We’ve tested dozens of different types of 3 way smart light switches to find the best 3 way on/off style smart light switches for you. We’ve narrowed down the top two choices that we use, and recommend based on our experience installing and using 3 way smart light switches.
In this post we cover standard on/off style 3 way smart light switches but we also have covered the best 3 way smart dimmer switches in another post. Deciding if you want a regular on/off style switch or a dimmer switch is really a matter of personal preference but most people use on/off style smart switches for stairways and then use dimmer switches for living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. Typically when you want to turn the lights on for stairs you want to be able to see and ambiance is not a concern.
What is a 3 way smart light switch?
3 way light switches are typically found at stairwells and allow you to turn on and off your lighting from both the top and bottom of the stairs so that you don’t have to walk up or down your stairs in the dark. Many municipalities require that 3 way light switches be installed at stairwells. 3 way light switches are also found in rooms where a person would like to be able to control the lighting from multiple locations, in larger rooms with multiple entrances a 3 way light switch may be desirable to allow for control when entering or leaving a room from more than one entrance.
Related Post: Best 3 Way Smart Dimmer Switches
A 3 way smart light switch will work just like a normal 3 way light switch in that you can turn your lighting on or off from either location but it can also be turned off with your phone or by using voice commands with Alexa. I have found that I most often use voice commands to turn on and off my smart lighting because I can do it as I walk in or out of a room and the response is almost instantaneous. Voice control of smart lighting adds a whole new level of luxury to any home. Controlling your lighting with your voice will require that you have an Alexa device like an Echo Dot, Echo Show or Sonos With Alexa built in. My favorite Alexa devices for voice control are the Echo Show and Sonos Beam. You can also use Google Home products to control your smart light switches with voice and it’s mostly a matter of preference between Google & Alexa devices.
You can find 3 way smart light switches that work with wifi, z-wave or zigbee on the market. We typically recommend using wifi smart light switches when possible because they don’t require a smart home hub and will work with pretty most wifi routeres and will allow for future compatibility with any smart home hub like Alexa or Google Home.
If you wan’t to learn the difference between wifi, z-wave and zigbee home automation protocols we cover the topic extensively in a smart home podcast.
Related Post: How Smart Homes Work Explaining wifi, z-wave and zigbee
Top Pick - Best 3 Way Smart Light Switch: Leviton 1000W
I personally have a few of these in my home for 3 way switch locations at my stairwells. They have worked flawlessly for years without any issues and I have them connected to both Amazon Alexa and Google Home for voice control. These 3 way on/off style smart light switches connect to standard home wifi networks from your cell phone and don’t require any kind of smart home hub. The Leviton app is simple to use and connecting the lights switches to the app is easy, just make sure you follow the instructions to put the light switches into pairing mode when trying to connect to the app. Once you have the smart 3 way light switches connected you can control them through the phone app at home or remotely with just a swipe of the app on your phone.
The 3 way smart light switch functionality requires that you purchase both the standard Leviton on/off wifi light switch and a matching paired smart wifi switch remote as they call it. The light switches were easy to wire up, without issue, they use a neutral, hot, load and traveler wire to work together. If the remote is not working most likely it’s possible that traveler wire and load wire are connected backwards, it’s typically an easy fix just take out the switch and switch the load and traveler wires.
It’s important to take a picture of the existing wiring before you pull off the old switch so you can identify the wiring for the new switch, it also doesn’t hurt to mark the wires so you know which goes where on the new switches.
For this project you when you take off the light switch covers for each switch as part of a 3 way switch you will want to inspect each junction box and make sure you place the smart light switch in the box that has the right number of wires in the “remote smart switch” in the box with fewer wires. The smart light switch will require 4 wire connections plus the ground ( Hot, Load, Neutral and Traveler). The remote will only require 3 wires plus the ground ( Hot, Neutral and Traveler).
Leviton 3 Way Smart Light Switch (On / Off Style)
(You must also purchase the matching smart switch remote listed below for the switch to have 3 way functionality.)
Leviton 3 Way Smart Light Switch (Remote)
How do you wire a 3 way smart light switch?
Wiring a 3 way smart light switch like the Leviton wifi smart light switch is a relatively easy task if you have a newer home built after 1975 or your wiring has been upgraded since 1975. This is because typically houses wired after 1975 will have have a neutral wire, wired into the switch box which allows for easy connection of smart light switches.
Below shows a typical wiring diagram for a smart wifi light switch. Wiring instructions are included in the box, and your wiring might be different from the below diagram but this is generally the 3 way switch wiring setup we see in 90% of homes newer than 1975. You should always follow the included instructions or you can hire a local electrician if you don’t feel comfortable doing the work yourself.
If you have an existing neutral in your switch boxes it typically takes about 15-30 minutes to install and set up each smart light switch. If you don’t have a neutral wire (white wire) in your switch box you will need to use a smart light switch that does not require a neutral wire. The smart light switches in the Lutron Caseta line do not require a neutral wire. The trade off is that they require a smart home hub that you will need to setup and connect for proper functionality.
Runner Up - Best 3 Way Smart On/Off Light Switch
The Lutron Caseta on/off smart light switch, combined with a Lutron Home Hub & Pico Remote offers everything you need make your three way switch smart. The Caseta smart light switches all connect to a central hub that can then control any other Caseta smart light switches that you add to the system. The hub then connects to your router and can be controlled via wifi though the app for in home or remote control. The Lutron Caseta smart light switches will work with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
The Caseta smart light switches do offer two unique features not offered by many other smart light switches.
The Caseta lights switches don’t require a neutral wire which can be very helpful if you are trying to rewire an older house which often don’t have neutral wires in the switch boxes. The Caseta light switches also work with caseta pico remotes which are actually battery powered but look the exact same as normal light switches. This means that you can turn any switch into a three way switch even without rewiring the switch because you can just mount the pico remote on the wall and connect it to the hub and it will enable three way switch functionality through programming in the hub.
If you already have a three way switch and want to use the Caseta smart light switches you can just wire the circuit so that only one switch in the 3 way circuit is controlling the on/off function of the lights and on the other side of the circuit you will remove the old switch and cap or connect the wires as needed in the junction box and install the Caseta pico remote where the old switch was and it will look identical to the fully wired smart light switch on the other side of the circuit.
*This kit allows you to mount the Pico Remote in a standard wall plate to make it look built in.