One of the many benefits of using smart bulbs is that you can dim them remotely. You can set the mood for a cozy, romantic dinner with subdued lighting or enjoy family movie nights at home with low lights without having to leave your seat. All you have to do is open the corresponding app on your smartphone to control your smart light’s brightness level.
Smart bulbs do not work very well with dimmer switches, especially the traditional ones. Most of these smart lights have a built-in dimming mechanism, which could clash with old-fashioned dimmer control wired to the fixture. Dual dimming features could result in your lights flickering.
This article will talk about smart bulbs and their own dimming capability. You will learn how to dim your smart bulbs without the dimmer switch. You’ll also read about the problems you will encounter with smart bulbs and dimmer switches.
Smart bulbs and switches
Old incandescent bulbs require a switch for you to turn the lights on or off. If you want to dim these lights, you can do it manually with a dimmer switch wired and installed on your wall. But with smart bulbs, it is different.
Do you need a switch for your smart bulb to work?
With smart bulbs, switches are generally unnecessary, as long as your light fixture is wired directly to the electrical socket, where it gets power and electricity. Your smart light will turn on and off through an electrical chip inside. This chip receives the signal from your smartphone app or your virtual home assistant.
If your smart bulb is connected to an old light switch, you will have to leave that switch on at all times, even if your bulb is on standby. This way, you can make sure your bulb would stick to the lighting schedule you have set or would respond to your lighting instructions at any given time. Turning on your smart bulb through the dedicated app on your phone will not work if this bulb’s hard switch has been turned off.
In other words, your smart bulb and non-smart switch are not able to communicate with each other.
Smart bulbs and their own dimming mechanism
Smart bulbs have their own dimming mechanisms that work excellently. You can control your smart light’s brightness level smoothly and precisely, without the buzzing or flickering that you would typically experience with your old incandescent lights and their dimmer switches.
For you to dim or control your smart light’s brightness, all you need is to open the corresponding app on your smartphone. You can also hook up your smart bulbs remotely to virtual home assistants like Google Home and Alexa over your Wi-Fi network so your lights can receive voice commands. You can give voice commands like turning your bulbs on and off, changing light colors, or brightening and dimming your smart lights.
Different smart bulbs have different brightness and dimming levels
Different brands of smart bulbs dim a little differently from each other. And this is because the human eye perceives the changes in brightness levels logarithmically. You will need a significant drop in lumens for you to notice that your light has dimmed. Different brands have different approaches to the dimming curve.
So, to put it simply, if you ask Alexa to turn a particular smart bulb brand on with low light, the result might be different if you do the same thing with another brand of smart bulb.
Using smart bulbs with traditional dimmer switches
It is not a good idea to use your old-fashioned wall dimmer switch with your smart bulb because it could interfere with your light’s built-in dimmer mechanism in its microchip. Using a dimmer switch with your smart bulb would only have bothersome or unpleasant results.
The wiring of your wall dimmer switch could clash with the signals in your smart bulb’s microchip. This could result in your light flickering and producing a buzzing noise.
So, if you have decided to change your old bulbs into smart bulbs, you will have to uninstall your old dimmer switches or just condemn them altogether.
How about using a smart dimmer switch with a smart bulb?
There’s such a thing as a smart dimmer switch, a good bridge between an old bulb and an old dimmer switch. Smart dimmer switches have a microchip inside that enables them to control the brightness of your non-smart bulbs. A smart dimmer switch also allows you to set your light on a timer. You can turn your bulbs on or off remotely and set a schedule for your lights.
As such, smart switches work just like a traditional dimmer switch but with many added features. And you don’t have to stand up and touch your smart switch to operate it.
To control your smart dimmer or smart switch, you will need to connect it to a dedicated app on your smartphone. You can also connect it to your virtual assistant so you could give it voice commands.
A smart dimmer switch works with non-smart bulbs. Connecting a smart bulb to a smart dimmer switch would be an unnecessary waste of money. Using both smart devices would give you two apps, which would only be more confusing to your devices than convenient.
Moreover, the primary function of a smart dimmer switch is to control multiple ordinary lights in a room all at the same time. On the other hand, smart bulbs always need to be on and should not be constantly turned on and off with a switch. It is the smart lights, and not the switch, that dictate the amount of energy they draw—as such, using a smart switch to control your smart bulbs will only reduce their lifespan.
Smart switch vs. smart bulbs
So if you are in the process of automating your home, you may have to choose between smart bulbs and smart switches. There are pros and cons to each of them. For instance, many experts recommend picking smart switches over smart lights because switches are easier to use. But with smart bulbs, you get to enjoy the color-changing feature. Smart bulbs are also easier to fit and replace, whereas smart switches may require professional installation.
Ultimately, however, you have to pick the easier and more convenient one to integrate into your current home setup, which is more practical and cost-effective.
There are smart switches that work with smart bulbs, though, and you can enjoy the best of both worlds. For smart switches and smart bulbs to work together, both devices have to be compatible. The smart switch, for one, should be able to let power through to the lighting fixture constantly. A smart switch should also be able to select from different light colors.
One example is the Philips Hue dimmer switch, which works well with the Philips Hue bulbs.
Traditional dimmer switches work only with non-smart light bulbs. Pairing them with smart bulbs will not be a good idea because their technologies are not compatible. Moreover, smart bulbs have microchips that give them their own dimming mechanism. As such, traditional dimmer switches would only be redundant. Connecting both devices would only result in flickering lights and buzzing noises.
There are also smart dimmer switches available, but they were generally designed to work with non-smart bulbs. Connecting a smart dimmer switch to a smart bulb would also just be redundant and an unnecessary waste of money.