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Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro review: More than just lighting control

Michael Brown | July 14, 2015
Lutron is as much of a graybeard in the lighting-control industry as Insteon is in the connected-home space. The company's invented one of the first wireless networked lighting-control systems, but until recently, it had only very high-end solutions to offer consumers.

Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro

Lutron is as much of a graybeard in the lighting-control industry as Insteon is in the connected-home space. The company's invented one of the first wireless networked lighting-control systems, but until recently, it had only very high-end solutions to offer consumers.

Like Insteon, Lutron modified an existing lighting control system--the Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge--to build a HomeKit-compatible version: the Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge Pro. The Smart Bridge, which has a white LED running around its midsection, is smaller than a deck of cards and is powered by a wall-wart AC adapter. It connects to your router via an Ethernet cable, and communicates with Lutron lighting controls and motorized window shades using Lutron's proprietary Clear Connect wireless technology, which operates in the same spectrum as devices such as motion sensors, garage-door openers, and security keyfobs.

Lutron sent one plug-in dimmer module and one in-wall dimmer switch for me to test, but I didn't have enough time to hard-wire the in-wall unit. Both devices come with wafer-thin, 5-button Pico remote controls that let you turn the controlled light on and off and dim or brighten the bulb. You can program the fifth button to a preferred light level (it defaults to 50-percent brightness). Lutron offers several accessories for the Pico remote, including a tabletop pedestal, a wall-plate bracket, and a visor clip (so you can use it in your car).

The plug-in module has two two-pronged receptacles, one on either side, and can support up to two dimmable LED or compact fluorescent bulbs (up to 100 watts), or two dimmable incandescent or halogen bulbs (up to 300 watts). It has four buttons on its face: On, off, brighten, and dim, but you can't control the two lights independently.

Unlike Insteon, Lutron's bridge enables you to control window shades (Lutron's battery-operated models) and a thermostat (either a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat or a Nest Learning thermostat) in addition to lighting controls. I didn't test any of those products, however, and there currently aren't any other HomeKit devices available. The Lutron bridge also supports geofencing, which means it can trigger events as you leave or arrive home--provided you have your smartphone with you.

Installation

Lutron's in-the-box documentation consists of a half sheet illustrating how to connect the smart Bridge to power and to your router. Step two instructs you to download the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App store. Yep, you can use an Android device to control this HomeKit bridge (I tested it both with an iPod touch and an Android smartphone).

When you add a device to the bridge, you select it from a list and then Lutron's app displays an animation to illustrate the process. With a plug-in module, in-wall dimmer, or Pico remote, an animated hand moves over a button and indicates you should hold it down for 10 seconds or until its LED begins to blink rapidly. The app will then display a message indicating whether or not the device has been successfully enrolled into the bridge.

 

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