Originally Posted by dgage
OK first 7', we have to get something important out of the way. Vols fan?
I'm in East TN but lived a few years in Nashville about...damn...10 years ago now.
I'm a middle TN native, but my sports allegiances are to Yale (where I played basketball) and Vanderbilt (where I went to grad school). Not a Vols fan (don't hate them either).
I "know" Wkearney from the Cocoontech forums. My advice is to just pick a lighting and do it. The two primary choices I'd recommend would be UPB or Lutron RadioRa2 if we are talking DIY lighting. There's also Zwave but I don't recommend it as it isn't in the same league of reliability as the other two. There's been quite a bit of discussion over at Cocoontech recently so I'd recommend doing a search over there for UPB and RadioRa2.
And I've known Wkearney99 "in real life" for 25 years.
It's been nice getting his guidance on this since often many of us come into things like this from a theoretical approach having not seen this kind of lighting automation in a real home. I've seen what he's done and the decision process behind it. That is a huge learning advantage to me. And because of it, I can't see going to a different vendor unless there is just something someone else makes that I cannot do without.
I have a 12 year old house and I'm sure they didn't use a lighting consultant.
The lighting control isn't bad but not perfect. I was remodeling my kitchen and it was the impetus for me choosing a lighting system, which as you can guess was RadioRa2. The primary reason I chose RadioRa2 was reliability, elegance, and selection of devices.
Now regarding dealing with lighting design issues, I had an issue when I redid my kitchen that the RadioRa2 system helped solve. As a part of the remodel, I put in an L-shaped island that extended into the breakfast nook. As a part of that, I wanted to have main lights, which we did with 8 recessed lights but I also wanted to have secondary pendants over the lighting. Well since I didn't have a breakfast nook anymore, I used that circuit (single switch) to drive the pendant lights. I talked to my friend who's an electrician as he was helping some and it was clear he didn't want to run wires to the other two locations and also recommended against having so many switches in the other locations. So I was able to use a Hybrid keypad in the Breakfast Nook and in the other locations I used a regular switch for the main kitchen lights and a Hybrid keypad for all of the other loads. So the very nice keypads were able to address my design needs. Might help give you some ideas for your situation.
My kitchen would be a good place to start in that the wiring there is more modern than the rest of the house and there's already Lutron hardware to upgrade. I can see having a hybrid keypad or two control the 9 overhead cans, pendants, halogen lights at the bar/eating area, under cabinet lights (three switches)...everything but the garbage disposal (which doesn't need smart anything).
But from a practical family standpoint, I'm seeing the foyer of the house as a more needed upgrade point. The front door of the house is a three gang switch, one for outdoor floods, one for porch lanterns and the third for the foyer chandelier. I've heard of people putting dimmers on the outdoor lights, but I haven't heard a good reason why. (parties? halloween?) The foyer chandelier badly needs a dimmer since my son likes to 1) have his door open when he sleeps and 2) a light on outside his door. He has been known to wake up and turn the foyer chandelier on in the middle of the night. I would like to limit the brightness of the lamps.
But the chandelier has three different light switch controls (two downstairs, one upstairs) which I'm guessing is a 4-way application and I haven't opened up the gang to figure out which is the load point to put the master dimmer versus the accessory dimmers. The upstairs switch is a part of a two gang for another light at the top of the stairs that I would also love to dim and control since my son tends to turn that one on too.
The limiting factor right now (outside of the budget equation) is my quest to rid the house of as many incandescent lights as I can. I've been largely successful...there aren't many left. But I have to deal with Lutron hardware that hasn't been upgraded for LEDs in terms of hybrid pads (Wkearney99 solved this by not using CF or LED lamps). So while the current chandelier has about 100 watts of IC lights, my wife wants to kill this aging fixture and replace it; and when that happens, it will have LEDs with a lot lower wattage load. The new lamp fixture at the top of the stairs I just installed is only pulling a 19 watt load from the Crees I installed. While I'm sure that the current hybrid pads could cope with some of the choices I've made, it would be better that have hardware that was actually designed for the task.