Anyone who’s installed smart bulbs in their home will tell you that they instantly—and annoyingly—turn into dumb bulbs when someone turns them off by flipping the switch on the wall. Lutron showed me its solution for this problem at CES last January, and the lighting manufacturer is finally preparing to ship its Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer.
This $40 device (which will be available only in white) fits over most toggle-style switches and prevents them from being flipped to the off position. But unlike the ugly devices that do only that, the Aurora can also control Zigbee 3.0 smart bulbs, including Philips Hue. It can’t change colors or color temperatures, but it does have a button that can turn the bulb on and off, and a rotary dial around the button that you can turn to dim and brighten the bulb.
One Aurora can control up to 12 Zigbee smart bulbs, or as many as 50 bulbs if they’re connected to a Philips Hue Bridge. And those bulbs don’t need to be electrically connected to the switch on which the Aurora is connected—just as long as any switch those bulbs are connected to remain in the on position. Lutron says you’ll be able to configure which bulbs you want each Aurora to control from within the Hue app.
In scenarios where a smart bulb is on a multi-way circuit, you can install one Aurora dimmer on each switch in the circuit. If the bulb is turned off at one location, it can still be turned on from any other Aurora-controlled switch on the circuit.
The Lutron Aurora smart bulb dimmer is now available for pre-order at MeetHue.com for $39 and is expected to ship in June. It will also be available for purchase online at Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, and Home Depot.
Unfortunately for homeowners with rocker-style switches, Lutron doesn’t currently have a solution for them. When I asked about that, a spokesperson responded: “[Lutron] will continue to innovate and introduce the products and solutions that fulfill our customers’ wants and needs.”