By Dan Moren
November 8, 2021 1:23 PM PT
Review: Lutron Aurora bridges the gap between Hue bulbs and wall switches
Much as I love some good smart home lighting, there’s nothing worse than running into a problem that is singularly dumb. Recently, I detailed the smart home lighting setup in my new house, and noted that in addition to installing Lutron Caseta switches, I had also repurposed my older Hue bulbs as overhead lights in my office.
Just one problem: that meant that I could no longer use the wall switch to turn the overhead lights on and off, and instead had to use Siri, pull out my phone, or stumble inside in the dark to find the Hue dimmer switch that I magneted to my filing cabinet.
I’d resigned myself to sticking the dimmer switch to the wall next to the existing switch1 when I stumbled across a clever product that seemed like the perfect antidote to my problems: the Lutron Aurora.
The Lutron Aurora is a smart switch designed specifically to work with Hue bulbs (though it can work other Zigbee bulbs as well) and looks like a traditional round dimmer control. It comes in two parts: there’s bracket that you put on a single-pole (or toggle) light switch and then tighten with a screw to keep in place and the dial itself snaps onto that. Installation is fast: it probably took me less than a minute, plus about 30 seconds to pair the switch to my bulbs in the Hue app.
Now I have a wall switch that I can press to turn on and off the lights in my office, and even dim them using the rotating dial control. Best of all, it means I don’t accidentally trip over anything on the floor of my office while groping around to turn the lights on.
While I set up the Aurora with the Hue Bridge I already use my setup, it’ll work without one as well, letting you directly control up to a dozen Zigbee light bulbs. It’s powered by a small CR2032 coin-cell battery, which Lutron says will last up to about 3 years and is easily replaceable. And it doesn’t require any wiring or permanent installation: you can always just remove it later, no harm done.
Just as a note, technically the Aurora doesn’t support HomeKit, but since it communicates directly with the Hue bulbs, that’s hardly a dealbreaker. It basically works in parallel and I’ve had no problem, say, turning on the bulbs with the Home app and turning them off with the Aurora, or vice versa. It does mean you’ll have to do configuration via Hue’s app, which means using their light states/scenes/recipes, but since it’s kind of a set-and-forget-it usage, I don’t foresee any significant issues.
The Aurora’s $40 price tag isn’t dirt cheap, but for me, it’s more than worth that to let me keep my Hue bulbs in service and solve the annoyance of a light switch I can never use.
- But I couldn’t bring myself to tape the light switch into my place. The idea physically pains me. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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