Lutron Smart Bridge review: This Wi-Fi hub bridges the smart-lighting gap

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Control your dimmers and window shades from the app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Once that was set up, I was able to go back to the app and complete the setup process. I created a username and password for the app, plugged the Ethernet cord and power adapter into the Smart Bridge, and paired the single floor lamp and the two table lamps with the app. Then, I sent the Pico remote to control all three lamps at the same time.

From there, you can start playing around with light levels and setting schedules based on your preferences. Setup takes roughly 30 minutes, but is very simple. I like that you can adjust the lamp via the plug-in module itself, on the Pico remote, or on the app. The app has the most features, though, since you can set several different schedules.

I tested it out by adjusting light levels, switching out different LEDs from brands including Switch, Utilitech, Cree, Philips, and GE, and setting a variety of schedules. It consistently performed well, but a couple of potential usage problems did stand out. If you plan to control more than one lamp at the same time, they might not all turn on, off, or dim at the same rate. Also, one out of the six dimmable LEDs I tested (the Switch Infinia bulb) had a noticeable flicker when it transitioned away from off on the dimmer scale, although that's more a function of the LED than the dimmer.

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Make adjustments directly from the Lutron app. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

While it did a fantastic job overall, the $150 price for the hub, plus an additional $55 for a single dimmer or $60 for a single dimmer plus one Pico remote, is too high. For $200-plus I think it should have more features and more third-party integration. And I'd like to see the ability to opt into scheduling notifications. That way, you could receive an alert when your light turns on at a certain time.

An alarm feature would also be quite useful. If you can program a lamp and a battery-powered window shade to turn on and open at a certain time, an alarm seems like a logical addition to round out the whole morning routine. IFTTT compatibility might make sense here, too, since you could set custom recipes that adjust lights and blinds based on weather reports or other useful triggers.

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The Caseta Wireless plug-in lamp dimmer, the Pico remote, and the Lutron Smart Bridge. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Excluding smart LEDs like Philips Hue bulbs that incorporate dimmer features, there aren't many smart dimmers available today (particularly of the plug-in or wall-mounted variety). A startup called Plum is now accepting preorders for $89 Wi-Fi Lightpad dimmers, $89 Wi-Fi smart plugs, and $89 Wi-Fi duplex electrical outlets. The dimmers are more expensive than Lutron's, but Plum's products don't need a hub to work. The same goes for Belkin's WeMo switches and the D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, but none of them offer dimmer functionality.

Lutron is one of the only big-name brands offering a smart dimmer solution that goes beyond a bulb with built-in tech. It's also making a clear effort to move toward a more comprehensive home automation package. So, if you want a smart-home setup complete with dimmers, battery-powered window shades, smart thermostats, and LED bulbs, Lutron is working toward that goal. But it isn't there yet.

Once that happens, this $150 Smart Bridge will be a lot easier to justify. The Smart Bridge isn't even available until September 1, so I'd suggest buying a $60 plug-in dimmer and a Pico remote kit (you can also buy the dimmer and remote separately for $55 and $15) to see how you like the functionality and then consider adding the Smart Bridge later if you want more advanced scheduling features and the option of adding other Lutron-compatible devices.

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