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One of the hardest parts about starting or expanding a smart home is knowing you’ll have to fill the rooms of your house with tech that screams “this is a gadget!” The second generation Amazon Echo and Google Home both look pretty nice, but each still takes up an outlet and doesn’t exactly blend in.
Enter ecobee’s Switch+.
The Switch+ is a traditional-looking light switch with an entire Amazon Echo built into it. Don’t worry, it still has a button you can push to turn the light it’s connected to on and off, but this switch can do a lot more.
For instance, you can ask the Switch+ to control smart-home accessories in other parts of your house, or place an order on Amazon, just like you can with a full-sized Amazon Echo. You can even use its small, built-in speaker to play music, although you’re probably better off leaving that to a full-sized bluetooth speaker.
It even has a motion sensor built into it, so it can automatically turn off the lights in a room if it’s empty, or turn them on when you walk in.
While your options of how to use the Switch+ once its installed are wide open, there are a couple of physical limitations about where you can put it.
First, the light fixture you install it with needs to have a neutral wire available, which is pretty standard in modern homes, but less common in older ones. Second, the switch it replaces has to be a single-pole light switch, meaning it’s the only switch that controls a specific light or set of lights.
If you have a three-way light switch, a situation where two light switches control the same light (like at the top and bottom of a staircase, or at the two ends of a hallway), the Switch+ cannot be installed.
Speaking of installation, ecobee has a very detailed instruction video that walks you through how to set up the Switch+ step by step. It won’t require any special tools, but if you’re wary of dealing with your home’s electrical system, you might want to call an electrician or a friend that’s more comfortable with home repairs.
It might not be as simple as screwing in a light bulb, but once this job is done, you’ll have a smarter house without making it look overly techy. And because ecobee built Alexa into this light switch, it’ll only get smarter and more capable as Amazon makes improvements to its smart assistant over time.
All you’ll need to do once its installed is connect the switch to Wi-Fi using ecobee’s iOS or Android app, which also lets you link it to your Amazon account to enable its Alexa functionality.
For the DIY enthusiast, ecobee’s Switch+ is a great investment. It gives you an unobtrusive way to start or expand your smart home using the most open and well established platform in the space.