If you have recently built a new home, worked with a designer on a remodel or worked with any form of smart home installation company (hey...like us!), you may have talked about smart lighting control with your contractor or designer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstandings or a complete lack of information being relayed from some of these trades as to why you want lighting control. There are a bunch of different lighting control companies that are out there including Lutron, Vantage, Philips Hue and others. We are big fans of Lutron. Here's some clarity about Lutron lighting and why our Lutron installers along with Lutron products can be a great enhancement to your home and life. NOTE: We also will mention why some other lighting products including off-brand, cheapy "smart lights" might as well just be hit with a hammer as opposed to being used to provide lighting control.
Lutron provides a number of features and elements that can make life better. Some of these are:
Lutron provides what we in the industry call "lighting scenes". This allows you to control paths of light or multiple areas with just one button push or voice command.
Example: You push a button at the front door and immediately, the pathway of light at the Front Door, Living Room, Hallway and into the Bedroom all turn on at 50% intensity.
Who wants to get out of bed to turn the lights on? Let our Lutron installer set up Alexa voice control with Lutron to make your lights behave.
Example: When you're leaving the house, say "Alexa...turn all the lights off." All of the lights that are on in the house now turn off instantly and easily!
The lighting keypads and wallplates in the Lutron Radio RA3 and Lutron Homeworks family provide an incredible range of colors, styles and decor to match your desired aesthetic.
Turn on the desired lights in your home or outside...by doing nothing!
Example: As you drive up to your dark house and driveway, your lights that illuminate your driveway, your Front Door and your Entryway AUTOMATICALLY turn on to make for a safe and comfortable arrival.
Want to save money on your electric bill? Lighting control can be a part of this! In many instances, you don't need the lights to be on at full illumination. You may only need your lights to turn on at 60% intensity instead of 100% to fill a room appropriately. The ability of Lutron lghting systems to automatically turn your lights to the desired intensity can save you money if these lighting levels are below 100% (which they are in many cases).
If you DON'T want to see 24 lighting switches/dimmers in your Family Room, centralized lighting may be for you. The big benefit of centralized lighting systems is that your home can be wired during the pre-wire stage so ALL of your dimmers and switches are located in a central room or area. This cleans up the walls so you don't have dimmers and switches all over the place. Designers sometimes refer to the plethora of dimmerrs/switches as "wall acne." If you want to get rid of the wall acne, make your home designer friendly and create a wonderful aesthetic, this is a great feature.
Lighting Control Product Families
Sound interesting? Good! Now which Lutron smart lighting product is right for you? Lutron has a number of lighting product families. Our three most popular are below:
Got a castle? Great! Homeworks is for you! The ability of Lutron Homeworks to link many processors and devices allow it to control and function beautifully for huge properties, yachts, hotels and sprawling homes. This luxury lighting system offers many best-in-class features and advantages including:
- Control up to 10,000 devices (ex: dimmer, keypad, shade, switch, etc.).
- RF coverage for up to 50,000 sq. ft of space.
- Hybrid topology allowing for centralized, wired or wireless connections. This provides great flexibility regarding aesthetics and integration with other smart home technologies.
- Access to elegant keypads and controls for a designer-friendly and beautiful aesthetic.
Lutron RadioRA 3
Got a big house, want custom keypads to match your designers vision or yours and like the idea of a smart home? Fantastic! Lutron RadioRA 3 or Lutron RadioRA 2 (older system) may be for you! Radio RA3 is a great option for mid-sized to larger homes and clients that want simple lighting control throughout with the capability of adding elegance with roller shades, temperature control and other smart home technology. LutronRA 3 offers many exciting features and advantages including:
- Control up to 200 devices (ex: dimmer, keypad, shade, switch, etc.).
- RF coverage for up to 7,500 sq. ft of space.
- Access to additional product offerings and smart home integration elements including temperature control, additional keypads and more.
- Access to different keypads, colors and controls to create a designer friendly environment.
Like the idea of whole-house lighting control but don't want to spend a million dollars? No problem! Lutron Caseta was created a few years back to provide smart home lighting to the masses at a lower price point when compared to competing systems. Lutron Caseta offers great features and advantages including:
- Control up to 75 devices (ex: dimmer, keypad, shade, switch, etc.).
- RF coverage for up to 2,500 sq. ft of space. NOTE: You can add 1 more repeater/extender to provide lighting control to an additional 2,500 sq. ft.
- Access to basic smart home installation elements including roller shades Lutron thermostats.
- Use the Lutron phone app to control your lighting and lighting scenes from anywhere!
Lutron Radio RA3 Keypad
Lutron automated roller blinds
Lutron Media room with smart lighting and roller shades
Smart Lighting Options
We mentioned earlier that some other lighting control companies may not be optimal (and downright frustrating or non-functional). Here's some of the limitations that we have seen in the field.
Outdated WiFi: Many of these products only communicate on the 2.4Ghz band as these manufacturers are trying to occupy the cheapest price point possible. This older WiFi standard receives very little support from many of today's WiFi routers and sometimes, won't connect at all! See our earlier article that details how you have to make this work with Google Mesh HERE.
Bad Apps: Many of these apps are clunky, slow or lock up regularly. BIG companies typically have the resources and a huge pool of products to test not just the lighting equipment itself but also every device that may hook up to it. Smaller, no-name cheapy lighting companies...not so much. Do you think that the manufacturer named something we've never heard of peddling a $19.00 "smart light" on Amazon tested their device on the last 5 iPhones and 5 Pixel phones to ensure that the app works with each operating system and update? We don't either.
Purpose: Some of these products have their place. If you like the idea of the Philips Hue colored bulb for the Kids' Room where they can change the color with their phone...we agree. We think that's cool as well. These types of products are normally best reserved for single-room, simple functions instead of being used as the backbone of the lighting design in a new smart home installation.
Hopefully the above helps you be smarter in your quest for the best smart lighting system. Sound intriguing? Give us a call and let our lighting designers show you how you can enhance your life with lighting control and Lutron offerings including Homeworks, RadioRa 3 and Caseta!