What is the single biggest hurdle you face when it comes to getting customers to consider automating their lighting? My guess is that it’s the price.
Unless your clients have lived with automated lighting before, it can be difficult for them to understand the lifestyle benefits of the technology, especially when presented with dimmer options that can often approach $200 each as opposed to the $5 model that their electrician is offering. Multiply that by 30, 40, or even 50-plus dimmers around the house—along with keypads and programming—and you’re no longer talking about some simple lifestyle upgrade, but the price of a small vehicle.
While there have been a lot of DIY lighting solutions coming to market in the past year, Lutron remains the industry leader, and Lutron’s Clear Connect technology is proven and robust. (Lest you forget, company founder, Joel Spira, invented the dimmer.) Lutron introduced Caseta, a kinder, gentler, more affordable lighting solution about a year ago, and it is currently offering a promotion through January 3 that is definitely worth jumping on. (I reviewed Caseta earlier this year, and you can read that review here. Lutron has added to Caseta since my review, including now offering a 1000-watt dimmer.)
The promo package includes a Caseta Smart Bridge PRO, a 600-watt forward phase dimmer, a Pico remote control, and a screwless wall plate, and has a MAP price of $149.95. Not much on its own, sure, but the kit includes the engine to open up a world of additional options, including driving a lighting control system in most homes (up to 50 devices), can integrate with a variety of thermostats from Honeywell and Nest, can integrate with Lutron Serena battery-powered shades, integrates with Apple’s HomeKit for Siri and Apple Watch control, and works with Logitech Harmony hub-based remotes.
Even more impressive for integrators, Caseta’s Smart Bridge PRO can become part of a far more powerful automation system and works with Control4, Crestron, ELAN, Savant, RTI, URC, and more.
The basic Caseta system programs entirely via the app and is simple enough for even your most junior tech to figure out. The free Caseta app even gives homeowner’s the ability to create and edit lighting scenes, setup timeclock based events, and access lighting control when away from home. And adding it to an automation system isn’t much more difficult, with the app generating an integration ID report that you plug into your automation system’s programming.
Caseta can handle up to 50 devices on one Smart Bridge PRO, but when used as part of a more powerful automation system, you can “marry” two PROs together behind the scenes to create a larger system. (You would still be limited by the 30-foot RF communication “bubble” that the PRO creates, which all devices must be located within, so obviously larger homes would benefit from going to different lighting solutions.)
Once you’ve added Caseta to your preferred automation system, a whole new world of integration possibilities opens up, with access to all of your powerful if/then logic programming. Want lights to turn on/off when you set the alarm? No problem. Want lights to respond when a security motion sensor is tripped or a door is opened? Easy. Want the lights to dim when you high “Play” on the Blu-ray player? Simple.
Even sweeter, the additional dimmers, switches, and Pico controls for Caseta are offered at far more attractive retail pricing that will help you to close a lot more sales, hopefully making this Caseta bundle an automation Trojan horse!
My company ordered a half-dozen of the sample kits and are going to start spec’ing basic lighting control into small, one-room theaters, hoping that once people get a taste of control, they’ll return to add more.