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Lutron AuroRa Automated Lighting Control

February 25, 2009 By Brent Butterworth



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Lutron AuroRa
Lutron AuroRa group
Lutron AuroRa Central Antenna
Lutron AuroRa Wireless Controller

Lutron’s AuroRa system drops the price on automated lighting control—so you can stay in bed where you belong.

Why are we all working so hard? We quit getting up to change the TV channel back in the 1980s. We stopped running to grab a call on our wired phones around then, too. But we still lift ourselves off the couch to turn down the lights. We still walk around the house turning all the lights on when we get home. And we still go room to room before bedtime to make sure all the lights are out.

Lutron seeks to solve this conundrum with AuroRa, a basic lighting control system that lists for $725.
    
Most people realize that lighting control systems exist, but the products remain rare outside of luxury homes. That’s probably because they’re expensive—a full-boat system might run $10,000 to $20,000 installed. The few inexpensive systems have more in common with RadioShack science projects than they do with the practically foolproof lighting control products sold through professional installers.
    
Lutron's AuroRa uses the same reliable radio-frequency technology found in the company’s RadioRA systems; I’ve met several installers who use RadioRA and haven’t yet heard a complaint about it.
    
Lutron AuroRa Automated Lighting System

You can even install AuroRa yourself—if you can handle installing a standard light dimmer, and if you want to take the trouble. If you’d rather leave the task to the pros, that’s no problem.
    
To install AuroRa, you simply replace five existing switches or dimmers with AuroRa radio-controlled dimmers. Each of these dimmers has a pushbutton on/off switch and a tiny slider that lets you set the light level. There’s also a main controller with buttons to trigger or dim each of the five lights separately, and which can also turn all the lights on or off with a single button.

A smaller controller clips on your car’s visor; it has buttons for all lights on, all lights off, and “favorite,” which sets all the lights to the brightness level you choose. There’s also a central antenna that lets the controllers “talk to” the dimmers—a device you can just shove into a closet and forget.
    
You can order faceplates for the AuroRa dimmers in your choice of four colors: white, almond, ivory, and light almond. The other components are available only in white. The dimmers’ tiny controls also allow them to work with standard faceplates, so your 2nd-grader can still have a plastic likeness of Barbie surrounding her light switch.
Lutron AuroRa Wireless Controller

So what can you do with AuroRa? You can turn all the lights off from your bedside—and turn them all on when you hear a bump in the night. You can turn all the lights off from your car when you leave—and turn them all on when you pull into the driveway. You can dim all the lights to your preset level for entertaining, and turn them all up for cleaning.
    
It’s important to understand that AuroRa is vastly simplified compared with Lutron’s RadioRA and HomeWorks systems. The upside is that there’s no programming or custom installation required.
    

But AuroRa doesn’t do the zillions of neat tricks that other Lutron systems can pull off. It doesn’t have timers, so you can’t set your lights to go on an off at certain times. It’s not designed to create different lighting “scenes” in a room—i.e., controlling three or four different lighting loads within a room to create different moods.

Lutron AuroRa Wall DimmerIt can’t be controlled through the Internet. It can’t interface with other home automation systems, such as universal remotes and touchscreens.

It can’t be used to dim fluorescent lights, and it won’t work with lighting loads under 50 watts (which rules out some of those stylish little halogen lights you get at Ikea) or over 600 watts.
    
And, of course, it only controls five lighting loads (i.e., light bulbs or groups of light bulbs).

However, you can add as many as eight additional controllers, and each of those can control five more lighting loads.
    
It took me about an hour to replace five switches with AuroRa dimmers, and another two minutes to plug in the master controller and the central antenna.

Then I tapped the “all on” button on the master controller and watched as my bedroom and hallway lights ramped up to full power in about half a second. A quick run through the house (my last!) showed me all the AuroRa-controlled lights were working.
    
There’s something addictive about lighting control. I immediately found myself thinking of new ways to use it. I could leave the lights on while my aging Labrador retriever finds the way to her bed at night, then tap the “all off” button on the master controller once she’s comfortably settled in.

My favorite, though, was tossing the visor-mount controller into my pocket for nighttime bike rides, then tapping the “favorite” button upon my return, to bring the entryway lights up to a soft, welcoming glow so I didn’t have to fumble with my keys.

Every time, the AuroRa system responded instantly, without delay or glitches.
    
Like any starter product, AuroRa may leave you pining for a more advanced system, but you’ll immensely enjoy the control you do have.AuroRa is a painless, simple, fun way for the average homeowner to get taste of what lighting control has to offer.

DESCRIPTION
Five-load, RF-based lighting control system designed for consumer or professional installation.

COMPONENTS
Five remote- or locally controlled in-wall dimmers, main controller, car visor-mount controller, central antenna.

DIMENSIONS
Dimmers: 4.2 x 1.8 inches (hw, fits in single-gang wall box)
Main controller: 1 x 3.7 x 3.3 inches (hwd)
Visor-mount controller: 1.6 x 3.2 x 0.7 inches (hwd)
Central antenna: 1 x 3.7 x 3.3 inches (hwd, not including antenna)

PRICE: $725
CONTACT: 888.LUTRON1, lutron.com

 Lutron AuroRa group

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