Lutron Electronics has made a name for itself selling energy-saving wireless lighting dimmers and windows shade units and remote controls. It entered the smart home market in 2014 with its Lutron Smart Bridge Pro.
It creates a wireless bridge to connect its Caseta Wireless dimmers and Serena remote-controlled shades, and other devices to the Lutron app, for iOS and Android devices. It helps replace the company’s existing Pico remote controls which you probably lose down the settee on a regular basis.
Naturally, this limits its market, as only those with the Caseta dimmers and Serena battery-powered or mains connected shades will be interested in the product. Other smart home bridges for generic devices cost a lot less than the $199 for the Smart Bridge Pro, so there’s that to consider. Wireless lighting starter kits begin from around $229 if you want to start to Lutron-ize your home.
UPDATE: A summer update to the iOS app added support for HomeKit to the feature list, so you can control these smart home gadgets with Siri voice commands. Note, this requires the latest Bridge model, L-BDGPRO2-WH, so check you get the latest stock. The apps are regularly updated with new features. Nest, Honeywell and LogiTech Harmony devices are also supported. The unit has a one-year warranty but there are no obvious points of failure.
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Key Features of the Lutron Smart Bridge
- Simple to Install: The Lutron Smart Bridge Pro is easy to install, just connect it by Ethernet to your WiFi hub and it uses the company’s own Clear Connect Wireless technology to talk to Lutron devices. Pair it to the iOS or Android app and you’re good to go. The company talks about professional installation, but there’s nothing in this process that seems overly complex.
- Compact Box: The Smart Bridge Pro box is a compact white design, measuring 2 x 5.94 x 6 inches with little to distinguish itself.
- Surprisingly Powerful App” The app is the star of the show. It helps with scheduling, geofencing and personalization of themes around the home. The system supports up to 50 devices which should be enough for most properties.
- App Works Smoothly: With everything up and running, your app takes control of the lighting and shades with remote control from distance for added security, one of the main benefits. Lutron dimmers and shades are costly affairs, but certainly look good and react well to app inputs. The app looks smart with helpful sliders, a logical layout and easy to discover features.
Pros of the Lutron Smart Bridge Pro
- Investment Pays Off the More Devices You Add: If you plan to, or already own lots of Lutron products, then the Smart Bridge Pro seems like the logical, if expensive choice, for your smart home hub. Considering you can spend $350 on a single shade, perhaps price isn’t an object for Lutron fans.
- Constantly Adding Compatibility: The company is adding support for third party equipment at a decent rate. Certainly, the Bridge offers decent connectivity, speed and performance for its own products. Apple iOS enthusiast users can also control things from their Apple Watch, so you don’t even need to get your phone out of your pocket.
- Good Mix of Ease of Use + Functionality: Setup up and control through the app is both straightforward and pleasant to operate, making you feel very at home in your smart residence. Since it can control your thermostat and other accessories, it could help Lutron owners become more smart home aware.
Cons of the Lutron Smart Bridge Pro
- Cost: The main issue here is cost, the Bridge on its own is largely useless unless you already have Lutron gear installed. The starter kits add some dimmer switches for your lighting, but the price will soon mount up with shades and other features.
- Range Could be Better: Technically, it is hard to fault the Bridge, except when it comes to range, with larger homes perhaps struggling to get a signal to all corners. Otherwise, Lutron’s proprietary communications doing a fine job, but you do have wonder why they couldn’t have used ZigBee or another common system to help bring down the cost.
Wrapping Up – A Worthwhile Smart Controller?
If you have the money, and the existing Lutron devices, then by all means pick up the powerful and smart system to drive them. If you are building a Lutron home system, then one of these is an essential purchase.
Otherwise, there are many other lower-cost solutions to achieve a similar effect. smart lighting pricing is coming down and more players are entering the market. All these reasons to shop around make the Lutron hard to recommend to the casual smart home builder or anyone on a budget.
But if you admire the company’s brand and the high quality products it builds, then this should see you continue your happy relationship with all things Lutron.