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post #1 of 6 Old 07-02-2015, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thoughts on Lutron Caseta vs. Crestron Pyng

All,

I'm working with a generous family friend that's in the home automation industry to help us with our remodel. He's assisting me on the setup, but I don't want to lean on him too much/at all afterwards since he's not charging us for his time. While he works on the big systems costing in the 5+ figure range, we're looking at something quite a bit cheaper. While I'm pretty handy from a technical perspective, I don't want to spend a lot of time troubleshooting why something didn't work correctly. But I do want to easily change things / add new functionality in the future

My goals for the home automation project:
  • Lights - very basic stuff plus some scene control in the dining room and family room where there are multiple light switches. Control from wall keypads - I'm not unlocking my phone and finding the app just to change the lights. Would like the ability to turn lights on/off based on a schedule if we're on vacation/the alarm system is on.
  • Shades - just installing these in the family room where there's a lot of sun. I want to automatically raise/lower the shades at certain times of day; would be nice to create a movie scene that brings the shades all the way down and drops the light to a very low level or off - don't necessarily need this to happen when I turn on the TV - could just be a single button press on the wall. Control from wall keypads - not just from phone app.
  • Alarm System - would like some basic integration / remote access. If the alarm system is on and it's night time, turn on some lights in the house so that it appears as though someone's home, turn all lights off in the house when the alarm shows we're away, etc.
  • A/V - actually, not a huge deal. I have Squeezeboxes throughout the house that we'll keep, plus a single TV system. I will need a new remote that translates from RF to IR - we currently have an IR harmony remote and have to aim it at the boxes for 7 seconds due to timing issues, which my wife regularly forgets to do, which I then need to fix. But I'm not convinced that the current AV system needs to be integrated into the rest of the system at this time.
  • Electrical Outlets - would like to automatically turn one outlet on/off based on a daily schedule, plus the ability to shut off completely while on vacation. Will be used to control a re-circulation hot water pump. (Bonus points if I can control an electrical outlet from a script so that when I turn on my Squeezebox Touch, that runs a script that turns on the electrical outlets for the amps, but that's a long ways off.)
  • Thermostat - honestly, don't see a huge value in remote access. This is, in my humble opinion, of minimal interest since I'm able to effectively program our existing and mostly dumb thermostat. (We live in the SF bay area, so just shut the heater off if we go on vacation - don't need to worry about freezing pipes.)
  • Overall - 99% of the home automation should happen on prem without requiring interaction with the cloud. I'm not paranoid - I just like stuff to work, without paying a monthly fee, and I don't want to have to change my automation because a cloud provider goes under. Also, 99% of this should be controlled from a wall keypad. I don't want to have to pull out my phone just to turn a light on/off, open/close a shade, etc. We'll put a button on the wall instead.

I was originally leaning towards a Lutron Caseta Smarthub Pro based system since it does a lot of what I want to do, integrates with other vendors pretty well, and seems to be somewhat open, at least compared to Crestron Pyng. I think it covers the lights, shades, and scene control all pretty well, allowing me to do almost everything with the dimmers/Pico remotes. I would integrate that with a URC or Harmony remote which would address the RF to IR integration for my wife for the home theater. The Lutron system works with different thermostats if I want to do anything there. The main issue is the alarm systems - I don't like the existing partners. For the electrical outlet, I could do a simple outlet from Ubiquiti or some other vendor, but then that becomes a point solution. Anything I'm missing in terms of pluses / minuses with Lutron Caseta? Is there other alarm system integration besides ELK and alarm.com that for some reason or another isn't listed on their website?

My main concern with the Crestron Pyng system is that it seems to be a much more closed solution. It appears that once I buy into Crestron, I'm basically attached to that single vendor. Which, I guess isn't horrible since they're very good at what they do. But I'm concerned about limiting myself to what appears to be a slightly higher priced solution, and to a more closed solution when we all know that there will be a huge amount of change coming in the future around home automation. This system obviously covers everything I need to do around lights, shades, and scenes. It works with the Honeywell Vista alarm systems which look good, and would allow me to go with a lower cost provider for monthly monitoring. I'm assuming that I could use a single Z-wave electrical outlet for the recirculation pump, managed by the alarm system - have it run at specific times, but not run when the alarm system shows that we're out of the house. I'd still need a URC or Harmony remote to handle the RF to IR integration for the home theater. If I decide to add a thermostat, I can only go with the Crestron one if I want integration with the rest of the system. While my wife is tied to the iPhone/iPad, I'm on Android, so I wouldn't have control from my phone for the time being - Android has been 'coming soon' for at least a few months. I'm a little concerned about firmware updates - it looks like maybe this is only done from one of the programming tools, which I obviously won't have access to. I don't want to rely on the family friend in order to get additional functionality / security patches. In addition to all that, it appears to me that while Pyng can exist on its own, it's really meant to either play as a more configurable part of a larger Crestron system and/or be done with a Crestron partner. Other pluses / minuses with Crestron Pyng?

Thoughts on URC vs. Harmony for the RF to IR for the home theater?

I realize that there are many other home automation vendors out there - I've ruled them out for one reason or another, so really the decision is coming down to Lutron Caseta vs. Crestron Pyng.

Thanks in advance!

JP
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-20-2015, 10:02 PM
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Pyng vs. Other solutions

To respond to your post, let me first explain that I am a Crestron Dealer, and I have dealt with both the entry-level Pyng processor and Crestron's top-tier line of control processors. While Pyng has lots of future potential and does qualify as a DIY or very limited assistance DIY product-it has some pretty big limitations TODAY. In a nutshell, the supported devices you can control are pretty limited–when compared to Crestron's non-DIY fully programmable control systems. In other words, as soon as you want to control a device (like a TV), you currently need to invest in a 3 series processor and have it programmed to do so-and to work in conjunction with the Pyng Hub. While the price of a Pyng ONLY system versus a full 3 series programmed processor based system CAN be significant, there is only a savings if you never need to add functionality beyond what the Pyng can do-or are willing to roll the dice on what features it may get in the future (to be fair Crestron just added control of Autonomic Mirage Music Servers and is continually adding support for its own devices and more as we speak. However, there are no guarantees WHEN, or WHAT devices will be controllable. If you know you want to control devices Pyng can't handle today, I would opt for a full-blown control system (that doesn't offer DIY programming). IF you just want a great entry level control system for Crestron shades, lighting, and a security system, and maybe some smart door locks and an Autonomic whole house sound system-you would be very happy with how quickly it can be setup and changed–keeping in mind the GUI is what it is and there are limitations to what it can do–however if these are not deal breakers, it can be a viable solution.

I am a huge DIYer, and I try to empower my clients to be as self-sufficient(and less dependent on outside help) with technology as possible. This has always been my philosophy,–within reason. Programming your own Crestron system is NOT an easy task, and even when you are a JEDI it takes a LOONG time to code a full system and build a GUI, especially when you don't know what you are doing. Keep in mind that a system designed to control all of the stand-alone systems in your home (thermostat, security system, lights, shades, audio, video) doesn't and shouldn't change much once installed. If you keep changing what your buttons on a touchpanel-or on the wall do-you will drive yourself, your wife, and your family crazy in short order. Having new devices added or removing old obsolete ones is not a major task for a well-programmed, established system. Crestron is also one of the few companies known for it's commitment to legacy devices-which means you don't have to throw everything away every two years or redo it every two years. The goal should be to put a system in place that does 100% of what you want it to when the installer leaves, (barring fine tuning/bug fixes immediately following install) and will continue to do so for the next 15-20 years (only needing service when a device wears out and needs to be replaced-just like any other household appliance wearing out over time.) The bonus to Crestron is that it really isn't a "proprietary" system in many ways. Crestron simply provides hardware and the tools to create fully custom software that controls all of the various 3rd party systems in your home, and talks to them in whatever language they speak-using IP, RS-232, IR, 12-volt triggers, relays, dry-contact closures, etc. The bonus is that since the system overlays everything-each system still retains native functionality and can be controlled "the old fashioned way" in addition to the Crestron way-meaning I can control my Nest from their app, their website, my Crestron touch panel, or from the thermostat itself-the choice is mine, the result is the same. A fully programmable system is a blank slate-you can program the connected systems to be controllable from a wall keypad, wall touchpanel, an iPad, iPhone, Android device, a computer, or all of the above. You can make it remotely controllable or limit control to people inside the home-and there are very few limits to what it can do–especially when compared to the numerous DIY solutions cropping up at the low-cost end of the spectrum. IN terms of proprietary limitations, all of the major control systems (Savant/Control4 have limitations when it comes to controlling each-other's hardware–however if you were only using Crestron/Savant/Control4 for the control system, and everything else was from 3rd party manufacturers, you could theoretically change control systems by only changing the control hardware and programming the new system-and keep everything else in place. Hope this helps. If you have any questions, message me.

I didn't go into Caseta, but my limited hands-on with it in a Lutron class made it clear that, like Pyng, if you accept the rules of engagement/limitations it works great-but if you need to go beyond the out-of-the-box features, your solution becomes kludgy or expensive-because you have to buy a solution that can pickup where you left off with Caseta (or Pyng).
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-21-2015, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information and detailed response. After a bit of back and forth, additional research, and just thinking more about what I want to do, my plan is to go with Crestron Pyng.

I want a rock solid system that's going to work for a long time. While Crestron Pyng might be limited compared to a fully programmable system, it offers everything I want to do today (lights, shades, security, thermostat, etc.). As you state, there really shouldn't be a lot that changes after the initial install, and Crestron is slowly adding more functionality to Pyng. (Android support - please!)

Our scenario is very different from a lot of others - we don't have a huge house, and Pyng seems perfect for us. While audio control does sound interesting, we've been doing that for years with the Squeezebox devices - that's served us well, and we'll continue to use it. We only have a single TV in the house and don't pay for cable, so video distribution isn't an issue either. It would be nice if there was some remote/IR functionality so that we could control that home theater with the Crestron system, but I'm fine with using a separate remote system just for that. I realize that many people might find that a show stopper - I'm okay with having to hit one button to set the lights and shades, and then another button to start up the TV/receiver/DVD/etc. (Plus, I don't need the lights to go back up when the credits start rolling - I think that's pretty awesome that something like that can be coded into a home automation system - I just don't find that to be important.)

Looking forward to getting things setup and seeing how it all works - will try to post an update once everything is up and running.

JP
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-23-2015, 07:27 PM
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Does the Pyng system allow the end user to add devices or do you have to have an installer do it? Say I have a Pyng controller and I buy a supported device off ebay will I have to call my installer to add it to my system?
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-24-2015, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dt34 View Post
Does the Pyng system allow the end user to add devices or do you have to have an installer do it? Say I have a Pyng controller and I buy a supported device off ebay will I have to call my installer to add it to my system?
Has to be the installer to add devices. If it wasnt for that, Pyng would be one of the best systems going.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-27-2015, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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All,

Looking for feedback on the Crestron vs Caseta vs RadioRA dimmers. One of the things I'm running into is compatibility of the dimmers with the lights - Crestron appears to have much more limited compatibility compared to the Lutron equipment. I'm getting some pushback from the architect and interior decorator that they've never had to worry about compatibility with the Lutron dimmers - specifically RadioRA, but I guess Caseta as well. What is your experience - which vendor typically does better in terms of compatibility?

(This comes up because I was planning to wire the house using Crestron dimmers which can act as a keypad. If that's a problem, I'd have to do a major bit of re-wiring after the walls are closed up to do something like Caseta. Also, the minimum load is a problem - there are a few locations where we wanted to put a single LED light on a dimmer - we'd likely have to get a 200W equivalent LED to hit that level.)

When looking at the documentation for the different dimmers, I see the following:
Crestron dimmer: Minimum load 25W; Supports incandescent, tungsten halogen, and MLV; no mention of LED light support
RadioRA Hybrid Keypad: Minimum load 15W; Supports incandescent, tungsten halogen, and MLV; no mention of LED light support
Caseta Pro Dimmer: Minimum load 10W; Supports incandescent, dimmable LEDs, halogen, and halogen-based MLV

This creates a bit of confusion:
1. If the Crestron and RadioRA devices don't list LED support on their spec sheets, how are LED lights compatible?
2. The Lutron docs show a 10 or 15W minimum, OR a supported LED light. Does this mean I can use a supported light as long as I hit the 10 or 15W minimum? Or do I have to connect multiple supported LED lights AND hit the minimum load?
3. Same as 2 but for Crestron - I found that the CREE EcoSmart ECO-575L light is compatible, but that's only a 9.5 watt load. Can I use 1 575L, or do I need to install 3 of them to hit the 25 watt minimum?

Appreciate your feedback - am hoping to nail down the electrical plan in the next few days.

JP
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