You Don’t Need to Mess With Wires to Install a Smart Switch

Light Switch
Steve Cukrov/

Swapping out old light bulbs for smart bulbs is easy, but light switches can be more difficult. You don’t actually need to know anything about wiring to get a smart switch in your home. We’ll show you how.

Smart light switches have a few advantages over bulbs, but they’re not as easy to install. You need to cut power to the switch, disconnect the wires, and then connect the new smart switch with the correct wires. It’s not super difficult, but it can be intimidating.

What’s Wrong with Bulbs?

So, why not just use bulbs? Smart light bulbs are popular because they’re relatively affordable and easy to install. If you only want to control a few lamps around your house, smart bulbs are a great option, but filling out an entire home is going to be pricey. Think of how many bulbs are in your home versus switches.

The other problem is the “old-fashioned” light switches interfering with the smart bulbs. For the smart bulb to be connected, it needs power. That means the switch needs to stay on at all times, essentially making it useless. You lose the physical access points.

Smart Switches without Wiring

While it’s not impossible to install a smart light switch on your own, it’s certainly not for everyone, and dealing with electricity can be dangerous. You might also live somewhere that prevents you from replacing switches. Let’s look at a few alternatives.

There is a sub-section of smart switches that fit over the top of existing switches. Rather than replacing the switch itself, these devices physically flip the old switch. They run off of batteries and usually attach to the existing switch plate.

Switch over light switch.
Third Reality

The one you get is going to depend on the type of switches in your home. We picked up this Third Reality-brand switch from Amazon for around $25. It attaches to the old switch by using the screws from the plate. There are different thicknesses of standoffs to help you get it aligned perfectly with the old switch. Also, it includes a physical button, so the switch itself is still useful if you don’t want to pull out your phone.

Best for Toggle Switches

Third Reality Smart Switch

This switch easily installs over the top of your existing switch. It works with both toggle and paddle/rocker switches.


The SwitchBot is another popular option in this category. Rather than sit on top, it goes underneath the switch. There’s a little arm that moves at your command. The downside to the SwitchBot is it only works with paddle switches. On the plus side, it can basically push any button in your home, which is cool.

Best for Paddle Switches and Other Buttons

SwitchBot Smart Button Pusher

Stick this little robot under your paddle/rocker switch and you have control. It can also be used with other appliances.

You Have Options

Smart home technology can seem intimidating because of all the options, but that’s also the beauty of it. You’re not stuck with just one or two solutions for your needs. Maybe there’s a switch in your home that’s super old and can’t be replaced.

Now you have a way to control it from your phone. All it takes is a little ingenuity and some targeted Amazon searches.

The Best Smart Light Bulbs of 2022

Best Smart Bulb Overall
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance

Best Budget Smart Bulb
Wyze Bulb

Best Outdoor Smart Bulb
Ring Wired Floodlight

Best Smart Bulb For Google Assistant
C by GE

Best Smart Bulb for Amazon Alexa
Sengled Smart Bulb

Best Smart Bulb for Apple HomeKit
Sylvania Smart +

Best Color Smart Bulb
Lifx Mini

Best Wi-Fi Smart Bulb
Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulb

Best Bluetooth Smart Bulb
Govee LED Strip Lights

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