Replacing a traditional light switch with a remote control light switch is easier than you think. There are several new products on the market that add functionalities to your lights and make switches more accessible than ever before. Find out more about these different technologies and decide which one is best for you.
How Do Remote Control Light Switches Work?
Remote control features were added to light switches thanks to radio frequency and infrared technologies years ago. New products rely on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to add a remote control functionality to your light switches and connect them to your Smartphone. Here is how these different technologies work.
RF Light Switches
These light switches communicate with a transmitter via a radio signal. The transmitter is typically a small remote powered with batteries.
The downside of this technology is that you need to wire a receiver to the junction box of the light switch. The advantage of relying on radio frequency to remotely operate a light switch is that your remote should work within a 150-feet radius. You can use one of these light switches without changing the light bulbs you use.
There is another use of radio frequency technology for light switches. Some brands offer a switch that communicates with the bulb via a radio signal. Some products come with a remote so you can use the remote and the wall switch to turn the light on and off.
The downside of these products is that you need to purchase compatible light bulbs. The main advantage is that you can install a light switch in a convenient location without any wiring.
IR Light Switches
These remote control light switches use the same technology you would find in a TV remote. In fact, it is possible to turn a TV remote into a remote for your lights if you like working on DIY projects.
You can purchase a light switch with a built-in IR receiver that comes with a small remote. The installation process only takes a few seconds. All you have to do is replace the old light switch with a new one.
The downside of this type of remote control light switch is that a physical obstacle can stop the IR signal. Just like with a TV remote, you will need to directly in front of the switch and have a clear path for the IR signal to reach the switch.
This technology is an affordable way to make a light switch more accessible. However, changing the location of an existing light switch will require you to install some new wiring.
An IR light switch would make sense if you already have a light switch in a convenient location and want to be able to turn your lights on and off without getting up.
Bluetooth Remote Control Light Switches
Bluetooth technology allows you to control your lights with your Smartphone. You need to either install a light switch or a bulb with a built-in Bluetooth module.
If you enjoy working on DIY projects, you can turn any light or lamp into a smart light switch by installing a small Bluetooth module.
Controlling your lights with your Smartphone is a convenient alternative to using a small remote, and the apps you can use to control your lights typically come with different features that allow you to control brightness and colors for your light bulbs.
Installing a smart remote control light switch is fairly easy since there is no need to change the existing wiring. A Bluetooth light bulb is even easier to install.
The advantage of using Bluetooth technology is that you don’t need to carry a small RF or IR remote with you to operate your lights. You won’t have to worry about misplacing your small remote, and Smartphone apps typically have more features than RF or IR remotes.
Wi-Fi Light Switches
These light switches are similar to the products that use a Bluetooth module except that the light bulb or switch is connected via a Wi-Fi network.
This is an interesting option to explore if you use a home automation system or want to create one. You could connect your smart light switch or smart bulb to your home automation hub and control it via your phone or smart speaker.
You can also find connected switches and bulbs that don’t require you to use a home automation hub. These devices will connect directly to your Smartphone so you can control your lights via an app. Note that some apps allow you to automate some behaviors even if you don’t use a home automation hub.
Wi-Fi technology is probably the option that makes the most sense for you if you want to reduce your energy bills. Your home automation hub can automatically control your lights, including turning them off when no one is home or adjusting the brightness to reduce your energy usage.
Why Use Remote Control Light Switches
Replacing an old light switch with one that you can control remotely can seem like a small upgrade. However, this will make turning your lights on and off a lot easier, and you could end up saving on your energy bills.
Smart switches and light bulbs can be programmed to automatically turn the lights off after a certain hour, and you can adjust the brightness to use less energy.
Easy installation is another advantage. You could place a light switch in a more convenient location without having to rewire anything if you opt for Bluetooth or RF technology.
A remote control light switch would also be a lot more accessible for someone with reduced mobility. Any of the technologies described above would make it possible to turn lights on and off without getting up.
There are some additional features that come with smart switches and smart light bulbs. You can find products that will remember your lighting preferences in function of the time of the day, or that will adjust the lighting hue in function of the mood lighting you request via your Smartphone or smart speaker.
Which Remote Control Light Switch Makes Sense For You?
You should ask yourself a few questions before choosing a remote control light switch. There are different technologies available, and the best products for your needs depends on what your priorities are.
These are the things to consider when choosing a new light switch:
- Do you want a switch that would be more accessible for someone with reduced mobility?
- Is saving energy your primary goal?
- Do you need additional features such as automation?
- What is your budget?
- How much work are you willing to put into the installation process?
- Are you willing to hire a professional to install your new light switches?
If you want a solution with a very simple installation process, light bulbs with built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity would be the best option for you. All you have to do is swap your old light bulbs with smart light bulbs and install an app on your phone to control your lights.
If you would like additional features such as automation or want to adjust hue and brightness, again, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology is what would make the most sense for you. Remember to look for device compatible with your home automation hub if you use one and to check the features built into the app compatible with the smart switch or smart light bulb you are interested in.
The downside of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technologies is their reliability. You can run into connectivity issues when using Bluetooth-enabled devices, and relying on Wi-Fi means you wouldn’t be able to control your lights if your Wi-Fi network is down.
This is why RF and IR technologies are more reliable. Opting for an RF or IR remote control light switch means you won’t depend on another device such as your phone or smart speaker to control your light and you won’t have to worry about connectivity issues. Accidentally misplacing your light switch remote is the main drawback associated with these solutions.
The most convenient solution is a draw between RF and Wi-Fi technology. A light switch that uses a radio signal can be controlled within a 150-feet radius, which makes this technology the most convenient and reliable solution.
On the other hand, a smart switch or light bulb connected to your Wi-Fi network can be controlled anywhere in your home from a phone or a smart speaker. Automating some behaviors can be a plus if you want to save energy.
If you are hesitating between these two solutions, keep in mind that an RF light switch is more complicated to install compared to Wi-Fi, but more reliable since you won’t depend on your home Wi-Fi network.
Replacing traditional light switches with remote control light switches will help you save on your energy bills and make these switches more accessible. Take the time to compare the different technologies available on the market so you can choose the right product for your needs.