Serena Motorized Shade by Lutron review: A step up in sophistication, but also in price

    Lutron makes a few of our favourite sensible switches and plugs, so we’ve lengthy been inquisitive about its Serena motorized window shades. Serena shades are dearer than a lot of the competitors, however Lutron delivers some nice options in return for the additional coin.Those options are obvious in each the shade’s industrial design and its ease of use. For starters, for those who select the battery-powered choice, the battery compartment is built-in into the shade’s head rail (the element that mounts to the highest of your window body and homes the motor for elevating and decreasing the shade).The mannequin reviewed right here requires six D cells; smaller shades or shades with lighter materials get by with various numbers of AA cells. When it’s essential change the batteries, merely flip two levers and the battery compartment drops down. This is a big enchancment over the Graber Virtual Cord Motorized Shade we evaluated in October. The battery compartment on these hangs on the again of the pinnacle rail, so it’s essential dismount the whole shade to entry it. Michael Brown / IDG
    The again cowl prevents some mild leakage across the head rail, but it surely’s not good.
    If you don’t just like the environmental influence of batteries, you may order the shades with a wall wart ($40) and a 15-foot energy twine that’s coiled inside the pinnacle rail—simply pull out as a lot as it’s essential attain an outlet. And for those who can’t stand wall warts, a licensed electrician can set up a Lutron Power Panel in your wall. One panel can energy as much as 10 honeycomb-style shades, however the panel prices $800—plus the price of the electrician to put in it. Personally, I’ll cope with the batteries.Lutron additionally presents an non-obligatory again cowl that not solely reduces the quantity of sunshine leaking across the prime of the shade when mounted contained in the window body, it additionally hides the mounting brackets when the shade is considered from outdoors the window. Either profit would justify the $10 to $20 (relying on shade width) in further price. Put collectively, they’re a no brainer. Alternatively, you may mount the shade outdoors the window body or above it. Lutron offers 1/2-inch spacers for the latter state of affairs, so the shade will clear the body. You’ll want further spacers in case your window trim is thicker than a 1/2 inch. Michael Brown / IDG
    The non-obligatory again cowl hides the pinnacle rail’s mounting brackets, contributing to a cleaner end when considered from the opposite facet of the window.
    The Lutron appSerena shades are managed by Lutron’s proprietary Clear Connect radio expertise, so a part of the added price is the requirement to purchase a Lutron Smart Bridge, which prices about $80. But for those who’ve beforehand bought any Lutron Caséta lighting or ceiling fan controller, you have already got the bridge and the app that goes with it. The similar app integrates all of Lutron’s sensible residence units, together with its lighting controls, sensible plugs, ceiling fan controllers, programmable distant controls, and Serena shades. Michael Brown / IDG
    Lutron’s app permits you to create scenes with disparate elements in your sensible residence, together with Sonos audio system (sensible and in any other case).
    The Lutron ecosystem presents hooks into third-party merchandise, together with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant sensible audio system; sensible thermostats from Carrier, Ecobee, Honeywell, and Nest; and even Sonos audio system. It can be appropriate with Apple’s HomePackage expertise. That renders the Lutron app and bridge combo a fairly good sensible residence system all by itself.The bridge is able to controlling appropriate units based mostly on scenes that set the habits of chosen units, and schedules (outlined occasions on days of the week, or at dawn and sundown). Scenes can even function on geofence triggers: closing your shades and turning down your thermostat whenever you depart and take your mobile phone with you; opening your shades, turning in your lights, and taking part in your favourite playlist whenever you return residence with it.But the attraction of the app’s programmability is determined by your sticking with Lutron’s lighting, window protecting, and ceiling fan controls, plus the restricted variety of third-party merchandise that Lutron has determined to help. Trust me, you’ll ultimately wish to develop past that universe.Remote management choices for Serena shadesVoice instructions spoken to a sensible speaker are the simplest option to manually management Serena shades, however for those who don’t have an Echo or Google Home and also you don’t wish to pull out your smartphone, Lutron presents two nice distant controls for the job. The $25 Pico distant is comparatively tiny at 1.25 inches extensive by 2.5 inches excessive, and it’s wafer skinny. It has 5 stacked buttons: totally open on the prime, totally closed on the backside, guide up, guide down, and “favorite” place within the heart. Michael Brown / IDG
    Lutron’s five-button Pico distant for controlling its Serena shades is great, however it can add $25 to your invoice for every shade you order.
    The Pico Remote’s measurement makes it simple to misplace, however you may mount a plastic block to the wall and slide the distant onto it, so the shades could be managed from the wall identical to a lightweight swap. If you desire a extra formal look, Lutron additionally sells a wallplate bracket that provides the Pico distant a built-in look, but it surely is determined by the presence of a junction field within the wall. Both mounting choices provide the alternative to take away the Pico distant from the wall and carry it with you.Mentioned on this article

    If you’re putting in multiple Serena shade in a room, Lutron’s $89 4-Group RF Remote Control can management as much as 4 shades, both individually or all on the similar time. Both remotes rely on the presence of that bridge, nonetheless, so neither of them will allow you to escape that price.Serena shades as a part of a sensible residence system Michael Brown
    Lutron’s app doesn’t make you guess what the shade will seem like at 20 p.c.
    If you’ve arrange a sensible residence hub, that reliance on Lutron’s personal communications protocol will possible decide for those who can incorporate the shades instantly into your broader sensible residence system. Samsung SmartIssues helps Serena shades instantly, however the Vivint Smart Home system that I exploit doesn’t. In reality, Vivint doesn’t formally help motorized window shades in any respect, however the firm gained’t forestall you from including shades to your system and treating them like dimmer switches—supplied they use Z-Wave expertise.But I haven’t discovered the benefit of incorporating all my sensible residence units right into a single sensible residence app to be all that essential. Would or not it’s simpler? For positive. I’d a lot reasonably use the Vivint app to create guidelines to regulate when my lights flip off, my shades shut, and my thermostat adjusts the warmth. But needing to arrange two units of guidelines utilizing two apps as an alternative of 1 simply isn’t that large of a deal, particularly since creating guidelines tends to be a one-time factor that solely must be carried out whenever you add a brand new element to your system.  Cost and high quality of Serena shades Michael Brown / IDG
    The cells within the Serena room-darkening shades are lined with aluminum, however the firm solely presents single-cell designs in that assortment.
    The window I put in the Serena shade on has the identical southern publicity that the bigger window in my residence theater does, so I selected a room-darkening honeycomb material much like what Graber presents. The material is lined with aluminum to enhance its insulation worth, however Lutron presents solely a 9/16-inch single-celled materials in its room-darkening shades, the place Graber permits you to select both single- or double-celled metalized material.The material itself feels very excessive finish, although, and the whole shade is kind of enticing each when closed or partially open. In phrases of high quality of fabric and construct high quality, this spherical could be a tie between Serena and Graber. But I discovered the motor within the Serena shade to be very barely quieter than the Somfy motor Graber makes use of. I registered a 8.3dB improve in noise degree whereas the shade was opening from totally closed to completely open. Compare that to a 9.6dB improve for the Graber shade. A distinction of 1.3dB isn’t prone to influence your satisfaction degree with both product, particularly when you’ve grown accustomed to the sound of the shades opening and shutting, but it surely’s a distinction price reporting. Michael Brown / IDG
    The Serena’s head rail pivots down to reveal its battery compartment.
    As I mentioned earlier, Serena shades price greater than Graber’s product, though the value differential is much less stark for those who already personal a Lutron bridge. The 34 x 58-inch Serena shade reviewed right here is priced at $474, plus $25 for the Pico distant and $80 for the bridge for a complete price of $579. The smaller (33.5 x 58-inch) Graber shade I reviewed in October had an inventory value of $483, together with a easy two-button distant. But the seller who provided the shade routinely presents low cost coupons. At the time of that evaluation, an obtainable 15-percent low cost dropped the ultimate price to $411. Even assuming you don’t want the Lutron bridge, the same-size Serena shade would nonetheless price $88 extra. And for those who’re shopping for a number of shades, the distinction will add up shortly.In the ultimate evaluation, nonetheless, the Serena shade’s better-designed battery compartment, the again cowl hiding its ugly facet, and its superior distant management endow it with sufficient concrete advantages to justify its increased price. And whereas Lutron’s proprietary radio expertise means the Serena shade is just not as extensively supported by third-party sensible residence techniques, it’s totally appropriate with Samsung SmartIssues, Apple HomePackage, and each Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And Lutron’s personal bridge and the purpose-built app that goes with it make it a lot simpler to make use of whether or not this would be the solely sensible machine in your house or you will have a whole sensible residence system from another producer.

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