I am in the middle of a major remodel and part of the process is pretty full automation. The main components I intended to use were Caseta and Apple Homekit. As is usual I have learned most everything I know in the process of actually getting things running. I told the electrician and lighting designer the above. The designer came back with a specification for the switches, Pico remotes, repeaters etc. She noted that the system required was RA2 Select, not Caseta. I believe this was driven by switch count, but maybe also the restricted number of switches supported by Caseta. She's a lighting expert and not an automation expert.
I went down a rabbit hole first because I did not understand that RA2 Select and RadioRA2 are different and only partially compatible systems. For that reason I thought I should post here a description of these systems that I would have liked to read a few weeks ago. Also I would like to suggest better mnemonics for the systems. It appears that many people on AVS use RR2 to mean RadioRA2. I think it would be a lot better to use RRA2 and RA2S for RadioRA2 and RA2 Select. I think they are much less ambiguous.
There are common elements to all systems.
- Programming interface - the app or program you use to set up the system and automations
- Control App - the app you use to control the current state of the system. In some cases Control and Programming are separate and sometimes int he same app.
- Repeater(s)/hub - The devices that communicate with and control the system
- Switches and other devices to be controlled. These mostly consist of dimmers, switches, fan controls, etc. But thermostats, shades, etc. are also controllable.
- Input devices that can change the state of the system. These will mostly be pico remote switches, but could also be things like occupancy or temperature sensors.
All of the product lines support some switches, dimmers, thermostats and shades. Google, Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit/Siri control works on all lines. All product lines integrate with the Apple Home app, the heart of Homekit.
This is the lowest end system. It supports very few switch/dimmer models and few if any other devices. Pico remote switches are supported. A maximum of 75 devices is supported.
- Programming interface - Lutron app. Programming includes scheduling, scenes invoked via buttons, etc.
- Control App - Lutron app, programming and control are in the same app
- Hub - Lutron Smart Bridge, L-BDG2-WH
- Devices - limited number of switches/dimmers, plus some shades, thermostats, etc.
- Pico remote switches are supported.
This is basically an expansion of the Caseta system. However, it supports almost switch/dimmer models, fan switches, etc. RA2 Select will support up to 100 devices.
- Programming interface - Lutron app. This is the same app used by Caseta, so the same types of automation are available. However, the additional devices supported make more devices available.
- Control App - Lutron app, programming and control are in the same app.
- Repeaters - Lutron RA2 Select Main repeater and auxiliary repeaters. One main repeater is supported and one or two auxiliary repeaters. These appear to be the same hardware as the Caseta SmartBridge, but with different programming.
- Devices - Most app switches/dimmers, plus some shades, thermostats, etc.
- Pico remote switches are supported. There are a few pico remotes that are dedicated to specific functions not supported in RA2S, but most are.
RadioRA2 is a more installer oriented system which is more expandable. I believe 200 devices are supported, plus many additional devices such as the Grafik T line and seeTouch keypads.
- Programming interface - RadioRA2 Essentials, a windows program. It is decent, but somewhat clumsy, however it provides far greater control over automation and details such as fade times, etc. You cannot get access to the program until you go through Lutron on line training and pass a test. This takes a few hours. There is a more capable version of the program called RadioRA2 Inclusive. You cannot get access to that unless you attend on site training. An important part of the software is specifying specific switch hardware, verifying loads, etc. so this would not be programming specific. It also supports specification of engraving on pico switches if you wish to go that route.
- Control App - LutronConnect app. Some programming can be done though the app, but the windows program handles most of it.
- Repeaters - Lutron RadioRA2 Main repeater and auxiliary repeaters. An additional bridge is required to connect to HomeKit. One or two main repeater are supported and one or two auxiliary repeaters. These appear to have almost identical functionality to the RA2 Select repeaters, but are different hardware and more expensive. It is apparently possible to replace RA2S repeaters with RRA2 repeaters and convert an RA2S system to RRA2, but you will have to start over with the programming.
- Devices - Most app switches/dimmers, plus some shades, thermostats, etc. Many additional devices are supported. In addition, many devices cannot be programmed using the RA2 Essentials software. The Inclusive software is required and unavailable through normal channels.
- Pico remote switches are supported. In addition many other remote switches are supported.
Caveat - I am in the early stages of doing this programming. The house is not done yet so I can do only limited experiments.
The Home app is actually very similar to the Lutron app. It has sections for devices, scenes and automations. It is not clear to me whether the Home app communicates directly with the Lutron app, but it is true that once the main repeater is in the Home app, any devices you add to the Lutron app will show up automatically in the Home app. I suspect that the information comes to the Home app from the main repeater. One real shame is that scenes defined in the Lutron app are not visible in the Home app.
I have not yet used this feature, but it is possible to define an automation in the Home app triggered by a change in a Lutron device. The implication here is that you can get information out from the Lutron system to the broader Homekit system.
It seems clear that automations can be done in either app. Those involving only Lutron can be done in the Lutron app. Those involving broader scope will have to be in Homekit. For example, my AC will have to be controlled through a module on a HomeBridge system. The shades I believe support Homekit directly, but not Lutron. I believe what I will end up doing to putting all automations in the Home app to keep things simple(r).
Which Lutron system?
If there is any chance you might want to upgrade, starting with Caseta would be a big mistake. I see little advantage in starting with Caseta and then having replace almost everything to to upgrade. Regarding the choice of RadioRA2 vs RA2 Select, for the vast majority of people RA2 Select is probably what you want. Dealing with the Windows software is a real PITA. I say this as someone who spent my entire career as a software developer. I have no fear of the windows program, it just seems to be way more trouble than it is worth. The only reason to go with RadioRA2 is if you must have the additional designer options of seeTouch and Grafik T and some additional sensors.
Lastly, I have probably made some errors and omissions here. I'll try to keep this up to date with additional information as I find it or it is pointed out that I am grievously in error.