Smart lighting can be pretty helpful. Philips and LIFX have all released their take on the smart light bulb, allowing you to control your lights straight from your home and set up automation so that your lights turn on and off automatically.
But there’s a flaw with those systems - if you, or someone you live with, turns the lights off at the switch, the power is cut to those lights.
That’s where smart light switches come in. Sure, you can’t use them to set the lights you already own to funky colors, but whether you control them from the switch or from your phone, the lights will stay connected and useful.
Following up Belkin and Lutron, now TP-Link has its own offering - called the TP-Link HS200. Is it worth buying over the other options? We put it to the test.
Design and installation
The first thing to note about the TP-Link HS200 is its design: It’s a good-looking device. On the front, you’ll find a large switch that has a satisfying click when you press it in. There are two lights in the front of the switch too - one that turns on when the light is off, presumably to help you find it in the dark, and another Wi-Fi indicator.
One thing to note about this switch, like some other smart switches, is that the main module at the back of it is big ... like, really big.
Smart switches have a lot of tech under the hood, and the result is that it may not fit into the wiring boxes in some homes. We had a lot of trouble finding a light to test the switch on - so we recommend ensuring that it’ll fit before buying the switch, or at least making sure that the store you buy it from has a pretty good return policy.
Assuming the wiring box behind your light switch is big enough, installing the device is actually very easy, thanks in large to the app. The app gives you clear instructions on installing your switch, along with diagrams to help you through the process.
Apart from sizing issues, we had no problem following the instructions to install the device, and unless you’re totally freaked out by the idea of electrical wires, the majority of people should have no issue getting this hooked up.
App and day-to-day use
Using the switch is simple: Press it for on, press it for off. It has a nice click to it and, because it's nice and big, you should have trouble finding the lights at night. The faceplate of the device is subtle and it should fit in any modern home.
Then there’s the app, which is called Kasa, and is actually pretty well-designed.
The app is divided up into a few different sections: devices, cameras, scenes, smart actions, and notifications.
On the devices menu, you’ll be able to switch on and off your lights, but it’s not until the scenes and smart actions menu that you can really unlock the power of the smart home. Scenes allow you to turn on or off multiple devices at once. (One use case is that you could set a “watching TV” scene that turns off all the upstairs lights, and turns on the lights downstairs near the TV.)
After you have your scenes setup, you’ll set up your home automation. If you have motion sensors, for example, you can set the lights to turn on automatically when they detect motion.
Of course, if you use a lot of different smart home gadgets that include a hub like Google Home or Amazon Echo, you probably won’t want to use the app in the first place. Instead, you’ll want to connect the device to the rest of your smart home.
The good news is that the TP-Link HS200 works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and we found it very easy to use both of them: Simply connect your TP-Link account, and you can then ask Google or Alexa to turn your switch on or off without having to get off the couch. You may have to give the device a nickname for it to work properly, especially if you have smart bulbs installed in the same room ... though most people won’t run into that problem.
That said, we would have liked to see a little more integration with other smart home systems. Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and Nest are all growing platforms, and a lack of Apple HomeKit integration is a real bummer for a lot of people.
The TP-Link HS200 is a good switch. It works great standalone, as well as in tandem with your favorite digital assistant ... as long as that digital assistant is Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. While the lack of HomeKit integration is pretty annoying, for those that don’t use HomeKit in the first place, this is an excellent choice.
That said, it’s not quite as good as Belkin’s WeMo light switch. The WeMo is compatible with the same smart home services as TP-Link, plus it offers unofficial Samsung SmartThings integration and Works with Nest. You can also connect it to HomeKit with a HomeKit Bridge, which Belkin also sells.
At the same price, we think the WeMo is still the best smart light switch on the market, despite the fact that its app isn’t anywhere near as nice as TP-Link's.
[Editor's note: For now, the TP-Link HS200 is only available and functional in the US. If you're living in the UK or Australia, definitely check out the Belkin!]