The Best Smart Dimmer Switches of 2021

Create the right mood for your space and with a smart dimmer switch upgrade.

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Photo: lutron.com

Smart dimmer switches can help set the mood with appropriate lighting for a variety of occasions, from entertaining friends to hosting a family movie night. There are a variety of options available on smart dimmer switches, and some might need minor electrical work to install.

Though some smart dimmers are wireless, most require a specific bulb type or installation work to wire them into the existing switch. Some also pair well with a wide variety of apps or smart-home systems, while others need a dedicated system to work correctly.

Explore some of the best smart dimmer switch options and learn about the features to consider while shopping.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer Switch
  2. BEST BUDGET: Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch HS220, Single Pole
  3. UPGRADE PICK: GE Lighting 48733 Motion Sensing Smart Switch Dimmer
  4. BEST 1-WAY: TESSAN Smart Dimmer Switch for Dimmable LED Lights
  5. BEST 4-WAY: Leviton D26HD-2RW Decora Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer (2nd Gen)
  6. BEST Z-WAVE: Enbrighten Z-Wave Smart Light Dimmer
  7. BEST PLUG-IN: Lutron Caseta Smart Home Plug-in Lamp Dimmer Switch
  8. EASIEST SETUP: Lutron Z3-1BRL-WH-L0 Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer
The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Dimmer Switches

When shopping for the best smart light switches, it’s important to understand the different types that are available on the market. You want to make sure you’re buying a dimmer switch that’s compatible with the light fixture it will be controlling.

1-Way Dimmers

The pole of a switch refers to the number of terminals it has. A single-pole (or 1-way) dimmer switch features two terminals that turn one circuit on or off. This type of switch will not work for lights controlled from more than one location, such as a hall light with a switch at the bottom of the stairs and another at the top of the stairs.

3-Way and 4-Way Dimmers

Dimmers that are 3-way include three terminals, while a 4-way switch has four terminals. These extra terminals allow you to loop more switches into the circuit. For example, you need a 3-way smart dimmer switch to control a light with two switches. A light controlled by three switches requires a 4-way dimmer. When using a 3-way or 4-way dimmer switch, you should have only one dimmer switch on the circuit.

Plug-In Dimmers

A smart dimmer plug allows you to add a dimming feature to lamps and other lighting fixtures that plug into a standard 115-volt outlet. When you plug the lamp into the dimmer plug, you can lower the lamp’s light by connecting the device via Bluetooth to a smartphone, Alexa, or another smart device. Once connected, you can use voice activation to control the lights.

What to Consider When Choosing a Smart Dimmer Switch

When upgrading your home to a smart lighting system, you’ll need to select components with the right capabilities. Some of the elements to consider include connectivity, bulb type, wattage rating, and more.

Network and Connectivity

Most smart switches sync with popular smart-home systems such as Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings. By syncing with a smart-home system, users can control the switch and the other connected smart-home components, such as security cameras and thermostats.

Most smart switches connect with a 24 gigahertz (GHz) Wi-Fi home network, and others connect with either a 24 GHz or a 5 GHz network. However, some don’t connect with a 5 GHz network, so know your network’s capacity before buying.

Typically, a router features a label on the back that says whether it’s a 24 GHz or a 5 GHz system. If not, consult the owner’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website to determine the router’s capacity.

Bulb Type

Dimmers will work with incandescent, halogen, LED, and CFL bulbs; however, you need to make sure the specific bulbs you use are compatible with dimmers. While most incandescent and halogen bulbs will work with a dimmer switch, not all LED or CFL bulbs will.

Make sure you use an LED or CFL dimmer bulb; otherwise, you may get flickering or buzzing at lower intensities. Using a standard CFL bulb with a dimmer will shorten the life of the bulb and may damage the dimmer. LED and CFL bulbs both offer excellent energy efficiency and perform well on a dimmer. The disadvantage is they may not have as low a range as incandescent bulbs.

CFL bulbs, for example, will dim down to only about 20 percent of their total light output. LEDs will dim to only about 30 percent, but some dimmers designed specifically for LEDs offer a better range. Incandescent bulbs have excellent dimming properties, allowing you to dim them to very low levels. The downside is they are much less energy efficient and produce a significant amount of heat.

Wattage Rating

Before purchasing a smart dimmer switch, first determine the wattage capacity it has to handle. Dimmer switches all have ratings that tell you their maximum watt capacity.

For example, a dimmer switch may have a capacity of 250 watts for LED and 600 watts for incandescent bulbs, meaning it can handle up to fifty 5-watt LED bulbs or ten 60-watt incandescent bulbs. Be sure to calculate the total wattage of the lights that are in the space the dimmer will control, and make sure the dimmer can handle the load.

Control Style

Smart light switches feature different kinds of hands-on controls for styling and convenience. Toggle switches have the traditional look and feel of a regular household light switch. Decora, or rocker-style switches, shaped like a large rectangle that you depress at the top or bottom to activate, are also common. The latest switch style is the touch screen, which gives the switch a sleek, updated appearance.

Functionality

With the basic functionality of a smart dimmer switch, you can access the light remotely through a mobile app, and with voice control when the switch is integrated with either a Wi-Fi speaker or a smart-home hub. Look for options for preset lighting modes and automated on-off timers. Some offer upgraded features like motion sensors, seasonal programming capability, activation alerts through the mobile app, and much more.

Installation

Before installing a smart dimmer switch, check with your local building authority; in some communities people are not permitted to replace electrical switches, and code requires hiring an electrician. Make sure to follow the instructions that come with the unit, including shutting off the power to the switch before removing the cover.

Smart switches often require a neutral wire, which transmits a small amount of electricity to the switch. This minimal power is necessary for the switch to communicate with the home’s Wi-Fi network. If the wiring in the switch box contains a neutral wire, it can often be found at the back of the box capped with a wire fastener. If not, an electrician will need to install one.

The second part of installation requires downloading the app associated with the switch, then following the prompts for connecting to a smartphone or smart-home system. Smart switches that connect with a central hub, such as Phillips Hue switches, require plugging the hub directly into the router and then following the prompts to configure the switches.

Our Top Picks

Here are some of the top choices for dimmer switches on the market to help make your home lighting simple and smart.

Best Overall

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer Switch
Photo: amazon.com

Lutron’s Caseta smart-home dimmer switch operates via a wireless remote, app, voice command, or a simple touch. It’s compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The switch can control LED, incandescent, and even halogen bulbs. Adding a smart bridge opens up even more options, such as scheduling lights that adjust with the seasons.

This switch does not require a neutral wire, thus allowing individuals to use it in homes of all ages without the worry of a difficult installation. It’s not rated for low-voltage applications such as landscape or track lighting.

Choose between black, ivory, light almond, or white to complement your home’s overall look. Full tutorials come with the Caseta smart switch for easy DIY installation.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 600
  • Type: 3-way
  • Control: Push-button wall switch, mobile app, automated program, voice

Pros

  • Works with LED, incandescent, and halogen bulbs
  • Integrates with the Lutron mobile app for remote access
  • Does not require a neutral wire, works in any home

Cons

  • Requires a smart-home hub for full functionality
  • Not compatible with Z-Wave smart-home networks
  • No custom fade setting


Best Budget

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Kasa Smart HS220 Dimmer Switch by TP-Link
Photo: amazon.com

This Kasa Smart dimmer switch provides the essentials and nothing more, making it ideal for those who are testing the waters of this smart-home feature. The Kasa Smart app is compatible with both Android and iOS, allowing for control from a smartphone.

The dimmer also pairs with Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant for a hands-free experience. It requires a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection, so there’s no need for a central hub. The unique gentle-off feature turns the lights down slowly as you retire for the evening, and the scheduling feature allows you to control the lighting even when far from home.

This Kasa Smart unit requires a neutral wire for proper installation, but it offers a detailed walk-through guide.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 300
  • Type: 1-way
  • Control: Push-button wall switch, preset program, mobile app, voice

Pros

  • Connects with Wi-Fi, no smart-home hub required
  • Works with Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant
  • Illuminated switch locator

Cons

  • Not compatible with Z-Wave smart-home systems
  • Requires a neutral wire connection
  • Not for use in multiswitch applications


Upgrade Pick

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: GE Lighting 48733 Motion Sensing Smart Switch Dimmer
Photo: amazon.com

This upgraded GE Lighting 48733 Motion Sensing Smart Switch Dimmer easily matches the features of an overall best smart switch—and then some. It works with both traditional and smart light bulbs to give users full control of connected lights. The mobile app and voice-control connectivity offer remote, touch-free access at home or away. Or use the customizable dimmer settings, adjustable timer, and motion activation functions for total automation.

This switch is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, without adding a smart-home hub. Monitor and control the lights remotely with the “C by GE” mobile app. The app also works with C by GE smart light bulbs that run on conventional light switches and lamps in your home. Group control lets you keep track of the entire home on one screen.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 450
  • Type: 3-way
  • Control: Push-button wall switch, preset program, mobile app, voice, motion

Pros

  • Connects to Wi-Fi, no need for a smart-home hub
  • Integrates with the C by GE mobile app
  • Motion sensor capability

Cons

  • Not Z-Wave compatible
  • Requires a neutral wire
  • Higher cost but packed with features


Best 1-Way

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: TESSAN Smart Dimmer Switch for Dimmable LED Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Tessan’s smart dimmer switch works with LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs, and it uses your home Wi-Fi network to connect with Alexa or Google Home for hands-free voice control. With the programmable timer and brightness memory functions, you can customize the lighting for different times of day. Or, use the remote control feature for on-demand adjustability.

Download the Smart Life app to control this switch from anywhere. Use the app’s group control function for whole-home lighting control with compatible smart light bulbs, switches, and other smart-home devices.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 400
  • Type: 1-way
  • Control: Push-button wall switch, programs, mobile app, voice

Pros

  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
  • Wi-Fi connectivity, no need for a smart-home hub
  • Programmable light settings and timer

Cons

  • Not compatible with multiswitch applications
  • Requires a neutral wire
  • Not Z-Wave compatible


Best 4-Way

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Leviton D26HD-2RW Decora Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer (2nd Gen)
Photo: amazon.com

The Leviton D26HD-2RW Smart Wi-Fi Dimmer adds the smart lighting features you would expect from a quality brand. The installed wall unit has the modern look of a decora switch. It works with a variety of bulb types, plus it works in both hardwired and wireless multiswitch applications. (Add the Leviton DAWDC as the second switch for a wireless setup).

The switch connects through a home’s Wi-Fi network and easily integrates with popular smart speakers like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Use the My Leviton mobile app to schedule the lights to turn on or off, create lighting scenes with multiple lights, and control the system while away from home. Users can even set the system to turn off and on based on sunrise and sunset.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 600
  • Type: 4-way
  • Control: Decora-style wall switch, mobile app, programs, voice

Pros

  • Wi-Fi connectivity, no smart-home hub is required
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit
  • Works with hardwired and wireless multiswitch applications

Cons

  • Not compatible with Z-Wave products
  • Neutral wire connection is required
  • Lead wire/wire nut connections bulky and slow to install


Best Z-Wave

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Enbrighten Z-Wave Smart Light Dimmer
Photo: amazon.com

Those who enjoy the Z-Wave range of products can look to this Enbrighten smart dimmer switch as a solution to their home lighting that keeps things simple. A second-generation model with substantial improvements, this solution offers quick-fit installation without the need for heat tabs. It serves older-style switch boxes, and has auto line-load sensing terminals that make installation easier than ever.

This switch works with a wide variety of Z-Wave certified hubs, including Ring, Wink, ADT, and others that aren’t usually an option for smart dimmer switches. It works on its own or integrates with other multiswitch setups for a truly immersive experience. Add up to four add-on switches to the same device to handle CFL, LED, incandescent, and halogen bulbs.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 600
  • Type: 3-way
  • Control: Decora-style wall switch, mobile app, programs, voice

Pros

  • Compatible with Z-Wave smart-home systems
  • Housing depth 20 percent smaller than older Z-Wave products
  • Compatible with multiswitch applications

Cons

  • Requires a smart-home hub for full functionality
  • Wall plate sells separately
  • Neutral wire connection is required


Best Plug-In

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Lutron Caseta Smart Home Plug-in Lamp Dimmer Switch
Photo: amazon.com

Use the two smart plugs on this Lutron Caseta Smart Home plug-in dimmer switch to boost the functionality of your lighting. Just plug in the smart-home dimmer switch and pair the Pico remote control (sold separately) for on-off and dimming control. This device works with dimmable LEDs and CFLs as well as incandescent and halogen bulbs.

For voice and mobile app control, you’ll need the Lutron Smart Bridge hub (sold separately). When integrated into the Smart Bridge system, the switch can work on voice control with a smart speaker or with the SmartThings mobile app.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: 300
  • Type: Plug-in
  • Control: Push-button switch, remote control, mobile app, program, voice

Pros

  • Works with any tabletop lamp
  • Compatible with wireless 3-way application
  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit

Cons

  • Requires smart-home hub for Wi-Fi connection
  • Bulky, may not fit into wall outlet beside other plugs
  • Narrow visibility range for the remote control


Easiest Setup

The Best Smart Dimmer Switch Option: Lutron Z3-1BRL-WH-L0 Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer
Photo: amazon.com

The Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer switch is surprisingly simple yet innovative. It slides over an existing switch, thus keeping it from being turned off and affecting the smart bulbs’ functionality and preventing the need for tedious installation.

Using it from the wall is easy; just tap to turn the switch on and off, and rotate to change the light intensity. The app allows for smart-dimming technology, and if the Wi-Fi goes down, this
dimmer maintains a connection to control the lights.

The Lutron Aurora works with only Philips Hue smart bulbs or Zigbee-certified smart bulbs, which requires purchasing more expensive (but longer-lasting) bulbs. The switch can be programmed with a variety of features through the Hue app using the Hue V2 Smart Bridge.

Product Specs

  • Wattage: Works with Philips Hue smart bulbs on a toggle switch application
  • Type: Toggle switch converter
  • Control: Push-button/dial, mobile app, voice

Pros

  • Set up in less than 2 minutes
  • No wiring required
  • Easy control with or without an app

Cons

  • Limited use, only works with Philips Hue smart light bulbs
  • No lighting memory/scene selection
  • Only works through the Hue app


Our Verdict

For most smart lighting applications, you just can’t go wrong with the Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer Switch. It requires the additional purchase of a Lutron Smart Bridge hub for full functionality, but you get a versatile 3-way configuration and a variety of program options and control capabilities at a fair price.

Those who want basic Wi-Fi connectivity on a single light should check out the Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch HS220. It provides all the programming and connectivity features you need, without unnecessary added costs.

How We Chose the Best Smart Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches are all about setting the mood with just the right brightness. Smart capability should provide control in whatever way you want it: presets/programs, manual, voice, motion, or a mobile app. In choosing the top switches, we considered these factors and looked at the costs and conveniences of installation. We considered dozens of comparable smart dimmer switches and asked what each could do and how users install it.

Our winners heavily reflect a preference for Wi-Fi connectivity over Z-Wave products. While Z-Wave may be the smart-home tech of the future—and it promises to be more reliable—most homes right now rely on Wi-Fi. Additionally, compatibility with smart speakers like Alexa and Google Assistant weighed heavily.

As for functionality, the best products were those that could do more than simply offer on-off and dimming of lights. They needed to offer preset lighting schemes, timers, automatic seasonal adjustments, motion sensing, and other improvements that set them apart from the rest.

FAQs

Those who are considering an upgrade to smart lighting may have a few unanswered questions. Read on to find out what others have learned.

Q. Do dimmers save electricity?

Dimmers save electricity by reducing the amount of power that flows to a bulb, allowing it to operate while using less energy. This lower power output also puts less stress on the bulb, leading to longer bulb life.

Q. Can you put any light on a dimmer switch?

You cannot put just any light on a dimmer switch. You need to check the compatibility of the dimmer switch to ensure it can handle the wattage of the bulb you have. LED and CFL bulbs also need to be dimmer compatible in order to work properly with a dimmer switch.

Q. Are smart switches secure?

Because smart switches operate with the use of a radio signal, they come with some degree of security risk. That risk is significantly less if the home’s wireless router is protected by encryption. Every security measure that is taken to protect the signal adds a layer of security to the entire system.

Q. Do smart dimmer switches require Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?

To get the full functionality of wireless app smart control, a wireless signal is necessary. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Z-Wave signals are the most widely used communication signals for smart-home devices.

Q. Can you have two dimmers on the same circuit?

Most often, only one dimmer should be wired on a circuit. Some product exceptions apply to this rule.

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Shannon Lee began writing about home improvement in 2006. Inspired by her first fixer-upper in Nashville, she has since lovingly restored homes from Los Angeles to the Georgia coast. When she’s not exploring real estate, she’s writing about home improvement, higher education, and healthcare.