Smart Bulb vs Smart Plug/Outlet vs Smart Switch: Which One Is Right For You?

Smart lighting is one of the easiest and most popular ways to get started with home automation.
Today, we’ll clear up some of the differences between the three main forms of smart lighting control:
• Smart Bulbs
• Smart Plugs
• Smart Switches
By the end of this article, you will be able to choose your undisputed smart home option:
Smart bulbs VS Smart Plugs
Smart Plugs VS Smart Switches & Panels
Smart Bulbs VS Smart Switches & Panels
If you’re already an expert in this field, this is probably not for you. This post is firmly geared toward beginners.
If, on the other hand, you don’t know the difference between the various forms of smart lighting and you want to see which would make the most sense for you, we’ll jump straight in with smart bulbs, arguably the simplest way to get started…

Light up your Home with smart bulbs

As with all forms of smart lighting, smart bulbs bring together the twin pillars of home automation: convenience and security.
By taking charge of your lighting using nothing but an app on your smartphone or voice commands, you can put a stop to scampering around and bending down to manually operate the lights. This in itself is a worthy reason for investing in smart bulbs.
More importantly, is the ability you’ll have to take remote control when you’re not at home. You can easily give your house the impression of being fully engaged while you are thousands of miles away.
For pure plug-and-play integrity, smart bulbs allow you to get going with no requirement for a smart home hub, and no need at all for any special fittings whatsoever.
Smart bulbs were originally developed purely to save electricity. Using highly efficient LED bulbs capable of yielding up to 20,000 hours of use while saving you money each month on your power bill, smart bulbs have evolved just as surely as other components of your connected home.

Assuming you’ve got the smart bulbs of your choice in hand, you’ll need to download the requisite app then you simply use your phone to control the bulbs remotely. If supported, you’ll be able to change the brightness and color of your lighting.

The bulk of smart bulbs are compatible with your preferred digital butler, whether that’s Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. This allows you to add control by voice commands to the mix.

You can also hit the switch as normal but that pretty much flies in the face of uprating your bulbs in the first place!

So…

While smart bulbs are undeniably convenient and a user-friendly way to kick off home automation even if you’re not a tech-savvy, they do come with a few downsides.

If you’re looking to buy multiple smart bulbs… well, you’d probably be better off with a smart switch or a dimmer which we’ll explore shortly. Not only do switches and dimmers have the ability to control more than one bulb, but they’ll also work with more or less any bulb widening your options and slashing costs further.

Key Takeaway: If you simply want to control single bulbs remotely and you’re looking for a low-tech entry point to smart home technology, bulbs make perfect sense. If you have wider plans to automate your home, it’s worth considering going the whole hog with smart switches.

Smart Plugs

These smart outlets allow you to control almost any appliance you plugin using either your smartphone or a voice assistant-driven smart speaker.
From lamps and fans through to coffee machines and crock pots, smart plugs are no more complex to use than a regular outlet while offering you far more seamless functionality.
Whether you want to start your coffee machine while you’re still upstairs getting ready in the morning or hit the lights when the movie has ended without getting off the couch, smart plus are versatile, inexpensive and extremely straightforward to use.
To clear up any confusion, smart plugs and smart outlets are used interchangeably to describe the same intelligent outlet.
Inside the plug is a WiFi chip that communicates with both your home network and your router. Set-up is as straightforward as downloading a free app. You can control your plugs manually using the switch, in-app on your phone or using voice commands if you’ve got an Alexa-enabled device or Google Home.

The scope of smart plugs moves far beyond Simply switching appliances on and off, though.

Have you got a huge power bill lately and wondered exactly how you can start making sensible cuts but you don’t know where to begin? Well, smart plugs often give you an insight into energy use in-app. By monitoring your electricity consumption and hitting you up with real-time reports, you can see precisely which appliances are sapping that power and driving your utility bills higher.

There’s another excellent baked-in option with the majority of smart plugs: away mode. If you’re a frequent traveler and you want to make sure your smart home seems naturally occupied when you’re out of town, a great way to achieve this is by ensuring your smart plugs randomly power your devices on and off during a pre-determined time window.

As with any aspect of smart home tech, it’s not all rosy with smart plugs. A more pressing issue, with a smart plug, is the way smart plugs often and inexcusably block the adjacent outlets making life awkward rather than easier. 

Key Takeaway: Cheap and cheerful, smart plugs let you test the waters of home automation without any tacky installation and without spending too much. You’ll be able to remotely control a range of appliances and you can also enjoy energy monitoring to potentially reduce your electricity consumption.

Smart Switches & Panels

Although you will need some form of installation, smart light switches & Panels give you a wonderful degree of flexibility and you won’t need the expense of replacing bulbs throughout your entire home.

You’ll face a couple of key decisions when you’re considering smartening up your switches…

• Wired Switches: If you’re a homeowner and you’re looking for a permanent and fully integrated smart lighting, wired switches makes perfect sense. You’ll need to make sure there’s a C-wire in place so it pays to call in an electrician unless you’re completely confident handling this type of work. We wouldn’t recommend going it alone! Some switches don’t call for this neutral wire but they’re few and far between

• Wireless Switches: Fully wire-free switches are started to become more common. Complete with magnetic mounts, you can pop this on the wall without the trouble of rewiring and they make a good call for renters or anyone not happy about the expense and hassle of installing wired switches

The scope of smart plugs moves far beyond Simply switching appliances on and off, though.

Have you got a huge power bill lately and wondered exactly how you can start making sensible cuts but you don’t know where to begin? Well, smart plugs often give you an insight into energy use in-app. By monitoring your electricity consumption and hitting you up with real-time reports, you can see precisely which appliances are sapping that power and driving your utility bills higher.

There’s another excellent baked-in option with the majority of smart plugs: away mode. If you’re a frequent traveler and you want to make sure your smart home seems naturally occupied when you’re out of town, a great way to achieve this is by ensuring your smart plugs randomly power your devices on and off during a pre-determined time window.

As with any aspect of smart home tech, it’s not all rosy with smart plugs. A more pressing issue, with a smart plug, is the way smart plugs often and inexcusably block the adjacent outlets making life awkward rather than easier. 

Key Takeaway: Cheap and cheerful, smart plugs let you test the waters of home automation without any tacky installation and without spending too much. You’ll be able to remotely control a range of appliances and you can also enjoy energy monitoring to potentially reduce your electricity consumption.

Of The Best On/Off Switches

AutomatiCH Z-Wave Wireless On/Off Smart Switch
Using the highly dependable Z-Wave communication protocol, you’ll need a gateway with the AutomatiCH on/off switch. This hub allows you to control every source of hardwired light throughout your smart home. You’ll also enjoy the added speed of the upgraded Z-Wave Plus with this model and it’s a great approach to gain remote access to the lighting already in place.
AutomatiCH Independent WiFi On/Off Switch
One of the best Smart Home Automation Switch by Chandrahas Technologies Pvt Ltd backed up with builtin wifi connectors and self-programmed for connectivity. requires no extra hub and can be controlled using a smart app on your smartphone or through voice commands using Alexa, Cortana, or Google Assistant.

    Once you’ve decided on whether to tread the wired or wireless router, there’s another choice to make:

    • On/Off Switches: As the name makes abundantly clear, you’ll get rudimentary control of turning your lights on and off using nothing more than an app and your smartphone

    • Dimmer Switches: Giving you a little more leeway, you’ll be able to adjust the brightness of your lighting with dimmer switches making them ideal if you frequently tweak the lighting levels and don’t want to keep jumping out of your chair to do so

    With smart switches, you’ll be able to use any type of bulb.

    Look for the communication protocol with the smart switch you’re thinking about buying. With Bluetooth or WiFi, you’ll usually be able to use nothing but your smartphone. Z-Wave and Zigbee, both radio protocols, will force you to use a hub as a form of a translator. Think about both the smart home kit you already have in place and the gear you’re likely to buy in the future so you can make the most effective choice with any smart switches you’re contemplating.

    We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at smart switches later this week so we’ll round out our look at this more complex element of smart lighting with 2 of the best on/off switches and a trio of dimmers so you can see some concrete examples…

    As you can see, the field of smart lighting might initially look confusing and busy, but it’s remarkably simple to navigate once you know the main differences between the various options.

    • Smart bulbs are great if you have little interest beyond adding remote control to a bulb or two and you have no more adventurous plans up your sleeve

    • Smart plugs give you the added benefit of being able to control more appliances and devices from coffee machines to fans as well, of course, as your lighting. With integrated energy monitoring, you not only get a cheap solution, but you can also save money on your monthly bills, too

    • Smart switches, while they might appear confusing, are not so tough to use once they’re installed. If you don’t mind calling in an electrician and you want a fully integrated method of controlling the lighting throughout your home, it’s worth going all-in with smart switches

    Come back soon as we’re continuing the smart lighting theme on our home automation blog this month and we’ve got plenty of more detailed product reviews lined up so you can invest in the best gear with confidence.

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