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Thread: Can a homeowner use RA2 Select?

  1. #1
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    Can a homeowner use RA2 Select?

    • I want to upgrade the old manual Maestro dimmers in my home, both for LED support and automation support.
    • When I started looking it seemed that I was being encouraged (by Lutron) toward Caseta as the homeowner solution. But after looking I conclude that I much prefer the ergonomics of the Maestro dimmers to the Casetas. But those aren't supported by the Caseta system. At first I had the feeling that the Maestros were the past and Casetas were the future for automation.
    • After more looking I discovered RA2 Select and RadioRA2. But Lutron seems to be trying to exclude homeowners from these systems. That certainly seems appropriate for RadioRA2, but it appears to me that RA2 Select is no harder to install and program than Caseta is. Lutron seems to actively be discouraging homeowners from this line. I finally sent a query to Lutron support about it. They said I certainly could buy the stuff from one of their recommended suppliers. But their list of suppliers seems out of date. The only one wthin 50 mi that is noted as handling RA2 is out of business. OTOH it appears I can simply buy the equipment on Amazon.
      1. Is it common and supported practice for homeowners to install and program RA2?
      2. Is the equipment available to homeowners at reasonable (not ripoff) prices?
      3. Is the phone app for RA2 Select the same one as for Caseta? (I think so but am not certain.)

    • One more thing: How does one enter paragraph breaks into posts here? The closest I can find is to use lists.

  2. #2
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    Works great for homeowners

    Yes, I have an RA2 Select and use it with the RA2 switches and dimmers ($140-150sh ea, no matter where you buy them), though I assume you can use the less expensive Caseta dimmers. You can also buy the less expensive Caseta Homebridge Pro (limited to 50 devices), whereas the RA2 Select can support 100 devices. You can use multiple bridge pros, but they would be independent implementations and could get messy depending on how you use the system.I think the equipment is all available on Amazon, or likely many online electrical suppliers. In my case there are a couple of local electrical supply shops that sell the Lutron stuff over the counter.https://www.prolighting.com/brands/l...a2-select.htmlThe app is what you'd expect, very easy. Automations are limited, but meet my needs. I've made a conscious choice to take the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method to automation, because everything that's automated needs to be supported.The irritating limitation of RA2 Select is that it doesn't support Lutron keypads. It supports the various versions of PICO remotes, but they aren't as attractive and are very limited in functionality.This system for me has lived up to its reputation of being rock solid.

  3. #3
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    The short answer is yes, RA2 SELECT is meant to be a customer programmed system. You can do the electrical part yourself too if you know how; however, much as it is with Caseta, a lot of customers hire an electrician to install the devices and they'll do the programming themselves. There are also some electrical contractors like us (I don't advertise on here just mentioning as an FYI) who do it all - that is install the electrical devices using licensed electricians, and do the initial setup for you and add all the devices to the app, set up any timers, and then hand it over to you and you can have fun setting up scenes, tying it up to your amazon or google home, etc.

    LONG Answer:
    How did Ra2 select come to be? This is the long answer so we have to go back 10 years before "the cloud" was a household name, if you wanted a lighting system in your house from Lutron, you had two brand new top of the line choices using the newest wireless tech: Homeworks QS (which just replaced Homeworks Illuminations) and Radio Ra2 (which replaced Radio Ra). Both were dealer installed systems because the learning curve was quite high. Even for existing Lutron programmers, this was a brand new system with a different way of doing things so it took some continuing education courses to get it to work, and frankly, the early versions were pretty buggy but soon became the best of the best. Homeworks was and is quite expensive but can do it all, and Radio Ra was a wireless only solution but still not exactly cheap.

    a few years later...
    The cloud and home automation was really starting to be a household name. You had Nest, Smart things, and all kinds of crappy startup lighting solutions using Zigby and Zwave that were inferior products (IMO) but were cheap and consumers were tinkering with them so Lutron came out with the Caseta line to compete with those. To make that happen, Caseta was completely cloud based and the programming was done using the app. I personally thought it was a joke to be honest and it had no chance of becoming popular...i mean no keypads? Just one dimmer? No ELV dimmer, no fan speed, no repeaters, and only 50 devices? Nobody would buy that! Well, I was completely wrong. Caseta became insanely popular. I had people in $150,000 houses asking me to install 5 devices for them. Completely different market than multi-million houses that used Homeworks. Very enthusiastic customers too. So popular in fact that many were starting to outgrow it.

    a few more years later...
    Since Caseta was substantially cheaper than Radio Ra2, a lot of houses which probably should have gone with Radio Ra2 started getting Caseta too and would reach the 50 device limit or not have enough reach. Maybe they thought they'd only get 40 devices but loved it or maybe it was a large house and they just didn't plan it through right, but as it stood, if they wanted to get Radio Ra2 now, none of the devices would be compatible and they'd have to replace everything and put it on Ebay or something. So THAT was the motivation behind Ra2.

    The Ra2 Sales pitch:
    So the idea is that IF there is a chance that you will outgrow Caseta, you should instead consider Ra2 Select because it can do 100 devices total and the maestro dimmers can have remote dimmers so that cuts down on the number of devices as well. You can also have 3 repeaters to cover a lot of distance. And if you ever outgrow Ra2 Select, you can upgrade to the full Radio Ra2 system and only change your bridge with a Main Repeater and reprogram it. You get to use everything else. They recently increased Caseta to 75 devices too but even now for a lot of people Ra2 select makes sense because the dimmers do look and feel nicer, you get more color choices, fancier shades, etc.

  4. #4
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    • Thanks for starting to fill in the back story.
    • SparkkyCoog, Before I go further, can you tell me (or point me to the docs) how to put paragraph breaks in posts, like you have? I really don't want everything in one paragraph, and using lists is a hack.
    • My primary reason for being interested in RA2 Select over Caseta is that I don't like the Caseta switches. But it is painful to find that the Maestro smart switches will apparently cost 3x as much as the Caseta switches. Is there any technical reason for such a large difference in price, or is is simply market segmentation and extra profit? (IOW, to hit the lower price point for Caseta did they intentionally make them less desirable so as not to cut into their margins for the RA2 devices? )
    • Another reason for my interest in Maestro (and hence RA2) is the wider range of color choices to match my decor. But it now looks to me like the RA2 Select compatible Maestro switches only come in the same colors as Caseta. Is that right, or am I missing something? Are the smart switches only made in that narrow range of colors?
    • To be clear, at least for now my automation ambitions are modest. I'm coming from dumb Maestros with no automation. The programming features of Caseta or RA2 Select seem adequate for my needs. I'll be doing my own hw installation and programming. I feel sufficiently competent and experiences in both. (I've been a programmer and sw engineer forever, and do my own simple electrical wiring. I started out doing lighting automation using X10 in the 80s.)
    • Finally (for this post) is there just the one app for both Caseta and RA2 Select, or is there a separate app for RA2 Select?

  5. #5
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    I had the same problem. As I recall, I solved it by changing my text editor in my forum settings.
    Mike
    PS - I'm a DIY homeowner and I'd strongly suggest RA2 Select or even full RA2 over Caseta. I have full RA2 and I did it myself.

  6. #6
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    Oh you just type < br > without spaces (for break)... I'm not sure what other html tags they support here but here is a list: https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_formatting.asp
    But yes, it's the exact same app for caseta and ra2 select and for some reason the new Homeworks QSX processor. As far as price goes, it's probably a mixture of technical differences and marketing...The Maestro dimmers ARE different because they have the blue screw that lets you use multi-location dimmers (like for 3-way, 4-way, 5-way, etc.) which is nicer than putting Picos in. They also have a MUCH bigger color selection. The biggest selling point may depend but for me at least it's the ability to upgrade to the full blown Radio Ra2 system later if needed...with that you can jump up to 200 devices.

  7. #7
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    SparkyCoog - I've been trying to decipher the product descriptions. I was getting the impression that most of the RA2 Select compatible dimmers only came in the same five colors as Caseta. But looking again, I see that RA2 Select supports the RRD-PRO, and that has "Color change front plastics - interchangeable plastics to match the decór of any home".

    Is that the (only) way to get dimmers in the Architectural colors?

  8. #8
    The list of compatible devices is here https://www.lutron.com/en-US/Product...elNumbers.aspx

    You can order any of the dimmers/switches in the desired Lutron color. A couple of points:

    1) Unless you have large loads you may want to check out the RRD-6ND as you will save a few $ if it works in your setting,

    2) If you are going to invest time to install a Lutron system, you should consider going for a full RadioRA 2 system. It's a little more expensive and you need to do a few hours of online training but it also gives you flexibility. The full system gives access to seeTouch keypads and the dimmers are more configurable. In a RA2 Select system dimmers come on at 100% when controlled by the dimmer. In a full system you can program that to be something lower (or the previous level). For example, the Costco Feit BR30 replacement fixtures only come in 75 watt equivalent (and they perform pretty well with RadioRA 2). Since they're LEDs the load amount difference is pretty small. But 75 watts equivalent is too much for a default as a replacement for spaces originally designed for 60 watts. You can set the default lower and keep the extra 15 watts for when you need extra brightness.

  9. #9
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    BillD, thanks for the info. I find the product descriptions hard to follow. I had gotten the impression that most of the smart dimmers (Caseta and RA2 Maestro) only come in the five basic colors, with the architectural colors only available on the dumb devices and a few select smart ones. Is there someplace on the Lutron site that specifies color availability for each device?

    Re Radio RA, I feel like I'm being dragged down the rabbit hole. For my purposes Caseta has sufficient functionality. I just don't like the dimmers. IIUC Radio RA must be programmed from a Windows-only app. I haven't done Windows in over a decade and have no desire to do so. And I don't want to install and support a Windows emulator on my Mac must for this. It would be more attractive if they would joint the 21st century and have a modern platform independent app. (I do understand that for a system that is intended to be installed by a contractor it makes sense to separate the programming app from the management app used by the homeowner.)

    Regarding dimmers, most of my dimmer controlled lights are currently all cans with 60W halogen bulbs. My current dimmers are all dumb Maestros circa 2008 and don't do LEDs. That is one motivation for upgrading my dimmers. I just figure that while doing so I might as well upgrade to smart ones. Will the RRD-PRO and RRD-6ND both work with my existing bulbs until I get them replaced with LEDs?

  10. #10
    Here are the colors. All the RadioRA 2 dimmers/switches can be ordered in the architectural colors
    https://www.lutron.com/en-US/Product...gnOptions.aspx

    All the dimmers will control some level of incandescent/halogen/LEDs. But they are all a little different. Note that you have to adjust capacity when you put more than 1 switch/dimmer in an electrical box.
    https://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocu...369225_ENG.pdf

    As I stated, the full system gives you a fair amount more functionality. If you don't need/want that, then RA2 select seems like a good choice for you. IMO the Windows app while far from perfect is heads and shoulders above about any phone app including Lutron's. Once your system is set there isn't much reason to use it.

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