During our recent new home build, we added construction options for a ceiling fan rough-in in several different rooms. We had also included multiple zones in our HVAC system, with one zone just for the master bedroom, bathroom, and closet. So I didn't think it was necessary also to include ceiling fans. However, thanks to my wife's request to which I agreed, it was time to add a ceiling fan to our master bedroom. It also allowed me to test out the new Lutron Caseta fan switch.
Our short experience with zoned heating and cooling systems has taught us that they work best toward the extreme temperature ranges. Those ranges being very warm or very cold, depending on your geographical location in the world. Forced air heating/cooling in our home operates best because they run more frequently in the extremes. The frequent running gives you more control over your different zones.
When the outside temperature does not require much heating or cooling inside the home, then it tends to stagnate. You can run the central HVAC unit fan continuously, but if you do this for all zones, it just evens out the temperature differences. I suppose it's possible to have one zone on heat and another on the air conditioning, but I'm not even going to try that. We're not that bad off. I'm sure there are many other options, most of which include higher costs.
The best option for our slightly uncomfortable scenario is to install a ceiling fan. Especially since our home was pre-wired for one.
Installing the Ceiling Fan
Choosing the Best Ceiling Fan
I probably spend way too much time on this part of the install. It's easier when your builder hands you a small catalog and says to pick one, along with how much you want to spend.
My wife is better at picking selections under these conditions, as it's a choice of which one looks best.
Our builder and electrician installed the Kichler brand of lighting fixtures and ceiling fans. The actual fan installed in our sunroom is the Kichler 330174NI with light, in brushed nickel, with the silver side of the blades showing.
We were happy with it and were also were using the Kichler LED recessed lighting fixtures in our home. We had four of these recessed lights installed in our master bedroom, so we did not need a ceiling fan with a lighting fixture. It was plenty bright already!
We did look at several different brands before selecting the Kichler 310145MWH Enduro 52 inch Matte White Ceiling Fan. It ended up being a choice between this Kichler and the following Hunter Fan Company Hunter 53069 Traditional 52``Ceiling Fan from Low Profile III collection in White finish.
We liked the down rod look of the Kichler fan better than just the ceiling canopy on the Hunter Fan. Also, the specs for the Air Flow Capacity on Kichler were quite a bit better than Hunter, which cinched the decision.
I did buy this ceiling fan from Lighting New York instead of Amazon because they've given me better pricing on the Kichler brand products so far. Shipping has always been free, probably because of the order amount, and the product arrives typically within one or two days.
Amazon does sell this same Kichler Enduro brand ceiling fan. If the price is less there next time, I will buy it from them instead. Prices and availability do frequently change on both sites.
Ceiling Fans with Remote Control
One thing I learned from researching ceiling fans is that many of them offer a remote control option. Sales at our local Costco and other retail outlet stores have attractive ceiling fan deals with high customer ratings. They also indicate that it has a remote control, but not much additional information.
What many of these companies do not tell you, though, is that the remote control option does not allow hard-wiring the ceiling fan switch. Generally, you have a choice of remote control or hard-wired, but not both.
Many reviews stated people already had a wall switch for their ceiling fan and thought that buying a new one with a remote meant that they could use it both ways. This flexibility was not always the case, as they learned.
Worse yet, some customers bought their ceiling fan with a remote and then lost the remote. They could not purchase a replacement remote, so they were stuck with buying a whole new ceiling fan.
The online product literature for ceiling fans is not always clear when it comes to their remote controls.
We decided to skip on buying one with remote control, and used the Caseta fan switch instead. We can control it remotely using our smartphone. Later, if we want a remote control device just for the fan, we can then pair to one of the Caseta Pico switches for fans.
The only other brand of ceiling fans we looked at was the Hunter ceiling fans. We did almost purchase one of those, where the remote control was optional. I understood the fan would be installed hard-wired, and optionally, with a remote control added later. I did not research precisely how that worked.
The Lutron's Caseta website does indicate it is compatible with the Hunter Ceiling Fans. I also did not get into the specifics of how that works.
Installation of the Ceiling Fan
The most challenging part of the fan installation is the ceiling electrical junction box. It must be able to support the extra weight of a ceiling fan. With a new home build, this is easy to install.
For old work, it doesn't have to be difficult if you can access that part of the ceiling from your attic. There is a good chance you'll need to add another stud between the roof joist's to center the fan in your room.
The electricians for our home installed the kind of box which allows you to screw the fan bracket directly into the ceiling joist. The electrical box itself straddles the ceiling joist, providing space on either side of the beam for your Romex wiring to connect with the ceiling fan.
This Carlon CFB-12 Ceiling Fan Box, Saddle, Round, New/Old Work, 4-Inch Diameter by 2-3/8-Inch Depth, Black looks like the one installed in our home.
I forgot to snap a picture of the ceiling mounting bracket for the fan while installing it. It's a relatively heavy-duty piece of steel, almost feels like cast-iron. Longer screws anchor it to the ceiling joist via the holes in the box. The picture below from the instructions shows it and how the installation should work.
Once I anchored the ceiling mounting bracket to the joist, the hanger ball from the fan sets in the mounting bracket. There is a grove on the hanger ball which they call a registration slot. This slot has to align with a screw that comes pre-installed in the mounting bracket. It keeps the fan itself from moving. Only the blades should be running when finished.
The hanger ball itself is already attached to the down rod. The down rod is attached to the fan itself. Both canopies are also already on the down rod.
With all these pieces assembled on a 3-inch download, there was very little extra room for me to make the wire connections and assemble the ceiling canopy.
I have to admit that at one point, I wished I'd had the electricians do the install during the home build. This canopy assembly was the worst part of the install, but it wasn't that bad looking back. I'll be installing it in additional rooms.
The blades themselves were easy to install on the fan motor. The accessories with the fan included a balancing kit, which always kind of worry me when I see that. However, testing with a regular wall switch and using the fan chain for the speeds proved it worked fine.
The installation of the fan was complete.
Installing the Lutron Switches
I wish I could write that replacing the wire fan switch was a simple swap with a new cover, but it never seems to work that way. The existing fan switch was a standard toggle switch in the middle of the LED recessed lights toggle switch and a third toggle switch for the outlets on either side of the bed.
As mentioned earlier, we had four LED recessed lights installed in our bedroom. My wife made me promise when we made that decision that I would later establish a dimmer for them. For me, it had to be a Caseta wireless dimmer switch.
The wall toggle switch for the outlets we never used. However, I wanted to replace the wallplate with a Lutron Claro, so something needed to be done with it.
The Caseta Wireless Dimmer Switch
For the dimmer switch, I used the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting ELV Dimmer Switch for Electronic Low Voltage Light Bulbs, PD-5NE-WH, White.
This choice was not a simple decision. I had first purchased the Lutron Caseta Smart Home Dimmer Switch, Works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and the Google Assistant | for LED Light Bulbs, Incandescent Bulbs, and Halogen Bulbs | PD-6WCL-WH | White.
I had some reservations about this initial purchase. A few reasons were that:
Smart switches require a constant source of power since they are always communicating with the hub.
From what I've read, the Caseta dimmer switch without the neutral wire dims the lights to just a trickle. Not enough that you can see they're on, but just enough for the radio in the switch to communicate with the hub. I've also read that the electrical code was changed, so that smart dimmers in the future require a neutral.
I'm not a licensed electrician, so I can't advise what's correct for code compliance. I just knew that we had a new home with a neutral wire in every switch box, and a new smart dimmer switch that uses a neutral seemed like a better solution.
The favorite button and LED bulb compatibility were desired features. I'd rather not have to troubleshoot issues associated with dimming LED bulbs. This choice was pro-active in that regard.
The wires come out the back of the switch. Black is for the power (hot), and red is the load. There is no blue wire on this switch for three-way installations. The white, neutral wire is a required connection.
The front of this switch includes the favorite button.
The Caseta Wireless Fan Speed Control Switch
Purchasing the ceiling fan switch was a lot more straight-forward. I bought the Lutron PD-FSQN-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Fan Speed Control, White.
Lutron just recently introduced this new fan switch to its line of Caseta Wireless switches.
Interestingly this switch has a black screw to the power (hot) wire. It had stranded wires coming out the back for the yellow, white, and green wires. Yellow is for the load wire, going to the fan.
The front of the switch looks very similar to the dimmer switch and also includes the favorites button.
Lutron Caseta Wireless Load Controls
If you're starting with the Lutron Caseta Smart switches, it can be a little confusing to understand the feature differences between each of the devices offered.
As I wrote previously, I struggled a bit, deciding on which dimmer switch was right for my needs. There is also a PRO version of the dimmer that I even debated on purchasing.
Lutron Electronics Company strikes me as being more of an engineering company rather than a marketing company. Being more of an engineering company is why they make such great products.
What Lutron does offer for product selection is an extensive online library of technical documentation. It's just not easy finding the right document you need.
The Caseta Wireless Load Controls document is an excellent example of this. It has the chart below on page 3 of this document. This chart shows what I need to know in deciding which Caseta dimmer switch was right for me. It just took me some time to find it!
The Lutron Claro On/Off Switch
This switch is just down-right boring compared with the other two switches. I didn't want to spend any more on it when we don't even use it. It's filler for the Claro wallplate.
I purchased the Lutron Claro On/Off Switch, 15-Amp, Single-Pole, CA-1PS-WH, White.
The switch includes two screws on the side for feed and load wires and a ground screw. It also includes holes on the back for push-in back wiring.
The front side view, it's a rocker switch. It's also very shiny.
Replacing the Existing Toggle Switches
Locate the Live and Neutral Wires
The first step is to locate the live and neutral wires in your electrical box. A traditional toggle light switch has two black screws. It does not matter which one you use for the live connection or which one you use for the load connection. The switch makes the connection or breaks the link to the load.
Many of today's smart switches do require you connect a neutral and to connect the live wire to a specific screw or wire out the back of the switch.
Smart switches require a constant source of power so that they can communicate with the hub or another switch. So the live connection must supply electricity at all times.
After I removed the existing wallplate and pulled out the switches, connections for the live and neutral wires were easy to see.
Prepare the Neutral Wire Connection
Each of the current switches should already have a live wire attached to it. So there is no need to do anything other than to disconnect and then later reconnect it to the new switch.
The neutral wire is a different situation. Since the current code requires there to be one in the box, it typically "passes" through the electrical box. What this means is that it connects directly from the live Romex to the load Romex using a wire nut.
When working with a three or four-gang switch box, this could mean as many as four or five wires connecting. The number could be even higher if the live wire continues from this wall switch to another one elsewhere in the home.
Since this bundle of wires can be pretty thick, I prefer to disturb these wire joints as little as possible. So I pulled out the neutral wires enough to add another jumper wire.
Adding a Neutral Jumper Wire
If your new smart switch has a screw-type connection for the wire, then you have no other choice but to add a jumper wire to the wire joint.
I have white wires coming out of the back of both my new smart switches. Technically I could probably connect directly to the existing wire joint. I prefer not too for two reasons:
I added a short piece of 14-gauge wire to the neutral connection and pushed them all into the back of the electrical box. The new jumper wire will connect to the two new Caseta wireless smart switches.
Connect the New Smart Switches
It's time to connect the new switches.
The connections for all the switch wires are made, mostly using wire nuts. The live wires were screwed on.
The extra wire nuts add a bit of a mess, but since the new cables are 14-gauge stranded, they're easy to push back into the electrical box. I also used the wire nuts supplied with the switches as they're smaller.
Remove Side Tabs from Smart Switches
In my case, I was installing the two smart switches side by side, attaching the new switches to the electrical box required removal of the metal tabs on the sides. Removing the tabs on the right side of the dimmer switch and both sides of the fan switch are needed.
Removing these tabs does affect the rating of the switches, but not enough to be an issue for our use.
Attach New Switches to Switch Box
The new switches are screwed back into the electrical box.
Note: My amateur photography skills make them look crooked in the picture. They're not.
Install the Claro Back Plate
The Claro wallplate comes in two pieces. The back half is mounted on the wall with screws into the new switches.
Install the Claro Front Plate
Finally, the front cover of the Claro wallplate snaps into place.
I can't say yet that I love these Claro wallplates. Most of the online reviews for these plates are very positive. I'm just not sure I like the looks. It might just be the glossiness. I don't think Lutron makes a Matte finish? I'll need to check into this some more.
Configuring the Lutron Caseta Smartphone App
Install the Lutron Caseta App
If this is your first time adding smart devices to your Caseta home system, I wrote a separate article on just the steps required to Install the Lutron Caseta App.
Adding the Caseta Dimmer Switch Device
Step 1 - Main App Screen
When you first open the Lutron Caseta Smartphone app, there is a list of your current devices. On the top left of the screen, there is a small gear icon for the Settings option. I clicked this icon.
Step 2 - Settings Screen
At the top of the Settings screen is an option to "Add Device." I clicked this to add new devices.
Note: It displays for you a count of your current devices. So far, I only have the Caseta On/Off switched installed for our driveway lights. However, the count includes the Smart-bridge device itself.
Lutron recently increased the maximum number of Caseta devices from 50 to 75.
Step 3 - Getting Ready Processing Screen
A processing occurring screen displays.
Step 4 - Add Device Screen
This screen displays prompting for which Caseta device I'm adding. So far, I'm only adding the In-Wall switches.
Step 5 - Caseta In-Wall Pairing Screen
This screen displays telling me how to pair the device with the Smart Bridge. In my case, I only needed to press and hold the bottom button until the LED's all started blinking quickly. The pairing was quick and easy.
Step 6 - Room Screen
The room screen prompts me for the room for my new device. Both devices I'm adding are in the Master Bedroom.
The little blue down arrow icons are for additional choices within that room. For the Master Bedroom, there is only one option.
Step 7 - Type Screen
The Type screen asked me which light type that this Caseta Dimmer will be controlling. My choice is the ceiling lights, which also have the down arrow icon for additional options. I clicked the down arrow to show the possibilities.
Step 8 - Type Sub-Option Screen
I had two different sub-option types to select. I chose Main ceiling lights.
Step 9 - Device Added Confirmation Screen
I then see a confirmation screen that my new dimmer switch smart device "is added."
In my scenario, I have another Caseta device to add, so I click on the "+ Add another device" button.
Adding the Caseta Fan Speed Control Switch Device
Most of the steps required to add the fan speed control device are the same as the dimmer device.
Step 1 - Add Device Screen
This screen displays prompting for which Caseta device I'm adding. Again, I'm adding another In-Wall switch.
Step 2 - Caseta In-Wall Pairing Screen
This screen displays telling me the same instructions on how to pair the device with the Smart Bridge.
Step 3 - Room Screen
Once I've paired the device, I again select the Master Bedroom.
Note: After completing the pairing, the Caseta app already knows this is a Fan Speed Controller. I was never prompted to specify what kind of device or fan.
Step 4 - Adding Device Processing Screen
A simple screen is displayed informing me of the progress on the new device.
Step 5 - Device Added Confirmation Screen
Once again, the final screen confirms the addition of the new smart device. It also displays that I've added a total of two new devices.
This time though, I'm done adding devices, so I click the corresponding button.
Step 6 - Finishing setup processing Screen
Another processing screen displays telling me that it is finishing setup.
Adding the Caseta Devices - Conclusion
Step 1 - Main App Screen
The final screen shows my rooms and devices added so far.
The colored background of the device icon indicates that it is in the On state while the white background shows the Off state.
The addition of these new switches to our home has stirred some interest from my wife in my project. It looks like I need to get the app running on her iPhone. It looks like that will be a different article.
The Smart Dimmer Switch
We're pleased with the functionality of these new smart dimmer switches.
The top button on the lights dimmer switch turns the lights on to full brightness. The bottom button turns them back off again, but gradually.
There is a wide range of dimming capability with the lights. I've used different dimmers in the past with LED light bulbs, and it was always challenging to dim in the low light range. This switch does that without any problems.
Pressing the Brighter or Darker up and down arrows continuously, and they continue to dim or intensify.
The favorites, round button in the middle, can be set by holding it for six seconds until the LED lights on the in-wall dimmer blink. Doing this saves the current intensity of the lights as the value of the favorite.
So far we've not noticed any weird buzzing sounds or strange flickering from the lights at any of the switch settings.
The Smart In-Wall Fan Control Switch
The smart fan control works the same as the lights dimmer. The main difference is that there are only four settings for speed. The top button turns the fan to full-speed, while the bottom button turns it off. The favorites button works the same as the lights dimmer.
One thing that I was curious about when purchasing is what happens when using a four-speed fan control switch on a three-speed fan?
The two low speeds on the in-wall switch do appear to set the fan to slightly different rates. Both are very slow, though. That's a very non-scientific observation.
With the two higher speeds on the fan control, you do notice a more substantial difference in the speed of the fan.
We have the favorite button set to the third-highest setting on the switch, which is probably closest to the middle, pull-chain selected fan speed setting. There is plenty of air movement with this setting.
Again, we've not noticed any strange noises with the fan.
The very first night I got into bed without turning the fan on. Fortunately I remembered what I had done earlier and rolled over to my iPhone, opened the app and turned the fan on. Very nice!
Yeah, I know I could have this for less money by installing a fan with a remote. This stuff is way cooler though and one of the first steps to a smart home!
The Claro On/Off Switch
We've not even used it yet. I installed it in the On position. It fills the third hole in the Claro wallplate nicely.