Getting to the bottom of it - zwave vs Zigbee vs Lutron vs Others (long post) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I am in the process of installing an Elk M1 Gold security system with the intent of integrating a home lighting system. After much reading I have decided to go the RF route vs Insteon or UPB. Based on what I have read it sounds like RF is more reliable than the others, and it also seems to have many more large companies supporting it, which would suggest that it should be around for awhile (though it doesn't say anything about the technologies superiority over the others technologies).

I have seen the much more expensive RF options offered by Lutron, Elan and others - are these more reliable, more feature rich, something else that justifies the $100s if not $1000s of dollars price difference.

Here is what I have come up with so far, but I assume there HAS to be more to justify the price differences...

zWave operates at the 900 Mhz range for RF (same range as earlier generation cordless phones, and microwaves I believe). That said, most feedback has been that this has not resulted in significant interference or impacted reliability

control4 (zigbee) - recently released an RF option that leverages zigbee (a competitor to zwave) which also uses the 900 Mhz range, though current info seems to suggest that the zigbee protocol is going to move to the 2.4 Ghz range for its next version (I believe the current version is zigbee 2006).

Lutron - first to come out with an RF solution (Radio Ra) and utilizes a proprietary technology for their solution and leverage the 433 Mhz band.

Elan/Vantage/Centralite - I haven't come across the specifics for these yet.

Depending on where you get your information from they all seem to be fine for most houses in terms coverage, so no issues there.

The key "benefit" of lutron seems to be that they own all the patents and are currently litigating zwave and zigbee (along with others) - this seems to have slowed down adoption of truly competing capabilities on the zwave and zigbee front (e.g., Leviton Zivia which was the first zwave product that came out with 2 way communication).

Thoughts, additions, comments?
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post #2 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

The key "benefit" of lutron seems to be that they own all the patents and are currently litigating zwave and zigbee (along with others) - this seems to have slowed down adoption of truly competing capabilities on the zwave and zigbee front (e.g., Leviton Zivia which was the first zwave product that came out with 2 way communication).

Thoughts, additions, comments?

That last bit reads like marketing speak, I wont even speculate as to why. I can tell you point blank that some of your assertions are incorrect at best and intentionally misleading at worst.
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post #3 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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strange response...the fact that lutron is litigating isn't marketing speak (not sure which marketing organization would push this out), but based on what I have read is fact - though the articles that I derived this information from could be incorrect...Are you suggesting that Lutron is not litigating others in the RF arena and this may have impacted roll-out of some of the competing RF technologies/products?

That would be great news, and personally I would like to go with zwave as it is considerably cheaper than Lutron/Vantage/etc.

As mentioned I am putting this info together to help make a decision on the lighting control system (I am including zwave and zigbee in the system category) to go with.

If there are incorrect statements it would be much more conducive to point these out so that the correct information could be shared on the forum.

By no means did I make any representation that this information was completely factual, but is only the amalgamation of the info that I have found so far.

A clear summary of these technologies and more to the point why a person might choose one over the other does not appear to be readily available.

So please correct any errors, add your thoughts, but don't post inflammatory statements suggesting that I have some "hidden" agenda.

FYI - I'm new to this forum and to home automation and hope that this one response is not a reflection of you as an individual or others on this forum (from what I have read so far there usually is a lot of good and valuable information that is shared here).
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post #4 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

strange response...the fact that lutron is litigating isn't marketing speak (not sure which marketing organization would push this out), but based on what I have read is fact - though the articles that I derived this information from could be incorrect...Are you suggesting that Lutron is not litigating others in the RF arena and this may have impacted roll-out of some of the competing RF technologies/products?

That would be great news, and personally I would like to go with zwave as it is considerably cheaper than Lutron/Vantage/etc.

As mentioned I am putting this info together to help make a decision on the lighting control system (I am including zwave and zigbee in the system category) to go with.

If there are incorrect statements it would be much more conducive to point these out so that the correct information could be shared on the forum.

By no means did I make any representation that this information was completely factual, but is only the amalgamation of the info that I have found so far.

A clear summary of these technologies and more to the point why a person might choose one over the other does not appear to be readily available.

So please correct any errors, add your thoughts, but don't post inflammatory statements suggesting that I have some "hidden" agenda.

FYI - I'm new to this forum and to home automation and hope that this one response is not a reflection of you as an individual or others on this forum (from what I have read so far there usually is a lot of good and valuable information that is shared here).

Do you have a link or reference to "Lutron's litigation" of zwave and zigbee per chance?
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post #5 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 12:13 PM
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Here is what I can tell you.

Elan doesn't make any lighting control at all. They make whole house audio and video products, serial controllers and touchscreesn/keypads. They can do some limited control of third party lighting, including Lutron Homeworks and Vantage. Possibly Centralite too, I can't remember.

I can't speak to Insteon or the Z products (z-wave, zigbee) never used them. AFAIK, Insteon is a powerline carrier product like X10 and UPB. Not saying it is"like" x10, just that it is a powerline technology. UPB is an extension of x10 that is supposed to be more reliable and I have heard that it is. No personal experience. X10 is crap. From personal experience.

Lutron has two different systems (really three) Homeworks, which is a professional level ( and dealer only) lighting control system. It comes in two flavors, hard wired and wireless. The hardwired system, along with, IMO, Vantage are the top two central lighting control systems. They are also the ,most expensive. They are typically specced in new construction because they have a completely different wiring topology than a standard house. All lighting loads are home run to the dimmer panels that can be located throughout the house. There are no switch legs. The regular toggle light switches do not exist in these systems. They are replaced by keypads that are hardwired back to the controller. Any button on any keypad can control any load or scene in the home. Vantage takes their system further in that in can be a home automation controller as well and they now offer whole house audio products.

Lutron Homeworks wireless is, again, a professional level controller based lighting system. It is designed for retrofit situations. Each standard toggle swich is replaced by a Homeworks dimmer. Each dimmer communicates with a central controller. The controller acts just like the controller in the wired Homeworks system. Homeworks wired and wireless systems can be intermixed.

Radio Ra is an entry level system limited to 32 devices, dimmers and keypads. Each Ra dimmer replaces a standard toggle switch. Scenes can be programmed etc. It is pretty simple and pretty basic. It is probably available to a DIY. Homeworks isn't. By using a Chronos bridge, you can double the capacity to 64 devices. Once you do this, the price differential between Ra and Homeworks becomes very small. (equipment costs. there is still the cost of installation and programming with homeworks)

I don't know who offered an RF solution first, but Vantage Radio link has been available for quite a few years and may have been before the Lutron solution. Vantage has two systems as well. (not really two separate systems, they can be intermixed) the hardwired Infusion system and RadioLink. The Infusion system works like Homeworks. Each load is home run back to the dimmer panels, there are no switch legs. Each keypad controls whateve load or loads are programmed into it.
Radiolink is similar to Hoemworks wireless. Each standard toggle switch is replaced by a Radiolink dimmer. The main difference is that in Radiolink, the dimmer is really two devices in one. The dimmer is the dimmer and the faceplate/keypad is a separate control device. Each button on the radiolink dimmer can control any load or scene, just like the hardwired system. There is virtually no limit to the number of devices you can use and the processor can be a full control system too. The only real difference between the hardwired and wradiolink is aesthetically. You will still have a bank of switches to replace and they will still be there. Hardwired eliminates much of the wall acne. For new construction, it is a no brainer to use a hardwired central system. For major remodel it could be cost effective and worthwhile too. For a retro situation, Radiolink works great.

Lutron and Vantage are by far the costliest of all the solutions you mentioned. An apples to apples Vantage to Lutron should be about the same.

Ra would be next least expensive. The rest are really pretty cheap. Ra dimmers list for somewwhere around $250. Homeworks and Vantage are a little more depending on config. Control 4 dimmers are a hundred bucks. UPB are maybe 80 or 100. Insteon are only about 40 bucks.

:utron Homeworks and Vantage are pretty much bulletproof and 100% reliable. Ra is very good. I really can't say what the others are. I do know that X10, in my experience is very unreliable.

Hope that answers some questions. Feel free to post more specific questions.

peace
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post #6 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 01:46 PM
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My company installs Vantage, Centralite and a UK system based using RF called Rako. All are excellent systems and we usually prefer to go the hardwired way except for retrofit installations or when budget does not permit.

We have tried some z-wave solutions, 2 years ago, but we did not find them reliable enough to offer them to our clients.
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post #7 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Great information. Thank you.

b.greenway, here are a couple of links on the Lutron litigation, but in searching for the links it appears that all articles are based on the same source (personally I have not herd of this source so I'll leave it to others who are more knowledgeable than myself to comment on validity):

http://specialty.sensorsmag.com/sens....jsp?id=362940

http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/news/print.php/3636111

fleth999,fantastic info - that helps a lot. For Vantage and Lutron, would you put their RF units at 100% bullet proof like the wired versions. Also, do these require programming / configuration for them to works, scenes, zones. I'm assuming they would require at least the same amount of setup as zwave/zigbee.

In any case I will want to work with a professional installer that can help with the integration to the Elk - I assume the hourly for a Lutron/Vantage installer might be higher than others due to the higher end type of implementations that they typically deal with. Good assumption?

I was quoted $2500 for the Vantage radiolink controller + $200 per switch. It looks like the $200 is a little less than average (per your comments). Is the Lutron Homeworks controller in a similar ballpark (by the way, I have no idea if this includes the persons time - I assumed so when speaking with them, but upon reflection I'm not sure).

Charis - the z-wave comparison to Vantage, was that compared to the wireless or hardwired version. Though we are still in construction, wiring has been completed so hardwired is not an option (and truly more money then I want to spend).

Anyone else with similar experience with zwave/zigbee and Lutron/Vantage, that can directly compare their experiences with these offerings?

Thanks everyone.
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post #8 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fletch999 View Post

Here is what I can tell you.
AFAIK, Insteon is a powerline carrier product like X10 and UPB. Not saying it is"like" x10, just that it is a powerline technology. UPB is an extension of x10 that is supposed to be more reliable and I have heard that it is. No personal experience. X10 is crap. From personal experience.

Someone will correct me if I am wrong (I have generally been a lurker here lately), but I believe Insteon uses both powerline and RF. (Wikipedia: Insteon)
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post #9 of 24 Old 10-06-2007, 07:34 PM
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Lutron has a paper to explain why they have chosen the RF path they are on.

http://lutron.com/technical_info/pdf/RFwhitepaper.pdf
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post #10 of 24 Old 10-07-2007, 05:33 AM
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I'm a Lutron guy, 90% plus of my business is Lutron.

That said, the other 10% or so is from using Miro, by watt stopper and just priced and got a 10 zone insteon job.

X-10 I will not new install and will repair only if client signs contract absolving me from all warranty responsibility. Got burned on several jobs and have sworn off of it.

Miro link
http://www.wattstopper.com/products/...Page_Miro.html
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post #11 of 24 Old 10-07-2007, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Very interesting Lutron article - The more I read the more I'm leaning to using a professional RF lighting system. While I like the potential cost savings of using z-wave or zigbee, I do need the 100% reliability and speed of response that these professional systems seem to provide - otherwise the chances of selling this to my wife will go from 100% to 0% very quickly

It seems that many more people are using/recommending Lutron than Vantage or other options - It would be interesting to learn the market share that each of these companies/technologies currently have - I'll investigate, if anyone knows it would be a very interesting post.

I was speaking with my electrician today and he informed me that he has access to all Lutron products. Now while I am certain that he can install them , I am wondering how hard it is to configure them for scenes, groups, etc.

I don't like the switches on AuroRA so that leaves either Radio RA or Homeworks. Is the configuration of both of these systems the same/similar and how much more is Homeworks than Radio RA (a % difference would be great if you don't have the actual $).
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post #12 of 24 Old 10-07-2007, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

I was speaking with my electrician today and he informed me that he has access to all Lutron products. Now while I am certain that he can install them , I am wondering how hard it is to configure them for scenes, groups, etc.

Not to sound arrogant, but this is doubtful. HomeWorks is a dealer product. Lutron will help you and your electrician, sell you a system, but Lutron does the programming, contact them for a better understanding of this. Depending on you location they would likely hook you up with a provider in your area.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

Is the configuration of both of these systems the same/similar and how much more is Homeworks than Radio RA (a % difference would be great if you don't have the actual $).


Some one on the forums recently pm'd me the same question in regards to hardware, unfortunately I got exceedingly busy, working late to complete a bonded project. Now that its done, I mean to reply to him, so I will post the cost difference hear as well.
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post #13 of 24 Old 10-07-2007, 06:28 PM
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There are many electrical contractors that have access to HomeWorks, both through the Certified Contractor program and in partnership with an Authorized Integrator. Getting Lutron Factory programming through the startup program is a last resort.

Installation and program pricing should be quoted for your specific project, every one is different. I actually charge a higher rate for RA than for HW, its a much bigger PITA. Especially for changes and service support. Documentation is everything. AuroRA is preprogrammed.

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post #14 of 24 Old 10-07-2007, 06:43 PM
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Different installers may draw the line slightly differently but in general a Lutron HomeWorks wired series 4 system will start to look like a better value than Radio RA at over 20 dimmers. Assuming that both are configured similarly and the Radio RA system includes Chronos.
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post #15 of 24 Old 10-08-2007, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

Great information. Thank you.

b.greenway, here are a couple of links on the Lutron litigation, but in searching for the links it appears that all articles are based on the same source (personally I have not herd of this source so I'll leave it to others who are more knowledgeable than myself to comment on validity):

How about this one: http://www.cepro.com/article/lutron_...ting_controls/

Lutron is not, at least not yet, suing Z-wave or Zigbee. They have sued Leviton, a manufacturer of Z-Wave products. So there is no "marketing speak" here. Lutron timed their suit to Leviton releasing Z-Wave products.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AceCannon View Post

Someone will correct me if I am wrong (I have generally been a lurker here lately), but I believe Insteon uses both powerline and RF. (Wikipedia: Insteon)

In theory, yes they are RF. In practicality, they are not. Insteon only uses RF to do 2 things: 1) Bridge the phases in your house and 2) They recently came out with an RF remote. Insteon switches, dimmers and keypads do not use RF. The protocol provides for it and in the future they might, but as of today, they do not. The dual mesh protocol is "marketing speak."

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post #16 of 24 Old 10-08-2007, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurkha View Post

I'm a Lutron guy,

just priced and got a 10 zone insteon job.

X-10 .......I will repair only if client signs contract absolving me from all warranty responsibility. Got burned on several jobs and have sworn off of it.

Run as fast as you can away from Insteon unless you are ready to make your clients sign the same contract as the X10 folks. The QC of the products is not ready for prime time.

Please do not send me PM's asking for software! You will not get it.
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post #17 of 24 Old 10-09-2007, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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so the next logical question any lutron installers (wireless systems) in Toronto Canada (GTA)?
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post #18 of 24 Old 10-09-2007, 06:14 PM
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Lutron has dealers listed on their website by zip code.

http://www.lutron.com/wtb/wheretobuy.aspx?cid=0
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post #19 of 24 Old 10-09-2007, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurkha View Post

Not to sound arrogant, but this is doubtful. HomeWorks is a dealer product. Lutron will help you and your electrician, sell you a system, but Lutron does the programming, contact them for a better understanding of this. Depending on you location they would likely hook you up with a provider in your area.

Are you saying Lutron does their own programming? While I'm sure they could ship someone out from corporate, dealers do their own programming. The current Homeworks panels have ethernet and if a client was savvy enough (and didn't mind voiding any software warranty of their system) they could easily enough make changes to existing scenes.
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post #20 of 24 Old 10-10-2007, 01:46 PM
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Are you saying Lutron does their own programming? While I'm sure they could ship someone out from corporate, dealers do their own programming. The current Homeworks panels have ethernet and if a client was savvy enough (and didn't mind voiding any software warranty of their system) they could easily enough make changes to existing scenes.

Actually yes, I just took over a project that was sold to an electrician, and factory start up provided by Lutron. I know in my region they do it less and less, mainly due to the amount of dealers, but I know of at least 9 or so, 3 of which I now program for.

And as I sit here and think of it, a Lutron employee lives not too far from me and that is his job, factory start ups.
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post #21 of 24 Old 10-14-2007, 07:33 AM
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When an electrical contractor contacts Lutron and says, I have a project that specifies HomeWorks and I want to install it Lutron's preferred response is to match them up with a local HomeWorks dealer. They call this "mentoring". If the electrical contractor is truly interested enough to learn the system and has enough work to justify his investment in time and money to be fully trained then after doing a few jobs with the mentor he may apply for factory training to get his certification. Most electrical contractors will not follow through with this. It is a huge investment in time and most are happy with the new partnership. Their original goal was met, which was to be able to bid on and successfully complete a project with HomeWorks. They can now confidently offer this solution to any future projects. For the mentor's extra effort in time spent with contractor he gets help marketing because that contractor will eventually find another HomeWorks job and bring it to the mentor.

If for some reason the mentoring program is not acceptable or available to the electrical contractor then Lutron may offer factory commissioning. One reason I've seen is that some commercial electrical contractors are very familiar with Lutron and factory commissioning of commercial systems and occasionally get a residential project, typically for the new home of the owner of the business they normally work for.

Lutron cannot provide the same level of assistance through factory commissioning as they can with the mentoring program. It is much better to make the bond and have a local dealer right at the contractors side throughout the project.
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post #22 of 24 Old 10-14-2007, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
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That is a great program that Lutron has - and certainly would make me MUCH more comfortable then an newbie trying to figure it out with remote support from Lutron.

I wonder how well they market this mentorship approach.

In speaking with a variety of people who are starting to get interested in some level of home automation, most seem to like the idea of security followed by lighting, followed by a mix of things...yet I have now spoken with a number of security folks and electricians during the construction of my house and I am amazed and how few of them are aware of what's out there forget actually being able to make recommendations or install/configure.

Seems like a huge channel that can be leveraged where everyone can benefit.
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post #23 of 24 Old 10-14-2007, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Red View Post

am amazed and how few of them are aware of what's out there forget actually being able to make recommendations or install/configure.

One of the top contractors in my area who is building upper-bracket homes has no idea how they could leverage basic automation into profit. They advertised one home as having automated lighting: a few Z-wave dimmers and the car visor control.

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post #24 of 24 Old 10-15-2007, 07:12 AM
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The added profit for builders is not as enticing as you might think. Every specialty contractor added to a job puts the builder's profit at risk. It takes time to do a job right, and the builder is now dependent on the tradesman's ability to deliver in a timely fashion. We have found that the only real incentive is to show that a new solution is the best choice for a given project. The builders we work with genuinely want to have delivered the best product possible, its all about reputation, and if you can help them offer the best built homes, they will be interested.

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