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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.

You assign one name to each device you add, plus an icon from Lutron's very limited selection (one table lamp, a pair of table lamps, two types of light stands, a desk lamp, and holiday lighting). All Pico remotes are assigned the same icon and you can't change it (but you can change the device that the remote controls).

I didn't encounter any installation hiccups with Lutron's bridge; then again, I enrolled only two devices: A dimmer module and a Pico remote. But there were many occasions when I would activate the Lutron app on my device, and there would be a one- to two-second delay with the message "starting up" displayed (the Android app reported "connecting to bridge"). Insteon's app, to its credit, didn't exhibit this behavior, but Lutron's app doesn't make you tap any icons to access your devices--icons for those and for any scenes you've created are displayed right on its homepage--so the wait time to perform an action is about the same with both.

If you have a complex setup, you can choose which devices and scenes appear on the home screen. What's even better is that you can add scenes to an iOS Today widget or Android notification drawer, so you don't even need to launch the app to set a lighting scene--just swipe down from the top and tap it (you can also create other Android widgets for scene controls).

Scenes and schedules

Lutron's Caseta taxonomy has you group devices into rooms, and groups of rooms into zones, so that you can tell Siri something like "turn off the downstairs lights." But Lutron's app doesn't display this organization unless you drill down into its Siri Integration menu. Lutron instead lumps all lighting and window-shade controls under the heading of Lights & Shades on its home screen, where there's only enough room for four icons for devices and four icons for scenes, because one-third its area is consumed by a functionless photo of a room that's not even from your home. If you want to see more of either, you must tap the More button.

As with Insteon's app, scenes let you set lighting and window-shade controls to pre-defined values (on, off, 50-percent brightness, open, closed, etc.) that can be recalled at the touch of an icon or with a Siri command (read the introduction to this roundup for a more in-depth discussion of Siri). As I did with the Insteon hub, I created a scene labeled "Romantic Dinner" that dimmed the controlled lamp to 40 percent brightness. You can create as many scenes using as many devices as you want, but you must select each individual device that you want to include in the scene--you can't enroll an entire room or zone.

 

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