Smart bulbs aren’t the only way to get remote-controlled lights in your house. You can also install smart light switches and use them with any bulbs. Here’s how to install and set up the Lutron Caseta Dimmer Switch Starter Kit.
The company’s starter kit is a great way to dip your toes into the smart light switch arena, as their $100 kit includes the hub, a smart dimmer switch, and a little remote to control the switch from across the room. You can also spend a bit more and get the starter kit with an extra dimmer switch.
What makes Lutron’s offerings so great is that the switches themselves don’t require a neutral wire to install. So if you live in an older house where your light switch boxes don’t have neutral wires, you’re not out of luck like you would be with other products (like Belkin’s WeMo Light Switch).
Warning: This is a project for a confident DIYer. There’s no shame in getting someone else to do the actual wiring for you if you lack the skill or knowledge to do so, but just know that you do this at your own risk. Also note that it may be against the law, code, or regulations to do this without a permit in your area, or it might void your home’s insurance or warranty. Check your local regulations before continuing.
What You’ll Need
Before you even consider getting a smart light switch, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, it’s generally not a good idea to install a smart light switch in a junction box made of metal, which can interfere with the wireless signal. Luckily, most houses use plastic junction boxes indoors, but in the off chance that yours are all metal, keep an eye on the wireless performance of the light switch.
Secondly, one of the first things you’ll notice with Caseta switches is that they’re much larger than a traditional light switch, because it needs to house all of the extra components that make it “smart”. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your junction box is plenty deep. Otherwise, you’ll have a hell of a time trying to squeeze all the wires inside the box along with the switch itself.
Lastly, if you’re not comfortable with doing electrical work, then have a knowledgable friend help you out or hire an electrician to do it for you. However, if you feel comfortable enough to tackle such a project, you’ll need a couple tools.
The absolute must-have tools include a pair of needle-nose pliers, a flat-head screwdriver, and a Phillips-head screwdriver.
Some optional (but very handy) tools include some combination pliers, a wire stripper tool (in case you need to cut wire or strip off wire housings), and a voltage tester.
Wire nuts and screws come with the kit, so you won’t need any materials of your own.
Step One: Set Up the Smart Bridge
Before we actually get into the nitty gritty of installing the light switches, you’ll first want to set up the Smart Bridge that came with your Caseta starter kit. Since Caseta devices use Lutron’s proprietary Clear Connect RF wireless protocol, the hub is required in order to connect the switches to your network.
This is pretty easy. Just take the included power and ethernet cables and connect them to the hub. After that, plug the power into a free outlet and the ethernet into an open ethernet port on your router.
From there, lights will begin to blink on the hub to let you know it’s ready for use.
Step Two: Turn Off the Power
This is one of the most important steps and it should be done before anything else. Go to your breaker box and cut off the power to the room where you’ll be changing out the light switch.
Perhaps the best way to know if you turned off the correct breaker is to turn on the light switch before cutting the power. If the light that’s controlled by the light switch turns off, then you know you’ve switched the correct breaker off.
Step Three: Remove the Existing Light Switch
Take your flat-head screwdriver and remove the two screws holding the faceplate on.
You can then take the faceplate right off. At this point, you can use a voltage tester to see if the power is truly off to the light switch before you go any further. Better to be extra safe than sorry.
Next, take your Phillips-head screwdriver and remove the two screws that hold the light switch onto the junction box.
Once removed, take your fingers and pull out the light switch (using the tabs at the top and bottom of the switch) to expose more of the wires.
Take a look at the wiring configuration of the light switch. You’ll notice that there are two black wires connected to the switch, as well as a bare copper wire, which is the ground wire. Further back in the box, you might also have two white wires that are tied together with a wire nut. (If the colors in your wall are different, make note of which are which, to ensure you connect everything properly.)
As briefly explained above, the black wires are the power (or “hot”) wires and the white wires are the neutral (or “return”) wires. Electricity flows through the hot wire, entering the switch and then into the light fixture, and then returns through the neutral wire. Turning off the switch simply disconnects the power wire from the light fixture, cutting off power from your lights.
Now, take your screwdriver and remove the two black wires attached to the light switch. Don’t worry about which black wire goes where, because they’re interchangeable.
Lastly, remove the bare copper ground wire from the green screw.
Leave the two white neutral wires alone, as we won’t be needing them at all for the installation.
Step Four: Prepare Your Wires for the Caseta Dimmer Switch
Now that the light switch is completely removed, we’ll need to prepare for the installation of the Caseta switch.
Grab your needle-nose pliers and straighten out the black and ground wires. Since they’re bent like hooks from the old switch, they’ll need to be straightened out so that you can attach wire nuts to them later on.
You’re now ready to install the Caseta switch!
Step Five: Install the Caseta Dimmer Switch
Grab your Caseta switch and carefully pry off the front cover, which is held in place by several clips.
After that, remove the bottom faceplate from the switch by removing the two screws that attach it to the switch—one on the top and one of the bottom.
At this point, ensure that your junction box is big enough to house the Caseta switch. If not, you’ll likely need to replace the junction box with a bigger one, which is a project for another day.
The Caseta switch will have two black wires and one green wire. Start by connecting the green wire to the bare copper ground wire coming out from the junction box. Do this by placing the two wires together side-by-side with the ends matching and screw the wire nut on top of them like you’re turning a small knob. Stop when you can barely turn it anymore—you want the wire nut on there as tight as possible so nothing comes loose.
Next, do the same thing with the two black wires. Again, it doesn’t matter which one goes with which, since they’re interchangeable.
With everything wired up, you’ll need to stuff the wires back into the box and make room for the switch. This can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to get rough with the wires and bend them back into the box as far as they’ll go.
Take the two screws that were included in the kit and use them to attach the switch to the junction box—one on the top and one on the bottom.
At this point, you can install the included faceplate back on, but you can actually use any decorator faceplate that you want.
Turn the power back and enjoy your new light switch!
However, that’s just half the fun. You’ll now connect it to the Lutron Smart Bridge so that you can control the switch remotely from your phone, and set things like schedules and scenes.
Step Six: Download the Lutron Caseta App
Once that’s done, open it up and agree to the various terms. Hit “Accept”.
Tap on “Get Started”.
The next screen will tell you to install your Lutron devices. Since we’ve already done that, we’ll tap on “Next” in the top-right corner of the screen.
Next, you’ll create an account with Lutron. Enter in your email address and create a password. Hit “Create Account” when finished.
On the next screen you’ll be instructed to plug in the Smart Bridge hub, but since we’ve already done that, tap on “Next”.
Give it a few moments for the app to find your Smart Bridge on the network.
Next, you’ll be instructed to press the small button on the back of the Smart Bridge.
After you press the button, you may get a couple of pop-ups asking Lutron for permission on your location and HomeKit data.
Hit “Next” on the Time and Location screen.
On the next screen, select the device you installed. In this case, it’s the Caseta In-Wall Dimmer/Switch.
As instructed in the app, press and hold the bottom button on the switch for ten seconds until the LED lights on the switch begin to blink quickly.
Next, choose the room that the switch is installed in. In this case, I installed one in my wife’s bathroom, so I’ll select “Bathroom” and give it a unique name. Hit “Next” when you’re done with this step.
You’ll then choose the light type that the switch controls. Hit “Next” when you select one.
Hooray! Your new switch is ready to go. However, we’ll now set up the included Pico Remote that came with your starter kit, so tap on “Add Another Device”.
Step Seven: Set Up the Pico Remote
Once you’ve tapped on “Add Another Device”, you’ll be taken back the Add Device screen. From here, select “Pico Remote”.
As instructed in the app, press and hold on the bottom button of the remote for ten seconds until the LED light begins to blink quickly. Then select the room that you want the remote to control.
Select what kind of device the remote will control. In the case, we’ll select “Lights”. Hit “Next”.
Hooray again! Tap on “I’m Done Adding Devices”.
You’ll then be taken back to the main screen where you can begin to control your light switches right from the app.
Tapping on a light within the app will bring up controls for that light fixture.
Basic Automation: Setting Up Scenes and Schedules
From the main screen of the app, you have quick access to “Scenes” and “Schedules”. Scenes allow you to set a specific brightness level and quickly select it in the app, while Schedules allow you to set specific times for your lights to turn on and off.
To create a scene, tap on the “Scenes” from the main screen.
Tap on “Add Scene”.
Type in a name for the scene and select an icon for it. Then hit “Next”.
Next, choose the lights you want to include in the scene and then adjust them using the slider or buttons. Hit “Done” when you’re finished.
Your new scene will now appear on the main screen under “Scenes” where you can quickly select it.
As for creating a schedule, tap on the “Schedules” tab.
Select “Add Schedule”.
Select the days that you want the schedule to run on and then hit “Next”.
Select the time, or use the sunrise or sunset. Then hit “Next”.
On the next screen, give the schedule a name and hit “Next”.
Select which lights you want to include and adjust them to what you want them to do at the specified time. Hit “Done”.
Your new schedule will now appear on the main screen.
There’s a lot you can do with scenes and schedules, and Caseta also works with voice assistants like Alexa, so have fun with it!