I’ve written before that for most people, smart wall switches and dimmers are better, and more affordable, solutions than smart light bulbs. Read all about why in this article. Still, for a lot of people, the idea of turning off their electricity and hardwiring a new switch or dimmer is intimidating. If you mixed up the wrong wires you could burn down your house. Switchmate is a new wireless light switch replacement that requires essentially no installation.
Full disclosure here—after checking out the company’s Indiegogo crowdfunding page, I sign-up up as a contributor so I could get one of the products for review, but also because I had just the perfect place in mind to put one.
There are two things that apparently make Switchmate easy. First, it uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect your smart phone or tablet to the replacement switch. This means you don’t need a gateway or hub. You can begin using it right away. Second, instead of replacing your old switch with a new one, the Switchmate magnetically attaches directly overtop your existing one. A mechanism inside the Switchmate flips your original switch up and down. Perhaps it’s a little bulky, but it doesn’t look too bad.
The company says there’s no limit to the number of Switchmates you can control through the app. You can also group them into rooms of scenes if you want to control multiple switches with one tap. The company information says that the products have a 150 foot range–that seems like quite a stretch, especially indoors with walls and obstructions, but I’ll see for myself when it arrives.
The wireless switch is powered by a single replaceable AA battery which is supposed to last about a year.
While the Switchmate doesn’t require a smart home hub, the founders recently announced that it is going to be compatible with the Logitech Harmony Home Hub. We’re told that future smart home system compatibility is in the works, but that’s likely limited for now because the only wireless system in the product is Bluetooth LE (BLE).
As wireless lighting control system, Switchmate is limited, but, assuming it works as described, it appears to be extremely simple and reasonably affordable. A single Switchmate costs $45 (though some contribution levels let people reserve theirs for less).
Switchmate isn’t the only Bluetooth smart light switch. The Avi-on light switch is another.
If you prefer more colorful smart light options, check out these Philips Hue alternatives.