We first heard about the Lutron AuroRa system at CES and thought that this would be the perfect way to get lighting control without having to call in a professional, and expensive, home automation installer. Click through for some more pictures showing how easy it is to install the Lutron AuroRa and what you can expect....
The key to keeping this system simple is in the light switches and central antenna. Each AuroRa system comes with 5 switches which are already paired and assigned to the individual switches on the master controller. The central antenna handles all the communication but is small enough to be hidden away in a cabinet. Pressing the number 1 key on the master controller turns the number 1 labeled switch on and off, no programming or setup required.
Don't forget that regular compact fluorescents don't work with dimmer switches. I did and installed the system with my CFL's still in. When I went to flip the power back on, I was treated to a strobe light show by all the lights now on the new switches.
If you have replaced a light switch or an outlet before, then installing the entire AuroRa system is a piece of cake. Even if you haven't, the included instructions are very good and can walk a first timer through the entire installation.
One thing to note is that these switches are a bit deeper than standard switches. For newer switch boxes this shouldn't be a problem, but I installed these in a 1950's ranch house and the older boxes are quite a bit smaller. This made for a very tight fit for all the individual switches, and for the one double gang switch I had to replace, they did not fit side by side. I had to call in an electrician for help on that one.
Dimming of the lights is done via the manual slider beside the push button switch. Since this is a manual control, the brightness level of that light switch can not be controlled by the remote. The only remote control options available are on at full brightness, on to the level set by the slider, or off. If you are looking for a system with more detailed control, then the AuroRa is not for you.
Overall, the AuroRa is a really great system if you are a do it your selfer that wants very basic lighting control. For me, the AuroRa was ideal because our space is open and had exactly 5 switches that we wanted to control. By having the master control at my bedside, a simple push of the button turns off all the lights in our main living area and entrance way without having to leave the comfort of warm bedsheets.
If you have more than 5 switches that need lighting control, another AuroRa system will need to be added since each control is limited to 5 switches. Also, even though communication between controls and light switches is via RF, it is proprietary to Lutron and cannot be controlled by a universal RF remote like the Logitech Harmony 1000 which means a few more remotes in the house.
Available here for $800.