There are several advantages to using Smart Technology in your home, one of which is the ability to turn lights and appliances on and off at specified times. The convenience of turning lights on at sunset and off later in the evening can be accomplished in one of two ways; either by smart bulbs or by a smart switch.
Part of that decision should be based on the number of lights being controlled by the switch. With several lights, each smart bulb will need to be set up individually on your cell phone app, whereas the switch is just one unit. However, with multiple smart bulbs, each one can be managed separately and set to turn on and off at different times.
My home has five outdoor lights on the porch and driveway which are controlled by one switch. I initially installed 5 GE Smart Bulbs, but found having to use my cell phone to turn them all on and off was inconvenient. Five GE Smart bulbs come in at $15 each, or $75 for all the lights needed.
temp-post-imageI decided it was better to go with a smart switch instead and went with a Leviton switch, which is compatible to my Wink Hub, at a cost of $45 at Home Depot. I used standard LED bubs at $3 each, so there is a $15 savings by choosing the switch. The upside to the switch is the lights can be turned on and off at any time at the wall, whereas with the smart bulbs, turning them on and off can only be managed through the phone app.
I did the Leviton switch installation myself. The smart switch can easily be swapped out with an existing light switch. The process is simple enough that this is a DIY project and an electrician is probably not needed. Leviton provides good instructions complete with diagrams. Just be sure to turn the power off at the breaker before starting the replacement.
With the power shut down, remove the old switch by cutting the wires and strip fresh sections for the Leviton unit. Once the wires have been connected, and before putting the switch back into the wall, turn the power on and assure the unit is functioning. There is a very small green LED light that should be lit when the switch is in the off position. If the green LED is not active, or the lights don’t turn on, there is obviously a wiring problem.
I did find that the two black wires could only be connected one way, meaning they were not interchangeable. The instructions do not tell you this. If the switch does not work initially, try swapping the black wires around and test it again.
On you have successfully tested the lights, shut the power off once more and push all of the wiring back into the electrical box and use the screws provided to secure the switch to the wall. You will probably need to replace the switch cover which can also be purchased at Home Depot for 79 cents. With the lights working, it’s time to add the switch to the Wink app. I have found that the GE Smart Bulbs, and the Cree Bulbs to a greater extent, can be somewhat finicky when connecting to my Wink Hub. Following the on-screen instructions, the Leviton switch activates almost instantly and has not lost its connection with the hub since the initial connection process.
Overall, the installation is relatively simple and took about 20 minutes. Smart bulbs are probably better suited for single bulb lamps, and switches for multiple bulbs and lights that need the ability to operate all at once.
Jim Brown is a Realtor® and agent success leader at Private Label Realty in Denver, Colorado. He advises, assists and mentors agents at all levels to help them succeed and grow their real estate business. www.JimBrown.me