Roller blinds in our living room

Architectural Honeycomb Serena Shades by Lutron Review: Great HomeKit Add-on – AppleInsider

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As a recent addition to the Serena Shades by Lutron lineup, the new architectural honey shades are an essential part of any HomeKit smart home.

We’re huge fans of HomeKit and all the different accessories we’ve added to our home, the smart shades being one of our favorites. We’ve slowly installed nearly all of the windows in our house to allow easy control and let in more natural light.

The latest shade is Serena Shades by Lutron’s Architectural Honey Shades.

Design your shades

Lutron has a complete building system for you to design your perfect shades. Choose the power option, facade design and materials.

Roller blinds in our living room

Roller blinds in our living room

For honeycomb shades, you have single wall, double wall, and blackout options to choose from. You are then given a set of colors to dissolve. For our new shade, we chose a darker blue with a spotted effect.

Honey shades color options

Honey shades color options

We’re mainly focusing on the honeycomb pattern in this review but wood blinds and roller shades are also available. For the honeycomb, there is the standard style and the architectural style. We chose the latter.

Installation and setup

Installing Serena Shades couldn’t be easier. All you need are some common tools like drills. We pre-drilled some holes and attached the brackets to the window frame.

New shades in the children's room

New shades in the children’s room

In our case, we installed shadows inside the frame. You can also install them outside the frame as well as above the frame. Everything depends on your choice.

One thing we encountered was bundled screws. They were very weak and quickly stripped away when we were trying to get them in. We swapped them for a few we had on hand without a problem.

With the brackets installed, our shades were fixed in place. Even in our six-foot-wide set, we can install it ourselves. Although it can be done by one person, Lutron offers professional installation options if you want to go that route.

We chose to use the battery-powered version of Serena Shades even though a wired model was available. With a wired setup, you have to deal with hiding the power cable but it’s a little cheaper.

D batteries in Serena Shades

D batteries in Serena Shades

Runs on multiple D batteries although the number will depend on how wide the shades are. The battery life is incredible too. We haven’t had to replace the eight D batteries in our roller blinds in nearly three years.

Once the batteries were in place, we rotated the fascia back to hold them in place. The shade in our kid’s room had clasps to secure it in while the larger shade had three clasps. You swipe each clip to the right to edit it when you absolutely have to swap batteries.

Lutron . app

Lutron . app

The first time Shadows are turned on, they will be in pairing mode, ready to connect to the Lutron Smart Bridge. The Lutron app will automatically detect it and add it to your home.

HomeKit Control

Once we added Serena Shades to the Lutron app, we saw it appear in the Home app. In our house, we already had several Lutron devices hooked up to HomeKit, which makes setup even easier.

Lutron bridge and accessories in the Home . app

Lutron bridge and accessories in the Home . app

If this is your first Lutron product, you will have to proceed with the pairing process by scanning the Apple Home pairing code at the bottom of the required Smart Bridge. You’ll see the bridge and any connected accessories now in the Apple Home app.

Shadows in the Home app

Shadows in the Home app

The Home app lets you control shade, group multiple colors together, and associate them with any scenes or automation actions you create. Combinations are especially great if you have multiple shades in the same room, this can help you control them side by side.

Otherwise, you can control the shadows with your voice using siri. Siri can open the window, close the window, or set the amount. For example, you could say, “Siri, open the nursery window at 67 percent.”

Suggest HomeKit scenes

Suggest HomeKit scenes

Here are some starting points for scenes and automation you might want to use:

  • Automatically close windows when you leave and open them when you get home
  • Automate blinds to open and close every day so it always looks like someone is at home and you don’t have to manually control them
  • Create a good morning scene to open the shadows while turning on the lights every day
  • Wake yourself up to natural sunlight by opening the shades with the alarm clock
  • Shades open and closed based on motion detection in the room
  • Open and close based on sunrise and sunset
  • Create a movie scene to block out shadows and reduce glare

Physical controls are a must

While the automation routines are great and don’t require much intervention, it is helpful to have physical controls. Children, guests, and older relatives may struggle with using the Home app or voice controls.

Beko remote mounted

Beko remote mounted

Lutron offers its own pico remotes for this purpose. You can mount it on the wall for easy access. There is a small adhesive tape that holds a clear mounting plate so that the remote control can be removed easily to carry around the room.

Each pico remote control can control one shade or the whole room. We highly recommend that you have at least one on hand.

Shadow control with pico remote control

Shadow control with pico remote control

There are five buttons on each remote control. The top button will open the shades completely while the bottom button will close them completely. The up and down arrows allow you to precisely adjust the degree of opening of the shadows.

In the center there is a circular shortcut button. It can be programmed in the app as your favorite open site. This way you can jump straight to the most used mode with a single tap.

Since this works with the Apple Home, any HomeKit buttons or keys can control the shadows as well. We used the Wemo Stage Scene Controller and the Eve button to move to preset positions on the shadows.

Part of the cassette system

Serena Shades are part of the larger Lutron Caseta system. They pair up with the Caseta Smart Bridge as we mentioned while touring the setup, but this hub also works with countless other smart home products.

Shadow control with the Home app

Shadow control with the Home app

You can pick up the Smart Bridge on its own to use with your shades, or you can pick up any of the provided switches or sockets. Lutron provides several packages with some common settings.

The bridge uses its own radio frequency network protocol that is different from Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Thread. Unlike other smart home devices, the bridge does not connect to your Wi-Fi network but to your router via Ethernet.

Then all the accessories communicate with your bridge. You don’t have to overburden your Wi-Fi network or share your credentials or network information with Lutron.

Shades in the child's room

Shades in the child’s room

Plus, if your Wi-Fi goes down, all your Lutron devices will continue to work.

Apart from Serena Shades, Lutron also offers in-wall switches, in-wall dimmers, smart plugs, fan controllers, and wireless remote controls. There are also a few third party thermostats that are able to connect and display in the Lutron app.

Should you buy Lutron Serena shades?

New shades are not a quick decision as well as your home. It requires you to take measurements and make design and fabric decisions based on your home, and it isn’t particularly cheap.

Once we committed, we loved them. Our home feels more secure while we are away, and they can filter the light to keep cooling costs down, and increase the natural light in our room.

Wide shot of baby room shades

Wide shot of baby room shades

Positives

  • Lots of design options
  • Easy to install
  • Fast and reliable
  • Almost silent operation
  • Apple Home Support
  • Physical controls with pico remote
  • Joins other Lutron Caseta devices

Negatives

  • Somewhat expensive for large homes
  • Easily stripped screws included

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where do I buy?

Lutron Caseta accessories, including dimmer kits, can be compatible with HomeKit Found on amazon.

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