8 lighting circuits without 8 switches -- possible? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 03:40 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm remodeling and have 8 lighting circuits separately controlled from a single area.

I would love to find a solution that does not involve a bank of 8 rocker-dimmers in a row on the wall.

Is there an elegant (simple) solution where there is a single (or double) gang keypad where I can control all 8?

Here's a picture of another area of my home (which I don't want to duplicate if I don't have to):




And here's a diagram where each color is a different lighting circuit::




Thank you!
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post #2 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 09:02 AM
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There are solutions. Which one to use depends in part on how much wiring you are prepared to do,

Is there a closet nearby where you install the actually dimming devices

What sorts of loads (kinds, wattage) are we talking about?

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #3 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

There are solutions. Which one to use depends in part on how much wiring you are prepared to do,

Is there a closet nearby where you install the actually dimming devices

What sorts of loads (kinds, wattage) are we talking about?

The wall with the switches isn't yet built and the soffits for the lighting are still open, so if additional wiring in these areas are necessary, I'm open to it.

The backside of the wall where I planned to put 8 switches is a closet, so I can put hardware inside.

8 lighting circuits, each under 300 watts (using mostly LEDs).
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post #4 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 06:25 PM
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There are lighting systems designed around panels of dimmers that are controlled by low voltage wall switches - I would have to do some research to see what the best choice there would be.

Then there are power line carrier systems (PLC) like UPB. With this approach you would install the individual dimmers in the closet and install multi-button control pads out in the room which would send signals to the dimmers. The control pads I am thinking of would control up to four dimmers per pad.

Then there are wireless systems like Z-Wave based products and Insteon products which you would install pretty much the same way.

There are a few others but their names escape me at the moment.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #5 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 06:33 PM
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The "using mostly LEDs" could be a major factor in what you choose. In addition, LED technology is sort of a moving target right now, and probably for some time so come.
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post #6 of 32 Old 09-22-2013, 09:45 PM
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I won't comment on others, but I am using Insteon. You want to bring your hot wire to the switch location (not directly to the lights), then you should be able to bury your switches in the closet and use the multi-button Insteon dimmers to handle all the loads remotely.

http://www.smarthome.com/_/Dimmers_Lighting_Appliance_Control/INSTEON/_/z/23b/nav.aspx

They have a number of multi-button units right on the first page.

I will say that I have yet to play with their multi-button dimmers, so they may just end up pissing me off instead of being useful, but it is a feature that I liked about their dimmers for scene control rather than individual load control, but I do believe that you can get that functionality as well.

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post #7 of 32 Old 09-23-2013, 12:59 PM
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Has anyone tried these wifi controlled LED lamps http://www.limitlessled.com/ ?
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post #8 of 32 Old 09-23-2013, 07:20 PM
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You could easily do this with Radio RA2 from Lutron. Wire the dimmers to the other side of the wall, inside the closet, out of sight.
Towards the room you can have 1 or 2 keypads. The largest keypad button count is 7, so you could have 7+7=14 buttons or 7+6=13 buttons with a raise/lower set, both in a 2-gang box.
You could program and custom label these to turn on individual loads or some dedicated 'scenes' to turn on any combination of loads with any preset level.
You can also add additional keypads to other parts of the room to have closer access to your favorite loads or scenes.
Lutron's phase-adaptive dimmers are also very LED friendly, and there is a large selection of brands that are tested to work.
If you wire the dimmers in the closet to single gang boxes, you will have access to the full 600 watts the phase adaptive dimmers can take without derating.
Note that LEDs impose limits on the number of fixtures you can have on a dimmer, rather than overall wattage.

It could look something like this:

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post #9 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 02:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lleo_ View Post

You could easily do this with Radio RA2 from Lutron. Wire the dimmers to the other side of the wall, inside the closet, out of sight.
Towards the room you can have 1 or 2 keypads. The largest keypad button count is 7, so you could have 7+7=14 buttons or 7+6=13 buttons with a raise/lower set, both in a 2-gang box.
You could program and custom label these to turn on individual loads or some dedicated 'scenes' to turn on any combination of loads with any preset level.
You can also add additional keypads to other parts of the room to have closer access to your favorite loads or scenes.
Lutron's phase-adaptive dimmers are also very LED friendly, and there is a large selection of brands that are tested to work.
If you wire the dimmers in the closet to single gang boxes, you will have access to the full 600 watts the phase adaptive dimmers can take without derating.
Note that LEDs impose limits on the number of fixtures you can have on a dimmer, rather than overall wattage.

It could look something like this:


That sounds interesting. I looked at Lutron's RA2 site. Do I understand correctly that I would put 8 Lutron RA dimmers on the inside of the closet wall and then put 2 of the keypads anywhere in the room?

A quick search indicates 8 dimmers, a main/repeater and 2 keypads would cost about $2,000. I was hoping for something far less expensive, if it exists.
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post #10 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 05:28 AM
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One thing you might consider is that any scheme using a centralized control panel in the closet leaves you vulnerable to complete lack of control after some drunk runs into a power pole or pad mount transformer and causes a surge that knocks out the panel. A distributed approach (wireless or power line carrier) to wall box mounted devices in the rooms controlled gives you the potential for manual override if the brains of the system get wiped out in a natural or man made scenario (once the local power company gets things restored).

You might look into an inexpensive embedded controller (Raspberri Pi or Arduino) running one of the open source applications to control the devices using inexpensive wall mount tablets or similar devices, depending your skill and experience with such adventures.

If you want an "out of the box and run it" type of solution, the Radio RA or one of the centralized controllers with low voltage keypads in room spaces might be a less challenging solution technically.....there's always ebay.

David "driving my wife crazy with remotes" Dohm
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post #11 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 08:16 AM
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Shoot, wanted to add:
http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Products/Pages/WholeBuildingSystems/Grafik4000/Overview.aspx

The GrafikEye GRX-4108 or 4508 fits into a 4 gang box, and presents 4 presets + off which can be set as you want and zone keypads can have their own presets associated with them.

http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/grx4000.pdf

Just another option.

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post #12 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josephnyc View Post

Do I understand correctly that I would put 8 Lutron RA dimmers on the inside of the closet wall and then put 2 of the keypads anywhere in the room?

Yes, you understood it correctly.
This is how a ~28 load "hidden in a closet" installation looks like. Keypads are installed throughout the house turning on any combination of lights and levels.







Quote:
Originally Posted by josephnyc View Post

A quick search indicates 8 dimmers, a main/repeater and 2 keypads would cost about $2,000. I was hoping for something far less expensive, if it exists.

Yes, it is not cheap, but you get what you pay for, including time clock events, occupancy sensors, remote access from handheld device and possibility to integrate with third party systems.
While this is a wireless system, it is working very reliably, 99.9999% of time. You can also later, budget permitting, expand to other parts of the home, without major renovations and changes.
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post #13 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 09:18 AM
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lleo_ is that your system? That would be awesome. Times like this are when I wish I built my house. eek.gif
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post #14 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 10:14 AM
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I think it is worth repeating that for many dimming devices when you place more then one in a box you have to degrade the units rating (the load it is able to dim). So be sure to take this into account when designing any such system.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #15 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lleo_ View Post


This is how a ~28 load "hidden in a closet" installation looks like. Keypads are installed throughout the house turning on any combination of lights and levels.


.

Wow! That is cool!

Do you have a pictures of the keypads installed?

I certainly wouldn't mind having that. I have a bank of 8 switches upstairs and the new bank of 8 I'm talking about downstairs -- plus various other rooms with banks of 1 or 2 switches each.

I've got to consider the cost -- there's quite a lot of things on my toy list.

Thanks!
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post #16 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddohm View Post

One thing you might consider is that any scheme using a centralized control panel in the closet leaves you vulnerable to complete lack of control after some drunk runs into a power pole or pad mount transformer and causes a surge that knocks out the panel. A distributed approach (wireless or power line carrier) to wall box mounted devices in the rooms controlled gives you the potential for manual override if the brains of the system get wiped out in a natural or man made scenario (once the local power company gets things restored).

You might look into an inexpensive embedded controller (Raspberri Pi or Arduino) running one of the open source applications to control the devices using inexpensive wall mount tablets or similar devices, depending your skill and experience with such adventures.

If you want an "out of the box and run it" type of solution, the Radio RA or one of the centralized controllers with low voltage keypads in room spaces might be a less challenging solution technically.....there's always ebay.

David "driving my wife crazy with remotes" Dohm

That's a very important point -- and one that I consider in everything. I conceive of it slightly differently: The more complex, the more likely it fails.

Fortunately, I live 170' above ground in a tall building, so there's no power outages (except hurricane Sandy, and the NYC blackout a bunch of years ago, etc.).

Rasp-Pi or Arduino would be super exciting to work with, but I've got 100 projects and 100 hours to finish, so the math on that is....

Thanks!
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post #17 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

Shoot, wanted to add:
http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Products/Pages/WholeBuildingSystems/Grafik4000/Overview.aspx

The GrafikEye GRX-4108 or 4508 fits into a 4 gang box, and presents 4 presets + off which can be set as you want and zone keypads can have their own presets associated with them.

http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/grx4000.pdf

Just another option.

I saw the Lutron system -- looks nice, but also a bit pricey.

Thanks!
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post #18 of 32 Old 09-24-2013, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josephnyc View Post

That's a very important point -- and one that I consider in everything. I conceive of it slightly differently: The more complex, the more likely it fails.

Thanks!

I wouldn't consider a centralized system any more likely to fail then a distributed one. All of these devices really on electronics for control - there is no "manual override" on any of the devices that I am aware of.

I would actually consider a centralized system less likely to fail because they don't have to cram the heat generating parts into a device that fits into a 1 gang switch box .

Here is one that has been around for awhile:

http://www.centralite.com/elegancexl_features.php

A good friend of mine, who owns the electrical firm that wired two of my homes, has one reservation regards systems like the above - you can get locked into them. Once you run all of the high voltage, load carrying wiring to a central location you are rather committed to that approach. On the other hand if you use a system that relies on "smart" dimmers that fit where a "normal" dimmer goes you (or the next owner) can always revert back to a "dumb" system.

Just FYI.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #19 of 32 Old 09-25-2013, 06:41 AM
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Crestron control would also do this - they also have dedicated lighting processors. Most of their central dimmer packs have a manual override which you can activate with a standard light switch hidden in a closet, in case the controller or some other electronic piece of the puzzle fails. Probably about the same cost as the Lutron stuff.
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post #20 of 32 Old 09-25-2013, 09:22 AM
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I certainly will refrain to join a debate on pros and cons of centralized versus distributed system, and/or comparing system A with system B

The Radio RA2 system I posted is not mine, I just included the picture to show how it may look like when wired centrally.

The OP requested input to reduce the wall clutter of an 8 bank dimmer group, and based on the floor plan I suggested to flip it over on the other side of the wall in the closet space. I would not call this a centralized wiring.

The strengths of Radio RA2 are actually in retrofitting existing, traditionally wired homes. This is what I have too, and provides the benefits of an automated lighting system.
The Radio RA2 dimmers and switches, when retrofitted in a traditionally wired home, can function without the processor, very much like a regular switch or dimmer, so losing the controller will not leave you in the dark. Of course, if wired centrally, you would have to go to the closet to turn on the bathroom light without a controller...
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post #21 of 32 Old 09-25-2013, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bravonoj View Post

Crestron control would also do this - they also have dedicated lighting processors. Most of their central dimmer packs have a manual override which you can activate with a standard light switch hidden in a closet, in case the controller or some other electronic piece of the puzzle fails. Probably about the same cost as the Lutron stuff.

Interesting. Does this assume the dimmer unit itself is still working or does it bypass the unit entirely?

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #22 of 32 Old 09-25-2013, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

Interesting. Does this assume the dimmer unit itself is still working or does it bypass the unit entirely?
This assumes the dimmer is remote located like in the photos above. You can put in keypads which can be programmed to do pretty much whatever is desired. At the end of the day, they really don't offer more that what Lutron offers in their systems in my experience. It may not even be more than what Insteon may offer from their systems. I would expect Crestron & Lutron to offer far higher reliability than Insteon, but that will come at a price as well.

There are a ton of solutions and none is really cheap, but perfect, that I've ever seen, and while manufacturers are more than happy to talk up how awesome their products are, they are often just lousy at showing how something like this could be wired up for really solid control.

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post #23 of 32 Old 09-26-2013, 02:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much. You've taken me from zero knowledge of automated home lighting switching to almost little enough to be dangerous (;-)

While it would indeed be super cool to have everything controllable and sleek, I'll stick with the banks of dimmers for now.
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post #24 of 32 Old 09-26-2013, 04:40 AM
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The Lutron Grafik Eye would be my choice. Prob in the $1500 ballpark, installed, by an electrician who has installed them before.



One-to-one swap of the bank of switches, no fancy wiring or switches in the closet.

The keypad(s) on the front of the GE are for selecting programmed favorite scenes. If you ever need to, you flip up the cover for adjusting single loads.

But, I have to ask - it looks like you have multiple rooms or closets. Why do you want to put them all in a single bank, and not where they would be most useful?

I can understand some of them centrally located, but not all.

I would hate not having scenes, with that many loads in a single room. I'm currently renovating my kitchen, using Lutron RA2 and a few keypads. My wife doesn't like the look of the GE.

Finding an electrician who has used it before will cut down on GE selection/design time, and reduce frustrations with controlling LEDs.

GE is available in multiple colors and button configurations. There is too much to learn to DIY, with limited time. You would need to find someone experienced.

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post #25 of 32 Old 09-26-2013, 05:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

The Lutron Grafik Eye would be my choice. Prob in the $1500 ballpark, installed, by an electrician who has installed them before.



One-to-one swap of the bank of switches, no fancy wiring or switches in the closet.

The keypad(s) on the front of the GE are for selecting programmed favorite scenes. If you ever need to, you flip up the cover for adjusting single loads.

But, I have to ask - it looks like you have multiple rooms or closets. Why do you want to put them all in a single bank, and not where they would be most useful?

I can understand some of them centrally located, but not all.

I would hate not having scenes, with that many loads in a single room. I'm currently renovating my kitchen, using Lutron RA2 and a few keypads. My wife doesn't like the look of the GE.

Finding an electrician who has used it before will cut down on GE selection/design time, and reduce frustrations with controlling LEDs.

GE is available in multiple colors and button configurations. There is too much to learn to DIY, with limited time. You would need to find someone experienced.

It looks nice, but I'm not sure for my needs it worth it.

The bank of 8 switches controls the lighting circuits circled in black -- it's all one big room, and contains one 2-way switch for the bank of 3 recessed light above the windows. I also have a similar room on the floor above.

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post #26 of 32 Old 09-26-2013, 07:46 AM
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With that many circuits, you should figure out a way to create scenes. All those switches would annoy the heck out of me, trying to remember which is which, turning on the 2nd, 4th, and 7th switches when I enter the room, and turning each off again when exiting.

Keypad is the way to go. Figure out a way to accomplish that, whether with Lutron GE, Lutron RA2, Insteon, Centralite, or Lutron QS.

Do it in the room above, too.

Of course, this depends on the use of the room. If it was a restaurant or retail setting, where all lights are turned on once and turned off once, each day, that's a different story.

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post #27 of 32 Old 09-26-2013, 07:48 AM
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You may be able to hire a 'Lighting designer' to get this accomplished easily and quickly. He/she specs the hardware, you or he buys it, and electrician installs.

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post #28 of 32 Old 09-27-2013, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom A View Post

I'd like to throw in another option.  I use a loxone mini-server for a lot of lighting.  It uses Wattstopper LVSW keypads, they are low voltage.  One is a 8 gang so if you could put a mini-server in a closet you could change the 8 gang wide switch to one that uses the space of a single gang switch.  It was a better option for me cost wise when I had the system put in.  The app is cool too.  

Are you using the Loxone hardware for dimming? If so, did you find the relatively low wattage rating to be an issue?

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #29 of 32 Old 10-17-2013, 02:18 AM
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I have been getting rid of my switches lately using Insteon. I don't have 8 anywhere, but I did have 4 in a couple of spots. I just keep getting rid of them, like a crazy switch hater.

In their place, one Insteon 8-button keypad. If the switch nearby is a 3-way not directly connected to the load, I just cap it off. If it's directly connected, I use an Insteon Micro Switch. Either way, all that is hidden, the one keypad remains and it controls everything. In my family room, I am now able to make use of all 8 buttons because there are, in fact, 8 lights (well, there will be once we finish upgrading): near fireplace, lamp, table, kitchen, over sink, pantry, recessed, dining room one room over that needs to be controlled. This is a cheap solution, for $20 you can custom label the buttons, for $300 you can have an ISY installed with elaborate scene control (if needed) and the keypad is <$100. The micro switches are like $50 each. There are better/fancier solutions, but probably not cheaper/easier ones.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working. (Oh, and plasma didn't die because of logistics problems, nor does OLED ship in big boxes because it comes from Korea.)
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post #30 of 32 Old 10-17-2013, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rogo View Post

I have been getting rid of my switches lately using Insteon. I don't have 8 anywhere, but I did have 4 in a couple of spots. I just keep getting rid of them, like a crazy switch hater.

In their place, one Insteon 8-button keypad. If the switch nearby is a 3-way not directly connected to the load, I just cap it off. If it's directly connected, I use an Insteon Micro Switch. Either way, all that is hidden, the one keypad remains and it controls everything. In my family room, I am now able to make use of all 8 buttons because there are, in fact, 8 lights (well, there will be once we finish upgrading): near fireplace, lamp, table, kitchen, over sink, pantry, recessed, dining room one room over that needs to be controlled. This is a cheap solution, for $20 you can custom label the buttons, for $300 you can have an ISY installed with elaborate scene control (if needed) and the keypad is <$100. The micro switches are like $50 each. There are better/fancier solutions, but probably not cheaper/easier ones.

Hi Rogo,

I am about to start doing exactly what you said you have already done.
In my living room I have a bank for 4 switches next to each other. They control the recessed lights, ceiling light and floor lamp. I hate the look of these 4 switches together. Currently they are not not on a dimmer.
I just began looking into this so I am not too familiar with insteon.
I was thinking of getting ISYS 994. I want a 4 button switch to control the lights. Does Micro Switch hide behind a wall plate and is connected to either ISYS or the 4 button switch to control the lights?
I plan to replace my recessed lights with dimmable LED lights. Can you show a picture of your 8 button switch along with the capped micro switches so I can see how it looks.


thanks
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