The drawback with sensible bulbs just like the Philips Hue collection has at all times been—and can at all times be—dumb switches. The immediate you flip the change controlling a sensible bulb to the off place, there isn’t any means you’ll ever be capable of management that bulb with an app, a digital assistant, or the rest till you flip the change again on.
The Lutron Aurora fixes that situation in an ingenious means—however with some vital caveats. First, it’s suitable solely with Philips Hue sensible bulbs. So, in the event you’re lighting your rooms with LIFX, TP-Link, C by GE, or every other model of sensible bulb, the Aurora will do nothing for you. Second, if the change on the wall that’s controlling your Philips Hue bulbs is something aside from an old-school toggle change, the Aurora will do nothing for you (except you’re prepared to switch the change and maybe tolerate an unpleasant set up—see under).
The Aurora consists of two elements that ought to take you lower than 5 minutes to put in. The first bit is a mounting base that you just place over your toggle change (with the change within the on place) after which tighten down with a small Phillips screwdriver. Once this mechanical clamp is in place, it turns into bodily unattainable to show the change off. The second factor is a rotary knob that snaps on to the bottom. The rotary knob incorporates a CR2032 battery (which Lutron says ought to final two to a few years) and a Zigbee radio that talks to your Philips Hue bulbs through the Hue Bridge (or on to Hue bulbs in the event you don’t have a Bridge). Once you’ve paired the Aurora together with your Hue bulbs, urgent the rotary knob will flip the paired Hue lights on and off, and rotating it is going to dim or brighten the bulbs.
You’ll configure the Aurora utilizing the Friends of Hue switches menu within the Philips Hue app, the place you’ll be able to assign the change to a room (supplied you created rooms and assigned lights to them elsewhere within the app). You also can select any Hue lighting scene and assign that to the Aurora, in order that the Hue bulbs default to that scene if you press the change. If you modify the lighting scene by one other means—utilizing an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice command, for example—the bulbs will retain that scene worth after you flip the bulbs off and switch them on once more utilizing the Aurora.
If you wish to change something aside from brightness (change colours or colour temperatures, for instance), you’ll have to both use the Hue app or situation a voice command to a suitable sensible speaker.
Lutron says a single Aurora can management as much as 50 Philips Hue sensible bulbs linked to a Philips Hue Bridge, or as much as Hue 12 bulbs instantly in the event you don’t have a Bridge. It’s not even vital for these bulbs to be on the identical electrical circuit because the change you’re putting in it on, supplied energy is out there to all these bulbs (i.e., any switches controlling them should be within the on place). For bulbs on multi-way circuits (e.g., a three-way circuit the place switches at reverse sides of the room each management energy to the bulbs), you’ll be able to both set up an Aurora at every location, or use another means to make sure energy to the socket(s) internet hosting the bulbs will not be interrupted.
The Aurora will not be suitable with different Lutron lighting controls, together with the Lutron Caséta product line, however that hardly issues. When you’re not utilizing the bodily controls on the Aurora itself, you’ll almost definitely management the Hue bulbs with voice instructions or the Philips Hue app anyway.
The Aurora is super-easy to put in, and it even has a colour LED that may enable you to troubleshoot in the event you run into any points. Since all of the switches in my dwelling are of the rocker selection, Lutron helpfully despatched a toggle change together with the Aurora, so I may substitute the one controlling the Philips Hue bulbs I wished to check it with (these have been in three ceiling cans in my dwelling theater).
That’s a very good workaround if the change in query exists in isolation, or if the opposite switches in the identical junction field are additionally toggle switches. Of the 24 change areas in my dwelling, solely two are single-gang containers and none are toggle type. The change controlling the Hue lights in my dwelling theater, for instance, is in a field with three different lighting controls, and you’ll’t combine toggle switches with rocker switches and look forward to finding a cover-plate that may accommodate such an unconventional association.
It’s additionally price noting that the Aurora is out there solely in white. That’s the commonest colour in trendy properties, but when yours has the ivory-colored switches that have been so in style within the 1960s and 70s, the Aurora will stick out like a sore thumb. And lastly, there’s the value: $39.95 isn’t low-cost, however it’s cheap for the worth that’s delivered.
One various you may think about: Remove the present change and rewire the circuit in order that it’s at all times sizzling. That means, you can simply use the Philips Hue app or voice instructions to regulate the bulbs on that circuit. If you wished one thing on the wall, you can set up a battery-powered Philips Hue Smart Dimmer (that answer would, nevertheless, require the presence of a Hue Bridge in your community).
Should you purchase a Lutron Aurora?
My thumbs-up suggestion has extra caveats than I sometimes prefer to make, however right here goes: If you may have a number of Philips Hue bulbs managed by a white toggle-style change, and the Lutron Aurora’s $40 price ticket doesn’t hassle you, then it’s a no brainer: Buy one. It’s an ingenious answer to a typical drawback—making certain that your sensible bulbs have steady entry to electrical energy. That suggestion stands even when that you must swap out a rocker-style change for a toggle machine—you must be capable of choose up a type of for a lot lower than $5—supplied you don’t thoughts coping with slightly electrical wiring and the change you’re changing is in a single-gang field or a multi-gang field with different toggle switches.
Things get extra difficult from there. If your Hue bulbs are on a multi-way circuit, you may want to purchase multiple Aurora. The Aurora is simply accessible in white, which could possibly be an aesthetic drawback of the remainder of the switches and retailers within the room usually are not. And you’ll actually run into an issue if the change you’re changing is in a multi-gang field, and the relaxation of the units in that field are rocker or Decora-style units. You’ll have to both substitute all of these different units (in the event you can) or tolerate an unpleasant (and presumably harmful) set up, for the reason that Aurora will probably be partially uncovered to the purpose the place a curious little one (or silly grownup) may stick their finger by way of the duvet and probably get shocked.