Smart bulbs with Smart switches?

Hi, I am trying to find out some probably basic answers. I have hall lights, if I replace the bulbs with wifi(smart) bulbs will I need to replace the actual switch also? I would think if you replace bulb with the wifi bulb and turn off the switch(without replacing with smart switch) it would cut power to it and not allow to be turned on with smart app and what not. So do I need to replace the bulb and the switch that controls the light to be able to control the light from app and still be able to use the switch on the wall?

You have a couple of options:

  1. If you replace the hall lites with smart bulbs, then you can just leave the switch in the ON position, and control the lights with a app on your phone.
  2. Don’t replace the hall lights with smart (wifi) bulbs. Instead replace the switch with a connected (smart) switch. This way, you can control the hall lights via both the smartthings app on your phone AND the new switch.

Option 2 is much more convenient and flexible, but option 1 is much cheaper.

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You’re definitely right that that this can be a problem. Fortunately there are a number of good solutions, although most do require adding an additional device . See the following FAQ (this is a clickable link)

Jeff is correct.

I my case I prefer the smart bulb to the switch for certain applications. When no one is at my home after sunset I turn on some of my lights. When one of us then comes home I have the remaining lights turn on.

I could still do those same automations with smart switches but I would have to involve all of the lights on a given switch. I prefer to have the ability to turn 1 light on instead of both on the switch or 2 rather than 4 on the switch.

Thanks, I think replacing the switch will be the better and easier option. So if one light has two normal switches that control it I would need replace both normal switches with two smart switches, correct?

You need one smart switch and one 3-way switch (often called Addon). Assuming they are on the same circuit (usually a red traveler wire)

Main Switch


thanks, funny part there is only one switch/bulb like this in the whole house(not sure how that happened)

As others have confirmed, you don’t need (and don’t want) to replace both the switch and bulbs. How you tackle this is really based on your application/use-case.

I’ll give you some examples from my home:

  1. Case: I have a 2-story great room with a ceiling fan that is suspended around 10ft from the ceiling. Despite this, it is still 15ft or so from the floor. Because of this, the dimmable incandescents that are in the light fixtures are a pain to change. The lights and the fan were also on separate switches: a dimmer for the lights and a simple toggle for the fan. The fan was not wired for remote control, so it had remained a toggle on medium speed since the house was built 9 years ago. Solution: I opted to replace the switches with a GE dimmer for the lights, and a GE fan control dimmer for the fan. Then, to normalize the ST UI with the 3-speed fan, I used a fan control device type handler, which gave me simple Low-Med-Hi controls instead of the standard dimmer slider. Total Cost: $80 for both switches. Replacing the bulbs would have cost approximately $60 retail plus a taller ladder or bulb changer, and $45 for the fan control.

  2. Case: I have a light over the dinette which had 3 CFL bulbs. The CFLs were dimmable, but controlled by a toggle switch. Solution: I opted to automate the lights by replacing the bulbs with cheap ($9 on sale at Lowe’s) Osram Sylvania Lightify (Zigbee) white bulbs instead of replacing the switch. With old toggle switch on, I can control the bulbs as a group, or individually, giving me a great deal of flexibility that could have never been attained by simply replacing the switch. Total Cost: $27 on sale. The bulbs would have been around $45 total retail. Replacing the switch would have been around $40-45 plus a new wall plate.

  3. Case: I have a foyer that is around 20ft long with 3 fixtures and 2 bulbs per fixture. The fixtures are on the same circuit and controlled by 1x 3-way dimmer, 1x 3-way toggle (SPDT) and 1x 4-way toggle switches. Solution: Since this case is fairly complicated and in an area frequented by guests, I will opt to replace the switches instead of the lights. Total Cost: Replacing the switches will be around $85 retail. If I chose to replace the bulbs, I’m looking at around $90 retail, plus the annoyance of switches disabling automation.

The use case in my upstairs hallway is pretty much the same situation as the foyer, except there are 4 toggle switches and 3 fixtures with 2 bulbs each, non-dimmable. The solution will be switches, but currently the impact would be minimal and it would be my most expensive light conversion (besides the kitchen), so it’s not on the radar.

Now, the big problem with replacing the bulbs would be someone turning off the switches. Assuming you have toggle switches, you can prevent this with:


You also might want to consider whether you want WiFi, Zigbee, or multi-protocol bulbs, as this might factor into your optimal application.

I hope this information is helpful, or at least relatable.

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In this case I always use dimmers. So if I don’t want ll the lights on because I don;t want that much light I just set the brightness to whatever. If it’s more a matter of where the bulbs are and what they are lighting, well that’s sticky. I don’t care for the switch locks due to aesthetics. I think I would sooner remove the witch entirely and put a solid plate in it’s place.

But in general, as others have said, I prefer to do this with a smart dimmer and a companion dimmer at the other end.

Dimmers also have a nice fade on/off effect. It is nice when you have it trigger on automation.

You can do the fade with smart bulbs as well. In fact you can do a circadian lights effect and have the color temperature change as well.

Different things work for different use cases. :sunglasses::level_slider::bulb: