Lutron Caseta, RA2 Select, RadioRA2, Apple Homekit - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-23-2019, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Lutron Caseta, RA2 Select, RadioRA2, Apple Homekit

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.

Common
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.

Caseta
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.

RA2 Select
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
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.

HomeKit Integration
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.

Last edited by RJCarlson49; 09-25-2019 at 11:54 AM. Reason: Number of devices supported by Caseta. Caseta upward compatibility
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-23-2019, 01:13 PM
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The device limit for Caseta was raised to 75. If you're using Homekit, you can have multiple bridges to get around the limit.

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post #3 of 12 Old 09-23-2019, 01:45 PM
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I could be wrong about this, but I don't believe RA2S is an "upgrade" or "expansion" of Caseta. I don't believe those two interact at all, and though they both (as well as RR2) use the same ClearConnect technology they are not compatible. IOW, to go from Caseta to RA2S requires a complete change in hardware (outside of PICO remotes which can be used in all 3 setups).
However, you could go from RA2S to RR2 and keep all of your switches/dimmers, etc, you'd just need to upgrade from the Select Main Repeater to an RR2 Main Repeater and Connect Bridge (for the app use), and of course have it set up by a licensed programmer.
I would also say there is such a wide variety of needs and budgets that there is no one that 'right' for the vast majority. IMO, RA2S is kind of the least attractive as it's in a no man's land of more expensive (and harder to acquire) than Caseta, while not offering as much power and high end options as RR2 (For me the seeTouch keypads are the key to the whole thing and not just a "nice to have"). Though of course I can see the lure of a system that offers the option of upgrade to a true professional level system while being more affordable and easier to acquire.
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-23-2019, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeoscar View Post
I could be wrong about this, but I don't believe RA2S is an "upgrade" or "expansion" of Caseta. I don't believe those two interact at all, and though they both (as well as RR2) use the same ClearConnect technology they are not compatible. IOW, to go from Caseta to RA2S requires a complete change in hardware (outside of PICO remotes which can be used in all 3 setups).
However, you could go from RA2S to RR2 and keep all of your switches/dimmers, etc, you'd just need to upgrade from the Select Main Repeater to an RR2 Main Repeater and Connect Bridge (for the app use), and of course have it set up by a licensed programmer.
I would also say there is such a wide variety of needs and budgets that there is no one that 'right' for the vast majority. IMO, RA2S is kind of the least attractive as it's in a no man's land of more expensive (and harder to acquire) than Caseta, while not offering as much power and high end options as RR2 (For me the seeTouch keypads are the key to the whole thing and not just a "nice to have"). Though of course I can see the lure of a system that offers the option of upgrade to a true professional level system while being more affordable and easier to acquire.
I think you are mostly correct. I believe I made clear that the Casta SmartBridge and the RA2S Repeaters do not interoperate, but they do use the same App. However, the switches supported by Caseta are also supported by RA2S. There's one exception I think. So to move to RA2S from Caseta you need to replace the SmartBridge with an RA2S main repeater. I have read about using multiple Caseta installations in a home, but my preference would be to avoid such work-arounds. It may not be that big a deal though if you are use Homekit to define your scenes and automations. The Lutron systems then just become hosts for devices. Having 1 or 2 might not matter.

As I said if you really want seeTouch then RRA2 is what you have to have. But there are probably 5 to 10 times as many people who could DIY with RA2S or Caseta than can deal with the RRA2 windows software.
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-24-2019, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJCarlson49 View Post
However, the switches supported by Caseta are also supported by RA2S. There's one exception I think. So to move to RA2S from Caseta you need to replace the SmartBridge with an RA2S main repeater.
Again, I might be wrong but I'm almost positive that Caseta switches and dimmers will not work with RA2S main repeater. Only the pico remotes will work with both systems.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-24-2019, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeoscar View Post
Again, I might be wrong but I'm almost positive that Caseta switches and dimmers will not work with RA2S main repeater. Only the pico remotes will work with both systems.
You can see in the attached screenshot a portion of a compatibility chart. 2 of the 3 dimmers supported by Caseta are also in RA2S and RRA2.

It is taken from here: http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...comparison.pdf
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-24-2019, 10:19 PM
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These parts are not Caseta and RA2 interchangeable. Lutron uses 6CL and 10ND part number is both it’s Caseta and RA2 parts. The chart is a little misleading.

Example of parts:

Caseta Wireless 600-watt Single Pole In-Wall Dimmer, White
MPN:PD6WCLWH

600 W/600 VA (Incandescent/Halogen/MLV) or 150 W (CFL/LED) Two-Wire Dimmer - White
MPN:RRD-6CL-WH

Wishful thinking!

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post #8 of 12 Old 09-25-2019, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJCarlson49 View Post
You can see in the attached screenshot a portion of a compatibility chart. 2 of the 3 dimmers supported by Caseta are also in RA2S and RRA2.

It is taken from here: http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...comparison.pdf
As said above, that's misleading. I'd point you further down in the document you linked to, page 14. Pick one of the categories (for argument's sake the Approved LED/CFL category as that's likely the most popular choice of dimmer/switch these days). You'll see there is no compatibility between the load carrying switches/dimmers of Caseta and RA2S. There is, however, significant overlap in compatibility between RA2S and RR2.
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-25-2019, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeoscar View Post
As said above, that's misleading. I'd point you further down in the document you linked to, page 14. Pick one of the categories (for argument's sake the Approved LED/CFL category as that's likely the most popular choice of dimmer/switch these days). You'll see there is no compatibility between the load carrying switches/dimmers of Caseta and RA2S. There is, however, significant overlap in compatibility between RA2S and RR2.
One or the other of those charts is just wrong. I've noticed other inconsistencies in the Lutron docs, so it doesn't surprise me. In any case, it just makes the case that Caseta should never be used because the upgrade path is too difficult.
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-28-2019, 11:17 AM
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Except that Caseta may be the perfect fit for a modest sized project that is for lights only and doesn't intend to be part of a more complex home automation project.

For may people it might be a choice of normal switches or Caseta. Not Caseta plus homekit or RR2 plus homekit.
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post #11 of 12 Old 09-28-2019, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post
Except that Caseta may be the perfect fit for a modest sized project that is for lights only and doesn't intend to be part of a more complex home automation project.

For may people it might be a choice of normal switches or Caseta. Not Caseta plus homekit or RR2 plus homekit.
ummm, caseta can be used with a very complex automation system, as long as there is a "master controller" that is doing the integration and not just caseta hub. The Caseta hub and lights would be just that.
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post #12 of 12 Old 09-28-2019, 11:32 AM
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Yes, of course. Point taken.

My point is that someone considering Caseta may not care about future upgrade path, may not care about natively unsupported devices. They may simply want some automated lighting, and Caseta may work perfectly for them.

Or, as you pointed out, perhaps they just don't need a ton of devices and plan to allow an overlaid automation controller to handle more complex functions.

Either way I can see a market for Caseta. It wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean it isn't for some people.
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