Lutrons new dimmer for Hue lights fixes the wall switch problem – The Verge

Lutrons new dimmer for Hue lights fixes the wall switch problem - The Verge
Lutron and Philips Hue just solved smart lightings biggest headache
Share Share Lutrons new dimmer for Hue lights fixes the wall switch problem share tweet Linkedin Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Image: Lutron If you have ever used smart light bulbs like the ones made by Hue or Lifx, youre probably familiar with what happens when someone turns off the light switch that those bulbs are connected to: the lights lose all of their smarts and connectivity.

Some solutions to this problem have been taping over the light switch so those unfamiliar with your homes smart lighting setup dont use it, or going into the switch itself and wiring it so its permanently on. Lutrons new Aurora dimmer fixes this problem in a more convenient way: when you mount it on top of the wall switch, it lets you control your Hue lights without having to use a phone app or voice assistant. And anyone who uses the dimmer wont turn off the light switch itself.

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Lutron Teamed Up With Philips to Solve One of the Most Annoying Things About Smart Lights

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.

The Aurora mounts directly onto standard toggle switches without any wiring needed. Image: Lutron The Aurora isnt the first Friends of Hue product to tackle this problem: RunLessWire came out with a dimmer switch late last year that controls Hue lights in a very similar fashion. But that model requires removing the original light switch, connecting the wires in the wall together to complete the circuit, and then mounting the RunLessWire switch in place of the original switch. The Auroras design is far simpler and doesnt even require turning off the power at the circuit breaker to install.

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.

Lutron says the Aurora will be available for order from starting today with shipping expected for June.

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Thats because if someone turns your smart lights off using its wall switch instead of an app or voice controls, that also disables the lights wireless connection, which causes your lights to go from smart to dumb real fast. And the only way to restore normal smart light functionality is to physically flip the switch back to on like some kind of savage.

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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.”