Lutron Caseta is one of the most recognizable names in the smart home industry. They design a wide range of high-end products and have earned a reputation for creating more reliable smart home technology.
Mesh networks have come to redefine how smart home tech communicates. Where yesterday’s smart home devices put a lot of burden on your home’s Wi-Fi network, more modern smart home technology has learned how to communicate more efficiently. Are any of the Lutron Caseta devices getting in on this new networking protocol?
No, Lutron Caseta does not use a mesh network. Lutron Caseta uses a proprietary networking protocol known as Clear Connect. Despite the lack of mesh networking, there can be some strong advantages to using Clear Connect over a ZigBee, Z-Wave, or Wi-Fi mesh network.
What Is Lutron Caseta?
Lutron Caseta represents the highest quality smart lighting Products on the market today. Their products might cost more than the competitors, but you’re definitely getting extra value for your money.
Despite the high product price, Caseta is actually one of Lutron’s more entry-level smart lighting system. Lutron Caseta covers everything from smart outlets to lighting control systems for your entire home. Their products give you the ability to enjoy all of the standard smart home controls such as setting scenes, scheduling lighting, and gaining access to more in depth and nuanced controls.
The basic Lutron Caseta kit can be installed by yourself, or you can have a professional install it for you. This kit is enough to get you going, but you’re going to quickly find yourself expanding into the rest of the Lutron Caseta product line. The recent addition of an indoor / outdoor smart outlet has greatly increased the potential for the Lutron Caseta line.
Lutron Caseta is able to work with most of the smart home systems out there. It is designed to work with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and several other smart home ecosystems. These devices are as capable as they are well-designed, but how do they connect with the rest of your smart home tech?
Before we get into whether or not Lutron Caseta uses a mesh network, we need to talk about what mesh networks are.
What Is A Mesh Network?
Have you ever installed a brand-new Wi-Fi router and been excited, and more than ready, to enjoy your faster internet speeds all around your home, but then you sit down in the living room of the office and find out the Wi-Fi signal just plummets?
That’s because the traditional Wi-Fi network uses only a single connection point. Every single device connects to a single Wi-Fi router that gets you connected to the internet. This means that if you’re far away, the signal drops or goes out entirely.
Mesh networks are an attempt to get around this. You can have a mesh network with any type of wireless communication. You can have Wi-Fi mesh networks as well as mesh networks that use ZigBee and Z-Wave.
Let’s get technical for a moment and talk about what makes a mesh Network tick.
A mesh network is a non-hierarchical way of organizing wireless communication. This means that all devices on a mesh network are able to communicate with each other and don’t have to communicate to a central router in order to stay connected. The biggest advantage of this is that this type of non-hierarchical connection means that every device on the network helps boost the signal and make the network stronger.
Philips Hue light bulbs are a great example of this. Hue light bulbs are connected via a mesh network. This means that with every Hue light bulb you install, you boost the mesh network and make it stronger for all devices that are connected.
This also means that the mesh network is self-healing. In a traditional set up, if the central router goes down the entire network goes with it. Mesh networks stay connected by having multiple points supporting each other. If that hue light bulb brakes, one of the other devices in the mesh network can help pick up the traffic.
It’s worth highlighting that even the best mesh networks still need to stay connected to the internet, and they will do that through your central modem or router. Your modem or router is the heart of all of your home’s connectivity and if that device breaks the mesh network will go down with it.
Now that we’re up to speed on the latest in smart home connectivity, does Lutron Caseta use a mesh network?
Is The Lutron Caseta Clear Connect Protocol A Mesh Network?
No, Lutron Caseta does not use a mesh network.
Lutron Caseta uses a proprietary connection type known as Clear Connect. This is something that they’ve been working on for a while now that they’ve recently upgraded. Clear Connect offers a lot of advantages over other types of connections such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave.
However one of the larger downsides is that Clear Connect does not form a mesh network. There are a few good reasons why it doesn’t, but we’ll get into those in just a second. For now, it’s worth highlighting that Clear Connect is a fixed network.
This means that every device using Clear Connect is going to need to stay connected to a central hub. The Lutron Caseta bridge functions as this hub. You’ll need a Lutron Caseta bridge to keep all of your other Lutron Caseta devices connected to your Wi-Fi.
Luckily, Lutron thought ahead and made sure that the Caseta family of products is able to work with the bridge in everything but the most opulent and large homes. Lutron has a separate line of products for larger homes. What do we mean when we say larger here? Lutron’s most high-end line of products designed to support literally hundreds of devices.
If Lutron Caseta isn’t using a mesh network, what is it using?
What Is Lutron’s Clear Connect Protocol?
The Clear Connect protocol does not use a mesh Network. It needs to be centrally connected to a bridge in order to maintain functionality and connectivity. This might be a pretty big downside for some smart home ecosystems, but for the majority of users there are some clear advantages to Clear Connect.
All of the types of connectivity we’ve been talking about today are technically radio signals. They just use a little bit more advanced technology than the one we used to play the radio.
ZigBee and Wi-Fi both use incredibly similar radio frequencies (2.4 Ghz). This means that they have a good chance of interfering with each other especially in a home full of smart devices. This is why it can be beneficial to have a few different connection types in your system in order to add both redundancy and lower burden on particular frequencies.
Clear Connect stepped way outside the box and used a frequency that’s hardly used in our day-to-day lives. Without getting too technical, Clear Connect is using the same radio frequency that’s used by garage door openers.
This frequency is barely used around the house. It is also very far away from the frequency used by other devices meaning it has little chance to interfere with them. This frequency is designed for short bursts of information being sent out and not a continuous connection.
This is the big reason why Clear Connect cannot form a mesh network. This protocol is designed to send short bursts of radio signals that carry commands to your smart devices. It’s not meant to maintain a continuous stream of information between devices.
While this means that Clear Connect probably could never form a mesh network, it does mean that having Lutron Caseta devices as your smart home lighting controls will lower the burden on your Wi-Fi as well as decrease the risk of signal interference.
Are There Any Lutron Caseta Products That Act As A Mesh Network?
Lutron Caseta does not currently offer any products that act as a mesh Network. However, they do have a few devices that allow you to sneakily get some mesh network benefits from their Clear Connect protocol.
The Lutron Caseta product line can support up to two extenders for their Clear Connect network. These extenders function incredibly similarly to Wi-Fi repeaters. They boost and extend the range of your signal. This can give you one of the key benefits of a mesh network in that it will now have an extended and stronger range.
Do Lutron Caseta Devices Need A Bridge To Speak To Each Other?
Yes, Lutron Caseta devices require the Caseta bridge in order to stay connected.
There’s some good news here for smart home fans if you are a little weary about adding another bridge. The Lutron Caseta bridge has a strong reputation amongst the community.
This bridge has reliable connectivity both in terms of its connection to your Wi-Fi and to the Lutron Caseta devices. It also initializes incredibly quickly thanks to the efficiency of Clear Connect.
The Lutron Caseta bridge gives you an excellent alternative to mesh networks as well as a way to diversify the frequencies being used within your home.