Lutron Caseta Lighting Summary – First – a short version: Great gear, works extremely well, configures pretty easily. Reasonably priced (but not bargain basement)! The App is well thought out, and works well! There are a few more features that could be added, but that’s the point behind Apps, the makers are frequently updating them, and improving their capabilities.
Lutron Pricing vs. The Competition:
One thing you will have to reckon with, is the price of Lutron Caseta devices, be they in wall dimmers, plug-in dimmers, basic smart switches and more. Lutron’s devices are typically well less than their high end lines, but they are more expensive than the garden variety in wall smart dimmers, etc. that you can buy from brands like GE, Aeon Labs, Belkin, Enerwave, Leviton, etc.
Consider, a standard Lutron in wall dimmer typically sells online at Amazon or at Best Buy for $55, or $60 with a pico remote included (but no stand for the remote – that’s a few bucks extra). By comparison, GE, Enerwave, etc., are mostly in the $35-$45 range for a Z-wave dimmer, so you are likely paying as little as $10 extra, as much as $20 extra for Lutron Caseta. Still, let’s say $15 average.
If you are putting in 25 smart light dimmers in your house, (that’s a lot for most folks – especially since not everything needs to be connected). For example: how about closet lights in unused bedrooms, or the coat closet in the hallway? Based on having 25 dimmers – the difference between Lutron Caseta, and various brands of Z-wave switches would set you back up to an additional $250-$500 across your whole home. That’s real money, but in the grand scheme of things, with smart light bulbs typically costing upward of $30 a piece (a lot more for color), to me it seems extra money well spent.
Then there’s also the Smart Bridge. Technically that sells for $79 online, etc. But you really don’t need to pay anywhere near that much. Lutron offers a number of different starter kits, all of which mostly reduce the price of the Smart Bridge greatly. Consider the least expensive one. It’s available on both Amazon and BestBuy, so probably a thousand other places, for $99. You get the Smart Bridge, but you also get a standard in wall dimmer and pico remote, which I just pointed out sell together for $60. So in reality that $79 bridge could be considered no more than $40. Folks that’s nothing, relative to the amount you will spend over the next few years, making your home smarter and more connected.
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It doesn’t hurt, either that Lutron is a well established market leader that seems on top of things, while (no offense intended) a lot of the competition are crowdsourced companies with only a couple of products. (Some of those companies have been very successful, some will not be.)
There are all kinds of advantages to Caseta – starting with that none of the others work directly with Siri, unless the hub you have chosen has HomeKit support, and so far, those are pretty rare. Whether those Z-wave switches work with Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa – that folks, also depends on which Z-Wave Hub you use.
So, I’m more than happy to let Lutron do it’s internal thing, since they are so good at working well with just about everyone important out there.
Overall, I am most impressed with Lutron’s lighting solution. I also realize there’s more than one school of thought, relating to the Caseta system itself being proprietary. You’ll have to decide if that’s important to you. It’s a little bit like thinking about whether you like Apple’s whole ecosystem or not, because it is proprietary. That is, both Apple, and Lutron have control as to what is allowed to work with their ecosystems. With Lutron, it’s the SmartBridge that let’s you interface with other protocols, be it Bluetooth, Z-Wave, etc. By comparison, there’s Android – an open system. Both have theoretical weaknesses and strengths. Apple, they say, somewhat stifles the ability of developers to break new ground, but at the same time, you get a tight eco-system with great interoperability, and it is truly superior in terms of security. With Android, you run across the issue of not everything works with every phone or tablet, as each company can add enhancements. That is mostly fine as long as you stick with the same brand of products. Switch from one Android phone to another’s brand, and some things you are used to may no longer work. Security is typically a mess because Android phone owners aren’t known for keeping up with the latest upgrades, which even if they try to, could take months, not days to get out there.
Personally, I’m pro-proprietary as long as common sense is supplied. That pretty much makes me an “Apple fan boy” as we can be derogatorily labeled. I certainly have no issues with the Lutron Caseta’s solution.
And that’s because Lutron is working overtime to make sure it integrates with other solutions, notably Alexa, SmartThings, Siri, Wink, and others. The DIY types that want to hack their own solutions, however, may well prefer to stick to more generic Z-Wave or ZigBee dimmers, which in theory, work with every Z-wave or Zigbee hub (which we should note, really isn’t true, as some of those devices have features that not all of those hubs support.