Guides

Can a Smart Plug Dim Lights? (YES, Here Are the Best Options)

Yes, a smart plug can be used to dim the lights but it must be a specialized, dimmable smart plug. The best dimmable smart plug is the Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Dimmer Plug. You’ll also want to ensure the bulb you are dimming is capable of being dimmed (preferably NOT a Compact fluorescent light bulb).


Smart plug vs. smart plug dimmer

The standard smart plug has the ability to turn your lights on and off. You can control your lights remotely (i.e. with your phone) and you can set up automations and schedules to turn your lights on and off automatically. But that’s more or less it.

Smart plug dimmers on the other hand, can do all of the above PLUS dim your lights. When I say “dim your lights” what I really mean is dim your lamp, or lamps (if the smart plug dimmer allows for more than one plug).

So, before you go out and just buy the first smart plug you see, you’ll want to make sure:

  1. It has the dimmer feature built in
  2. It works with your existing smart home setup
    • Smart plug dimmers require a smart hub in order to work
  3. It supports the type of bulb your trying to dim
  4. It supports the number of prongs your lamp has
    • The main consideration here is if you have a lamp with a three pronged plug, you’ll want to make sure the smart plug dimmer supports it

There are not that many of these products on the market today, but here are the four best smart plug dimmers and how they stack-up against one another.


Best smart plug dimmers

Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Dimmer PlugLeviton DZPD3-2BW Decora Smart Plug-in DimmerGE Zigbee Smart Dimmer PlugLutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer
ProductZ-Wave Plus best dimmer plugLeviton DZPD3-2BW Decora best dimmer plugGE Zigbee best dimmer plugLutron Caseta best dimmer plug
Supported bulbs & loadsLED, CFL, & INC/HAL: 500WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300W
ProtocolZ-Wave PlusZ-WaveZigbeePatented Clear Connect® wireless technology
Smart hub requiredyesyesyesyes
Supported smart hubsSmartThings
Wink
ADT Pulse
Trane
Vivint
Nexia
Honeywell, HomeSeer Harmony Home Hub Extender Vera
Connect
Iris
SmartThings
Wink
ADT Pulse
Trane
Vivint
Nexia
Honeywell, HomeSeer Harmony Home Hub Extender Vera
Connect
Iris
SmartThings
Wink
PEQ
Logitech Harmony Home Hub Extender
Cox
Rogers
Comcast Xfinity Comporium
Requires Lutron smart bridge
Works with Amazon Alexayes*yes*yes*yes
Works with Google Homeyes*yes*yes*yes
Number of supported plugs1 smart plug per device1 smart plug per device2 (1 always on, normal outlet & 1 ZigBee enabled outlet)2 smart plugs per device
Number of prongs supported3 prong2 prong1 always on outlet (3 prong) & 1 ZigBee enabled outlet (2 prong)2 prong
Rating5 stars4 stars4 stars4.6 stars
Price Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon

*Only if the smart hub you’re using is Alexa and/or Google Assistant compatible (most are)


Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Dimmer Plug

can a smart plug dim lights Z-Wave Plus smart plug dimmer

Pros:

  • Works with most smart hubs
  • Supports a three pronged plug
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Setup is a little bumpy

 Check Price on Amazon


Leviton DZPD3-2BW Decora Smart Plug-in Dimmer

can a smart plug dim lights Leviton-DZPD3-2BW-Decora

Pros:

  • Works with most smart hubs
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Only supports a two pronged plug

 Check Price on Amazon


GE Zigbee Smart Dimmer Plug

can a smart plug dim lights GE Zigbee Smart Dimmer Plug

Pros:

  • Supports 2 plugs, one is a normal outlet and the other is the smart outlet
  • Provides energy monitoring reports
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Pretty bulky (horizontally), although it will not block any outlets

Check Price on Amazon


Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer

can a smart plug dim lights Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer

Pros:

  • Each device has two smart outlets, so you can control two lamps
  • Optionally comes with a physical remote you can use in addition to your phone

Cons:

  • Only works with the Lutron Smart Bridge (you can check the price here)
  • The plug + the smart bridge can be fairly pricey

Check Price on Amazon


Types of bulbs that can be dimmed with a smart plug

Part of the answer to the question, “Can a smart plug dim lights”, is whether the bulb you’re trying to dim can actually be dimmed at all!

Incandescent/Halogen (INC/HAL)

These are your traditional light bulbs that use a heating filament and have been around for over 100 years now.

incandescent dimmable light bulb

The good news is that almost all incandescent and halogen light bulbs can be dimmed and they have the largest controllable dimming range (0%-100%). So you get a lot of dimming control with these bulbs.

The downside is that they usually use quite a bit of energy and don’t last very long.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LED)

LEDs don’t use any filaments and instead have electrons that flow through them, creating photons – light we can see. Photons generate little to no heat.

LED dimmable light bulb

Even while consuming very little energy, LEDs can get extremely bright.

The implications of this are big – LEDs use far less energy and last much longer than any other “bulb” alternative.

Most LED bulbs are dimmable but you’ll still want to check the packaging to make sure.

The downside of consuming such little energy is that their dimming range is slightly limited (70-90%).

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)

Compact fluorescent lights use about 1/5th the electricity that normal incandescent bulbs use.

CFL dimmable light bulb

You’ve probably seen them before. They look like those long tubular fluorescent bulbs in schools and hospitals, but instead they’re coiled up into a bulb. Hence, compact fluorescent light.

Note that most CFL bulbs cannot be used in a dimmable fixture, and ones that can, can only be dimmed down to about 20% or so before you start to run into some issues.

The packaging the CFL bulb comes in should very clearly state whether or not the bulb can be dimmed, so be on the look out for that notice before you buy.


Signs of incompatibility with your smart plug dimmer

Whether you’re attempting to dim a table, floor, or hanging lamp, the signs that your lamp is incompatible with your smart plug dimmer are similar.

Here are some of the most common issues you might experience:

  • The bulb you’re trying to dim just won’t dim down to a low enough level
  • The bulb starts to flicker or blink at certain dimming thresholds
  • The bulb or lamp starts to make a humming or buzzing noise
  • The lamp shuts off completely when dimmed at a certain level
  • The bulb gets brighter very quickly at a certain threshold
  • The bulb doesn’t respond at all to the dimmer and stays at the same brightness

The first thing you should troubleshoot if you run into any of these issues is the bulb. What type of bulb is it? Are you using a bulb that doesn’t respond great to dimmers?

If the bulb is fine you can try to troubleshoot a bit more with the dimmer and/or lamp but chances are that the lamp and the smart plug dimmer are just not meant to be together.


Benefits of smart plug dimmers

The lighting in your home has a much bigger impact on your emotions than you likely give it credit for.

A good deal of science has gone into researching lighting and its affect on us and one of the most interesting findings is this: the more intense the lighting, the greater a person’s emotions — both positive and negative.

During the day, intense light is probably OK. But towards the end of the day, when we are trying to get our bodies to unwind, intense light can start to have a negative impact on us. It inhibits our ability to relax, and ultimately get to sleep.

Similarly, when we wake up early in the morning, it’s nice to be able to ease into the day. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my emotions heightened when I first wake up.

By controlling the levels of light in your bedroom, and your home, smart plug dimmers are able to facilitate your emotional state and promote general wellbeing.

Conclusion

The lighting in our home has a pretty big impact on our mood and emotions. The ability to control the brightness of our lighting goes a long way.

An inexpensive and easy way to gain this control is with a smart plug dimmer, and while there aren’t a ton of smart plug dimmers on the market today, there are a few that work really well.

Before you make your purchase you’ll want to make sure of a few things:

  • Confirm that your smart plug dimmer is compatible with your smart hub.
  • Check that the bulbs you’re trying to dim are capable of being dimmed and that they play nice with your smart plug dimmer.
  • Look at the plug on the lamp you’re dimming and make sure the smart plug dimmer supports that number of plugs.

Once you’ve checked all these considerations off the list, go ahead and make your purchase!

What’s your experience been with these products?

Leave me a comment down below.

Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Dimmer PlugLeviton DZPD3-2BW Decora Smart Plug-in DimmerGE Zigbee Smart Dimmer PlugLutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer
ProductZ-Wave Plus best dimmer plugLeviton DZPD3-2BW Decora best dimmer plugGE Zigbee best dimmer plugLutron Caseta best dimmer plug
Supported bulbs & loadsLED, CFL, & INC/HAL: 500WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300WLED & CFL: 100W; INC/HAL: 300W
ProtocolZ-Wave PlusZ-WaveZigbeePatented Clear Connect® wireless technology
Smart hub requiredyesyesyesyes
Supported smart hubsSmartThings
Wink
ADT Pulse
Trane
Vivint
Nexia
Honeywell, HomeSeer Harmony Home Hub Extender Vera
Connect
Iris
SmartThings
Wink
ADT Pulse
Trane
Vivint
Nexia
Honeywell, HomeSeer Harmony Home Hub Extender Vera
Connect
Iris
SmartThings
Wink
PEQ
Logitech Harmony Home Hub Extender
Cox
Rogers
Comcast Xfinity Comporium
Requires Lutron smart bridge
Works with Amazon Alexayes*yes*yes*yes
Works with Google Homeyes*yes*yes*yes
Number of supported plugs1 smart plug per device1 smart plug per device2 (1 always on, normal outlet & 1 ZigBee enabled outlet)2 smart plugs per device
Number of prongs supported3 prong2 prong1 always on outlet (3 prong) & 1 ZigBee enabled outlet (2 prong)2 prong
Rating5 stars4 stars4 stars4.6 stars
Price Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon