Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: Dependable but pricey

This beast of a smart plug has great range and reliability and works with everyone

Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug
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We love the Lutron Caséta lighting system here at The Ambient. The Caséta smart switch is a top pick for best smart light switch, and the company's smart Serena shades, and smart lamp modules are all similarly reliable, robust and, well, just work.

This is all true for its newest device, too, the Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug. What's also true is that it's expensive. Just like in real life - in the smart home sometimes you have to pay for quality.

But is this an area you really need it? With smart plugs, both indoors and out, available for under $30 is an $80 plug worth it?

Depending on your needs, we say yes. If you have some cool landscape lighting, or an irrigation pump that adding remote control to will save you hassles, Lutron's is the most reliable system we've tested.

Plus, gear that goes outside has to stand up to a lot more abuse than those indoors. If you have to replace your $30 smart plug three times in a year - or worse, replace your expensive landscape lighting, because your plug failed - you may regret that money-saving decision.

If your plug is under a porch or awning and well off the ground you may be fine with a cheaper model - but if it's in an exposed spot, and you deal with 4 feet of snow or 100 degree temps, or a hurricane or two, in your area - this is an upgrade to consider.

Plus, one of the best features of Lutron's system is its range, this can go out 100 feet from your bridge and still work. The plug also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings and HomeKit.

You do have to spring for the Lutron Bridge to get these integrations though. But that also gets you some extra features through Lutron's excellent app.

Read this: 10 uses for smart plugs

Be warned, without the Bridge this is just a regular plug, which you can turn on and off using the switch or pair to a Lutron Pico remote. Considering the price this is a bit surprising, but is the way all the Lutron Caséta devices work.

What you're paying for here is Lutron's reputation for reliability, excellent range, and a smart plug that could probably make it through an apocalypse or two.

So, how does it stack up to the cheaper competitors in this space, like the $17 Wyze outdoor plug, $30 Kasa model and $20 Meross socket, all of which have two outlets to Lutron's one, but lower IP ratings. Read on for our full Lutron Outdoor Smart Plug review.


Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: A dependable but pricey plug

Lutron Caseta Outdoor Smart Plug: Design and Setup

The Lutron Caseta Outdoor Smart Plug is cut from a different cloth. While most other outdoor smart plugs resemble an indoor plug with some extra padding, this one was clearly designed for the outdoors.

A hefty, bulky device, it has a large polycarbonate housing in the center - filled with a potting material that completely encases the electronics - and two wires extending from either end.

The top wire reaches about 5 inches to the outlet and the bottom wire is 7 inches long and is where you plug in your device. A physical on/off switch with a green LED light is situated in the center of the plug.

With an IP65 rating that can survive blasts from a hose or heavy rain, both of which we put it through during our testing and it handled with no problems, the Lutron Caseta Outdoor Smart Plug can also cope with temps from -4 to 122°F, so you can use it in almost any climate.

The two-wire design gives you a lot of flexibility for positioning your plug, plus you can physically mount the housing to the wall to hold it in place with a few screws.

We plugged it in to an outdoor covered outlet to control an outdoor fan, and it fit inside comfortably. We also used it with an outdoor extension cord and ran it down the side of a porch to hook it up to string lights, and both scenarios worked fine.

The obvious downside here is that there is only one outlet. Most competitors offer two, but they also don't offer this much weatherproofing and durability. Whether you need that will depend on where you're going to use the plug and the climate you live in.

Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: A dependable but pricey plug

For set up, out of the box you can just plug it in and use the on/off button on the device - but that's not very smart.

You can also pair it with a Lutron Pico Remote for remote control from inside the house (the plug plus remote is $95). You can mount the Pico to the wall so it can act like a traditional switch. Handy for turning your landscape lights on as you walk out the door.

But for the full smart home experience you'll need the $80 Lutron Smart Bridge (more on what features this gets you in a bit).

Pairing is super easy. To pair with the remote just press and hold the button for 6 seconds and then the Pico Remote for 6 seconds, the plug's button will flash 3 times to indicate its paired.

For the Bridge, you will need to download the Lutron app to your phone, tap Add Device, choose Outdoor Smart Plug and press and hold the button for 10 seconds.

It will then show up in the Lutron app where you can set schedules, add it to scenes, and connect with other smart home systems.

Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: A dependable but pricey plug

Lutron Caseta Outdoor Smart Plug: Features and In Use

Most smart plugs have the same features - you can turn whatever is connected to it on and off remotely, add it to scenes and pop it on a schedule.

For an outdoor plug the obvious devices include landscape lighting, patio lights, and holiday lighting plus gadgets like water pumps.

This one is rated up to 15 amps so you can daisy chain any number of extension cords off it to light up your back yard with fairy lights galore. It can also handle motors for water features up to ½ horsepower, and will blow up those inflatables in a jiffy.

Lutron's app (which, remember, only works if you have the Bridge) has quite a bit more functionality than those from cheaper brands.

It adds sunrise and sunset scheduling and lets you use geofencing through your smartphone. So, if you connect these to outdoor lights in your front yard, you can set it to light up your lawn as you pull in, but only if it's after sunset.

Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: A dependable but pricey plug

Another neat feature is "Smart Away" which will turn on any Lutron lights (including those connected to this smart plug) randomly during set times when you're gone to make it look like you're home.

We tried all these features and they worked reliably and were easy to set up.

Lutron also has an indoor motion sensor you can pair with the outdoor plug, which we didn't test. also, one thing the plug can't do is dim any connected lighting, something its indoor counterpart the Lutron Smart Dimmer, can. This is on / off only. There's also no energy monitoring.

The Lutron app is a decent platform for smart home control if you want to just use Lutron to manage your home. You can integrate lighting control, shades, and even music through Sonos speakers. Plus climate control with a Honeywell or Ecobee thermostat.

If you have Ring devices - you can set your Lutron outdoor lights to turn on for 15 minutes when any of your Ring cameras or doorbells detect motion.

This means you can turn on your landscape lighting when your security camera senses motion, or trigger the porch lights to turn on when the doorbell is pressed.

Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug review: A dependable but pricey plug

If you have a larger smart home setup, however, and/or want voice control, Lutron works with all the major ecosystems - including HomeKit, Alexa and Google. We tested it with all three and response times were instant.

Importantly for an outdoor plug, this smart plug has got range, thanks to Lutron's proprietary RF radio that circumnavigates your Wi-Fi.

Lutron says you'll get 30 feet no matter your set up and with a clear line of sight up to 100 feet is possible. And with its Caséta repeater, you can extend the range an extra 60 feet.

We had no problems controlling it when plugged in to an outdoor outlet on the side of our garage, which is at the far end of our house, through two brick walls and at least 30 feet from the Lutron Bridge.


Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug
This is the gold standard for outdoor smart plugs - it works reliably, has great range, withstands all the elements, and integrates with every smart home system you might want. But at over $160 to get started it is very expensive, especially if you aren't already in the Lutron game. If you have a Lutron system already, need outdoor lighting control and live in a harsh climate this is the plug for you. Everyone else should think carefully whether they need something this robust before spending the cash.
PROS
  • Top build and durability
  • Excellent range/response
  • Easy setup
  • Fully-featured app
  • Alexa/Google/HomeKit
CONS
  • Pricey
  • Needs a bridge for smarts
  • Only one outlet
  • No dimming
  • No energy-monitoring



TAGGED    smart home    smart lighting

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