Lutron Caseta Dimmers:
No neutral required
No favorite button
My house is wired with neutrals, and I like having a favorite button. But for twice the price, I’m wondering what is the advantage of the more expensive dimmer.
Lutron often has comparison sheets/pages that you can look at to compare models in the same family. Here's one that may be helpful for this:
So, besides the differences you've noted, you'll see that the more expensive one is rated for larger loads (though either is more than any light switch controls in my house!), and it can work with ELV and MLV loads, which the cheaper one doesn't look like it can.
The Favorite button and significantly wider / more forgiving overall compatibility sealed the deal for me (and wife!) when I converted a bunch of switches over to Caseta - in the high-use areas, mine are all PD-5NE. Fortunately, I had neutrals available in those locations!
I remember scoring them for less than $100, and they sure ain't gettin' any cheaper lately!
No regrets though - Caseta is amazing.
The neutral wire allows for a dimmer that can control a wider variety of lighting loads like @bertabcd1234 alluded to.
The dimmer will probably tend to do better with LED loads that might cause issues with non-neutral dimmers like poor dimming performance at the low end, flickering, stuff like that.
I agree. Lutron is generally worth the price premium, even in seemingly extreme cases like this one.
The key is to look closely at their spec documents, they have a ton, but @bertabcd1234’s link above leads to a pretty comprehensive list of specs for caseta devices.
Use the 5NE where needed either for the favorite button, or the load it’s controlling (type of load, total wattage etc.).
For other locations, the 6WCL is just as good.
Edit: also if one ever has second thoughts re: the cost of caseta dimmers and switches, look for some RadioRA 2 or Homeworks QS devices and you’ll immediately feel better .
You have to decide if the extra favorite button on the dimmer is something you need. The Pico remotes DO have the favorite button and will work with any of the dimmers, including the dimmer plugs.
Most of the time, my dimmers are controlled by Hubitat rules. If I want my dimmer to come on to 50% (or whatever setting you might want), I do that through Hubitat or though my Alexa voice assistant. I never set the brightness manually, so the favorite button would be wasted on me. If I needed the favorite button, I would use an inexpensive Pico. Several of my dimmers are used in 3-way and 4-way situations, so I use one dimmer and then add Picos at the other locations.
The PD-6WCL will handle up to 150 watts dimable LED lighting. In my bathroom, I have ten 60 watt equivalent light bulbs that draw about 90 watts, so they work just fine with the PD-6WCL. I could do as high as ten 100 watt equivalent light bulbs and still stay within the capability of the dimmer.
If you are going to use the device in a large room with higher power requirements, then the PD-5NE might be warranted. You also would want this model if you have or plan to upgrade to ELV lighting.
If you are looking to do your entire home with Lutron dimmer switches and plugs, the difference in cost between the PD-6WL and PD-5NE can be significant. I currently have twelve Lutron dimmers installed and plan to add a couple more. Using the more expensive dimmers would have added $800 to my budget. That $800 could be used to purchase a lot of other home automation equipment. Thus, I suggest sticking with the PD-6WL unless you have a specific need for the PD-5NE.
What is ELV lighting and why might I want it?
ELV stands for extra low voltage (as opposed to normal voltage or low voltage lighting). Since LEDs are current based devices, they can operate at voltages as low as 3 volts. ELV devices are safer as the voltage is not high enough to shock you. Many sensors with LED indicators operate on 3 volt batteries or two 1.5 volt cells in series. LED bulbs designed to work at higher voltage levels have to have a power supply to drop the voltage from supply level down to the very low levels at which the individual LEDs operate.
Lutron’s website has the answers again:
ELV = electronic low voltage.
I believe you would need to replace your fixtures with ones that use electronic low voltage transformers as well.