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Who's lighting automation hardware should I use

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I just purchased a new home and I would like to install "smart" switches/dimmers to put together scenes and remote control for the lighting. The house has numerous paddle switches in each room and most lights are controlled by 3way/4way switches in all the main areas. This adds a large cost factor in what I want to do because there are so many switches to replace. I would prefer to do this as a DIY project because I do enjoy these kinds of things and I would like to keep the cost lower by spreading the project out. Right of the bat Insteon looks like an option for a DIY'er. I had a few Insteon switches in my old house to control the outside lights so I have some familiarity with them. I have also researched Lutron and their RadioRA2 system. I like the "fit and finish" of the Lutron setup, and what appears to be seemless integration with window coverings, but I have no real idea of what the cost would be. It also appears that the DIY part goes out the window with the Lutron setup.

What do you recommend? Off the top of my head, the house has at least 90 switches controlling around 40 light groups and 8 ceiling fans w/lights. I also want to control 6 blinds in 2 groups with the system. Adding the HVAC, audio and video would just be a bonus. What are some realistic estimates for a system like this.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Don
post #2 of 19
I use UPB devices from Simply Automated but there are several vendors of this type of device.

Then there are Z-Wave devices and Insteon.

All of these are DIY friendly (as opposed to dealer only).
post #3 of 19
Yeah, RadioRA is expensive but it "just works" and stays that way. No hassles with spouses and guests getting frustrated with fiddly automation nonsense. I've tried lots of other stuff and you just cannot ignore the benefits of the fit, finish and smooth operation of better automation gear.

If you own a house with that many lighting components then it's really a bit odd to complain about buying better materials. Talk with your local automation dealers, many are willing to 'work with' educated customers to create effective solutions. Shop around.
post #4 of 19
Hard to find high quality, attractive, affordable DIY lighting controls.

You must compromise in one of those areas. Pick one.

I think Lutron RadioRA2 comes closest, but it will take some effort to DIY; have to complete training to obtain programming software.
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Hard to find high quality, attractive, affordable DIY lighting controls.
You must compromise in one of those areas. Pick one.
I think Lutron RadioRA2 comes closest, but it will take some effort to DIY; have to complete training to obtain programming software.

I am just getting into iRule, and noticed they support Lutron's RadioRA system. Your post makes me wonder if Lutron's programming software is stil required if one is using iRule to control the RadioRA system?

Mark
post #6 of 19
The programming software will still be required to link the physical hardware to the programmed devices, and establish network properties for the main repeater. All hardware will be assigned integration id's which you will use to control the system via a 3rd party. Setting up keypad button presses, time clocks, etc., from within the software will be infinitely easier than trying to do it all in irule or similar.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Hard to find high quality, attractive, affordable DIY lighting controls.
You must compromise in one of those areas. Pick one.
I think Lutron RadioRA2 comes closest, but it will take some effort to DIY; have to complete training to obtain programming software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BradKas View Post

The programming software will still be required to link the physical hardware to the programmed devices, and establish network properties for the main repeater. All hardware will be assigned integration id's which you will use to control the system via a 3rd party. Setting up keypad button presses, time clocks, etc., from within the software will be infinitely easier than trying to do it all in irule or similar.

I searched, and found the below document which outlines how to obtain the training, and subsequently, the software. The training is free, but you have to buy a Lutron RadioRa 2 starter package, obviously.

Lutron RadioRA 2 BLAST Training Information.pdf 423k .pdf file

Mark
post #8 of 19
I'm in the same boat as you and through this forum, found a dealer that I can work with to get the RR2 equipment. He also sent me the link to the BLAST On training course which is free so really you can make this a DIY if you have the time and aptitude to do this stuff.

I reached out to Lutron since the course that I need to take is not on the learning plan. Hopefully they can get to it quickly so I can move forward on this. Good luck regardless of what solution you take.

Cris
post #9 of 19
I'm sold on Lutron. I design systems like these for a living and have found Lutron to take the cake. I'm not sure I would choose Lutron as a DIY project, but if you change your mind on getting someone to do it for you I think you'll be extremely happy with it. I'm looking to get Lutron in my home...designing it for other people kinda sold me on the product.

Like someone else said...it just works. And it integrates in pretty much any control system if that's what you're into as well (C4, AMX, etc.)
post #10 of 19
What about Control4? I know some dealers will let you install the switches yourself so you save that money and they will setup your devices which is a requirement, however after that you can use Composer Home Edition (HE) to program anything. The dealer is really only required to add the devices to the project. I have had C4 5+ years now and I haven't had any issues and the system has been very reliable.
post #11 of 19
I like C4 for pretty much everything except lighting. I will say that it is definitely cheaper than Lutron but I guess I'm a fan of the Lutron dimmers and such. My aunt has used Lutron in her home for about 6 years and it's been great.

Again, everything I'm speaking about is typically from my clients' experiences and things I've noticed myself. I'm not an owner of either so maybe you can talk me into C4 for lighting lol
post #12 of 19
You can't go wrong with Lutron Radio RA2. We install a ton of it and it works great and looks good, too. Control4 is less expensive and works well but Lutron has more flexibility and just works.

Travis Leo
www.ResidentialSystemsInc.com
post #13 of 19
I went with Control4 because I wanted more automation than just lighting, including home theater control and family room control with a common interface. In addition, I prefer hands-on DIY and felt C4 accommodated that more than other solutions at the time and it was fairly affordable.
post #14 of 19
Anyone have experience with Jetstream from Centralite? Looks like a reliable system and fairly simple to program. Also has a bridge for timed events.
post #15 of 19
How about Vera 3 from Micasaverde? I'm in the same boat as you in regards to purchasing a home and I have been looking into this solution. It's a DIY and uses the Z-Wave protocol. I found a wide variety of dimmers/switches from GE that use Z-Wave. I guess the questions I have is how realiable is the Vera3 and how reliable is the Z-Wave protocol?
post #16 of 19
Having been an early adopter of Insteon throughout my current house, I would say the following:
1. It is great when it is all programmed and working.
2. Programming is a hassle especially if you want to do more complex things like having keypad lights reflect status.
3. Switch quality is poor - I've had to replace most switches over 6 years because the physical microswitch no longer worked. In addition I've had some burnouts.
4. Programming regularly is lost.
5. Replacing devices is a giant pain since they are forever tied into the system through their network address and need to be physically removed/changed.

For these reasons, I do not intend to use them again and am currently looking at Lutron Radio RA 2, Leviton Vizia RF+, Cooper Aspire and Legrand Adorne (which looks nice but doesn't have any whole home component yet).
post #17 of 19
What are you using for the software programming? Also, what kind of controller are you using?
post #18 of 19
I completed my RR2 install before the holidays and everything works great. I replaced the existing switches/dimmers and programmed it myself after completing the training. Next step is to integrate with my ELK alarm and visor receiver.

Considering the effort it took to do the wiring, i would hate to think of replacing any device on an ongoing basis.
post #19 of 19
Congratulations. Let us know how the Elk integration goes.
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