Smart Lights, Smart Switches or both

So, I am new to home automation. After some research, I decided to purchase HE. I received it last week and I'm excited to get it up and running. I have Google Nest Hubs, I purchased a few sensors and a few other things to start tinkering with.

I'm wondering what you do for lighting/switches. I will have some lights that are dimmers with color, some that are white that dim and some that will be off/on lights. I am looking at the inovelli switches right now, they seem pretty good.

You're going to get a lot of opinions here. :slight_smile: Here's mine:

If you donn't need color or color temperature control, smart switches or dimmer are easy. Everyone already knows how to use them, and you won't have to worry about coordinating switches and bulbs.

If you need color or CT control, you'll probably need smart bulbs. (Some people suggest just supplementing the room with lamps or light strips instead, another option.) Unless you just want to give up switches, you'll probably still want some kind of wall control. "Scene switches" like the Inovelli Red Series or any current-firmware Zooz work well for this. They can be configured not to control the electrical load (generally undesirable with smart bulbs), and you can use a hub-based or other automation to actually control the bulbs. Alternatively, you could use a "remote" instead of a full-on hardwired switch. Lutron Picos shine here but require a Lutron system. There are other options, but not all work as well (in my opinion) or fit into a standard US wall plate.

It sounds like you're on the right track if you ask me. Smart bulbs with no physical control is doable but probably not recommended unless you live alone antd rust yourself, and even then, the need to use an app or voice (I assure you your family or housemates will not like this) will probably soon wear out. Automating as much as possible, like with motion or time, is good to avoid this need in the first place, but there's always something I can't fully anticipate with an automation mself .


Coming from SmartThings, almost all my critical lighting is smart switches so I would have some abilities when ST was down. Less of an issue now that it's all HE, but something to think about. Using a phone app is an acceptable fall-back for me, but perhaps not so much for my better half. Free-standing lamps are smart bulbs. If the circuit goes through a switch, it's smart. Circuits that control several bulbs, whether in a single fixture or multiple fixtures are smart switches. I'm not using groups.
My layout is the result of a legacy of old systems, accretion and ignorance. But it works for me.


Switches for all built in lights. This has highest success w/family and visitors (back when we had visitors months ago...) who often don't know or care a lot about my home automation. A switch is a switch, and they can't really get confused about it. Also any lamp that is managed via a wall switch gets a smart switch.

Lights/Lamps w/physical switch on its body, and no wall switch connection:

  • If I want color: Smart bulb + a button
  • If I don't want color: Wall-wart plug + a button

The button for lamps must be positioned so that it's easier to reach/use than reaching for the switch on the lamp. That makes it an quick transition to the button for the family. Buttons are not popular in all homes, but in mine they are a must-have for controlling devices and favored far above voice control. If I just put a smart bulb in a lamp and don't provide a button my family will just turn off the lamp via its knob and then the smart bulb is dead and useless to me. :frowning:

YMMV, depending on who else is using your devices, and their w/anyone sharing your home and get a sense of what they think they would prefer before you start... :slight_smile:


Switches whenever possible. They look and work like people expect them to. They don't do weird things if someone accidentally hits the switch. Switches can be cheaper if you have multiple bulbs per fixture, or if you have light fixtures that take odd or hard to find bulbs like my kitchen light. Probably 90% of my lights are controlled by switches and not smart bulbs. That includes smart plugs to control table lamps.

Bulb are OK in some specific cases, as noted above. Best use case is possibly for table lamps or if you "need" color changing. I have 3-4 of these color bulbs in use only because I purchased the one bulb way before I had the Hubitat, and another time I bought some very inexpensive ones just as a test to see if they had improved over the years. I use them mainly for wake up lights in bedrooms, so the color/temperature change was nice to have.

And where I have bulbs, I have a Pico Remote to control those bulbs, so they act like a normal light switch.


I forgot to add one consideration above: if you don't have neutral wires in your switch box, most smart switches require them, so bulbs may be your only option. The Inovelli dimmers (current gen--Red or Black series) can work without one but is subject to specific conditions. Lutron has some that can also work without, again with specific (but generally broader) requirements. If you have new-ish wiring, this may not be an issue for you. You may want to verify what will actually work for you if you haven't already.


Thank you all for the great comments! I think I have a pretty good idea of what direction to go in now!

Wink, I assume. That's what I'd do.