Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Battle of the HomeKit hubs: Lutron Caseta versus Insteon

Michael Brown | July 14, 2015
If you thought Apple would swoop in with its HomeKit platform and solve all the ills that bedevil the fledgling smart-home market, that it would show the rest of the industry just how simple it can be to enable consumers to build out a smart home, your faith has yet to be rewarded.

Insteon Smart Hub Pro vs Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro

If you thought Apple would swoop in with its HomeKit platform and solve all the ills that bedevil the fledgling smart-home market, that it would show the rest of the industry just how simple it can be to enable consumers to build out a smart home, your faith has yet to be rewarded. Judging by the first two HomeKit hubs to reach the market--Lutron's Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro and Insteon's Insteon Hub Pro--Apple is having as much difficulty taming the installation beast as any other manufacturer that's made the attempt.

Putting a smart home together is a lot of work. I know, because I built one from scratch seven years ago. I've tweaked and modified and upgraded numerous times since then and it's still not perfect. Some changes were difficult to implement, and an upgrade to one subsystem sometimes breaks another. The connected home is coming closer to being mainstream every day, but it's not there, yet. I'm sure Apple's presence in this space will help--competition always does--but don't buy into HomeKit thinking the folks in Cupertino have broken the code.

Insteon has been in the connected-home space since the Jurassic period (I'm kidding of course, but Insteon emerged from a home-automation catalog company that was started in 1992). Lutron is an even older company, having been founded in the late 1950s. Its founder invented the dimmer, and the company introduced a wireless whole-home lighting control system in 1997, but it's a relative newcomer to the connected-home space--at least at the DIY level.

Both companies' HomeKit systems are modified versions of existing connected-home hubs, and both are compatible with HomeKit products as well as each company's respective legacy products (to an extent, at least; more on that later). Those legacy products, by the way, are not HomeKit devices, which means you can't control Lutron lighting or window-shade controls with Insteon's hub, and you can't control any of Insteon's devices with the Lutron Caseta bridge. As with any other HomeKit device, you'll need an Apple TV (third generation or newer) to control either system from outside your home.

In my view, lighting control and physical security are the most desirable elements of a connected home. These kits deliver only part of the former and none of the latter. Both company's lighting controls are pretty good--you can control individual lights or groups of lights with your iPhone or iPad, and you can schedule lights to turn on and off at designated times--but neither hub supports door/window or motion sensors, so you can't program lights to turn on in response to events: When a door opens, for instance, or when motion is detected.

 

1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.