Lutron Caséta Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit review: This capable kit includes physical remote controls

Too lazy to get out of bed to turn the lights on or off? Have I
got a light switch for you!

At its simplest, Lutron’s Caséta Dimmer is a four-button
in-wall light switch with both on/off and dimmer controls built
in. But the real fun comes in the form of a wireless remote
control that offers the same functions and which you can put
just about anywhere. Whether that means dimming the bedroom
lights from under the covers or controlling an exterior light
from the other side of the house, the Caséta remote is
versatile and, throughout my testing, never missed a beat.

The secret sauce with this kit—which includes two in-wall
switches and two remotes—is the Caséta Smart Bridge, a hub that
must be wired to your Wi-Fi router. The Smart Bridge serves as
the interface between the Lutron mobile app and the in-wall
dimmers, which utilize a proprietary RF protocol.

You can also add Lutron-brand smart plugs to control lamps—but
not small appliances—plugged into receptacles that aren’t
controlled by wall switches. The Caséta system is also
compatible with Lutron’s Serena-brand motorized window
shades
 and Hunter-brand ceiling fans (features not
evaluated in this review). Additional in-wall switches cost $60
each, while Caséta smart plugs are priced at $50 each.

Lutron Caseta plug in module Lutron

You can add Lutron’s $50 Caséta smart plugs to control
lamps.

Unlike smart switches that connect directly to your Wi-Fi
network, you can’t use the Caséta app to control anything
unless the bridge is installed, operational, and connected to
the internet. As such, Lutron’s Caséta lineup isn’t as
sophisticated as our top pick in the smart lighting category:
the Noon Lighting System. The bridge in Noon’s starter kit,
which features an ultra-elegant OLED touchscreen, installs
right inside your wall. Then again, the Noon starter kit (which
can control three sets of light fixtures) costs $400, and it
can’t control window shades.

The Caséta wall switches install easily—unlike many modern
smart home products, no neutral wire is required—and anyone
with a screwdriver should be able to get a switch installed in
a matter of minutes. Setting up the app is also easy, though it
can be a bit of a slog, requiring various hardware buttons to
be pressed and/or held down at each step. The pairing
process—switch to app, remote to switch—is similarly quite
easy.

The good news is that once you pair a remote and a switch, they
will continue to remain paired (and work normally) even if your
internet connection goes down or—don’t tell—you get rid of the
bridge altogether. You won’t be able to make any changes to the
network or install new gear, but you will at least be able to
use already installed equipment even in inclement technical
conditions.

Lutron Caseta app Lutron

The app supports the creation of preconfigured lighting
scenes, each with a custom icon.

From a basic operational standpoint, the Caséta kit doesn’t
exactly break the mold, but it does cover the essentials. The
dimmer is a bit too slow to change brightness, but the
scheduling system, while simplistic, is easy to use. The app
supports a “scenes” system, so if you have multiple Caséta
switches or smart plugs in the house, you can set them all to a
preconfigured brightness with a single tap.

And if you have a HomeKit device, you can tie the switches
together with other devices or use Siri to turn lights on and
off. On the downside, you can only pair a switch with a single
Lutron account, so if two people want to control the same light
switch via the app, you’ll need to share the login.

Beyond HomeKit, Lutron does pay some attention to the
broader smart home market. Lutron supports Nest products, so you can turn
on the lights if the smoke or carbon-monoxide alarm sounds, for
example; and while I eventually got this working, setup was
buggy. The Caséta system also supports the other two major
digital assistants—Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant—for basic voice control. You
can also integrate the Caséta system into Samsung SmartThings or Wink smart home systems.

If basic lighting features are all you need and you don’t mind
dealing with the extra hub, the Caséta kit, at $160 for two
switches, two remote controls, and the smart bridge, is a good
value.

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit
our Facebook page or our Twitter
feed.
%d bloggers like this: