wireless integration, which can be disrupted if the Wi-Fi is out.  

Wired smart lighting systems also use low-voltage lighting than the standard 120 volts used in most homes to offer more energy efficiency. Using incompatible smart bulbs and switches may impact your voltage use and cause bulb damage.  

Wired lighting automation controls all lights through a single platform, like ELAN, via an in-home touch panel or mobile app for compatibility and easier management.  

Whole-Home Lighting Automation Smart Bulbs & Smart Switches 
Wired integration to access lights  
when Wi-Fi is out 
Risk of losing lighting power when Wi-Fi is out due to wireless integration  
Higher upfront costs and professional installation required by custom system integrators Lower upfront costs, bulbs are DIY,
switches require electrician installation 
Single lighting management system for control Multiple applications and platforms
for control 
High-quality lighting and longer lifespans Most are consumer-grade quality  
with shorter lifespans 
Easy system scalability and compatibility Not all bulbs and switches are compatible 
Low-voltage lighting Incompatible bulbs and switches may impact voltage and cause bulb damage 

Consumer-grade smart bulbs and switches are of lower quality than automated lighting systems. If you’re looking for high-quality automated lights but aren’t ready for the total-whole system plunge, buy smart fixtures instead. They’re higher grade and are small aperture lights that are the same size and shape as smart bulbs. 

smart bulbs vs. smart switches

Some benefits of whole-home lighting automation systems are:  

  • Wired integration – never lose lighting power if Wi-Fi goes down 
  • Permanent holiday lights – skip the hassle of untangling wires, hanging holiday lights every year, and save on space  
  • Scalable landscape lighting – connect indoor and outdoor lighting systems for added security and backyard entertainment  
  • Easier lighting system control manage all smart lights throughout the home in one centralized location via a smart app or touch panel vs. multiple platforms   

For high-quality smart fixtures and switches, we always suggest using Lutron. They can be programmed into ELAN control systems, so you don’t have to worry about managing many fixtures and switches on various applications.  

Integrate High-Quality Smart Lighting for Your Home with AIS

Although smart bulbs and switches may offer some benefits, wired integrations for automated home lighting systems are the best solution.  

At AIS, our integrators specialize in low-voltage lighting, so homeowners don’t have to choose between custom flexibility, energy-efficiency, and total lighting control. Our wired home lighting integrations are compatible, scalable, and use high-grade systems for the best results possible.  

Ready to illuminate your home with smart lighting?  

Use our budget calculator to plan expenses, contact us for questions, or integrate wired home lighting today! 

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