RadioRa2 Occupancy Sensor Doesn't work as promised - Holy Anti-Green Technology ! - AVS Forum
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Old 04-07-2011, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Get a load of this..

The Radio RA 2 Occupancy Sensor has a huge shortcoming and it makes the entire concept of being green not so green.

I just got certified RA2 and installed my demo system over the last few days. We are super excited about installing Ra2 for our customers as we have been Installing Zwave based stuff for years and the RA2 solution blows it away.

Sooooo, today I started working with the Ra2 Occupancy sensor as we want to place them in many locations as to allow for room entry turn on and automatic turn off when you leave. Great Concept !!!

So on the Occ sensor there is a setting for Low Light - which means when the sensor sees usable light from another source or the sun it wont turn on the rooms lights. We installed the first Occ in the Kitchen and this afternoon in broad daylight, i walk in the kitchen and the lights turn on when I didnt need them on. I played and played and read the docs 5 times and then called lutron and got an engineer on the phone.

He told me that the Occ sensor is dual function and if you use it on a simple Maestro wireless system the day light sensor works but on RA 2 they didn't think it was important to implement it. Yes he actually said this !! I look at the Daylight sensor on it more important than anything else in the entire system as this is what keeps it green.

Its fully documented in all their documentation as a working function and there are no release notes or anything that says it doesnt work on RA2. Just think about what I am saying here. All of the programmed lights associated with an Occupancy sensor will light up even in broad day light.. Now I ask you is that green ? Is this an energy savor? No it's actually an energy consumer and as far as I'm concerned a disaster for trying to sell green energy saving lighting solutions.

I have a 60+ dimmer and 8 Occupancy sensor job scheduled next month and I can't sell this working like this. This customer who is totally set on saving money would have me rip this out before day 2 if he knew how this worked.

How did Lutron Blow this one ? I have no idea. We invested so much time and effort to get trained and then we purchased over 3000 dollars of Ra2 stuff just for my demo system and now it doesn't do what it is supposed to do ?

I have the Lutron Product Manager's names and tried calling but I got no response.

Let me know what you guys think but as an integrator for 20 years finding a product as nice and this and to find such a simple but important shortcoming is very sad.. We are bummed and not sure what to do at this point.

Craig Shumer
Theatermax LLC
NJ
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Old 04-07-2011, 03:05 AM
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Don't know the product but what about adding a light sensor to the output of the occupancy sensor that would inhibit power to the lighting circuit when it sees light in the room?

That would piss me off enough to find a work-around for it.

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Old 04-07-2011, 07:11 AM
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I agree - this was discussed at training in Coopersburg and we got no real answer.
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:11 PM
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Good to hear this now. We're planning a remodel and wanted to consider RA2. But not now.
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Old 04-16-2011, 10:58 PM
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This daylight sensing issue has been mentioned a few times.

Seems that Lutron is making this an important distinction between RA2 and HomeWorks QS - daylight sensing. If you want daylight sensing, you'll have to step up to (and pay more for) QS.

I hope that someday soon Lutron will change this.

But, since it's just a nice feature, I doubt it will change many peoples' minds. I'm more concerned with the occupancy sensor doing it's job of detecting room occupancy, and sensing that somebody is present.

Maybe my home isn't well designed, but I really don't rely on much natural light. If I walk into a room, I turn on a light, even in day time.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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Old 04-17-2011, 07:53 AM
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Just put a daylight sensor with pushbutton override in series with the control circuit easy 5 minuite fix.

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Old 04-17-2011, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Just aded a control4 system 300C and i am bringing in the Cardaccess motion sensors which apparently have full daylight control with settings on how much light before triggering. We have interfaced the control4 system with Ra2 as the module is written by my friend Chris Allen for Lutron and by weeks end i will have full control over the Card access motions with control 4 and be able to do whatever i want with Ra2..

Also we can use the Ra2 motions as we just discovered using phantom switches in RA working along with control 4 and have if then logic like for instance if its 2PM in the afternoon dont turn on a specific light if a motion triggers..

More to follow , but looks like if you use control4 with lutron Ra 2 life will be as good or better than Homeworks QS.. I think better because control 4 is very inexpensive and does a million things.
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Old 04-17-2011, 01:40 PM
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Just read through the Control 4 website. It looks REALLY nice, and it is wireless awesome. Why would you use the lutron sensors instead of the Control 4 sensors?

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Old 04-18-2011, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Seems that Lutron is making this an important distinction between RA2 and HomeWorks QS - daylight sensing. If you want daylight sensing, you'll have to step up to (and pay more for) QS.

This just reaffirms my personal analogy that Lutron is like Apple, both have great product but they loose me in the their missing features, semi-closed enviroment, and manipulative tactics to get me to upgrade. This isn't a question of pricing or support if the feature is already in the sensor but crippled with RA2...I have a low tolerance for stupidity and manipulation.

Somfy I tend to think of a more like a MS-based PC. It is more widely used and has a good, long track record. It works better with more systems and makes integration easy by using published standards and protocols. When it all comes down to performance, Somfy can get you ultimately the same end result for much less money and no manipulation. Lutron does have a more refined product in some ways, but I wonder if it is it worth the headache and cost (just like Apple ).
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:35 PM
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Shady_, do you sell/install RA2? Or only Somfy products? You seem somewhat biased.

Lutron publishes their control protocols, nothing hidden there.

'to get me to upgrade' - are you implying that you were considering RA2 for your home?

'works better with more systems' - are you saying that it's more difficult to interface with RA2, compared with Somfy? IP and 232 control are included out of the box, with RA2.

It's cheaper to interface with RA2, than with Somfy. You need separate Somfy devices for interfacing. With RA2, they're included with the Main Repeater.

The Lutron shades are much more expensive than others, because of the quality. And, admittedly, advertising. Maybe you haven't 'heard' a Lutron shade, in action.

I'm not saying Somfy doesn't have some advantages, but you come off as too much of a car salesman.

Keeping the car theme, I think of Somfy as a Ford or Chevy, and Lutron as the Ferrari of shades.

The only real issue with Lutron shades is the price. If one cannot afford Lutron, then go with Somfy. No issue there.

I will install Somfy shades in my basement workshop, and I will attempt to convince the wife that Lutron shades would be appropriate for the kitchen.

If Somfy offered a high level product, they would make distinctions between the 2 lines as well, similar to Lutron. It's business. Same thing with cars, and computer manufacturers.

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Old 04-18-2011, 06:15 PM
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@Neurorad I appreciate your presence in the forum and your helpful advice, I really do. I'll try to keep my answers short and not come-off too car salesman-like. I know it seems like you always suggest Lutron and that I may always suggest Somfy, but as a fabricator I fabricate both and depending on the request, needed features, budget, or spec, I'll sell Lutron if that is the best fit.

For some reason I have to open my mouth when I see things that don’t make sense. In general I see average consumers with assumed average income being sold Lutron RA2, Control4, or Prodigy as affordable solutions for automation or Lutron QS/QED as affordable solutions for shading. I feel pretty average , and when it comes to my money those systems aren't affordable. Yes Lutron has a quieter motor, but does it justify a 2-3 times increase in cost after install and markup??? Not for the average consumer, if you just want motorized shades that can be automated. The average run time for a shade is 20-30sec twice a day, so people end up paying a premium for an ultra quiet motor so they don't have to hear it one minute or so a day. Ferrari’s aren’t for average consumers obviously, but Lutron products should be? Ford and Chevy are good cars so I don’t have a problem with the comparison, but let’s keep things in perspective in that we are talking about window coverings. If you have Lutron shades, congratulations they are nice.

As far as a business differentiating between two product lines, I don’t see your point that PC makers do this too, because they sell a $250 netbook and a $2500 gaming rig, but both machines have similar connectivity options, similar features, just one is more powerful. They don’t say, “if you want to dim the brightness of the screen to save battery life you’ll need to upgrade from a netbook”. The entire reason Lutron got into making shades was to control artificial light ‘and’ natural light, and offer daylighting solutions to save energy, so it seems hypocritical that they cripple their occupancy sensor for RA2 to not sense ambient light and then promote dimming to save energy with their Meadowlark dimmers for the home.

With much respect, as I do value your input greatly, your response seemed to exhibit the same dismissive and defensive tones that you would expect on the MacRumors forum when being critical of an Apple product, which just adds to my analogy. You said "I really don't rely on much natural light" which dismisses the missing feature as unnecessary to the OP, or that Somfy shades may be allowed in your home but only in your basement, sounds elitist. Often you’d hear dismissive responses from the Apple camp, why would you need an SD card reader on a Mac, or an FM radio on an iPod when it turns out that is what the consumer wants. So then Apple adds those features late in the game and calls them mesmerizing. Similarly, Lutron only had IR control when the entire shading industry had Radio control as a standard, then much later Lutron releases RA2 and touts it as the end-all solution for wireless. I just don’t want a company to decide for me what I want in a product, and it seems Lutron is following Apple’s lead by strategically holding back features.

I think my analogy is accurate and I think it is important to give the consumer options and let them decide. I’d also rather not pay for large advertising costs through the cost of my shades. We can agree to disagree.
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Old 05-04-2011, 05:42 PM
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I installed in my own home for testing ra2 with the occ sensors and a control4 system. Problem is I bought ra2 sensors not the card access ones. The ra2 sensors only communicate with main repeater and like you said no daylight or time control for occupancy sensing.

We are quoting a huge country club with ra2 and homewerks and the loved the daylight sensing, but they want to only pay for ra2. Grrrrrr.

Still have not seen Avatar in 3d.
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Old 05-17-2011, 08:49 AM
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I use it in applications like Pantry and laundry rooms and it works perfectly. Perhaps th application you using it in is too broad?

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Old 02-19-2013, 07:58 PM
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I was just going to purchase the Occ. sensor to do the very same thing you did. I am pissed to find out that is how they advertise this energy saving system and they can't even integrate this into the RA2 system. Iwish there was something we could do to get them to integrate this into the system!
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:49 PM
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I just got a couple of the new LRF2-OCR2B-P and upgraded to version 6.0.0 of the Essentials software. I'm not sure where the change was but in my quick but limited testing so far it appears that the occupancy sensor connected to a RadioRa2 system works in the low light mode as intended. That is to say that when the device senses that the room is occupied but the room is bright I can see the sensor state change to occupied but the associated lighting actions do not occur.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:24 AM
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Anyone used other outdoor sensors tied into a RA2 setup? I'd like to put some spot lights outside but their locations wouldn't be all that great for motion sensors. I'm considering using the 2 inputs on the garage door module, presumably with some relays, from 3rd party motion sensors. Anyone done this?

My goal would be to have manual control over the spots and also be able to set a 'mode' that pays attention to the sensors. As in, during an outdoor party that has it's own lighting turn off the sensors, but still allow manual use of a spot. I'm assuming there will have to be a keypad somewhere programmed to handle toggling this mode. That's fine, I'm assuming this keypad will also handle triggering a mode for holiday lighting and perhaps one for vacation. I've got an office closet wall that'll be a good location for it.

I'm curious how well the RA2 software can be configured to deal with this.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:24 PM
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I just saw this post and wish I had checked earlier... would have saved me a LOT of money. I went to Lutron's Coopersburg demo center and they told me Radio Ra would work just great for my needs, in fact they showed me a few conditional programming features and never indicated that this would not work with Radio Ra2. They and various installers only mentioned that Homeworks is for large systems.

So... I purchased a Ra2 system and was VERY p****-off to know that I could not do conditional programing, e.g. turn lights on if motion detected between 12am and 6am or use a low light function. Lutron tech support indicated that I would need to change to Homeworks... I confirmed this with my system programmer - after he double checked with Lutron.

So here is why I'm even more angry.... I just had ALL my switches changed out to RadioRA switches and apparently they are not compatible with Homework's --- IS LUTRON FOR REAL - SERIOUSLY??? I would have gladly switched out the Radio Ra controller for Homeworks - but to go through the expense of changing out over 65 items - is rediculously expensive and costs a lot of labor.

At this point I will never buy Lutron's products again... and after spending a small fortune on blinds, switches, sensors, HVAC controls etc. etc. I have a system with only 20-25% of the capability of what I want. There are a ton of companies that sell remote controlled switches for lights and blinds (and frankly Nest has much better HVAC control) - the key reason for getting Radio Ra is the intelligent control that's promised (one really wonders how you can have this without conditional programming).

Anyhow, luckily for me I have a home a/v automation system as well and I will get around some of the issues through some very complex (read expensive) programming.

With regards to the comment that Lutron is like Apple - no way. Apple thinks about how people will use their stuff - a LOT. These guys produce a quality product (I'm skeptical, but time will tell), but, haven't got a clue as to how to unlock the potential of their products - shame really.

Turned a really excited customer into a disappointed and angry one...
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:04 PM
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So your integrator does a terrible job reading your needs, specifying and designing a system and managing your expectations and it's the fault of the manufacturer how?
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:22 PM
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Bradkas.... Not sure if your a Lutron employee... but this is why the manufacturer is too blame... and NOT the installer.

Drove to Coopersburg - Lutron HQ. Sat down with Lutron in their demo center - then wrote up a detailed SPECIFICATIONS document (7 pages) of what each switch/controller needed to do - 99% of CUSTOMERS DO NOT OR CANNOT DO THIS. Gave it to my installer- who checked it with Lutron.

A week later we got the.. all is good to go from Lutron. Except for one item where they told me to use a visor controller and my installer said it was his fault he missed that. I wish we had Lutron's response in writing.

So yes I have every right to be upset with Lutron.

The good news for me is my installer is more concerned about maintaining good relationships with his customers then Lutron - so they have gone above and beyond to build work-arounds. I actually paid him more then he billed, since his guys spent so much time on work-arounds.
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Old 05-20-2013, 04:20 PM
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Interesting you're championing your installer when he/she failed the system design.

If that functionality was part of a scope of work designed by you, and given to the installer it's their job to make it right - on their own dime.

I am not an employee of Lutron.
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Old 05-20-2013, 06:27 PM
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Yes the installer should have recognized the issues ahead of time. Lutron should have also recognized these issues during the spec phase. Their customer service has also on many occasions given incorrect information on their own products or simply feigned ignorance. Someone working in a design center is probably primarily a sales person following worksheets.

Nevertheless the fact that the problem couldn't easily be solved by simply changing the main repeater from RA2 to homeworks QS and giving Lutron MORE MONEY is laughable. The way Lutron locks down its different product lines is definitely anti-consumer as well as their leverage of questionable IP against competitors.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:35 PM
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Lutron has some truly excellent products (RadioRA2 and HomeWorksQS for example) but a flawed strategy for offering those great products to the market, and developing a community around those products. As we all know, Lutron seems to believe it is in their interest to make it inconvenient or impossible for technical end users (DIYers) to self install RadioRA2 and HomeWorks.

As far the OP's issue (that the installer missed a key requirements issue), surely Lutron bears some or all responsibility, since their strategy is to drive consumers to the installer channel, and in fact make consumers rely on the installer channel for the technical aspects of product selection and programming. So when this distrbution model fails the consumer (as it did in this case), Lutron owns the problem. Maybe they have insulated themselves from legal liability for the installers mistakes, but Lutron are very much the architects and enforcers of the distribution model which resulted in this issue.

Lutron's policies seem designed to ensure that the installer channel participates in the sale of all RadioRA2 and HomeWorks systems whether the end users want this participation or not. Lutron enforces this by granting exclusive access to the configuration software (and certain training materials) to the installers, and hope that the installers will loyally sell, advocate and recommend Lutron products. As a consequence of this, technically oriented end-users who want to be able to configure the system that they own and paid for are driven away. Even if the end-user wanted to have an installer put the system in, they can't get proper access to the software. (It has been said that some RadioRA2 installers may leave a copy of the software after a job, but that does't address software updates and the license validity for a copy of the software "left after the job" is not clear.) This is of course most unappealing to software savvy types, who are one segment to which products like RadioRA2 and Homeworks appeal.

Offering installers exclusive access to the configuration software seems misguided. Either the installer offers services of sufficiently compelling value to earn and attract customer business, or not. In the absence of such compelling value, what consumer would happily be forced to hire the installer? These sort of policies feel very "old school", kind of like back decades ago when the auto industry forced you to take your car to the dealership where you purchased it in order to get it serviced.

The lack of an upgrade path from RadioRA2 to Homeworks QS is a further inexplicable self-inflicted wound. What customer would happily agree to an expensive rip-and-replace-all-devices when they find that conditional programming would be beneficial? Instead, maybe they stop buying more of the product. Particularly when they discover that RadioRA2 and HomeworksQS are fundamentally the same devices with very slight firmware differences which serve only to make them deliberately incompatible. More sad old-school thinking. (This apparently serves to enable tiers within the Lutron installer channel, as RadioRA2 installers may not be HomeWorks qualified -- perhaps because they haven't proven themselves to be certifiable on the intellectual challenges of conditional programming.)

The assertion that Lutron is like Apple in these regards seems incorrect. Apple admits all those who want to program their products to the Apple developer program for some trivial amount of money, like $100/year. Without vetting or qualification you can join and get access to all the same tools and resources that all the other folks in the program have. Rather than make it inconvenient or impossible to be part of the community that program their products, Apple's strategy is to make it easy. How many apps would be in the iPhone app store if Lutron had crafted the iPhone developer program?

Please Lutron, get your go-to-market strategy up to the same level as your great products. Embrace the community of technical people (DIYers) who would install and use your products and be your advocates. And make your great products (RadioRA2 and HomeWorksQS) work together.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:07 PM
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As a DIYer I was able to sign up for online BLAST training and now have access to the Radio RA 2 software. So it's not true that Lutron isn't a DIY option, as long as you are willing to take the training. Training was free, but I did have to purchase a starter kit, which had pieces I needed anyway.
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:22 PM
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I understand that they allow DIYers to take the BLAST training, which gets you access to the Lutron RadioRA2 Essentials software. However, to upgrade to the full RadioRA2 software (the "Inclusive" version) you have to represent yourself as an installer, pass some business qualification (having done two installs, I think) and then attend a 2 day course in person.

So, you are correct that RadioRA2 is an option for DIYers to the extent that they can get a version of the software, although not the "full" version. I actually did this, but now I'm up over 100 devices (Including shades, occupancy sensors and thermostats its nor hard to get there). So I'm kinda stuck because of Lutron's policies as far as getting the necessary software, much less upgrading to HomeWorksQS. For clarity, one of the features of the upgraded "inclusive" software is the ability to support 200 devices, rather than the limit of 100 which can be supported with the "essentials" software.

To be fair to Lutron, they were clear about the policies up front. However, at this point I'm not buying any more Lutron devices since I can't get the necessary software. Furthermore, If there was a reasonable upgrade path to HomeWorksQS I would do that, but sadly no options there.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:53 AM
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I am not getting in on the marketing strategies of Lutron, but if your problem is only that your lights are not coming on between 12am and 6am or lowlight condition, you need another installer/programmer.
This can be done with RadioRA2 easily, and it does not need conditional logic.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lleo_ View Post

I am not getting in on the marketing strategies of Lutron, but if your problem is only that your lights are not coming on between 12am and 6am or lowlight condition, you need another installer/programmer.
This can be done with RadioRA2 easily, and it does not need conditional logic.

Sure, RadioRA2 has a time clock. But the OP wants the lights to be turned on by an occupancy sensor only during certain times or ambient light conditions. RadioRA can't do that, but Homeworks can.

Of course, one can always resort to using a RadioRA2 integration interface and having another brand of external controller do the conditional stuff. Why Lutron would make that the only approach is a head-scratcher.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:24 PM
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Obviously, Lutron would rather sell a QS system. They have to distinguish the 2 systems somehow, and that's where they drew the line. I wish the line wasn't drawn there, but that's why they did it.

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Old 05-23-2013, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModernMan View Post

Sure, RadioRA2 has a time clock. But the OP wants the lights to be turned on by an occupancy sensor only during certain times or ambient light conditions. RadioRA can't do that, but Homeworks can.

Of course, one can always resort to using a RadioRA2 integration interface and having another brand of external controller do the conditional stuff. Why Lutron would make that the only approach is a head-scratcher.

Please note that this thread was started years ago, and since than, Lutron has updated the occupancy sensor for Ra2. It now has a low light function, it will trigger when ambient light goes below about 1 foot candle. And the timeclock provides exactly that what you said, it turns on and off certain functionality based on time.
Most home owners want that light come on 100% say between 7AM and 10PM and only if ambient light is low. The occupancy sensor with the timeclock does exactly that. Often they also want, like in case of bathrooms or hallways, light to come on at 30% between 10PM and 7AM. For this, I simply install a second sensor and program it in timeclock accordingly.
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Old 12-23-2013, 08:26 PM
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Its apparently only for the 360 degree sensors - not for 90 or 180 degree ones. This is exactly the problem Lutron has. Make it universal and they will sell a hell of a lot more product.

Frankly - I would have no issues if I could upgrade the firmware on my existing sensors - even for a small fee. But you can have functionality x on product y.1 but not on y.2 is nuts.

Also not being able to upgrade to Homeworks is just plain stupid. Its giving their customers no upgrade path - who in their right mind would do that??? Every company I know would love to be able to up-sell their customers. Obviously they need to fire a few people at the top - or just retire them gracefully…
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:49 AM
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When dealing with embedded products there's often a lot of compromises made that don't always seem obvious to the customer.

Given the price-point on these units and the market into which they sell, replacement of them IS the small fee.

As for upgrade paths, it would be a very good idea for Lutron to have a way to provide conditional actions with RA2. That's not the same as an 'upgrade path'. There are various ways to accomplish this with 3rd party integration, but a factory option would be convenient. There are some pretty fundamental differences between typical RA2 and HW installations that make 'upgrade' seem more than a bit unrealistic.

Lutron's one of the few vendors that has continued, over decades, to deliver a solid product to the automation market. That market is finally gaining more consumer traction. It's pretty ridiculous to call them 'stupid' given how long they've persevered in the market. No doubt many of the folks you're so insulting toward are more than a little frustrated at how long a slog it's been. So, yeah, some more nimble solutions to the emerging market would certainly help. But not at the sacrifice of their product's fantastic reliability and support.
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