Best Retrofit Option: Lutron's HomeKit Ceiling Fan Review

Cupertino, December 7, 2023

I have long considered Lutron Caseta to be the most elegant and easy-to-use HomeKit lighting solution.

Lutron makes the wall switch smart and works with standard dimmable lamps; Other solutions place the smarts in the lights and then require remote controls on the walls and never turning off the wall switch.

Lutron's Fan Speed ​​Control is the perfect addition to the existing line of dimmer switches. Fan Speed ​​Control works with the same Lutron bridge that supports Apple HomeKit smart home control, making the new wall switches the best way to retrofit existing ceiling fans with the Home app and Siri control.

Smart ceiling fans with built-in HomeKit support have been around for years. I reviewed the Hunter SimpleConnect in 2017, a ceiling fan replacement with built-in LED light.

My main complaint was how this affected the wall controls, replacing functional light and fan switches with a wall-mounted remote. Others took issue with the $299 starting price, the fan design, or the idea of ​​replacing a perfectly good ceiling fan.

(Personally, I like to change a wall light or fan switch myself, but I hired a friend to tackle the ceiling fan installation.) Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control works with your existing ceiling fan, and each wall switch is priced from $59. You can opt for a version with a second remote for $89, but my base is between the wall switch, voice control, app control, and automation.

Fan Speed Control also maintains wall switch operation, as it is actually a replacement wall switch. You do not need to attach a separate remote control to the wall or specify the wall control.

As the name suggests, Fan Speed ​​Control offers the ability to adjust how fast your ceiling fan spins. The switch buttons allow you to turn the fan on or off with one click, increase or decrease the fan speed in 25% intervals, or assign a favorite fan speed to the center button on the switch.

Green LED lights indicate fan speed status. Controlling fan direction is the only feature that dedicated HomeKit ceiling fans have over ceiling fans that retroactively add smart control with Lutron.

You still have to change the direction of the fan with a manual switch on existing ceiling fans, but that's hardly a deal breaker. (When should you actually change the fan direction? I keep a note here to remember: clockwise on low speed in winter to draw in room air and force warm air downwards, and counterclockwise in summer for a cooling effect.)

The other adjustment is that the fan speed is controlled via the switch or smart home control, but not via the pull cord on the ceiling fan. For the speed control to work, the pull cord must be set to the highest speed (from there the speed control is adjusted downwards). Ignoring the fan pull cord is a minor adjustment for me, especially since the wall switch is approachable and easy for guests to understand.

Lutron provides documentation for installing the fan speed control, although you may need to consult an electrician or someone more experienced if the job is outside your comfort zone. Once installed, the fan speed control is assigned to a room in the Lutron app.

If you've connected your Lutron bridge to Apple HomeKit, you can then also assign the HomeKit fan to a room in Apple's Home app. This way, Siri knows which fans are in which rooms when she uses voice control. If you have a HomePad in the same room as the HomeKit fan, you can just reference the fan without specifying a room now.

Fans made smart through Lutron's Fan Speed Control work exactly like dedicated HomeKit fans in Apple's Home app – without fan direction control. That means you can tap the fan tile to toggle between on and off, use the speed controller to toggle between 0/25/50/75/100 speed settings, include fan controls in HomeKit scenes with other accessories, or fan controls can include in HomeKit automations.

Scenes allow you to turn on the bedroom fan and the living room fan and turn off all the lights with a single "Good Night" command, then turn off the bedroom fan with a "Good Morning" command when you wake up.

I love the ability to control ceiling fans with voice control via Siri (Alexa and Google Assistant are also supported) and the Home app, and HomeKit automation is the icing on the cake. For example, you can automatically turn off the ceiling fan when you or everyone in your family leaves the house, so you never waste power. Automation allows HomeKit to do the work for you, without the need for voice or app input every time.

I tested Caseta by Lutron Fan Speed Control on two ceiling fans. Functionally, both fans work perfectly without any problems: no buzzing, delays or hitches. The only problem I've experienced is that Fan Speed Control works with light and ceiling fan combinations that have their own dedicated wall switches, but two of my ceiling fans have a single wall switch - the light and fan control is then delegated to pulling the strings Unplug the ceiling fan once the switch is turned on. In these cases, I use a Lutron dimmer to control the light, occasionally use the pull cord to control the fan, but generally don't use these fans.

You'll need Lutron's smart bridge to operate Fan Speed ​​Control, which adds at least $79 to the initial cost in addition to each $59 switch, but you can buy a starter kit bundle for $20 more, including a dimmer switch and a 3 remote remote kit that would otherwise cost $59 on its own, saving you about $40 if you also need the dimmer.

Even at a price of $140-$180 to get started with Lutron, Smart Fan Control is competitive with HomeKit smart fans over $300 if you want to save money and have better wall switch control. I highly recommend Lutron Caseta and Smart Fan Control for HomeKit enthusiasts – setup requires a bit more work, but the user experience is perhaps the best on the market.

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