How to set Lutron RA2 HVAC Eco Mode (Action #5) from built-in Hubitat driver/integration

I have a Lutron Radio RA2 system where I need Hubitat to be able to set a HVAC controller in and out of Eco Mode (also known as setback mode). I want to try and stick with the included Hubitat Lutron Integration driver.

In Lutron, this is normally accomplished by either a physical thermostat, the legacy Lutron Home+ app or via the Telnet integration protocol.

The commands are straight forward to accomplish this in the Lutron integration protocol.

To put the HVAC controller into Eco Mode the command is:
#HVAC,<HVAC_INTGRATION_ID>,5,1 (where 5 is the action for Eco Mode) and 1 is off

To take the HVAC controller out of Eco Mode the command is:
#HVAC,<HVAC_INTGRATION_ID>,5,2(where 5 is the action for Eco Mode) and 2 is on

References to this can be found in the Lutron integration protocol "HVAC: Command Summary" page.

Is there an easy way to use some type of an action to accomplish this in Rule Machine? Or will this need to be a feature request. Unfortunately Lutron does not allow us to set Eco Mode by virtue of phantom button presses.

You can send any Lutron telnet command via a Hubitat custom command in RM. In RM choose capability of action device as 'actuator' then choose the telnet device. You'll send the telnet command as a string.

Having said that, I hope you have a plan to eventually move off of Lutron thermostats now that they are EOL. Since you are using Hubitat there are a lot of options.

Thanks Bill. Works like a charm. I didn't know about that.

I do recognize that Lutron will be discontinuing and stop selling their thermostats in the future. I would be interested in hearing what you recommend for HVAC control with Hubitat. Looking for a concealed controller that can do two stage cool and heat.

I use Nest and it is multi-stage capable. I live in a newer house and there is pretty much always someone home. So I don't need anything more complicated than simple schedules. The only thing that gets automated is the Eco mode. The house came with acceptable builder grade single stage equipment. If I were replacing it I'd definitely go for something with more capabilities. We had both Carrier Infinity and Rheem variable speed in our previous house. I like the Rheem thermostat a bit better than Carrier's, neither were easy integrations into HA systems.

I have three Lutron Thermostats in my RA2 system, one just recently acquired via eBay. I have no plan nor see any need to replace them. They work as expected. I use Thermostat Scheduler for EcoMode, and don't mess with RA2 for that or any schedules for the thermostats.

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Nest is definitely a solid option but not necessarily a HVAC controller (as the professional home auto industry would define). The Lutron HVAC controller is unique for applications where wall clutter (such as a thermostat) is not desired. The Lutron HVAC controller sits in the HVAC closet and then talks to either Clear Connect wireless to Lutron temp thermostats/sensors and responds (by averaging their readings) or takes its orders from a home automation system like Hubitat which then can act on readings from any Zigbee/Zwave sensor (most motion now do temp and humidity).

Technically the Lutron HVAC product line is still active and for sale in both RA2 and QS. That said, Lutron has made it clear that its focus will be lighting only so its certainly safe to assume its days are numbered with these HVAC products. I have started looking for good distributed HVAC Controller replacement systems that are building code compliant for installs (note: some jurisdictions will not allow HVAC with out physical thermostat on the wall). Clearly with the right rules this could all be built from scratch with just some relays, dry contacts and such but for that would not pass HVAC inspections.

The best alternative I see for the future to replace the Lutron HVAC Controller (which was truly a unique offering) is the Honeywell T6, T9 and T10 system which is incredibly robust and flexible and integrates well.

That's a good point... Sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks but especially with Lutron making Eco non-existent in their new app it makes a ton of sense just to take that away from Lutron. We often use lack of motion over a prolonged time as a trigger for EcoMode so easy enough.
Ebay is the go to for Lutron HVAC as most of it is being junked in RA2 to RA3 upgrades!
FYI: Even though I am installing RA3 systems from time to time I plan on keep all my own stuff on RA2 for years to come (for all the obvious reasons we know and most of all L.E.A.P!)

All the higher end HVAC units with variable speed fans and multiple stages require their proprietary thermostats to take advantage of the advanced capabilities. I don't understand why they don't put the computer by the air handler, not the thermostat. Seems stupid, but that's the way it is. The Honeywell units you mention don't really have any more capabilities than a Nest.

Beyond these?

Fan modes: 1=Auto, 2=On, 3=Cycler, 4=No Fan, 5=High, 6=Medium, 7=Low, 8=Top
3 stage heat and 2 stage cooling

Ah, you mean really proprietary, no longer conventional wiring at all. That's not nice.

Yes, a lot of the differences are based on the variable speed fan, it's not the wiring (in general). The proprietary controllers can manage the fan and sometimes the stages better than 3rd party thermostats. It gets the AC units 1-2 extra SEERs. Is it worth it? It was for us in our old energy inefficient house. In our new well insulated efficient house the builder saved about $1k to not go higher-end. It's not worth replacing before EOL.

Here's Carrier's page, they don't give all the details, but "This control is required to utilize all features of an Infinity system."

That's interesting. I've paid some attention to the staging of one of my a/c units (in Arizona). There isn't much to it for the most part unless the setpoint is changed. Even with high outside air temp, with a well insulated house the heat loss/gain is not very dynamic. So it seems as though the phrase "all features" is maybe marketing hype more than real.

I think it's likely more applicable to poorly insulated structures for heating. For AC, the SEERs are real. I do miss the always on fan, which I think can be useful in a newer home. I have to run the fan for 15 mins per hour at the single speed to manage the air. And all this discussion ignores the usefulness of ERV/HRVs.

I am not familiar with that particular system but in general I think we're talking about where the HVAC units control board/unit protection module (UPM) stops and where the device that functions as a thermostat/humidistat begin. Lutron calling it a 'controller' is probably bad nomenclature since their white box is really a distributed thermostat emulator. I would argue that even the most advanced systems with ECM fans, multi stage compressors/burners, even Hot Gas Re-Heat (HGRH) still have relatively simple binary calls for Fan, Cool 1-stage, Cool 2-stage, Heat 1-stage, Reversing Valve, De or Humidify, ect.

Most of the advanced features are controlled with in the unit (ECM, VFD,) on a UPM controller board but the interface to outside of the units are still standard thermostats wires. I have seen units that require proprietary thermostats/humidistats (using mod-bus or other serial comm protocols) but I see those are just efforts by certain manufacturers to lock you in to having to buy their expensive controls.

I am in south Florida and with new tighter energy codes the problem with air circulation is very real. I too miss the always on fan and the problem is complicated in controlling humidity. Passive dehumidification only goes so far...

I really like some of the new systems that are multistage and have ECM fan motors along with Hot Gas Reheat. The ECM fan motor can run the fan on all the time but only at 30% and then at different speeds depending on whether the first or second stage of cooling are called. The UPM boards in these units can be tuned to keep fan running an a higher speed for a small amount of time longer than the compressor to squeak out additional efficiency. ERV through outside make up air can also be easily handled since these units have a Hot Gas Re-Heat Valve not to mention the luxury of always circulating dry air through the occupied spaces even when these newer larger doors that architects keep adding have been opened and then closed.

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