I was recently shopping for smart switches so I could swap out an old switch that only turns the lights on and off. I wanted to be able to add some home automation so that the switch would turn on and off based on certain activities.
Lutron was one of the brands I looked at, and I really noticed the price difference between some of the competitors. I could get one Lutron Caseta switch, or I could get three TP-Link switches for the same price. That got me thinking.
Why Is Lutron So Expensive?!
Lutron products are so expensive because they are the highest quality available and made in the USA. Lutron is the gold standard. Lutron is expensive because of the amount they invest into research and development creating the product, and the level of support they provide to consumers and contractors.
Ask anyone who has used Lutron devices, and they will tell you that Lutron is the best. There is nothing better, and most people say, “It Just Works!”. Let’s take a closer look at what their quality and reputation look like, how much it cost, and how much more it cost over the competition.
What Makes Lutron Expensive?
Lutron has five principals that are the basis of their business decisions. The principals can be found on Lutron’s website here, but here is a copy for reference:
- Take care of the customer with superior goods and services.
The customer is our number one priority and the reason we exist as a company.
- Take care of the company.
Lutron is dedicated to growth and innovative development.
- Take care of the people.
Lutron provides opportunities for its employees to fully develop their abilities and make a personal contribution to the success of the company.
- Innovate with high quality products.
- Deliver value to the customer.
At least 3 of those 5 principals are related to making high-quality, superior products. In order to do that, Lutron has to spend money in hiring quality employees, and funding research and development. That cost gets passed on to the customer.
What Is a Lutron System?
Lutron designs and manufactures lighting shade and temperature control systems. These range from residential dimmer switches all the way up to automated and timer controlled whole-building systems. Lutron creates products for residential and commercial customers.
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So, what is a Lutron system?
Lutron systems range from residential systems providing smart lighting, temperature, and shade control for the whole home to commercial systems that can manage lighting controls, motorized window shades, digital ballasts and LED drivers, occupancy sensors, and light sensors.
Lutron has several brands that it sells to customers. The brand that most people looking into smart lighting are familiar with is called Lutron Caseta.
Lutron Caseta may seem expensive when compared to other smart lighting controls, but it turns out Caseta is the starter level for Lutron. Remember, Lutron only produces quality products, so even their low-end brand is going to be some of the best performing on the market.
Lutron actually classifies Caseta as “Single Room Controls”, although you can have up to 75 Caseta devices in a single home. Many people do use Caseta devices for their whole home. I’ll classify Caseta as a whole home system for the sake of this article.
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From low-end to high-end, here is a brand list of the Lutron’s whole home systems
- RA2 Select
- RadioRA 2
Lutron has a PDF comparison of the various brands, which can be found here. Here are snippets from that PDF.
All the brands above Caseta are designed to be professionally installed, although you can find RA2 Select starter kits if you search hard enough. (Like here at lightinghomes.com. I do not have any experience with that company and do not endorse them.) You will need to go to Lutron’s website and find a contractor (click here). If you want a peek at what some of the higher end Lutron lighting controls look like, check out the store at prolighting.com (click here).
How Much Does a Lutron System Cost?
The cost of a Lutron system varies greatly depending on what series you choose.
A Lutron Caseta system starts at $100. The next step-up, RA 2 Select, has starter kits for about $400. Professionally installed Lutron systems cost a minimum of $1500 and go upwards of $30,000 for the top-of-the-line Lutron HomeWorks QS.
Lutron Caseta can operate with just a switch and a controller, but you need to add a smart bridge to control it from the app or to integrate it with a smart assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant. Prices will fluctuate over time, but are currently around $50 for a lamp dimmer and a Pico remote.
The Lutron Caseta starter kit, which adds the Smart Bridge, is double the price goes at around $100. Fortunately, you only need to buy the Smart Bridge once.
The next step up would be RA2 Select, which has starter kits that cost around $350 to $400.
Okay, those are the “cheap” systems. RadioRA and HomeWorks is where you will be spending a good amount of money.
For a 4-bedroom house, HomeWorks QS is going to cost around $15,000 for parts, not including labor. HomewWorks needs to be professionally installed. Keep in mind that you are locked into using HomeWorks and it will cost around $4,000 minimum to remove it and go with another system.
RadioRA has slightly less logic and a few other downgrades from HomeWorks. However, it cost about half the price. A good estimate for a 4-bedroom house is $7.500 for the Lutron parts, and then some for labor.