Monday, January 18, 2021

Moving from Eve to Lutron Caseta Smart Switches

 My wife and I are preparing our previous home for the rental market. So, we are making practically every improvement we always wanted but never got around to, except this is all for a yet to be chosen renter. Quirks of the house, like having no light switch next to the entry door to the converted garage, which I tolerated for the 14 years I lived in the house, are finally being dealt with. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I installed Lutron Caseta switches and remotes throughout my new house. This was mainly because I was replacing dimmers and Lutron is well regarded for its dimmers, but I came to appreciate other features of the system. And this appreciation brought with it a certain distain for the Eve switches I had filled my old house with. And even though it was a fair expense, I pulled the trigger and ordered many dimmers, switches, remotes and a hub from eBay sellers. This blog post is about why.

Eve Smart Switches Ripped From My Walls

Reason #1, the Pico Remote

Of the 3 entrances into the house, only one has a handy light switch within arms length of the doorway. For the other two I'd spent all those years either stumbling through the dark, or when I did install Eve smart switches taking out my iPhone or Apple Watch and asking Siri to turn on the light; and it may or may not have worked, the system was only OK with reliability. The brick walls of the house prevented any reasonable chance of just installing an old fashioned 3 pole switch.

With Caseta Pico remotes, I can mount virtual switches wherever is convenient. They are extremely reliable, in my experience. If a dimmer remote is paired with a dimmer switch, I can even have a preset dimmed light level. I can even control multiple groups of lights at once. 

In the case of the basement lights, I can now turn off the basement light from the top of the stairs and the stairs light from the basement. What a magical time we live in. 

No more stumbling around in the dark. 

Reason #2, Dimming

As part of the refurbishment, the contractor installed new ceiling lights: dimmable LED disks. My Eve switches were simple on-offs. So, I can dim, use preset dimming on the remote, and when turning off there is a pleasant smooth dimming shutoff. 

Lutron dimmers also have the magical ability to function without a neutral wire. Not a problem in my new house, but a constant struggle with the haphazard wiring in my old house. 

Reason #3,  the Buttons

Tapping on the Eve is just tapping on a hard sheet of solid plastic. The Lutrons have a smalll amount of travel, but it has recognizable buttons. My wife, for one, is not a fan of the non-clicky buttons, but at least they move. 

Reason #4, Reliability

I can't say that I've ever had a Pico remote not do its job, and the switches and dimmers work every time. HomeKit is about as reliable as it ever gets. I will say that there are issues with certain LEDs. Some low wattage LEDs will never truly turn off with a Caseta switch as the current used to power the status light is enough to maintain a ghost light on the bulbs. Regardless, they work. On the other hand, HomeKit is hit or miss with the Eve switches; either taking several seconds to trigger or not at all. 

Reason #5, Build Quality

The Lutrons are nicely made with metal fins, and high quality, easy to manipulate wires. The Eves are more plastic, and the stranded wires are annoying to deal with when using wire caps (another reason to use Wagos).

Reason #6, Homekit

When I have to add an Eve switch, I add it directly in HomeKit which would be fine except the contractors installed one I'd given them and then threw out the frame and the box, so I couldn't add it to HomeKit weeks later. The Lutron I add in the Lutron app, and it tends to be more streamlined in pairing, and I don't feel compelled to save the HomeKit code for each and every switch. Just the Lutron hub. For either system, I have the nice features like Siri integration and remote management. It's been extremely convenient making sure all the lights are off at a house 20 miles away. 

Cost didn't Help

Lutron is not cheap. The switches are not cheap, the remotes are not cheap, even the plastic brackets to mount a remote on the wall is not cheap. But neither is the Eve switch. In fact, you can get Caseta switches on eBay for less than you can get Eve switches on Amazon. Of course, I ended up spending much more because I purchased Pico remotes, often 2 or 3 remotes for each actual switch. 

In Conclusion

I'm happy with how the system ended up, and I think it'll be much more accessible and functional for my renters. I'm not happy at ripping out working smart switches and I wouldn't have done so without a belief the resulting house would be greatly improved. Which it was.