Lutron, maker of Serena shades, the Caséta Wireless Lighting system, and many more connected home products, has released a new mini remote that can control connected ZigBee light bulbs. The remote repurposes Lutron’s Pico remote form factor, passing as nearly identical to the four-button Pico remote announced at this year’s Lightfair, were it not for a small ZigBee logo on the bottom button. And because it’s the same form factor, it’s also as versatile, connecting to wall mounting kits, pedestals, and even car visor clips already designed for the Pico. Like the Pico, this remote is powered by a coin battery, which is expected to last for five years under normal use. Unlike the Pico, it is available in white and…yeah, only in white.
Officially, the remote currently supports Cree Connected and GE Link bulbs and the Wink Hub. Each remote can connect with and control up to 30 bulbs, and remotes can be paired to each other to offer multiple points of control. The beauty of this is that it can all work without a hub or an app.
Promoting the convenience of a nearby remote or switch, a video on Lutron’s web site and on YouTube almost pokes fun at how much easier it is to control lighting from a physical controller vs. using an app. Having Lutron—a company that itself makes mobile apps to control your lights—recognize that there’s still a use case for physical controls is a big thing…and something we’re happy to see.
In our tests, we could not determine how to pair the remote with the Wink Hub, nor could we find any instructions for doing so. We were, however able to pair to the Cree Connected bulb and GE Link bulbs as advertised…as well as Hue and Hue Lux bulbs. The fact that it can control the Hue bulbs is particularly interesting, given the recent news that Philips intends to release a similar, though less well designed product later this Fall. It’s worth noting, however, that this Lutron remote will only control color-changing Hue bulbs at their default On color, which is somewhere around 3000K, or “bright white.”
The list of supported bulbs should grow as more manufacturers come to market with connected ZigBee bulbs, but here’s where it gets messy. The ZigBee logo on a bulb or controller is no guarantee that the two can work together, and in fact we could not pair this remote with ZigBee bulbs from LG, Osram Sylvania, or Belkin.
The Connected Bulb Remote Control is available for $29.97 at Home Depot stores and online at Amazon.com. Given the commoditized nature of ZigBee chips, this seems kind of pricey compared to Lutron’s Pico, which starts at about $15. Nonetheless, it’s a nice option to have that will doubtless make connected bulbs easier to use for many. Welcome to the world of ZigBee, Lutron. We’re glad to see you, but tread carefully…it’s kind of messy around here.