Lutron RA2 Select or RadioRA 2 Essentials


#1

I'm planning on installing Lutron RA2 Select or RadioRA 2 Essentials and looking for advice on which to choose. I'm not interested in the Inclusive level.

I've not used either RA2 level, so my knowledge is limited to reading forum posts. I know the major difference is the ability to use the Lutron seeTouch keypads and some of their associated functionality. But reading the Hubitat threads, some of that functionality can be done within Hubitat.

So, for those that have used both, is it worth the extra expense to gain the option of adding keypads to be used within the Hubitat environment?

Thanks!


#2

This is entirely a choice based on how you set up your house for lighting control. I bought a home that had the original "classic" RadioRA already installed. In some areas, there are no light switches, only keypads. I have since replaced that old system with RadioRA2, and kept keypads in the same places for the same functions. Having said that, we don't use these keypads as primary lighting control. Instead we use Hubitat apps and Alexa. But, when we do use them, they have augmented functionality only possible with Hubitat (e.g., having the lights dim based on mode, so each button becomes mode-sensitive).

seeTouch keypads are what I would call "designer" keypads. One reason that people choose RadioRA2 is because you can get switches, keypads and wall plates in numerous "designer" colors. These choices are not available with Pico keypads. In addition, you can have multiple lighting scenes on one keypad, with raise/lower buttons that apply to each of them.

If you go with RA2 Select your choice for keypad is limited to Picos. I love Pico remotes, they are great. But they are not what you would call "designer". When wall mounted, they look just like a Caséta dimmer, and Lutron intended them to be used that way. With Hubitat, you can free them from that constraint, and use them however you see fit. So it is very possible to use a Pico as a 4 or 5 button keypad. It is also possible to get raise/lower functionality from them even when not paired with a Lutron dimmer.

The other major difference between RadioRA2 and RA2 select is how you program it. With RadioRA2 you must use the Essentials (or Inclusive) software that runs on a PC to setup and program your Lutron system. With RA2 Select, you use a mobile app -- the same app used for Caséta. Essentials (or Inclusive) offer more choices for detailed setup of a system that is made up of a variety of Lutron dimmers, switches, etc. This software is intended for professional installers. To get the Essentials software you must complete an online course that Lutron offers for free. To upgrade to the Inclusive software you must complete an in-person training session (RA2 Level 2) that costs $400. The Inclusive software is necessary to use two Main Repeaters, and has a few other features not available in Essentials.

seeTouch keypads are expensive, come in multiple designer colors, come with free engraving for the buttons, look very nice, have LEDs for each button, and work very well. This is a high-end keypad, mains powered, and wall mounted. Picos are cheap, come in only a few colors, can be engraved (not cheap), and have a single LED, and work very well. Picos can be used as a loose device, mounted on a small pedestal for table top, or wall mounted; have 10 year battery life.


#3

@bravenel, how do you accomplish this?

Right now all my Hue bulbs are linked with the Hue hub, and I have rules so the lights go to different color temperatures depending on the time range in each rule. What is cool about this is that if the lights are already on, they switch to the new color temperature when the time range starts.

I would love to duplicate this functionality as well as I can with the regular bulbs attached to Caseta dimmers. I am thinking have the lights at 50% dim when the mode is evening and 30% dim when the mode is night. I would guess there would be a rule to dim any lights that are on when the mode is changed. Then another rule (or rules) that if the light goes on and the mode is x, dim the light to y? Is that what you would recommend and how would you go about doing it?


#4

Look at the two apps, Motion Lighting and Mode Lighting. Both of these set dimmer levels or color temperature based on mode. The former uses motion to activate the lighting, the latter uses a switch or button to activate the lighting.

Also, there are actions in both RM and Button Controller that set dim level or color temperature based on mode.

I should add that Motion Lighting and Mode Lighting do not change the level of lights that are already on when mode changes (imagine putting on makeup right before sunset -- you wouldn't be a happy camper if they just dimmed in the midst of that). With Motion Lighting, the dimming would occur if motion goes inactive and then active again.


#5

Thanks Bruce :slight_smile:. I don't use motion for lighting but I will check out Mode Lighting. Never really knew what those apps were for and never did take a look!

For the lights we have on dimmers (only 3), having them dim when the mode changes and they are already on is desirable. Would Rule Machine have an option to dim all lights that are on?


#6

Sure. You could use this together with Mode Lighting to cause the level change at mode change.

Trigger: mode becomes any mode you want to use
Action: set dimmer per mode (specify level per mode)

That's a bit simplistic, as you really want to only do this if the lights are already on.

Haha, sounds like Mode Lighting needs another option: adjust at mode change? (yes/no)


#7

Hey, that would be great! :smiley:

I will play with all this tonight. I've been kind of bored waiting for the lock code manager, Alexa thermostat support, additional dashboard tiles...not a complaint just a fact that most of what I want my home automation system to do is already being done!


#8

Oh no! A finished home automation project? How can that be?? What does life hold for us after we've completed our home automation project???

I know, start a home automation company!


#9

Geeze.. now I have to think of a name for my company... :frowning: And find a domain that isn't used already. :frowning:

And what in the world do I sell?


#10

You are a braver soul than I!

I will probably start playing around more with Rule Machine and try to figure out some of the more complex functionality :sunglasses:


#11

Thanks for this info, it's what I was looking for. I'm going to do the training to get the Essentials software before I make a decision.


#12

Hi there came across this thread because I’m in the same position of deciding whether to go with Lutron RA2 Select or Radio RA2. I’m maxed out on Caseta switches and will either jettison them entirely for Radio RA2 or combine RA2 Select and Caseta. My house is 8,000+ sq ft, 7 bedrooms, 4 floors. Given the size I was leaning toward Radio RA2 and have one system for the whole house. However, I was corresponding with a dealer for the devices and they sent me the certification info for Essentials software. It says that Essentials only supports 100 devices. That’s really annoying, kind of defeats the purpose of the higher device limit for Radio RA2. Does anyone else have experience with this?

And yes, I know I can have a dealer install all of this stuff and program it for me (presumably with the higher device limit of Inclusive software). However, I spent a lot of money remodeling a vacation home and was sold Control4 lighting and honestly felt like I could have done a better job installing and laying out the system myself. Hence my desire to do this house on my own, my way and at my own pace. I am also integrating many other devices and intend, of course, to put Hubitat into the mix. I’m just at the stage now of evaluating/designing the right paths to go down (especially after the cul-de-sac I ended up in with Caseta).


#13

You need the Inclusive version of the software. The way to get that is to attend a Lutron training session for RA2 Level 2, which takes a couple of days in a classroom setting, and costs a few hundred dollars.

However, with Hubitat, you can expand your Lutron system with a mix and match approach. For example, you could add a second SmartBridge Pro to get more than 50 Caséta devices, or could add a second RA2 main repeater, to get more than 100 devices using Essentials. The drawback of these approaches is only that you have multiple Lutron mobile apps. For me, I never use the Lutron mobile apps, so it doesn't matter. My own home is a mix of RA2 (just under 100 devices) and Z-Wave/Zigbee devices.

Lutron has some very old-world thinking about market segmentation that imposes these limits on systems. This all grew out of how they manage distribution channels, and has nothing really to do with technology. They impose their market segment walls through software restrictions. Not very user friendly, imo, but it's the way the do it.

When I bought my home, it had a classic RA system for part of it. Eventually, I took the online course and got the Essentials software. Then I rebuilt the system from scratch with RA2. It was not difficult. Then, because Hubitat was integrating Lutron, I took the RA2L2 training, and got the Inclusive software. It has only a few features that Essentials does not have, mainly allowing for two main repeaters. This is definitely within the scope of what a knowledgable tech-savvy person can do.

My suggestion is to really understand how you want to use Lutron mobile access first, if at all, as that is the one feature that constrains the design and layout of a large Lutron system.


#14

All of what Bruce said. Plus a couple other points:

Don't do Select. Essentials at the minimum. The incremental cost is the equivalent of a couple dimmers plus a few hours of training. Find a local or on line retailer that will give you competitive pricing. List is not a good guide. The programming is pretty easy.

Select does not allow you to set default levels for "on" at the physical dimmer. So they default at 100%. Some retrofit LEDs are really powerful so they need to be dimmed down IMO. Easy to do in Essentials, not possible with Select. Essentials also allows programming of fade on/off times that Select does not.

There are some higher-end controls that require Inclusive, like 0-10V, which is becoming more common in higher-end lighting. You can see the few device differences in

At 8000 sq ft you might be able to stay in the 100 device (really 95) limit if you are judicious and don't have a super elaborate lighting plan. E.g. you might not need a dimmer + motion detector (2 devices) in your closets when a "dumb" motion detector dimmer or door jamb switch will work.


#15

Another difference I recently read in another thread here is that while RA2 Select works with Lutron's occupancy/vacancy (motion) sensors, it doesn't expose them over telnet. Thus, they are pretty much useless to Hubitat since it can't "see" them, and they are only usable within the Lutron system. This is also mentioned on the Lutron forums and a community-created Home Assistant Lutron integration Github. and "Full" Radio RA2 systems do not have this limitation.

In related news, if anyone wants a Radio Powr Savr occupancy sensor I bought under the mistaken believe I could use with RA2 Select, I have one. :slight_smile: I'll be sticking with Caseta (and if they ever come out with a motion sensor for Caseta, I hope it can be exposed over telnet, though I'm not sure I'd hold my breath considering it's not true for RA2 Select).


#16

Thanks all for the replies. Looks like I'll give Radio RA2 a try then. Am I right that at the minimum to start this, I need both the Connect Bridge and Main Repeater?


#17

You only need the Connect Bridge if you want to use the Lutron mobile app. I have one, and don't use it at all. Others do use it. I was never big on using my phone to turn lights on/off, especially when they can do it automatically.

You do need the main repeater, and you may need an Aux repeater as well for 8000 sq ft.


#18

There is no initial setup of devices required via the Lutron app or bridge?


#19

There is an entire setup process using the Inclusive software, a PC app. Take the free online training for RA2 Level 1 to see what you're getting into.


#20

I found the documentation which goes through the manual setup process of adding devices to the Lutron Main Repeater without the use of the software. I will go through the process to obtain the Essentials software either way. One question though - once the device is manually added to the Repeater, is it possible to control it with Hubitat?