Lutron Caseta – Let there be Light!

The Lutron Caseta is my go-to standard for lights. It’s easy to get up and running. It’s blends into the house and it’s supports a lot of other partners so I’m not worried about moving to another SmartHome ecosystem if I decide I don’t like what Apple HomeKit is doing.

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Product

Installation

Ecosystems

Protocol

Rating

 Lutron Caseta Lights System + Lutron Smart Home Bridge Pro  In-Wall, Plug for Lamp NewImage

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  Lutron Clear Connect RF + Wifi/Ethernet  4/5

From the product webpage

You can build your smart lighting system with as few or as many products as you’d like. A kit is the easiest way to begin, but you can also purchase products individually and mix and match them. And you can add more products to your system at any time. The products listed here are available online, at select retailers, your local electrical or A/V distributor, and lighting showrooms. Get inspired! Whether you are just starting out or adding to your Caséta set up, explore the Caséta Advisor for ideas on using Caséta in different rooms throughout your home.

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Product Specifics

You can see the entire line of Lutron Caseta product here. The specific products that I have installed in my home are the following

Smart Bridge with HomeKit technology L-BDG2-WH

This component is what makes the Lutron Caseta system Apple HomeKit compatible. Exactly as the name implies, the Smart Bridge plugs into an RJ-45 port on your network to create a connection between your IP network and the Lutron Caseta Clear Connect RF environment.

In-wall dimmer for wall and ceiling lights PD-6WCL-XX

The Lutron casita in-wall dimmer replaces the switch in the wall. Some basic electrical knowledge is required for this installation. Be warned.

Plug-in lamp dimmer for table and floor lamps PD-3PCL-WH

The Lutron Plug-in lamp dimmer is also exactly what you think it is. You plug this device into the wall, then you plug the lamp into this device.

Overview

Lutron has been in lights for a long time and it shows with this product line. I already had Lutron light switches through most of my house so the installation was amazingly straight forward. They also looked like they belong and there wasn’t a visible difference as I gradually installed more and more of these throughout the house.

The main reason I really like the Lutron is the cost savings. These are definitely one of the most economical ways to turn whole rooms into SmartZones while saving a few dollars. We did a bunch of renovations a few years back and I have a bunch of in-ceiling lights.  (GU10 bulbs).  A single Lutron Caseta in-wall switch can drive 8 of these GU10 bulbs for a cost of about $60 dollars.

I have probably 40+ of these bulbs spread out throughout my house. Although I love the Philipps Hue solution as well….

Philipps Hue Bulbs 

White GU10      Cost: $25 each       Total Cost:  $1000

Color GU10.      Cost: $50 each.      Total Cost: $2000

Lutron Light Switches

(5 switches):    Cost: 65$.   Total Cost: $325

As you can see, the Lutron comes in a lot lower than the Philipps Hue bulbs when the quantities start to add up. There’s definitely some sacrifice in flexibility as each switch controls a zone of 8 bulbs as compared to the Philips Hue system where you have individual bulb control.

Setup

The Lutron system was really easy to setup. The setup guide was easy to follow and with a little help from Youtube and a HomeDepot home improvement book. I had the light switches installed in no time. As you can see in the video, connecting the bridge and adding the switches to both the Lutron App and the Apple Home app was a breeze. This is one of the places where Apples attention to user experience and  app interface is REALLY appreciated. As you can see in the setup videos above, discovering the bridge was simple and I was easily able to create all the rooms and put the light switches in the appropriate room.

Aesthetics

The Lutron Caseta lighting system looks like it belongs. This is where Lutron’s pedigree really shines through in that this has been their core business for years. During the conversion between the old Lutron switches and the Caseta  Smart switches, no one really noticed that there was anything special about the caseta versions. Personally, I want my SmartHome to be invisible. It’s there when I need it, but I wanted the smart aspects to fade into the background and only become apparent when the magic is happening. The Caseta definitely scored high marks in this regards.

Usability

The Lutron Caseta system IS a light switch. Using the casita in-wall switches feels exactly like a light switch should feel. Unlike the bulb and light socket options, you don’t ever have to worry about turning off the switch and losing power to the light socket or bulb.

Note: If you’re using the light socket or bulb lighting systems and you flick the switch, you end up turning off the power to the light which leaves you just talking to your self with nothing happening.

The Lutron app is pretty good and the system integrates seamlessly into the Apple Home app available on iOS 10. There are the occasional minor naming mishaps upon first discovery ( see the video ) but once it’s up it’s incredibly stable.

The one major place where Lutron loses marks for me is the lack of available motion sensor to trigger the lights. This is a major oversight on Lutron’s part and should definitely have been part of the system. I did contact Lutron on twitter and was given the following answer

You can either:
1.Use the LRF2 sensors with the Caséta Wireless dimmers or switches, and not have them as part of the bridge/app.
2.Use the Caséta Wireless dimmers or switches with the bridge/app, and not work with the LRF2 sensors.

There’s still no great HomeKit motion sensor (Elgato Eve has a 2 second delay!) so this is kind of a big deal. I was able tie together some HomeKit triggers using a combo of the philipps lights and the philipps motion sensor, but I just don’t feel like I should have to hack a solution into place for something that should be there.

I also have one lamp which I used with the Lutron Lamp Dimmer and it just worked. I didn’t realize this when I bought it, but the lamp dimmer also acts as a bridge/repeater extending the range and reliability of the Lutron Clear Connect wireless system.  Based on the size of my house, I have no idea if I actually need a repeater, but I can tell you that I haven’t had a single problem with my Lutron lights responding.

Portability

The Lutron Caseta system is really flexible and can be leveraged in a bunch of different use-cases. My kids grandmother recently remodelled her apartment and they wired all the light switches to a central location near the front door. Of course this resulted in some bruised shins trying to navigate the new apartment at night. We installed a Caseta Wall switch with the Pico remote and suddenly she could turn off the lights to the kitchen once she got to her bedroom. Avoided running the wiring and also scored points with the baby sitter which is ALWAYS a good thing.

The Lutron Caseta system is also compatible with various other ecosystems and platforms inclusion: SmartThings, Nest, GoogleHome, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa as well as others. If I decide to move from the Apple HomeKit platform to another SmartHome ecosystem, I’m not worried that I can take my light switches with me.

SDK

The Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro has an “SDK”. I use that word in quotes as there “API” uses Telnet. Not exactly a secure protocol. It’s nice to know that it’s not only networking that still seems to use screen scraping as the method to access gear remotely. I haven’t coded anything using this API yet, but I also don’t really want to as it uses Telnet.

Pros

The Lutron Caseta has a lot going for it

  • Cost-Effective
  • Looks Great
  • Flexible Deployment options
  • Good HomeKit Integration

Cons

The Lutron is not a perfect product, but the negative can be worked around.

  •  No Motion detector
  • Telnet “API”

Final Thoughts

The Lutron Caseta is my go-to standard for lights. It’s easy to get up and running. It’s blends into the house and it’s supports a lot of other partners so I’m not worried about moving to another SmartHome ecosystem if I decide I don’t like what Apple HomeKit is doing.  The usability is seamless. It’s just like using a light switch so there’s no frustration when the kids turn the lights off. It’s not as flexible as the Philipps Hue lighting system but it just works.

Comments or Questions? Please feel free to post below.

@netmanchris

Author: netmanchris

Solutions Architect, Networking for HPE. I don't know anything anymore, but I know people who know. Basically, I'm a facilitator.

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