Best toggle light switch option? (2023)

New to ST and want to replace a few toggle light switches. Any recommendations or products less useful?

Welcome! :sunglasses:

First, we do need to ask a couple of basic questions, because these will affect the available candidates.

  1. what country are you in?

  2. do you have a Smartthings/Aeotec hub, and if so, which model? It’s fine if you don’t, there are still a number of good candidates, it’s just that there is a different set of devices available if you do have a hub.

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OK, after that, it comes down to individual needs and preferences.

A) Do you know if you have a neutral wire at each switchbox that you are replacing? Many smart switches do require a neutral wire in order to power the radio inside the smart switch, but not all do. In the United States, you will now find a neutral wire at the light switch in Most homes built after the year 2000, and there probably won’t be in most homes built before 1980. In between it just varies, really house by house.

B) are any of the switches used in a setup where more than one light switch controls the same ceiling light? (in the United States this is called a “three-way“ set up. In the UK, this is called a “two way“ set up).

IMG_8077

C) do you want to replace them with smart switches which are also traditional toggle switches? Or would a rocker switch be OK? Rocker switches are a little more popular these days, so there are more choices of those.

toggle switch (US)

rocker switch (US)

D) what color were you looking for? The most common colors are white and “Almond” (a light beige), but some manufacturers do offer other colors, including black, brown, ivory, even grey and red. But the other colors may be harder to find.


E) are any of the switches used for Dimming? If so, and it is used in a multi switch set up, do you need dimming from both the master and the accessory switch, or just the master?

F) many smart switches, but particularly dimmers, have a tiny LED as an indicator light. Some manufacturers is a blue light, some manufacturers use a green light. Most people don’t care. Which color they get, but some people care a lot.

G) what type of bulbs are going to be controlled by the switch? If they are smart bulbs, that takes us into a whole different category. If they are regular dumb bulbs, are they incandescent, halogen, CFL, LED, or fluorescent tubes?

H) what is the total current draw that the switch has to manage? For example, a ceiling light with three 100 W incandescent bulbs would be a draw of 300 W. But if one switch controlled two of those lights in the same kitchen, that might be 600 W. Or take the same switch and the same ceiling lights, but use LED bulbs and you might take the draw down to about 90 W. We have had people looking for switches to control shop lights with a very high draw controlled by one switch. So again, it just changes the available candidates.

I) do you need to be able to put childproof locks on any of the switches? This isn’t an issue for most homes, but it can be a big issue for some.

J) what budget were you thinking of? Smart switches can run anywhere from about $12 per switch to over $100 dollars per switch, depending on the features and the design. A typical smart switch these days usually falls into a good/better/best category.

Budget switches, in the “good” category, are typically between $18 and $25 per switch. They may be a little cheaper if you buy them in quantity. These are UL/ETL listed, safe, but not fancy. Most of these are rocker or momentary switches, though, not toggles. (Yes, there are some really cheap six dollar Chinese switches from some overseas sites but those don’t have the same safety certification and are not designed for the typical draw in a US home so I personally don’t recommend them.)

IMG_8089

“Better” category smart switches are usually around $35 each, although they may go on sale or you may be able to get a quantity discount. These will have more features, maybe more colors, and better engineering. Several companies do offer toggles in these.

IMG_8087

“Best” category switches are either designer styles or have some really sophisticated engineering. They usually run around $60 each, but as I mentioned, some of them are even more. That doesn’t sound like anything you’re looking for, but I did just want to mention them. (I actually don’t call these “best,” although that’s what the industry tends to call them, I just call them “fancy.” Lol! :sunglasses: if I were naming the categories, I probably call them budget/standard/fancy, but nobody asked me. :wink: )



Anyway, as you can see, the costs can add up pretty quickly, so it is good to have an idea of your budget going in.

Most of the recommendations you get from community members will probably be in the “better/standard“ categories, as those tend to be the most popular. So if you only want to consider switches that are under $20 each, make sure you say so so people will know what to recommend.

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I think that covers most of the usual parameters. If I forgotten anything I’m sure somebody else will bring it up.

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A pretty comprehensive list! I’d add desired communications protocol: Zwave,zigee, wifi, thread.

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Answers to questions:

USA
Smartthings Hub
Have neutral wire
The switch is a 3-way
Traditional toggle switches (white) are preferred since it will go on a “4-gang” plate
No dimming
LED bulbs on a chandelier + recessed - on the same switch
I think < 120 W since all are LED
No child-proofing required
Not too concerned about price so better/best
Not sure about Zwave vs Zigee vs wifi but I think all work with my hub? I suppose wifi is the best??

Thanks very much! Any recs are appreciated.

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If you have a SmartThings/Aeotec hub, then Z wave or Zigbee (or Thread) are normally a better choice from a network engineering perspective for light switches than WiFi. But it’s mostly a matter of preference. See the following FAQ. It’s old but still valid.

Any drawbacks to using WiFi light switches instead of zigbee/z-wave?

Matter adds a slight wrinkle to this, of course. Thread offers the same advantages versus Wi-Fi that zwave and Zigbee do, but some models also have native Matter support. But it’s a very new protocol and there aren’t very many Matter over Thread devices out yet. And I don’t know of any in toggle form. :thinking:

First, if you truly want to keep the toggle-style switch, then you could easily go with something like a Zooz Zen74 smart switch (3-way capable)

But if you want to expand your options, you could just change your face plate.

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Given your specific requirements, I would agree with the recommendation for Zooz if you’re ok with zwave. That’s the house brand for the retailer The Smartest House. They are very popular in the community. Standard priced, but with excellent engineering and a lot of advanced features. If you write to their support, they may be able to give you a volume price if you are buying at least 10. (It’s not always available, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.)

https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/

One thing we should mention: smart switches are not physical binary on/off switches like a standard dumb toggle switch. So rather than sitting in up for on and down for off, they rest in the neutral position, pointing straight out. Then you flick them up for on and down for off. Otherwise when you use a voice command or automation rule, the physical position of the switch might be out of sync with the state of the light.

Most people won’t care, but some people just can’t get used to the look. So just something to be aware of.

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Thanks very much everyone!

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