Why I am choosing smart bulbs over switches, at least for now

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.

Work Around.

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.

Take Away.

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…


Philips Hue - now from a subsidiary called Signify - and other smart bulb brands, wouldn’t be so successful if they didn’t have substantially valuable use cases.

In my case, a few of them get turned off too often because brother-in-law doesn’t want to use Alexa and it’s easier for him just to unscrew the lights in the guest room (ummm… well, my fault too, because one of them turns on with motion and I don’t want to shut off the rule every night).

  1. No neutral required.

  2. Individually adjustable even if on the same circuit: We have a combined kitchen / dining area with about 12 feet of track lighting all on the same circuit. The 6 individual heads have BR30 Hue Ambiance (white color temperature adjustable only), allow me to light the counter more brightly (and cooler white) than the dining table and and the artwork on the wall, and to turn off one of them that points to the doorway while not needed).

  3. Creating Scenes with the Hue App is nifty - I just wish that App were a little faster and that the Scenes could be directly imported into SmartThings.

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Yeah, I haven’t even touched on the color thing. While I am happy with the Sylvania bulbs, it is possible / likely I am going to spend the extra $$ to implement the full color bulbs on the BR30 fixtures.

Well… The Hue Ambiance are white only (but full color temperature control). A lot less expensive than RGB color.

$40 for a 2-pack of BR30 on Groupon and other discount sites. Philips packaging was incorrect for California, so they had to dump a lot of inventory.

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What do you mean incorrect for California?

Never mind. There appear to be more light bulb laws in California than I thought were physically possible…

I remember the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette 305 California. 305 cubic inches, of ineptitude paired with a pretty boring 3 speed automatic because, it’s the only model of the Corvette they could get approved for CA… I guess it’s the turn for light bulbs now…


At least you gave it great thought! I was getting the GE Switches for on average about $25 each. Mostly all of my fixtures have at least 3 bulbs. LED Bulbs are super cheap at about $1 each. So a 4 light fixture would cost me about $30 including the dimmable LED Bulbs.

Great to have choices though!

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Are the GE switches you were getting dimmable? I still have a few locations where switches are needed…

Mixed between Dimmers, Fan Controllers and Switches. I know it was over 50 but don’t know how many actually. The were all a couple of dollars apart from each other.

As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words:

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Zooz are a very popular budget brand, typically under $30, Nice new Z wave technology. This is the house brand for thesmartesthouse.com

If you need a bunch of them, get in touch with them and they may even be able to give you a quantity discount.

They have a staff member who is very active on this forum if you have any further questions:


At our house, we use smart switches where they make the most sense, we use smart bulbs where we need color or some other options. Choice is good. :sunglasses:


They neglected to include a warning on the package stating that light, glass, metal, cardboard packaging and breathing all cause cancer…or…something.


California has a law that says you can’t buy a table lamp unless it comes with an energy-saving bulb. Which is, of course, ridiculous when you are buying the lamp to use with a smart bulb. Because then you get a Dumb bulb that you can’t use for anything.

Anyway, packages for the bulbs are supposed to say if they are in the category which count for the sales of table lamps. (Seriously, I am not making this stuff up. I live in California. :sunglasses:)


For some reason the song God Blessed Texas leaps to mind…


Will be ordering those soon!

And air. The air in California causes cancer I heard…

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Well, the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart thereof.


Thanks for the mention @JDRoberts!

We’re having a sale now (through 4/7/19) so it’s a good time to pick up the ZEN22 model at $24.95 :slight_smile:


@TheSmartestHouse I saw that, and put in my order for the 3 I need. I didn’t see any in wall fan speed controllers. I need one for my 3 speed ceiling fan. The fan in the living room has the fan and lights wired separately.

Great, thanks you for your order! Let us know if you need any help setting them up, we can also send you custom instructions for installing them with smart bulbs so they don’t cut power to them when turning them off.

You can use the Zooz switches for the light part of the fan but the motor will need a dedicated fan switch to handle the inrush current and control fan speeds. HomeSeer makes one (if you like supporting small innovative business) and GE/Jasco/Honeywell makes one (if you like supporting big corporate business) :slight_smile:

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I prefer small business as long as they make a competitive product or service. I.E. I hate Olive Garden, but I absolutely love Marios Flying PIzza…

I am undecided if I want to “smart” my workshop lights at this point hence the 3 instead of 4 switches… I need one for my living room ceiling fan lights, one for my dining room chandalier, and one for my kitchen light.

Too bad you guys don’t have a SmartThings ceiling fan light / and fan controller similar to the King of Fans units sold by Home Depot under their Hampton Bay name… Not a huge fan of the BORG. (Big Orange Retail Giant).

Looking at the Home Seer, there seems to be some choice in the LED indicator colors to boot. That is a huge bonus as I was worried about the whole blue light thing… It won’t be often, but on occasion we have a full house, including visitors sleeping on the couch. I don’t want the LEDs keeping them awake…

I should probably ask, is there anything special I need to do in order to get the switches to pair to SmartThings?

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We’re actually developing a Z-Wave dimmer / fan controller combo switch that should be available later this year. Get in touch with Zooz support here and leave them your email so you can get notified about the progress of the project.

In most cases, you’ll be able to easily disable the LED indicators. We’re not sure how it works with HomeSeer but for all of the Zooz switches, you can change the LED indicator mode with 6 quick clicks of any of the paddles.

All Zooz switches (except for the ZEN27 model which is still pending) are officially certified to work with SmartThings so you’ll be able to choose them from the list if using the new app or they’ll be automatically recognized when being added to the Classic App. That also means they’ll be running locally so much more reliable connectivity.

Since the new SmartThings platform doesn’t support advanced parameter input yet, you won’t be able to get advantage of the many advanced settings we equip our switches with. If using the Classic app however, you can still access them by installing a custom device handler. The process is described in detail on Zooz support pages and doesn’t take more than 5 minutes (it’s a copy paste operation). Click here for sample instructions for the ZEN22 dimmer.