I’m just curious what smart switches are so damned expensive? I can find bulbs for under $15 each and I can find a smart connected A/C thermostat for as little as $40 on sale. I’ve seen sales on 4-in-1 motion/temp/humidity/etc on sale for around $30 too. But, I can’t seem to find smart switches for much under $30 each. Why in the world are switches so damned expensive compared to everything else?
Am I just looking in the wrong places for switches or what?
Mostly just Economies of scale, I think. The market for Z wave switches, in particular, is still very very small and there are upfront costs for anything which is going to be wired to the mains.
Philips Hue was the trailblazer for smart bulbs, made it fast, easy, and fun, and then they started to get competition which brought the price down significantly.
Amazon Echo is most likely to have a similar impact on light switches, although they still are never going to be as easy as smart bulbs. But we are starting to see $20 Wi-Fi switches which are echo – compatible. Many of those are not UL listed, so you may have to pay more if that’s important to you. Only a few brands have direct integration with SmartThings, but you may be able to get integration through IFTTT.
And if the echo plus takes off, we may see more zigbee switches in the same range.
Meanwhile, the least expensive source in the US for UL listed light switches will probably be to find the GE Zwave switches on sale at a local Home Depot or Lowe’s. These are budget models and wouldn’t be my first choice, but they are very popular with people looking for a value solution.
The Leviton ones do go on sale down to about $35 occasionally. Lutron however are always priced higher, they are good quality but I still think there is an unnecessary markup because of the name. Also not to mention the need for a proprietary bridge.
I hear you. A few weeks ago, the GE-branded Jasco switches dropped in price about 25% on Amazon, but they’ve gone back up again (dimmer paddle is $39.50). I was hoping that when Jasco started selling under the Honeywell brand as well, they would be less expensive. But they are actually a tiny bit more (dimmer paddle is $39.99 on Amazon).
Most Lowe’s stores will price-match Amazon and you can buy Lowe’s gift cards at a discount of 10% or so. That’s one of the saving strategies I used.
Another … which truly is a your mileage may vary … is to buy the switches listed as Amazon Warehouse for 10-30% off new. I had a run of good luck where I was getting very like new switches where someone must have bought them and returned them because they were overwhelmed with the installation, or didn’t have a neutral, etc. But then I ran into bad luck where I was getting switches with screws stripped out, and even some where the installer had put the old dumb switch in a box and returned it to Amazon for full credit. Now, in these cases, Amazon is very understanding that a warehouse deal might be a dud, and they’ll give you return shipping label and full refund. Oh, if you do this strategy, pay no attention to the description of the item that says something like “may have scratch on front”. These descriptions have nothing to do with what you actually get … just assume you are taking pot luck.
Because the suppliers in China are making a killing.
There have been sales recently.
The GE ones were about $25 each last week from lowes with a coupon. They are very basic so I only bought them to use on all my ventilation fans.
The Inovelli scene enabled ones are my favorite right now and I just completed all the switches in my house with them. They by far have the most features, everything I am looking for in a switch. They are around $38.
The Homeseer switches are also very nice, but very expensive at $50-$55. Also, in my experience they have been the only brand to fail on me. One had to be replaced, and another locked up and needed a breaker power cycle.
I thought that the Philips patent was technology in the LED bulb itself that allowed conventional dimmer switches to dim LED bulbs. That is, the switch … even new smart switches … remain blissfully ignorant that the load is actually a DC load. The dimmer switch is still AC. As such their patent claim wouldn’t have anything to do with the switches. Has Philips gone after a switch manufacturer?
Phillips has a patent issued in 2006 that they have been very aggressive in protecting, but that one is for dimmable LEDs, so as @luther says, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the price of switches, and not much to do with the price of smart bulbs.
The application that led to the patent was filed in 2003. The application explains that the lighting industry was having trouble making increasingly-popular LED lighting products compatible with existing dimmer switches. This trouble was caused by the fact that LED lights typically use direct current (DC) power, whereas dimming switches for conventional lighting use alternating current (AC) power. AC dimmers operate by modifying the waveform of the alternating current and thus reducing average voltage applied to the light. Since LED lights need a steady power input (i.e. there is no “waveform”), the existing dimmers did not function properly if an LED light was used in a conventional system.
Philips Lighting claimed to have solved this problem by adding circuitry to an LED light that would convert the modified AC waveform into an adjusted, steady power input. This solution would allow an LED light to have its intensity adjusted through the use of a conventional AC dimmer.
That is, the Phillips patent applies to the design of the bulb, not the dimmer switch. In fact, the whole point of the Phillips patent was to allow new dumb LEDs to be used with existing dumb dimmers. Since smart LEDs should not be used with dimmer switches (dumb or smart) that change the voltage to the bulb, it doesn’t really impact those models.
If you ever need larger quantities like 10 or more, you can also get in touch with our support for a custom quote on the Zooz switches which start at $28.95 on our website: https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/collections/zooz
Depending on inventory levels, we should be able to give you a good deal