We Tried It: Kasa Smart Light Switches
Looking to add smart home functionality without breaking the bank? The Kasa Smart Switch is a brilliant solution.
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Admittedly, I’m a tech nerd. I love tweaking settings on my router, adding new functionality to old gaming systems—and of course embracing all things smart home. When I heard that controlling lights with your voice—or phone—came into vogue, I jumped on the bandwagon.
I started out with smart plugs, trying different brands until I landed on the Kasa line by hardware manufacturer TP-Link. Other brands had wonky integration with Google Assistant (sorry, Alexa lovers) and didn’t work as well as I had hoped. With the Kasa line, everything works as it should and integration is easy. After graduating from the smart plug world, I upped my game by delving into smart switches.
What are Kasa Smart Switches?
Smart switches are essentially light switches that connect to your home WiFi network, allowing you to operate them from anywhere via voice commands or an app on your phone. Each Kasa Smart Switch is made by TP-Link, a company known for its routers, modems and other home networking devices. The Kasa line also has smart light bulbs, security cameras and smart plugs.
Kasa Smart Switch Product Features
Their smart switch lineup consists of three models. The HS200 is your basic, regular light switch. The HS210 is made to replace a three-way switch, and the HS220 is a regular switch that offers dimmer controls. I tested the HS210 and the HS220.
Control of Kasa devices is done through the Kasa app, available for download in the Google Play Store (I’m an Android user) and the Apple App Store. They can also be voice controlled with Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana, as well as IFTT, Nest and more.
The app is streamlined and offers a nice user experience for Kasa Smart Switch owners. All of your devices show up on the main page in a group with other Kasa products (smart plugs, smart switches, bulbs and more). If you have TP-Link cameras, you can control them here also.
Once connected, use the app to set up routines—having certain products come on in the morning and go off at night, for instance. For further functionality you can set up integrations with other smart products.
The Kasa Smart Switch comes in a decora (rocker) style, not the traditional toggle style. The rest of the switches in my home are toggle style, so I’d love to see them roll this option out eventually.
How We Tested It
Installing the smart switches is just like installing any regular light switch. But I’m no electrician, so it took a little fiddling to get them to work properly. It was fairly straightforward and easy enough for the average user, though.
Since I already had the Kasa app on my phone, I launched it to learn the installation steps. From the main screen, tap the + sign in the upper-right corner. Kasa asks if you are adding a new device or setting up a group to control multiple devices simultaneously. I chose device. Next, pick the type of device. In this case “Smart Switches.” Then, the type of switch. I chose “Smart Three-Way Switch” and “Smart Dimmer” for the other install.
Here’s where the install instructions really begin. The app asks if you’ve already installed the device. If you click “Not Yet,” it walks you through the basic wiring process, with a bold warning: “If you are unfamiliar with basic electrical wiring, please consult an electrician.” Noted!
The app prompts you to test your WiFi strength (to connect the device to your network) and tells you what tools you’ll need for the project. In this case, a couple of screwdrivers, a pliers and a continuity tester, which I don’t think I used.
Next, the app gives a basic rundown of three-way switches and asks you to enter the number and color of the wires you’re working with. After entering the information, the app—with really nice renderings—guides you through how to remove the old switch and replace it with the new one. It prompts you to take pictures and label wires along the way.
For the most part, this is all straightforward. I had some minor blunders along the way. But that’s just how any home DIY project goes.
I had trouble installing the dimmer switch, not because of the product itself, but because of the wires I had in my box. My particular set has a single dimmer along with a three-way switch. There was an extra wire in my configuration that didn’t match what I found in the Kasa app. In the end, I grouped it with a bundle of same-color wires and everything worked perfectly.
Kasa Smart Light Switch Pros
- The switches are surprisingly affordable, and currently on sale
- Step-by-step instructions make the switches easy to install
- You can control the lights through the Kasa app, or through Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana, IFTT or Nest
Kasa Smart Light Switch Cons
- Figuring out what to do with the wires shipped alongside each switch can be confusing
- The switch is currently only available in a decora (rocker) style, not the traditional toggle style
Next, I had to connect to the switches to my WiFi network. Again, the app walked me through the process. These switches operate on the 2.4 GHz band on your router, like most smart home devices. Following the app’s instructions, setup was simple. The switch uses your phone to piggyback onto the home’s WiFi network during setup. Then it communicates directly with your router.
After the Kasa Smart Switch is configured, you can turn it on and off with the app. When you push the app button to the corresponding switch (or smart plug), the device turns on instantly. There’s no lag time between touching the phone screen and the device activating, which is pretty cool.
During setup, you can name your app. Choose monikers like “outside lights,” “hallway lights,” “toy room,” etc. You can also change these later within the app. There are little icons to assign to each device, representing what it controls to streamline the appearance and function.
Smart Home Integration
Depending on which smart home ecosystem you have, connecting the Kasa hardware is really a snap. I’m a Google Home and Assistant user. That made it easy for the Google Home app to automatically find the connected switches and place them on the main screen. From there, I just had to move them to the correct room and set up any groups I wanted. Amazon’s Alexa is similar, which makes setting up the Kasa Smart Switch with any other smart accent lighting a breeze.
To access the voice control features, you need Google Home, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana-equipped speakers or other devices. My home already had several Google Home speakers to test out. Once connected, it allows you to use voice commands like, “OK Google, turn on the outside lights,” or “OK Google, dim the basement lights.”
Update: Two Years Later
Eventually the switch in my garage that controls our outside lights stopped connecting to our WiFi network. It isn’t far from the router, so I didn’t believe that was the issue.
Then I thought it might be this: Our dual-band WiFi mesh router broadcasts the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands simultaneously under a single SSID (the name you see when connected to your network). Kasa switches use the 2.4 GHz band. To connect to the network, the switch piggybacks onto my phone, before connecting directly with the router. My phone defaults to the 5 GHz band, so that could be the issue.
Final Verdict on the Kasa Smart Switch
I definitely recommend the Kasa line of smart switches. Their app is easy to understand and easy to use. Plus, if you have other smart products from their line, you can control them all with the same Kasa Smart Switch app.
Smart assistant integration makes the whole experience even cooler. The products are affordable, considering the many features, and the minimalist design integrates easily into most any decor.
Where to Buy Kasa Smart Switch Products
Scoop up your own Kasa Smart Switch at Amazon. They come in individual packages for about $40 or as discounted sets of two or three. Scoop one (or many) of them up before they sell out.
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