The Ecobee Switch+ smart light switch, first announced 10 months ago, is now available to pre-order for $99.99. Not only can this light switch be controlled by Alexa, but it essentially has an Amazon Echo Dot built-in giving you full access to Alexa through the switch itself. You can make hands-free requests to Alexa through the switch, thanks to its built-in speaker and far-field microphones.
While most people are adding Echo Dots to every room for smart home control, the future smart home will likely eliminate devices like the Echo Dot in lieu of building voice assistants directly into the electronics already in our homes. Ecobee, which is best known for their smart thermostat with Alexa built-in, is at the forefront of doing just that.
The Ecobee Switch+ can perform most of the functions you’d expect of any smart light switch and a few that are unique. It can turn lights on or off by speaking to it directly, speaking to any other Alexa device, or by manually pressing the large button on the front of the switch. It can be configured to turn lights on when it detects motion and automatically turn them off after a period of time without any motion. An ambient light sensor on the switch is used in conjunction with the motion sensor so that lights are only turned on when the room is dark enough to need lights.
If the Switch+ is connected to outdoor lights, it can be set to automatically turn lights on at sunset and off at sunrise. It also has an integrated night light that shines a soft light out of the bottom of the light switch. Surprisingly, the Switch+ cannot dim the lights that it’s directly connected to, which is something you’d expect a light switch at this price point to do.
What sets the Switch+ apart from your average smart light switch is the speaker and microphone array that allows you to talk to Alexa and hear responses. An LED light bar at the top of the switch lights up, just as Amazon’s Echo speakers do, to indicate the switch has heard you say its wake word. As you’d expect, you can mute the microphones by pressing a mute button on the top of the switch.
The Switch+ supports all the usual Alexa capabilities like controlling smart home devices, checking the weather, hearing flash briefings, and even playing music. Support for Spotify isn’t available yet, but that seems to be common with new Alexa devices at launch and will probably be added in the future. The Switch+ does support Echo Spatial Perception (ESP), which I see as being an absolutely necessary feature for any new Alexa device. ESP is what allows the Switch+ to communicate with other Alexa devices in your home so that only the closest one responds to you when you say the wake word.
As you should expect, Switch+ does not support calling or messaging through Alexa. While it would be great to use it as an intercom in your home, Amazon has not yet made it possible for any Alexa device other than their Echo speakers to make or receive calls and messages.
Ecobee says that additional features for the Switch+, that won’t be available at launch, will be added with future updates. The switch has an unused temperature sensor that will eventually be used in conjunction with their Ecobee4 thermostat, like their stand-alone sensors, to sense the temperature of a room and adjust the thermostat accordingly. The Switch+ will also be able to automatically randomize lights while you’re away to simulate someone being home. These features and possibly others will be released later this summer.
While $100 is certainly a lot to spend on a light switch, it’s not too much more than an average smart light switch plus an Echo Dot, which is essentially what the Ecobee Switch+ replaces and then some. If you also factor in its ability to be a night-light and temperature sensor for the Ecobee4, which is normally a separate ~$35 device, it’s actually reasonably priced. The Ecobee Switch+ is available to pre-order now for $99.99 and will be released on March 26th.