For thsoe that TL:DR. I’m cheap and need the function.
In another thread / discussion, it was noted that there are several factors making smart switches a better choice, including the fact that with a smart switch you can still turn on / off the bulbs in question manually via the switch without disabling the function.
While this is true, and I found when I installed my first smart bulbs, let’s boil this down to what I need smart lighting for in the first place.
I am opting for any fixture with 2 bulbs or less, that is screw in type bulbs, to go with smart bulbs instead of switches.
#1. I need lighting to come on in the event an alarm gets triggered. I can accomplish this with both smart bulbs, and switches. On my ceiling fan fixtures I absolutely am doing switches, or actually controllers, for the fan and lighting integrating into the fans. And I have 3 ceiling fans to replace due to out of balance condition that I just can’t seem to fix… Ugh. I digress.
#2. Cost. The bulbs I am using are the Sylvania Smart + Dimmable A19 cool white 60w equivalents. I am buying them for $20.99 for a box of 4. The least expensive dimmable switch AND LED bulbs I can find are $44.95 for the switch each, and $10.99 for a box of 4 standard A19 soft white dimmable LED bulbs. Anticipated lifespan of the bulbs is roughly equivalent to the switches, thus a fair TCO argument. For one 2 bulb fixture, the cost of smart bulbs is, rounded up $10.50. The cost of smart switches and cheap LED bulbs is $49.50, a cost difference of $39.00 per fixture. No small pittance.
It kind of boils down to that. Function for cost. Literally it is a TCO issue for me.
There are fixtures that are not getting smart bulbs and they are…
#1. The ceiling fans. I need control over the fan itself, so might as well get the combo fan / light control and have a good go at it.
#2. The 48" kitchen flourescent light. I am converting this to LED, but it is still LED tubes whcih are dumb.
#3. The dining room chandalier. My wife wants Edison style clear LED bulbs in this fixture, these take 9 bulbs, and while smart Edison style bulbs do exist, they are few and far between, more likely to break than the frosted globe bulbs, and will quickly outpace a switch / bulbs in cost.
#4. My workshop lights, 48" flourescent tubes. I’ve got 5 fixtures, and again, same as the kitchen fixture, tubes, all dumb. Will be upgrading to LED, but still dumb… Control with switch.
#4. Any lamp that is plugged into a smart plug. Bed Side lamps were opted for the smart plug instead. I didn’t really want dimming function, and the Ikea plugs were well reported and inexpensive… This configuration might change long run anyway if I decide I want dimming…
To boil it down, I have a total of 3 boxes of 4 A19s to complete my A19 bulbs, and 1 box of 4 br30 at $36.09 which take the place of something like 10 switches… The money works out in my favor.
I lose the ability to turn the light on / off manually without impacting the smart function.
I lose ability to control them at all in a cloud failure, again manual override still available, but can mess up smart function.
In order to prevent people in the house from inadvertently turning off the power to the fixtures, and instead more or less forcing the use of the smart features, I am using clear packing tape to tape the Decora style light switches into the on position. This has the effect of preventing accidentally turning the power off, but can be easily removed for normal switch operation. Also the clear tape is actually quite transparent and unobtrusive cosmetically.
At least with the cost of the specific bulbs I am using, I am able to get almost all of my lighting converted to smart lighting for a minor fraction of what built in switches would have cost, HOWEVER I do understand I don’t have all the same functions.
Long term? I am taking a wait and see approach. The A19s are of negligibly higher cost than dumb bulbs, the br30s, while still cheaper than dumb bulbs AND a smart switch, are not as great a value proposition. I do suspect long run I am probably going to convert to smart switches and dumb bulbs. I may relocate some of the smart bulbs to the lamps just to get dimmable features there, should I opt for that at some point, but for the time being, I don’t see a need…
I mean let’s be honest here, if I was the lucky sap that just won that 3/4 Billion powerball, I would be fully implementing smart features, in a completely different house… with armed security… But I am not that person, and cost is a HUGE factor for me at this point… But so is security. And like I have mentioned elsewhere, I include attention getting devices, lights, sirens, etc… as part of security, which is where systems like Ring fall short…