Lutron Maestro Smart Dimmer with Remote Control
Room lighting controls just got a little
bit cooler. Dimmer controls for lighting have been around for many years.
Typically they had a rotary knob and they were completely manual. Later
models resembled conventional switches but they
operated only by touch. Now the Lutron Maestro changes all that.
The Maestro series offers several models for different needs as
well as a range of designer colors. The Maestro adds to the lighting
control experience by adding touches such as the "fade to off", allowing
you to turn off the lights and have them fade to dark over several
seconds. Another feature allows you to set a preferred lighting level.
When you tap the switch, the lights come on to the preset level, tap
the switch again to increase the lighting to full brightness.
You can purchase a dimmer to replace an single existing switch or dimmer
or to control a circuit from multiple locations. A main dimmer and up
to nine accessory dimmers can be added to a circuit to allow control
from a total of ten different locations. We tested a model that
allows a light to be controlled from two locations (commonly referred
to as a 3-way circuit), plus a remote control that enables the user to
control the lights without getting up. A very nice feature for a bedroom,
living room or home theater. The main dimmer contains the infra-red sensor
for the remote and so should be placed in a position that has the best
line-of-sight to where the remote will be located. Line-of-sight is not
strictly required, but yields the best results. Typically, as batteries
get weaker, the need for a direct line-of-sight increases.
The dimmer installs into a standard electrical box and can replace
a conventional light switch. Our model was designed for a 3-way circuit
and so the main dimmer control was installed at the front of the room
and the accessory dimmer was located next to the other doorway to the
room. Installation was easy and the included instructions were
clear. The Maestro comes with its own screwless cover plate, however
it can be removed and standard Decora cover plates
can be used.
We configured the universal remote from our home entertainment system
to also control the room lighting. In this way, the TV, DVD player,
sound system and room lights were all controlled from a single remote.
With the fade to black feature and the ability to control it from our
universal remote, we found the whole experience to be very impressive.
One flaw in the Maestro is a problem with the intensity of the lighting.
When turned up to full power, the room lighting was only about 95% of
what it had been when it was controlled by a switch. We contacted technical
support and were told "that is normal for a dimmer". Whether this is
true for all dimmers is something Acme DIY will test in the future and
offers several models for various applications including controls for
3-way switches, remote control, dimmers for low-voltage lighting, wireless
controls for use from another part of your home or from your car, controls
with timers, controls for ceiling fans and more. Prices for a single
dimmer list around $60 but can be found for around $30. [Nov 2007]