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Thread: Longevity/Legacy Question

  1. #1
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    Question Longevity/Legacy Question

    I have a house built in 1960. The original owner was an electrician and installed a Touch Plate system that works via low voltage wires and relays. If I can figure out how, I will attach an image of the switchboard in my attic; it is a nightmare. This is not a comment on the system itself. I'm sure these things aren't designed to work for 50 years and the company had nothing to do with the installation mess.

    But we have constant problems with the relays getting stuck which then means either lights don't turn on or are stuck on and can't be turned off :(

    So yes, I realize I am on a Lutron board and not Touch Plate. Here's why. We contacted Touch Plate about how to fix our house. They referred us to various local dealers. We asked 10 companies to fix it. Only 4 said they would try and only 1 came up with a solution. That solution is to install the Caseta system. So now I'm investigating it. I find much to compliment the system and the company and the support of legacy products. So kuddos to you.

    Here's the thing. I don't really want smart lights. I'm not against them; I just don't care. All I want is lights that work, reliably. I plan to live in this house at least 20 years, probably more.I don't want to be in this position EVER again. Baring things that might go wrong in a normally and competently wired house, I don't want to spend any money or time on maintaining a fancier system. But the Caseta upgrade is 1/3 the cost of re-wiring the house and removing the Touch Plate system.

    So I would welcome any comments about:
    1. Guaranteed support and parts availability for this system? After guaranteed period, how long are legacy parts generally accessible; i.e., how old is the oldest Lutron system I could have today and not be worried about getting parts?
    2. Is the lifecycle date set? Do you know when or about when, this system will be obsolete? When did the system first hit the market?
    3. What is the relative cost to upgrade vs. install? So if I install this system and in 15 years have to upgrade to the next system, is an upgrade usually about the same cost? About half cost? Obviously there are many factors, so just ballpark.
    4. Anyone have a similar situation and what was your experience?

  2. #2
    There's not enough detail here about what the replacement plan is.

    If I'm understanding your post correctly. From every switch location in your house, there's a low voltage wire running back to a relay control panel. Regular power runs from the breaker to the relay control panel to the switched load item. Followed with, you're trying to avoid ripping that out and instead running power from the breaker box to the switch location and then to the switched load item.

    I can think of a way to do this with the Caseta products, but it's not really how the products were designed to work.

    At a high level, there are two main types of Caseta items. There are switches and dimmers, powered with line voltage and and can switch loads. They're wired from breaker to switch to load. Then there are pico remotes that are battery powered and send commands the switches can act on. Give or take some extras that can be added too.

    Since you mention this is cheaper than "1/3 the cost of re-wiring the house", it sounds like the plan is to replace the relay panel with a bunch of electrical boxes each with a Caseta switch in it. Then, replace the low voltage switches with Pico remotes. On the plus side, something like this would be easy to replace switches that die instead of the relay, assuming they create enough isolated boxes. However, it's functionally the exact same. A remote not line wired at the switch location and a switching device at the central location. It'll look a little strange too. I'm not sure what codes come into play. If this assumption is correct, where you have the relay panel today, instead you'll have a wall full of switches, one for every relay you have today.

    It still will not be the same as a "normally" wired house. If that's what you want for the next 20 years, I would go with the rewire. Easy for me to say, it's not my money, and I don't know what the house looks like or how disruptive that would be.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    I'm confident that what ever you buy today will be obsolete in 10 years. Electronics are evolving so quickly you should expect them to be obsolete in 5 years.

    I started installing Lutron in 2000. Those systems are still performing well. They lack a lot of features of newer systems and parts are getting harder to find but they are still available (used).

    In 20 years there will probably be a Caseta 2 or maybe Caseta 3 out there. They will probably be major upgrades and won't be compatible with today's Caseta.

    It's not just lighting controls. Most things have some degree of electronics in them. Most of them are obsolete or outdated in a few years.
    Convergence Technologies Raleigh, North Carolina
    www.convergenceusa.com

  4. #4
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    What area of the country do you live in?

  5. #5
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    I will add that the "most official" thing to do would be to replace a relay system with HomeWorks. It is the only system that is actually designed to have remote loads.

    I don't know where you live or how big your house is, but in many expensive neighborhoods some kind of lighting system is becoming expected.

    I also don't know what your house looks like, but if you have an original mid-century house I would strongly consider the historical implication ripping out old Mid-century technology. I've seen HomeWorks with touch plate switches done before, and it is incredible in a midcentury house.

    As for lifespan, there is a difference between service life and obsolescence. Any electronic device will be out of date in 7-10 years, but still usable. A lighting control system from 2000 that has not broken will still work exactly as it did in 2000. For many people that level of functionality is enough. There are really old systems still in use. I would expect 20 years. Cost to upgrade vs install depends on what you put in, generally HomeWorks has gotten the most upgrade paths, everything wireless has been rip & replace. That said, Clear Connect is really good now, and I don't have a crystal ball.

    Lutron is not like Samsung or those other tech companies that want you to replace everything you own every 2 years. I'm confident that if you install a Lutron system it will last you a long time.
    Evan Kirkhart- Home Electronics Solutions
    Santa Barbara, CA
    evan@homeelectronics.solutions

  6. #6
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    I disagree! HomeWorks is an obscenely expensive system. Rewiring your home would be much cheaper. Plus, the OP specifically said "I don't really want smart lights. I'm not against them; I just don't care".

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the responses.
    It is a 2000 sq ft mid-century house in Omaha, Ne. A lighting system will not be a requirement to sell in the neighborhood.
    I'm sorry but I can't speak much more to the details of the system or the replacement plan. I don't have any technical knowledge.
    We've been told to move instead of trying to re-wire the house. The Caseta system bid is $8,000 and the re-wire ballparks were $20,000-$30,000.
    So if I have to upgrade the system once before I sell, I'm still ahead, probably. I'm just really sour on the concept, I'd rather have lights that work over any kind of automation.

  8. #8
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    Oh, how I wish I was near you! I am in Southern California! I could get your Touch-Plate system working like new. And for quite a bit less than the $8000 bid. I have repaired/refurbished quite a few in my area. When refurbished, the system would be very reliable and last another 50-60 years. Have you tried contacting Touch-Plate directly (https://www.touchplate.com)?

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