How We Tested
In order to adequately test these dimmer switches, we built a custom lighting rig to house them for our tests and connected them to a regular home WiFi router. We evaluated their setup processes, apps, physical dimming performance, digital dimming performance, smart home ecosystem integrations, remote control capabilities, and how well they work with popular virtual assistants, including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant.
As for Z-Wave dimmers, we standardized our tests by connecting them to the same Wink Hub 2. We then subsequently ran them through the same tests mentioned above. For more on how we test products, please visit our How We Test page.
Do I Need Smart Bulbs or a Smart Switch?
Replacing every light in your home with smart bulbs can get expensive quick (especially if you have lots of multi-bulb fixtures). That’s one of the best things about buying smart dimmers and switches—you can convert an entire chandellier’s-worth of “dumb” bulbs to smart ones with one switch. Depending on the smart dimmer you choose, the initial cost of installation may be slightly higher than it would be to simply install the cheapest smart bulbs, but your dimmer switch will never burn out or need to be replaced, which will save you money over time. Plus you will never run into the frustrating scenario where you are yelling at Alexa to turn on the light, but she can’t because somebody turned the regular light switch off without thinking, and therefore your smart bulbs are off-line and there you are just screaming into the darkness for no reason. Not that we have ever experienced anything like that.
Lutron, the brand behind our favorite smart dimmer, offers a handy compatibility checker that will show you which dimmers are compatible with the brand and model of bulbs you already own.
Smart bulbs might be a more attractive starting point for those who want to ease their way into smart lighting slowly, one bulb at a time. The more expensive smart bulbs are also loaded with lots of options when it comes to color lighting and scenes. A smart dimmer won’t offer you the same bells and whistles, but it’s generally just less fussy—and tech that’s less fussy is something we could all use a little more of.