Review: The Caseta Fan Speed Control is the best way to integrate your fan with HomeKit --...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 29
The Lutron HomeKit-enabled fan controller makes it easy for anyone to control a ceiling fan from the wall, with their phone, or with their voice. But, it isn't perfect.

Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control
Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control


During the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, Lutron unveiled a new in-wall fan controller that was designed to make it easy to control your ceiling fan. The team told AppleInsider how their goal was to be the first HomeKit fan control to market and a few months later, they did just that.

The Lutron fan controller isn't without its faults, but it is overall a great option for smart home users looking to improve their setup. Let's dig into the details.

A necessary accessory

One of the faults with smart homes designed from the ground-up, is that physical controls can be sparse. Early adopters add all forms of smart bulbs with little consideration to those who can't or don't want to use their phone every time they have to control the lights or the fan.

There are different buttons and switches that have come onto the market, but HomeKit makers, in particular, have been left out in the cold when it comes to fan controls. Fans like those from Hunter integrate HomeKit directly into the fan but that still lacks any physical control on the wall for users to interact with.

That is where the Lutron controller comes in.

It is an in-wall switch which means some minor electrical skills -- or a good electrician -- will be necessary. For us it only took a few minutes to get everything sorted out. Just shutting off our breaker, removing the existing switch, correctly wiring the Lutron switch, fitting it back into the wall, then once more flipping that breaker.

Lutron Fan Controller wires
Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control wires


Most users won't struggle through the install, but its ok if you do. There are elaborate instructions which make it easy to follow along.

Lutron Fan Controller face plate
Lutron Fan Controller face plate


Once you connect the four wires, you can add the Lutron cover plates which snap into place.

Lutron Caseta bridge
Lutrona Caseta bridge


Aside from the switch itself, you also need to have the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge. This is what connects to your fan controller and is necessary to connect in the app and use HomeKit.

Lutron Caseta bridge ports
Lutron Caseta bridge ports


With the bridge, you can connect to all of the other great smart home accessories from Lutron too which further ties you into the Lutron ecosystem.

HomeKit for the win

Lutron fan and bridge in HomeKit
Lutron fan and bridge in HomeKit


When we look for new smart home gear to add to our abode, we always look for HomeKit support. Lutron was the first manufacturer to support HomeKit with the Caseta bridge debuted in Apple Stores so it wasn't a surprise to see support follow for additional products over the years.

Preceding Lutron, iDevices -- which was purchased by fan-maker Hubbell -- announced its own HomeKit fan controller but more than a year later it is still MIA. That left a gap in the market Lutron was happy to fill.

Lutron fan and bridge in HomeKit
Lutron fan and bridge in Home app


Setup in HomeKit is easy once you've added the Caseta Smart Bridge the fan controller will automatically show up. From there it can be added to a specific room in your home, the name can be changed, and it can be included in any of your automation rules or scenes.

Scenes in HomeKit make their accessory all the more powerful. Create a bedtime scene that will automatically lock your front door, close the garage, dim all your lights, adjust the thermostat, and turn on the fan on low.

As we mentioned in our HomeKit tips and tricks piece, you can use the third-party app Controller to create what amounts to sleep timers on your devices so that you can ask Siri to turn on your fan on for 45 minutes after which it will shut off.

With HomeKit you can toggle the fan on or off, as well as change the speed.

Controling your fan

With the Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control installed you have all new ways to interact with your ceiling fan, making it more accessible and convenient for everyone. Turn it on/off and change the speeds from the switch right on the wall. Control through the aforementioned HomeKit on your phone or through Siri. Use the Caseta app, or even the wireless remote.

One thing we noticed with the optional wireless remote is that it is hard to differentiate the top from bottom. When we are barely emerging from slumber and we reach over to adjust the fan, it is impossible to differentiate the top from the bottom without glancing at it for the minuscule glyphs that signify on from off.

The remote mimics the actual controller on the wall with several button stacked on top of one another. The top button will immediately take the fan to full speed, the bottom one will take it to off, the arrows allow it to be incrementally speed up or slow down, and the center button will take you directly to your "favorite" speed.

Lutron Fan Controller
Lutron Fan Controller


For us, these is too many buttons for a fan. We don't need a "favorite" setting for a fan when it only has four speeds. Low, medium low, medium high, and high. At most it would take you two button presses to get to the appropriate speed.

A costly addition

Our main issue with the Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control is how expensive it can get when outfitting your home. Not even your whole home but a single room -- especially if your fan has a light.

The controller doesn't have any interface for a light, leaving you to wire a whole second in-wall switch for your light control. If you don't already have a light control you will end up having to put in a second gang box in your wall or running another wire just for that light control. Certainly not ideal or inexpensive.

Best case scenario you already have both switches on the wall which will run you the cost of the fan controller, a light controller, and don't forget the Caseta Smart Bridge you may or may not already have. Ideally, the fan controller would also have a control for the light built in.

Lutron Fan Controller
Lutron Fan Controller


If you are one who has a simple no-light fan and a gang box on the wall you are in the best case scenario that is the easiest and most affordable to do. Others may have their mileage vary.

Shortcuts aplenty

Our second issue with the fan controller is the abundance of shortcuts Lutron seems to have taken in bringing this to market. Rather than starting from the ground up on a controller that makes sense for a fan, Lutron seemingly repurposed their existing light controller and put fan glyphs on it.

There isn't anything inherently wrong with that, mind you, but if you have both, it is far too easy to mix the remotes up. They look identical and you have to have a sharp eye to pick out the correct one. Or maybe wrap one in a rubber band. When on our nightstand we struggled to grab the right one.

We already mentioned how the button layout didn't necessarily make sense for a fan. That button scheme makes much more sense when you think about it from a lighting perspective. Lights don't have just three or four levels of brightness but many small incremental levels. That is where a "favorite" button comes in handy. For a fan, it is superfluous.

A worthy purchase

For all our griping about the little things, we really do love the Lutron fan controller. It works excellent, never dropping from our bridge and always responding quickly and accurately to our commands. HomeKit support was spot on and we loved being able to integrate the fan with all of our other HomeKit accessories.

Lutron Fan Controller
Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control


There are limitations here, but this is the first one to make it to market. We have no doubt that Lutron is watching feedback and taking them into consideration for future products and other accessory makers are taking notes as they work to bring their own to market.

If you have a fan and have pledged your loyalty to HomeKit, the Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control is the best -- and only -- one around.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Where to buy

You can grab the Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control on Amazon for $57 on its own or $87 with the added pico remote.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    The HomeKit product reviews on this site leave a lot to be desired.

    Firstly, there is your rating of "3 out of 5". What is your basis for comparison when saying "out of 5"? All the other HomeKit-compatible Fan Controller Wall Switch with Additional Remote replacements on the market? This is literally the only product of its kind, and it is light years ahead of anything else even trying to be similar.

    Secondly, the gripes about the remote are unfounded. You are simply using it wrong. Just because you "can" do whatever you want with the Pico remote doesn't mean it is designed to be used however you want. It's primary purpose is to be mounted in secondary location, like another wall box location, to have 3-way-esque (but better) control over the fixture. Which is why they ship with wall box mount plates. If you didn't want it in a wall box, you could make your own sort of desk or night stand mount for it...I've seen this done by people with multiple Pico remotes for different fixtures who rather have a control center than additional wall switches. Doing nothing with and just leaving it on the nightstand to fumble with is far from the intended use case, and not even worth mentioning as part of a review.

    Third, you seem to be actually complaining that it is only a Fan control switch, which is bizarre because this is exactly what people want. Most people do not want a combined Fan/Light control switch, and are thankful when the fixtures pre wired correctly to be independent.

    Lastly, cost is always a problem when it comes to HomeKit products. That is nothing unique to this product.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    neilmneilm Posts: 638member
    While my inner geek wants to love this kind of thing, you really have to question the real world usefulness.

    By the time I fish out my iPhone, locate and launch the app, then execute a command for the fan, I could easily have done it manually. Or with the fan's own remote. And the need for remotely controlling a fan in another room arises approximately never.

    The wall switch is an ergonomic non-starter, with no surface relief to guide the fingers and small, indistinct icons. And good luck trying to use it in the dark.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    neilm said:
    While my inner geek wants to love this kind of thing, you really have to question the real world usefulness.

    By the time I fish out my iPhone, locate and launch the app, then execute a command for the fan, I could easily have done it manually. Or with the fan's own remote. And the need for remotely controlling a fan in another room arises approximately never.

    The wall switch is an ergonomic non-starter, with no surface relief to guide the fingers and small, indistinct icons. And good luck trying to use it in the dark.
    I respectfully disagree. I installed this fan switch in my master bedroom about a few weeks ago. I already had a Lutron Caseta switch controlling the light in the fan and had been waiting for the fan switch. As Andrew mentioned, installation was simple. I like that I now have two switches that look almost identical rather than one Lutron and one standard switch.  

    Before installing the fan switch we had to somewhat awkwardly stand with one foot on our bed and another foot on a bench to reach the pull chain if we wanted to change the fan speed. It was a pain and we rarely did it. Now I can just ask Siri to adjust the speed or turn the fan on/off, no need to jump through all the hoops you mentioned. We can also make those adjustments from the switch itself when prior we could only turn it on or off at the wall.

    Using the switch in the dark isn’t an issue at all, BTW, it’s very easy to locate the proper button to push.
    edited May 29 StrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 18
    bwallsbwalls Posts: 6unconfirmed, member
    I'm not clear how this switch works to control the fan speeds. Does it only work with certain fans?

    At this moment, my bedroom and closet each has a fan with a light kit that controlled by a single switch on the wall, with pull chains for the fan and lights. It was originally a toggle switch, but I replaced those with Caséta dimmer switches. For winter, that worked fine, since I was only using the lights with the dimmer, and the fans stayed off. Now that my wife wants to use the fan, it's actually kind of dangerous. The switch isn't rated for the fan surge currents, and the fan isn't designed to deal with partial voltage from dimmed lights.

    To add the fan control, I'd need to add a gang box, run a separate control wire, and rewire the fan to go to the new fan control switch. But how does it control fan speed? Do I need yet another piece of electronics to go in each fan? If so, seems like it might be better to just install a remote controller in the fan, run unstitched power to the fan, and have a HomeKit-compatible (or homebridge hackable) remote on the wall. 
  • Reply 5 of 18
    jibjib Posts: 12member
    One issue (which I have not seen mentioned in any review), is that the Fan Controller is intended to work with fans that do not already have a wireless remote.  Lutron says it won't work with a fan that comes with a remote, but it might -- if you don't use the remote module that came with the fan, and instead wire the fan directly to the Lutron Fan switch.  There is no documentation for this, but I have seen reviews of a few fans on the Home Depot site where an enterprising consumer has installed it this way. And some fans would not work with the switch even if directly wired.

    I just remodeled my den, and it includes a new fan with two independent sets of lights (upper and lower).  My electrician was willing to try, but it would have required three switches to do it right (independent control of the lights).  So I didn't do it.

    Since many nice new fans come with a remote, this is a significant drawback.  I don't blame Lutron; they would have to test different brands of fans and could not support the resulting installations.  But it is something that potential buyers with fans that have remotes should know.

  • Reply 6 of 18
    bwalls said:
    I'm not clear how this switch works to control the fan speeds. Does it only work with certain fans?

    At this moment, my bedroom and closet each has a fan with a light kit that controlled by a single switch on the wall, with pull chains for the fan and lights. It was originally a toggle switch, but I replaced those with Caséta dimmer switches. For winter, that worked fine, since I was only using the lights with the dimmer, and the fans stayed off. Now that my wife wants to use the fan, it's actually kind of dangerous. The switch isn't rated for the fan surge currents, and the fan isn't designed to deal with partial voltage from dimmed lights.

    To add the fan control, I'd need to add a gang box, run a separate control wire, and rewire the fan to go to the new fan control switch. But how does it control fan speed? Do I need yet another piece of electronics to go in each fan? If so, seems like it might be better to just install a remote controller in the fan, run unstitched power to the fan, and have a HomeKit-compatible (or homebridge hackable) remote on the wall. 
    I’m not and electrician but the way I understand it is that for my fan with a pull chain, the motor goes faster or slower just by how much voltage is coming through. The Lutron switch adjusts that at the wall so as long as the pull chain was set to the highest speed the switch can vary it for the different speeds.
    dave marshcornchipStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 18
    dave marshdave marsh Posts: 304member
    bwalls said:
    I'm not clear how this switch works to control the fan speeds. Does it only work with certain fans?

    At this moment, my bedroom and closet each has a fan with a light kit that controlled by a single switch on the wall, with pull chains for the fan and lights. It was originally a toggle switch, but I replaced those with Caséta dimmer switches. For winter, that worked fine, since I was only using the lights with the dimmer, and the fans stayed off. Now that my wife wants to use the fan, it's actually kind of dangerous. The switch isn't rated for the fan surge currents, and the fan isn't designed to deal with partial voltage from dimmed lights.

    To add the fan control, I'd need to add a gang box, run a separate control wire, and rewire the fan to go to the new fan control switch. But how does it control fan speed? Do I need yet another piece of electronics to go in each fan? If so, seems like it might be better to just install a remote controller in the fan, run unstitched power to the fan, and have a HomeKit-compatible (or homebridge hackable) remote on the wall. 
    I’m not and electrician but the way I understand it is that for my fan with a pull chain, the motor goes faster or slower just by how much voltage is coming through. The Lutron switch adjusts that at the wall so as long as the pull chain was set to the highest speed the switch can vary it for the different speeds.
    Yes, you set the fan for high speed, then install the Lutron fan switch.  It adjusts the power level to the fan to vary the speed.  Also, works well with Siri, and with the Apple Watch, and with the iPhone, and with the iPad.  The only thing it doesn’t do is reverse the fan direction, but that’s a non-issue for me.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 18
    dave marshdave marsh Posts: 304member
    I think the 3 out of 5 rating was a bit harsh.  He was looking for things to complain about to appear even handed, I guess.  This fan switch works exactly as promised, and reliably with HomeKit device controllers and Siri.  The ONLY reason I’d downgrade it from 5 out of 5 would be its lacking the option to reverse the fan rotation, but that may have been out of Lutron’s control.
  • Reply 9 of 18
    I think the 3 out of 5 rating was a bit harsh.  He was looking for things to complain about to appear even handed, I guess.  This fan switch works exactly as promised, and reliably with HomeKit device controllers and Siri.  The ONLY reason I’d downgrade it from 5 out of 5 would be its lacking the option to reverse the fan rotation, but that may have been out of Lutron’s control.
    My fans have a physical switch on the body that changes the fan direction. Without more serious adjustments to the fan I’m not sure how that would be accomplished with the switch.

    neilm said:
    By the time I fish out my iPhone, locate and launch the app, then execute a command for the fan, I could easily have done it manually. Or with the fan's own remote. And the need for remotely controlling a fan in another room arises approximately never. 
    Not never for me. I’m considering putting one in our kid’s bedroom so we can turn it on after bedtime if we need to. 
  • Reply 10 of 18
    2old4fun2old4fun Posts: 225member
    I am somewhat amazed at these responses. Maybe because I went into homekit in a big way. I have Hue light bulbs in the fan in the master bath and plan to get this switch to control the fan. There are separate switches for light and fan with a pull chain to change speed. This will give me the same control as I have with the Hunter fan in the master bedroom. My biggest gripe with Lutron is the bridge. I already have a Hue bridge using the only port in my Eero router in the bedroom. But there are Hue bulbs in the lamps on each nightstand and the two lamps on the dresser. There are other lights controlled by iHome switches in the living room and office, an August front door lock, Liftmaster garage door opener, Sylvania light strip behind the television, strip lights in the master bath by Lifx and a Flowerbud by VOCOlinc. There are HomePods in the living room and master bedroom and they control everything with a "Hey Siri" command. Thus I see the complaints about having to pull out an iPhone to talk to Siri as not planning for control of Homekit devices. If I am somewhere that does not allow me to talk to HomePod then I can fall back on my iPad, iPhone and Watch. My home is becoming automated with I and my wife having control. She loves the feeling of security of saying "Hey Siri, good night" and knowing that the lights are out, the garage door is closed and the front door is locked.
  • Reply 11 of 18
    ivanhivanh Posts: 380member
    Caséta Bridge and Caséta Wireless already works with Google Home Home Control and works better with Google Assistant (OK Google) than Hey Siri. Anyway I like the speed control.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,390member
    A little lame that you have to wire in a second box to control the light. I’m going to have to do this though as my wife lost the remote. Also not crazy about having to put a hub somewhere. And then multiple hubs for multiple brands that cover different smart home device markets.. I’d really like to put in a smart lock & garage door & some lighting eventually too. Like author says it can get pricy and I am on a budg. I’m picking up raspberry pi though so I may just be patient & go open source with all this smart-home stuff. 
    edited May 29
  • Reply 13 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,543member
    neilm said:
    While my inner geek wants to love this kind of thing, you really have to question the real world usefulness.

    By the time I fish out my iPhone, locate and launch the app, then execute a command for the fan, I could easily have done it manually. Or with the fan's own remote. And the need for remotely controlling a fan in another room arises approximately never.

    The wall switch is an ergonomic non-starter, with no surface relief to guide the fingers and small, indistinct icons. And good luck trying to use it in the dark.
    You’re using it wrong. First of all, it has wall controls. Second, the beauty of HK devices is scheduling scenes. Third, Siri. 
  • Reply 14 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,543member

    ivanh said:
    Caséta Bridge and Caséta Wireless already works with Google Home Home Control and works better with Google Assistant (OK Google) than Hey Siri. Anyway I like the speed control.
    Prove it. How does it work better?

    But really, who gives a crap if it works with the advertising company’s system? This is Apple Insider, not Ad Watch. 
  • Reply 15 of 18
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 722editor
    This is great IF and only if you already have wiring in the wall for a fan speed controller. IF not, you have to run wiring in the wall, rather than just install a unit in the canopy of the fan.

    If you want to control lights, you have to install a second lutron in a 2 gang box to control the lights.

    If you want to remote control them, you need TWO pico remotes, side by side on a pedestal stand, which is clunky.

    If Lutron had really thought about it, they should have made a canopy with wireless remote, and not bothered with the inwall unit. But then they wouldn't have been able to re-use the pico remote they already make for lighting.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 722editor
    I think the 3 out of 5 rating was a bit harsh.  He was looking for things to complain about to appear even handed, I guess.  This fan switch works exactly as promised, and reliably with HomeKit device controllers and Siri.  The ONLY reason I’d downgrade it from 5 out of 5 would be its lacking the option to reverse the fan rotation, but that may have been out of Lutron’s control.
    My fans have a physical switch on the body that changes the fan direction. Without more serious adjustments to the fan I’m not sure how that would be accomplished with the switch.

    neilm said:
    By the time I fish out my iPhone, locate and launch the app, then execute a command for the fan, I could easily have done it manually. Or with the fan's own remote. And the need for remotely controlling a fan in another room arises approximately never. 
    Not never for me. I’m considering putting one in our kid’s bedroom so we can turn it on after bedtime if we need to. 
    3 out of 5 is about right, or generous. I think it should have been 2.5 based on them making it in wall instead of in canopy.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 722editor
    cornchip said:
    A little lame that you have to wire in a second box to control the light. I’m going to have to do this though as my wife lost the remote. Also not crazy about having to put a hub somewhere. And then multiple hubs for multiple brands that cover different smart home device markets.. I’d really like to put in a smart lock & garage door & some lighting eventually too. Like author says it can get pricy and I am on a budg. I’m picking up raspberry pi though so I may just be patient & go open source with all this smart-home stuff. 
    Check out Sonoff and the alternative firmwares for it. Some people are making them HomeKit compatible directly, others are using MQTT and pi as a bridge to HomeKit via MQTT. 
  • Reply 18 of 18
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 722editor
    The HomeKit product reviews on this site leave a lot to be desired.

    Firstly, there is your rating of "3 out of 5". What is your basis for comparison when saying "out of 5"? All the other HomeKit-compatible Fan Controller Wall Switch with Additional Remote replacements on the market? This is literally the only product of its kind, and it is light years ahead of anything else even trying to be similar.

    Secondly, the gripes about the remote are unfounded. You are simply using it wrong. Just because you "can" do whatever you want with the Pico remote doesn't mean it is designed to be used however you want. It's primary purpose is to be mounted in secondary location, like another wall box location, to have 3-way-esque (but better) control over the fixture. Which is why they ship with wall box mount plates. If you didn't want it in a wall box, you could make your own sort of desk or night stand mount for it...I've seen this done by people with multiple Pico remotes for different fixtures who rather have a control center than additional wall switches. Doing nothing with and just leaving it on the nightstand to fumble with is far from the intended use case, and not even worth mentioning as part of a review.

    Third, you seem to be actually complaining that it is only a Fan control switch, which is bizarre because this is exactly what people want. Most people do not want a combined Fan/Light control switch, and are thankful when the fixtures pre wired correctly to be independent.

    Lastly, cost is always a problem when it comes to HomeKit products. That is nothing unique to this product.
    Just because there's only one of these doesn't mean it can't suck. Of course it can. They made some bad decisions.

    Pico remotes do not exist solely to be mounted on another wall - that's just a bad hack for 3-way switching. They exist to sit somewhere useful within reach, like on a coffee or night table. Lutron makes a "pedestal" for these, and they proudly showed me that if you want to control a light kit on a fan and the fan itself, you need a two-stand pedestal that will hold the pico remotes side by side for use on a coffee table. It's a dumb solution, when ceiling fan remotes almost entirely have the light and fan on a single remote. And it's all because Lutron decided they had to re-use their existing pico remotes and existing tooling for an in-wall switch, when a canopy receiver and single remote is the better, more elegant solution.

    The majority of homes don't have separate in-wall wiring for fan control, just a single toggle that cuts power to the whole fan and light combination. This product is unsuitable for them. If you have a home that's already wired for fan speed control and a 2-gang box for separate light kit control, congratulations: you're one of the few this product is appropriate for. But that doesn't mean Lutron couldn't have made it more useful for the greater number of people who don't have that set up.
Sign In or Register to comment.