Easiest way to control wired lights in 2021

No Wiring Options

It depends on what you mean by “easiest.“ but probably the easiest is just to get one of the smart switch covers that fits over the existing switch and physically move the existing dumb Switch. These are battery operated devices, no wiring required, and an able-bodied person can install them in about one minute, literally. And they can be removed just as quickly.

They are popular with renters who are not allowed to change the wiring in any way, but also functional for people with other situations. I have a couple of them just for switches where I didn’t want to pay somebody else to swap out a Mains powered Smart Switch for the existing dumb switch, like our utility closet.

The following are for US style switches.

  1. Third reality has a zigbee switch cover that looks a little odd, but not inelegant. It adds to smartthings just as an on/off switch.

I actually have mine added to an echo show that has a zigbee Hub inside so that it gives me voice control even when the Internet is out. :sunglasses: so we use these to create a lighting pathway from my room to the front door. But then the only integration with smartthings is one way through Alexa routines. Most people in this community would just add it to smartthings where it will show up as just an on/off switch

These are available in both the US and Europe. The product description may mention their own hub, but you don’t need that, you would be using a smartthings hub instead.

https://www.3reality.com/online-store/RealitySwitch-–-Smart-Switch-Overlay-upgrade-existing-Toggle-or-Rocker-switches-No-Wiring-Required-Voice-Control-with-Alexa-Google-assistants-Requires-Wink-Zigbee-Hub-no-hub-need-for-Echo-Plus-p121270595

  1. Ecolink has a similar zwave Device that looks like a regular light switch. It comes in either rocker or toggle style and in either single or double gang. US only. Again, it just fits over the top of the existing dumb switch and physically moves it. Works out of the box with smartthings, but of course since it’s zwave you do have to have a SmartThings hub.

https://www.amazon.com/Automation-Lighting-Switch-Ecolink-Control/dp/B07DCK8H8R/

  1. switch-bot is a tiny actuator which works like a robot finger and can again physically move an existing switch. The bot itself is Bluetooth, and then you also need their Wi-Fi mini hub to get integration with smartthings or IFTTT or Siri shortcuts.

I don’t use these for light switches, but I have a bunch of them at my house and use them as button pushers on the blender, the DVD eject button, etc. I wrote a review of them. (The topic title is a clickable link)

They’ll be a little trickier to setup than the first two options because they don’t just fit over the existing switch so you have to get the placement right. But I mention them because they’re the only device of this type I know of that would work with smartthings in a hub-optional configuration.


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Because all three of these options have a motor that physically moves the dumb switch you will hear a little noise when they are operating. Not as loud as a garbage disposal, but definitely noticeable.

Mains Powered Options

So those three are the easiest. But if you just want a regular light switch, as long as you have a neutral wire at the switchbox swapping out a smart switch for a dumb one is pretty easy. Maybe a 15 minute project if it’s the first time you’re doing one. These also have the advantage of generally being no louder than a regular physical switch.

  1. zwave options. Either zooz or inovelli are good US zwave brands that will give you a lot of help if you need it. Both are popular in this community. They are budget priced with the latest Z wave technology. They do require custom code to get access to all the features, though, but the manufacturers provide it.

Zooz is the house brand for www.thesmartesthouse.com

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Inovelli has their own site at https://inovelli.com/

Inovelli has their Black Series on sale right now because it’s older technology and they are discontinuing it in favor of the newer Red series. (All the switches are white, despite the names.)

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I doubt if you would need more than half a dozen switches for an apartment, but if you did need A lot, both companies will offer a small bulk discount if you ask about it.

  1. I myself use Lutron Caseta Switches. These are a little more complex solution, though, because they use their own proprietary protocol so you also need to get their “smartbridge”, but once you have that there are cloud to cloud integrations with smartthings, Alexa, and Google home as well as a local Integration with homekit and you can set up all of these at the same time if you wanted.

These are very well engineered with a bunch of patents, solid, reliable, and fast. I like them very much. :sunglasses: but they are definitely not budget switches. Home Depot and Amazon both carry them, but it’s unusual to find a discount.

The other issue with these besides their requiring the extra step of their own bridge Is that the original Integration was done several years ago by smartthings staff but in the current Business model it’s supposed to be the device manufacturers that do the integrations. so no one has updated this integration for a couple of years (for example, it does not support the Lutron Caseta fan switch which came out 2 years ago).

Lutron says it’s up to smartthings, smartthings says it’s up to the Lutron, and it just seems to have fallen through the cracks. So I tend not to recommend this for smartthings-only implementations anymore because I worry about the future Integration. The motion sensor introduced in the line last year doesn’t work with smartthings, either. :disappointed_relieved:

But since you arealso using HomeKit, I will mention them, because they work great with both Homekit and Alexa. And they work OK with smartthings but one of the Z wave options would probably make more sense if you only had smartthings.

  1. If you are looking for a budget choice for a hub-optional smartthings set up, I like the Meross brand. WiFi. These do require a neutral wire at the switch box, but otherwise are a pretty straightforward wiring project. They work well with both smartthings and HomeKit and can be connected to both at the same time. As well as working with Alexa. They also have good safety certifications.

They are frequently sold in a two pack and often have coupons on the page at Amazon, so check the prices as the one you see just with the product title might be for two or even three switches.

I like this brand and have a lot of their products, I just don’t use their light switches. Only the ones with the HomeKit logo will work with HomeKit, but both that model line and the slightly less expensive no HomeKit line will work with smartthings.

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