At our house we continue to find new ways to make our smart home even smarter. Heading into the New Year meant adding some new goodies to further our Apple HomeKit experience. This go-around we’ve added a Lutron Serena Smart Shade to our kitchen. Come check out the details!
For quite a while we’ve had smart lights using Lutron Caseta devices in our home. Every single switch is on this system, from the half bathroom, to the master bedroom closet; literally, everything!
For a while now I’ve known that Lutron had a line of Serena Motorized Shades, but the timing was never right to give them a try… until now. They are considerably more expensive than regular shades just because they add power. On top of that, there are cheaper motorized shades that don’t have smart home capabilities.
For us the decision to move forward was due to integration with our existing Lutron setup, plus the Apple HomeKit integration that brought. Here is more about installation, setup, and our review.
Above you can see the window in its bare state. We did a full kitchen remodel a year ago, and since then have had no window covering. We finally decided to bite the bullet, and spend the money to get the shade we’ve wanted for some time. This requires measuring the window opening and submitting the order online. You can order direct from Lutron, though in our case we had some discounts at Home Depot, so we custom ordered on their site. In total it took just a few weeks (~3) from when we ordered until when we received the hardware.
If you have ever installed window blinds before, this setup is really not drastically different. In our case this was an install mount as you can see, which like most other non-smart shades, requires you install some brackets inside the frame. Instructions listed a specific spacing required from the back of the bracket to the window itself, to allow for the tilt feature I’ll come back to in a moment.
Grab your favorite drill to put in some pilot holes (after you measure of course, and mark the spots you need to drill). Screw in the brackets, and you’re basically done. It really was easy, and in total took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish on this complete install & setup process.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the installation is that the brackets have a tilt/lean feature that allows easy access to the batteries. This means you don’t have to entirely remove the blind from the window to service the battery compartment. Brilliant! You can see this clearly in the last two photos above.
Once the unit is mounted to the window, and batteries are installed, it is time to setup the device. In our case we already had an existing Lutron Caseta system running, so the installation was far faster and easier. You will need a hub, and you may want a Pico remote or other Lutron device for controlling your blind. You can use just your voice (Siri) or the Lutron app, but having physical buttons nearby is usually desired, so keep this in mind. In our case the unit came bundled with the hub, and I had a spare Pico lying around from my prior tinkering.
There is a little button on top of the blinds, hidden in a clear plastic tab. This is nice as it is not an eye sore— but even cooler is that inside that tab is a small LED. During the programming stage, the tab/button flashes to provide visual feedback. Within just seconds the Lutron hub had found the shade, and I was ready to go!
You can program the shade to open/close at certain times, all using the Lutron app/hub. You could make it part of a good morning/evening scene, or similar. All of this is really easy to do, and customizable by the user.
You’ve probably never given it much thought, but you likely have a favorite spot your blinds usually rest. This may be open 20% of the way— it may be half open. Fully open or closed makes sense, but during the day, blinds are aesthetically more pleasing at some mid-point. With the Pico remote’s center “favorite” button, you are able to set your shade to your favorite position and store it. This allows quick & easy recall of that setting.
Using the same remote mentioned, and a quick tap of the up or down button, you can click and release, and watch your blind open or close accordingly. The operation of the unit is smooth, and very quiet, and fit & finish are superb. Compared to the cheap IKEA blinds we’ve used before, or even name brand ones from other outfits, the overall build quality of the Lutron Serena feels top-notch!
My wife tends to favor the physical button/remote, which I placed using the included double-sided tape in a nearly location. I tend to prefer to use Siri, which works great, with no latency. Simply ask her to set the blind in the kitchen to 80% and she’ll open it up swiftly, and exactly as desired. And as part of our good night scene, it ensures we never forget to close the blinds at bedtime. We’re happy with our purchase, and would convert all our windows to Lutron Serena, if it weren’t for the cost!
Happy holidays, readers!