Switchmate smart light switch

SwitchMate Is a Good Fit for a Jewish Home

Gadgets Reviews

As a Sabbath observant Jew, there is a whole bunch of things I do not do from sundown on Friday to about an hour after sunset on Saturday night. One of those things is to not directly manipulate electronic devices.  If this makes you want to roll your eyes or respond in the comments about fairy tales, please feel free to stop reading.

Switchmate smart light switch
Switchmate smart light switch
Image Credit: Switchmate

If you’re still reading, it may interest you to know that there has been something of a renaissance lately in “Sabbath tech” like the popular “Shabbat Lamp“, which lets you shutter a light source by physically obscuring it.  A more classic work-around is the setting of analogue timers before the Sabbath.

I had a drawer of these as a kid. Source: Home Depot.
I had a drawer of these as a kid. Losing the pins is a pain.
Source: Home Depot.

Personally, the don’t like the Shabbat Lamp much because it wastes the power when not in use, yet I’ve never quite managed to set up a timer that hasn’t been messed up later by someone. What I’d far prefer is something basic that I could set with my phone and just walk away. Enter Switchmate.

We’ve covered Switchmate before here, and it was a mixed review. But the same things that make it mixed (no wider IoT connection, no music integration, no home hub. but hey, no unscrewing!), make it kind of perfect as a Shabbat timer. I tested out two Switchmates – one in my dining room, one in a bathroom. My son was fascinated by the “robot light switch”, and even started listening for the sound. As it was the High Holiday season, I set them so we would have light for our Rosh Hashannah meals, but not waste power the rest of the day. Since I do not carry my smartphone on the Sabbath, I did not test the “welcome home” feature, which lets your light wait for you to come home and then turn on once it sees your phone.

As a glorified timer that you set via Bluetooth, the SwitchMate is almost perfect. My only two complaints?

  1. Once you set a timer, that’s it. You cannot edit a timer. You have to go back and delete it if you want to make a change.
  2. If you have two switches on one plate, you have to physically alter your Switchmates to use them together. I didn’t even know that was an option till I re-read our old review. That’s less than optimal.

At $40 per unit, the Switchmate costs as much as 4 analogue timers, and it costs more than some programmable wall switch timers…before cost of installation. Once you factor that in, it’s a fair price.

If you’re in a large house with a lot of switches, Switchmate may not be the most cost-effective investment (unless you hit a sale. Not to be cliche, but I do love a sale). However, for an apartment-dweller looking to manage their lights for the Sabbath (or any other reasons), the Switchmate is a fast, affordable solution.

Note: Switchmate was kind enough to provide me with two toggle style switches and one rocker style one. 

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3 thoughts on “SwitchMate Is a Good Fit for a Jewish Home

  1. Really interesting and I’m genuinely curious as someone who isn’t a Jew – what’s the idea behind the Shabbat ritual of not using electronic devices? I’m assuming (possibly incorrectly?) that this tradition predates electricity so is it a mechanical/tool thing? If this isn’t the place for such a question, do feel free to tell me (I can get searching online).

    1. Totally cool question to ask. I’m going to be lazy and cut and past from jewfaq.org’s Shabbat page, though.

      “The use of electricity is prohibited because it serves the same function as fire or some of the other prohibitions, or because it is technically considered to be “fire.””


      There’s also a potential issue in “completing something”, when closing a circuit.

      1. Thank you! That’s really interesting and I didn’t know about that. The advance preparations make a lot of sense. I really appreciate the info.

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