Which are better for HomeKit and in general: Smart bulbs or smart switches?

On our most recent IoT Podcast, Aaron called in with a question about smart lighting. His question is for HomeKit but really applies to smart homes on any platform. He’s looking for advice on which reliable smart bulbs to buy. And Aaron wants to know what HomeKit devices offer the most stability as he gets started with Apple’s ecosystem.

For nearly ten years, I’ve preferred using smart bulbs and would have offered up a number of brands that I think are best. But last year, I finally gave in to Stacey’s decade-long prodding to consider smart switches. And I see why they’re a better option than going with bulbs.

During a recent kitchen remodel, I added a few Lutron switches and the bridge needed to integrate them into a smart home platform. And I don’t regret the decision at all, even though I could have bought a dozen white smart bulbs for the cost of my three switches. The Lutron gear is completely rock solid and “just works.” Plus, with the bridge, you not only get support for HomeKit but also for Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

And unlike a smart bulb solution, you don’t have to worry about what happens when someone flips the switch. If that happens with a smart bulb implementation, the lights won’t work until you turn the manual switch back on.

So I’d suggest Aaron first look at Lutron switches as opposed to smart bulbs. However, if the decision is to go with bulbs, we recommend Philips Hue as our first choice. These too will require a bridge, but they’re the closest bulb solution when it comes to always working. Stacey has also found that Ikea’s Tradfri bulbs are also quite reliable, but they don’t work directly with HomeKit. While we’ve had good luck with other bulbs from Cync (formerly known as C by GE), and even Wyze, they don’t work with HomeKit either.

As far as Aaron’s question about what other HomeKit devices are stable, that’s an easy one: By and large, they all are in my experience.

Which are better for HomeKit and in general: Smart bulbs or smart switches?

I’ve transitioned to HomeKit products over the past year and have experienced far fewer stability issues with them as compared to those supported by Amazon and Google.

Much of this is due to the simplified nature of HomeKit devices: They only use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and they all run locally. Removing the cloud from the equation adds stability, not to mention reduced response times from smart devices.

I have the Logitech CircleView Doorbell, a Meross Garage Door opener, a Meross smart outlet, and various Eve sensors all running in my home on HomeKit. Oh, and various LED bulbs on the aforementioned Lutron system. It’s been very rare that I have any problems with these. And even when I have, the solution is usually a quick and painless removal and reconnection of the device.

Simply put: I’ve spent more time in the last year enjoying my HomeKit smart home as opposed to troubleshooting it. So I suggest figuring out what device types you want to add to your house and choosing one that supports HomeKit.

To hear Aaron’s question, as well as our full discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below:

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