In our review of the Lutron Caseta wireless system, we will discuss their Smart Bridge, individual dimmers and switches, interfacing their Smart Bridge with your Wifi, and of course, installing everything and using the Lutron app, and how the Lutron Caseta interfaces with voice control personal assistants including both Apple’s HomeKit with Siri, and Amazon’s Echo with Alexa.
I consider that Lutron Caseta works with both of these personal assistants to be a huge plus, compared to almost all of the competition, many of which support Alexa, but not Siri.
Lutron has long been a high end company serving up sophisticated systems for high end housing and commercial installations. They offer three systems. Their highest end HomeWorks, and their somewhat more affordable Ra system, but both are mostly going to end up in custom new homes or retrofits of the same. Caseta, though, their newest (it’s been around for a number of years), is geared for “the rest of us” You know, the folks who can’t afford to drop an extra $250K+ to automate their homes.
Before I forget, in addition to lighting control, Lutron also offers motorized shades that the system controls, and works with some smart thermostats (including Nest and Ecobee3).
And it also works with Sonos!
Overview of Lutron Bridge, Dimmers and Switches Installed for our Review
In our testing, the Lutron gear controlled both smart and dumb LED lights also the few remaining CFLs we have. Many of those lights are RGB or RGBW others are dimmable white, and a few non-dimmable white lights.
I’ve been working with Lutron here in my Smart Home (aka our “Dream Home Project”) for almost 5 months. Of course we have installed and are reviewing lots of different lighting gear, including dimmers and switches from more than a half dozen companies to date (I haven’t gotten around to writing up reviews of any of the Z-Wave ones yet, only Belkin WeMo, and a couple of external plug-in outlets. That includes devices from the likes of Belkin’s WeMo, Linear, Aeon Labs, Osram/Sylvania’s Lightify, GE, etc. I’ll say right up front, that in terms of both reliability of operation (wireless, etc.) and interfacing, Lutron’s Caseta is the best we’ve reviewed to date. Since I mentioned some other companies, figure that the average dimmer etc., from the Lutron Caseta series is typically a bit more expensive – than most stand along smart dimmers, but we’re talking often an extra $10-$20 each. I think you’ll agree there’s a lot of extra benefit for the relatively modest difference in cost.
Fortunately, we have a significant number of Lutron devices now installed, so that gives us a darn good idea how a house completely done with Lutron gear will work. That should be very helpful for those of you considering Lutron gear. Before I get started, here’s a pretty complete inventory of what we have installed so far:
- Smart Bridge – their proprietary controller that interfaces with a home’s Wifi router, and all the Lutron gear
- 2 Standard Lutron dimmers
- 4 Pro Lutron dimmers
- 2 Lamp Dimmers
- 1 External wall outlet for lamp
- 4 Pico Remotes
- 1 Adapter to use a Remote as an In-wall for dual switch setup (top and bottom of stairs)
- 1 non-dimmer wall switch
- 1 Four Button remote
- Wall plates, table top stands for the remotes, etc.
The Lutron Smart Bridge is wired into the house’s Linksys AC1900 router and gigabit switch. That gear is all in my home theater, which is upstairs at one end of the house. I’ll discuss the range and consistency of operation of the Bridge working with all the devices, a bit later on.
These various Lutron devices are spread throughout our smart home, One dimmer in our living room controls our side outside lighting, a pico remote to it, is on a table by the door most used. Another one operates our LED pendant lights on our kitchen counter top. A pico remote allows turning them off from upstairs.
Another wall switch is at the top of our stairs, with a pico remote installed as a wall switch at the bottom so the lights can be turned on, off, or dimmed from either location. At the top the stairs, two more dimmers control the landing lights, and some lights illuminating a display area along the staircase. A non dimming switch is in the master bathroom controlling the main lights there. The light over our LCD TV and fireplace in the master is controlled by another dimmer, but that switch is a long way from where my wife watches TV so she has another pico remote sitting at her table by the sitting area, so she can dim or power that light. That’s most of them. The exterior outlet I’ve moved around to a couple of different locations. That covers most of it. I should mention though, the wall plates that Lutron provides are really nice. They show no screws, so are cleaner looking than the usual wall plates we are all used to. But because they sent me only single ones, I had to use old covers where two or three switches are together, so pictures of with screws are not Lutron’s covers.
OK, now you know how extensive our installation is.
That’s enough intro, let’s get into the review itself, starting with the Lutron Smart Bridge, on the next page. Enjoy!