Tech Junkie – Make your home smarter during stay-at-home

News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

With all this time at home, perhaps it’s about time you make your home smart!  Just a small amount of electrical know-how and you  could easily swap out some switches to give your house a brain.  I took some of the newest Lutron Caseta smarthome products for a test.

Adding a switch and hub

The first step to any smart home system is making an existing device… smart.  I installed a Lutron Caseta Dimmer switch to my back patio light.  It was a pretty simple installation because I have a single switch that controls that light fixture.  3 wires (hot, neutral and ground) that wire directly into the dimmer switch.  More complicated 2-way or 3-way situations are possible, you just have to follow the wiring directions that come with the switch.  Just make sure you turn off the power before wiring any switches or call an electrician if you are unsure.  I had the dimmer switch installed in about 10 minutes.

timelapse_switch_install
Timelapse of previous install in May 2017

Lutron dimmers work on their own but if you really want smart control, you’ll need to install a Lutron Caseta hub.  It’s a small box that plugs into your home router and can be setup with the app in a few minutes.  Once it was setup, I could then control my dimmer switch with the Lutron app.  I can turn the light on/off and set the brightness whether I’m inside my house or on the other side of the globe.  I also setup a schedule so that light turns on at dusk and off at dawn.

You can also connect it to your Google Home or Amazon Alexa hub so those lights can be controlled with your voice.  Not only is your home smart but it actually listens to your commands!

Screenshot_20200414-072128_Lutron
Lutron Caseta App Screenshot

This switch has brains!
In addition to those expected skills, the Lutron Caseta app also lets you setup your lights “Smart Away” mode.  This essentially turns your lights on and off while you’re not home to make it look like you’re home.  You can also use the app to turn on light as you arrive at your home.  This would be great for a front porch light or garage lights if you often come home after dark.  You can also create scenes in the app that give you one tap access to setting a scene.  For example, create a “dinner time” scene and it can turn on the dining room light, dim the living room lights and turn on the front garage lights.  Scenes are totally customizable by you.

New Motion Sensor

One of the newest Caseta devices is a motion sensor.  For $50 the sensor can be attached to a wall and watch for motion in a room.  You can program it to turn on those lights when someone walks in the room and then turn them back off when the room is empty.  The battery lasts 10 years so it doesn’t need to be plugged in and can be placed anywhere.

New Caseta Hub Repeater

Lutron also released a new repeater this year that can help extend that signal from the Caseta hub in homes where you need a little extra coverage.  The repeater may not be necessary for many people (I didn’t have any coverage issues in my home) but it’s plug and play for those who need it.

Conclusion

Lutron’s Caseta line is  rock solid.  When you push a smart switch button, the light comes on almost instantaneously.  This can’t be said about every smart switch.  This is what you get from a company that has been controlling lights in our homes for decades.  The hub is proprietary so it’s only designed to work with Lutron switches and devices.  This is good and bad. It allows them to control the experience but it also means you won’t have access to less expensive add-ons from other brands.  You get what you pay for, Lutron gear is reliable and fast.

If you’re starting from scratch I would suggest the Lutron Caseta Starter Kit – $80.  The new Lutron Caseta Motion Sensor – $50 is a cool add-on that isn’t cheap but adds a cool custom touch to your smarthome setup.

Most Read

Top Stories

More Home Page Top Stories