So, as part of the Friends of Hue program, Lutron teamed up with Philips to create the Aurora, a $40 smart light dimmer that plays nicely with Philips Hue ecosystem and the dumb light switches you have on your walls.
Lutron and Philips Hue just solved smart lightings biggest headache
Using its built-in battery, the Aurora is able to connect wirelessly to your Hue Bridge, while its mounting base allows owners to easily install it on top of existing toggle switches in just a couple minutes. Once its in place, the Aurora can be twisted to dim or brighten your lights, or tapped to turn them off completely without killing the lights wireless connectivity.
Theres even a small indicator light at the top of the knob to make sure you know that the switch is properly communicating with the rest of your gadgets. Also, because the Aurora is based on the same Zigbee protocol other Hue products use, youll still be able to use the dimmer even if your home wifi goes out.
The Aurora isnt exactly a ground-breaking product. But without it, in order to get a similar effect, smart home enthusiasts often had to install a set of Hue-compatible smart switches alongside existing smart lights, turn to solutions that required homeowners to rewire their switches, or install simple dumb cover plates that fit over existing switches.
The $39.95 Aurora dimmer is Lutrons first product to work with Hue lights. It connects wirelessly to a Hue system without any secondary hubs needed. Setup and management of the Aurora are handled through the Hue app on an iOS or Android device. The dimmer has a familiar, circular dial that can be used to adjust the lights anywhere from completely off to full brightness. Lutron says installing the dimmer on a standard toggle switch can take as little as two minutes.
Unfortunately, right now it seems the Aurora only works with older toggle-style switches instead of the newer rocker-style switches often found in newer homes. Thankfully, if the Aurora doesnt work for your home, its just one of a number of upcoming products from Philips Friends of Hue platform designed to give Hue users greater flexibility when it comes to controlling their smart lights.
Theres also a small concern about the battery inside the Aurora dying, but since the included CR2032 battery is replaceable and should deliver an expected battery life of up to three years, it shouldnt be a huge nuisance.
Regardless, the Aurora certainly seems like a better solution than putting tape over your existing dumb switches to prevent people from inadvertently messing with your smart lights. The real question fans of Hue lights will need to decide is if this kind of convenience is worth $40 a pop.
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Snap Lutrons smart dimmer dial over the light switch to lock it into the on position, preventing anyone from turning the switch off and cutting power to your smart bulbs.
Its one of the smart homes most enduring pain points — but now, the light switch maestros at Lutron have an elegant, affordable solution that looks like a strong, early contender for smart home gadget of the year.
Now available for preorder and set to ship out in June, the solution I speak of is called the Lutron Aurora, and its a $40 smart dimmer dial that pairs with Philips Hue smart bulbs. Whats particularly clever about it is that you dont wire it into your wall where the light switch once was — instead, you just snap it in place on top of the switch itself, which locks it into the on position.
From there, just give it a tap to turn the bulbs on or off, or twist it to dim them up and down. Lutron claims you can install it in two minutes. That claim might actually be somewhat conservative — Lutron gave me a top secret demonstration of the product back at CES in January, and during that demo, snapping the thing into place took about thirty seconds.
“Lutron is pleased to join the Philips Hue Friends of Hue program and offer this unique, wall-mounted smart lighting control that enriches the Hue experience,” said Matt Swatsky, Vice President, Residential Mid-Market Business at Lutron. “The Aurora dimmer simplifies the use of Philips Hue smart bulbs and fixtures for everyone in the home.”