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Thread: Lutron's upcoming announcement

  1. #21
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    Spent the day hands on with the new RA3. Here are my first impressions and early takeaways:

    The main repeater and bridge connect are replaced by what they are now calling a main processor. Sounds kind of like HomeWorks, right? The good news is that the new Main Processors (RR-PROC3 - two allowed per system/home) are an order of magnitude faster so the latency issues that have been creeping up in later versions of RA2 should be resolved. They are POE powered which I think is a plug all around. In the event the job doesn’t have a POE network switch they simply can be powered by a POE injector.

    From what I have experienced so far, RA3, in my opinion, is the convergence of HomeWorks and RA (at least from a software and programing prospective). Both the new HomeWorks QSX and RA3 will both support ‘Type A’ legacy 434 MHz clear connect devices as well as ‘Type X’ 2.4 GHz mesh devices. RA3 will still have software-imposed limitations such as no real conditional programming or stateful logic (but for rollback which remains) and no wired shade support. And the wall of separation between RA2 dimmers/switches/keypads and HQW dimmers/switches/keypads remains despite the devices being functionally equivalent.

    The Lutron Connect app will be replaced by the new Lutron app (which is the same app for HomeWorks QSX). The 2.4 GHz 'Type X' mesh devices (ie Sunnata) will only be able to be activated by the new app where as the regular ‘Type A’ old school clear connect devices will still be activated by PC based Lutron Designer software. Seems a bit kludge but it is what it is. I was also unofficially told many new Type X devices will follow begging perhaps with new sensors.

    The good news is ALL RA2 devices will be backward compatible with RA3 (even back to 6D, 10D and 6NA). The only real new hardware is the RA3 Main Processor along with the support of Sunnata Keypads, Dimmers and Switches and the new RA3 (albeit still 'Type A') outdoor plug switch. The only items being obsoleted are the existing RA2 Main Repeater and the RA2 Connect Bridge. Both new and old styles of auxiliary repeaters remain (and the wired one can still be wired).

    One major feature difference is that RA3 will now get shade group support (HomeWorks has had this forever) but RA3 will only still support wireless shades. This is a very welcomed change that mimics HomeWorks implementation of shades. Now it's too bad that they won't also support wired QS shades but maybe there is some hope for a replacement to the QSE-CI-NWK-E in the future?

    Although Lutron is going to be pushing their LEAP API for integration to other platforms, I am told unofficially that Telnet will remain for now (it really has to since most 3rd party integration, ie Crestron, Savant, AMX, C4, Hubitat, ect all rely on it for today and will take years to change).

    The new RA3 main processors will start shipping in mid-Jan 2022 and while the current 21.5 version of the Lutron Designer software now supports RA3 we will need to wait for version 21.6 which will have the ability to import and convert a ra2 system file to RA3. Our company will likely wait until at least to mid 2022 to try and do any large system migration or implementation as I am certain there will be many kinks to be worked out.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rad8late View Post
    Spent the day hands on with the new RA3. Here are my first impressions and early takeaways:

    The good news is ALL RA2 devices will be backward compatible with RA3 (even back to 6D, 10D and 6NA).
    That is NOT true. They specifically say that Grafik Eyes, wallmount modules and GrafikT devices are not supported under this. It seems pretty random that they would suddenly leave those out when they are Clear Connect as well. Why would they just mess with people like that?

    I'm also going through the training online now and apparently the new keypads use 2.4 GhZ and use a mesh network. Does this mean that going forward 2.4 GHZ is the way forward so we should avoid getting See-Touch keypads? Lutron really needs to explain why out of the blue they are changing frequencies and going with a completely different frequency because I've been with Lutron for almost 20 years now and have sat through many many training sessions where the first thing they have said when talking about Lutron's RF is that "We don't use mesh because Mesh is not reliable and is only as strong as its weakest link". So now all of a sudden it's a good thing? What if you have 2 dimmers within the first 25 feet of the main processor and one of those dimmers dies? Someone goes to replace a light bulb and it breaks in the socket and knocks that dimmer offline (either burns it or trips the breaker)....Now the entire house is out because of it? I hope Lutron explains this.

    Are they planning on having two competing frequencies now where they'll still introduce clear connect alongside 2.4 GHz so you can have additional devices? None of this makes sense to me. Clear Connect was Lutron's golden goose and now they throw it under the bus for 2.4 GHz Mesh?

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SparkyCoog View Post
    That is NOT true. They specifically say that Grafik Eyes, wallmount modules and GrafikT devices are not supported under this. It seems pretty random that they would suddenly leave those out when they are Clear Connect as well. Why would they just mess with people like that??
    You are correct. I guess I never really thought of QS Grafik Devices as truly RA2 but rather their own product set supported in RA2. Either way though they are legacy devices that used to work in RA2 and no longer will work with RA3. I believe the reason why is that the new RA3 architecture adopts grouping as was done in HomeWorks and its a bit different from Graftik.

    By no means are they abandoning Clear Connect since there are only a handful of devices that support the new 2.4 GHz 'Type X' mesh in RR3. I agree with you that what they are doing is confusing and does seem very kludgy. I will take Clear Connect 'Type A' over any type of Zigby or Zwave style mesh any day of the week. The new outdoor switch they are introducing is supposed to be original Clear Connect (434 MHz) so I can't imagine it is on it's way out since they are announcing a new RR3 device based on Clear Connect.

    I agree the messaging is confusing but from everything I have seen and everyone I have spoken with at Lutron both communication methods/frequencies will co-exist for the foreseeable future. The only explanation (or justification) for mesh I feel is for low power devices. Perhaps they will be following with new types of sensors and other non-lighting types of devices that would benefit from 2.4 GHz mesh.

  4. #24
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    Just finished the on-line course and downloaded the RA3 software. Even though it only took a few hours to complete, it could be shortened for those already authorized for RA2. Lutron could easily omit the System Design 101 - Control Layering section which I found to be particularly annoying. I would have preferred they had limited the course too just what’s new and different.

    I wouldn’t consider the initial release to be “game changing”. I do like the new processor and the fact that an external bridge is not required. The new integration API has promise. The fact that changes can be made remotely, and that the homeowner can tweak the system are nice features. The new Sunnata dimmer, switch, and keypad are nice looking and I’m sure some designers will love them, but I wouldn’t consider them to be a drastic improvement over the SeeTouch and Masetro styles and the keypad color cannot be changed in the field. The new weather-proof switch is also a nice addition but why they made it an RA3 device only is beyond me. Lutron must just want to give existing RA2 customers something to gripe about. It’s certainly not something that I could justify an upgrade for.

    To me the one big drawback to the new system is lack of support for the Grafik Eye QS. Many people start out by installing a Grafik Eye in a home theater, living room or other area and then move to a whole house system. Moving to RA3 would be problematic, especially if the homeowner has a 6 zone Grafik Eye. It would be a hard sell to convince them they need to pull out one sleek and expensive device, open up the wall to install a six-gang box, and replace it with six standalone dimmers. I don’t care how stylish the dimmers are, six of them ganged together looks like #$@&%*!

    Hopefully someone at Lutron will wake up and determine that the Grafik Eye still has a place in an RA system. It would also be nice if they put the LED Pro+ dimmer circuits in the Grafix Eye so you wouldn’t have to find a spot to hide phase adapters when you just need reverse phase and not added load capacity.

    RA3 has potential, but in its current state I feel it’s limited to new installs that don’t require the RA2 features that were left behind. From an aesthetic perspective I wouldn’t want a mix of dimmer and keyboard styles so adding the new Sunnata controls to an existing RA2 system would seem to be a no starter. You might be able to justify an upgrade to the new processor to get the app and remote features if you can keep all the existing controls.

  5. Thanks SparkyCoog thanked for this post
  6. #25
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    I just finished the course too (and passed!) but yeah they didn't get into the meats and potatoes of the system until 3/4 of the way. The section with the design was just silly where they would require you to put a pico on the kitchen island or whatever. I mean we tell the homeowner what we think is needed but at the end of the day, it's up to them to get a pico or not, but I digress.

    Honestly after finishing the course I have no earthly idea why I would ever choose Type X Clear Connect (2.4 GHz). Everything about it seems like a pain - only 4 remote dimmers, no fan speed control, no changeable faceplate and worst of all: for Activation I need to use the app? Half the time when I'm activating devices, the home's network isn't even put in place, much less having access to the internet and the app...and I still don't know what benefit it has over the traditional godly Clear Connect.

    Lutron really needs to explain what their goal is with this weird, lesser Clear Connect. Why would anybody use it unless they had used up all 100 devices and were too cheap to add a new processor.

  7. #26
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    In my home theatre I have the Grafik Eye connected to RA2 via wireless. I went with that because like you said 6 dimmers together looks like absolute ****. 2.4 ghz can be a congested frequency. That's where 802.11b/g wireless hangs out. I would love to go to RA3, but the Grafik Eye isn't coming out.

    Quote Originally Posted by scruzguy View Post
    Just finished the on-line course and downloaded the RA3 software. Even though it only took a few hours to complete, it could be shortened for those already authorized for RA2. Lutron could easily omit the System Design 101 - Control Layering section which I found to be particularly annoying. I would have preferred they had limited the course too just what’s new and different.

    I wouldn’t consider the initial release to be “game changing”. I do like the new processor and the fact that an external bridge is not required. The new integration API has promise. The fact that changes can be made remotely, and that the homeowner can tweak the system are nice features. The new Sunnata dimmer, switch, and keypad are nice looking and I’m sure some designers will love them, but I wouldn’t consider them to be a drastic improvement over the SeeTouch and Masetro styles and the keypad color cannot be changed in the field. The new weather-proof switch is also a nice addition but why they made it an RA3 device only is beyond me. Lutron must just want to give existing RA2 customers something to gripe about. It’s certainly not something that I could justify an upgrade for.

    To me the one big drawback to the new system is lack of support for the Grafik Eye QS. Many people start out by installing a Grafik Eye in a home theater, living room or other area and then move to a whole house system. Moving to RA3 would be problematic, especially if the homeowner has a 6 zone Grafik Eye. It would be a hard sell to convince them they need to pull out one sleek and expensive device, open up the wall to install a six-gang box, and replace it with six standalone dimmers. I don’t care how stylish the dimmers are, six of them ganged together looks like #$@&%*!

    Hopefully someone at Lutron will wake up and determine that the Grafik Eye still has a place in an RA system. It would also be nice if they put the LED Pro+ dimmer circuits in the Grafix Eye so you wouldn’t have to find a spot to hide phase adapters when you just need reverse phase and not added load capacity.

    RA3 has potential, but in its current state I feel it’s limited to new installs that don’t require the RA2 features that were left behind. From an aesthetic perspective I wouldn’t want a mix of dimmer and keyboard styles so adding the new Sunnata controls to an existing RA2 system would seem to be a no starter. You might be able to justify an upgrade to the new processor to get the app and remote features if you can keep all the existing controls.

  8. #27
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    What kills me is that there is absolutely no physical reason for them leaving out Grafik Eyes. They use the same frequency so it's not an engineering problem.

  9. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SparkyCoog View Post
    Does this mean that going forward 2.4 GHZ is the way forward so we should avoid getting See-Touch keypads? Lutron really needs to explain why out of the blue they are changing frequencies and going with a completely different frequency because I've been with Lutron for almost 20 years now and have sat through many many training sessions where the first thing they have said when talking about Lutron's RF is that "We don't use mesh because Mesh is not reliable and is only as strong as its weakest link". So now all of a sudden it's a good thing? What if you have 2 dimmers within the first 25 feet of the main processor and one of those dimmers dies? Someone goes to replace a light bulb and it breaks in the socket and knocks that dimmer offline (either burns it or trips the breaker)....Now the entire house is out because of it? I hope Lutron explains this.

    Are they planning on having two competing frequencies now where they'll still introduce clear connect alongside 2.4 GHz so you can have additional devices? None of this makes sense to me. Clear Connect was Lutron's golden goose and now they throw it under the bus for 2.4 GHz Mesh?
    Have a look at the Clear Connect Technology Whitepaper. They attempt to explain their rational for the change, there.

    I too would like to know if they are aiming to release 6-button hybrid keypads or counter top keypads. I'm doing a major remodel of my home, and knowing these details will, to a minor degree, affect how I rough in wiring... and if so, I wouldn't want to invest in the seeTouch keypads, since I will be buying all new hardware.

    I think the reason for 2 dimmers is such that there IS redundancy, such that if one device fails, the whole network doesn't go down. There could be some throughput reasons they did this, as well. Of course, shutting off that one circuit with two devices will also kill the mesh, unless, for instance, they have some capacitance built into the system.

    Site admins: Is there going to be a RadioRA 3 forum initiated? Seems like the timing is right, before a lot of RR3 information starts to circulate the RadioRa 2 forum?

  10. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by SparkyCoog View Post
    What kills me is that there is absolutely no physical reason for them leaving out Grafik Eyes. They use the same frequency so it's not an engineering problem.
    Rant mode On

    It’s probably some marketing wonk or software engineer that thought it was too much work to put Grafik Eye support into the Designer or phone application. As for the switch to 2.4 GHz the only advantage I can see is that it would eliminate the repeaters in an all Type X system. However, according to the specs, all Type X devices must be within 75 ft of the controller. I guess if that’s an issue you need to go to HomeWorks.

    What disappoints me is that instead of enhancing an already great system, Lutron decided to introduce breaking changes, forcing customers to make some uncomfortable choices. This is frustrating given that there are no obvious technical issues that prevent supporting the Grafik Eye. People expect systems added to their homes to last for years without any hassle. This is especially true with something as expensive as a whole house lighting system. And, this is why there are real estate agents that say some clients view home automation as a negative rather than a positive selling point.

    The move from the original Radio RA to RA2 was a real game changer with the ability to program the system via a PC. Although you had to swap out all the devices, Lutron maintained all the original functionality including Grafik Eye QS support. In my own home I made the switch from RA to RA2 because I could see the advantages even though I had to replace everything, including two Grafik Eyes and a Chronos. From what I’ve seen so far, that won’t be the case with RA3. Might be time to buy a spare controller and repeater.

    Lutron should take a hint from companies like Apple and Tesla that continuously enhance their products via software updates. They may introduce features that are only available in new hardware, but they maintain compatibility with the older hardware and don’t remove functionality.

    Rant mode Off

  11. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ross1 View Post
    Have a look at the Clear Connect Technology Whitepaper. They attempt to explain their rational for the change, there.

    I too would like to know if they are aiming to release 6-button hybrid keypads or counter top keypads. I'm doing a major remodel of my home, and knowing these details will, to a minor degree, affect how I rough in wiring... and if so, I wouldn't want to invest in the seeTouch keypads, since I will be buying all new hardware.

    I think the reason for 2 dimmers is such that there IS redundancy, such that if one device fails, the whole network doesn't go down. There could be some throughput reasons they did this, as well. Of course, shutting off that one circuit with two devices will also kill the mesh, unless, for instance, they have some capacitance built into the system.

    Site admins: Is there going to be a RadioRA 3 forum initiated? Seems like the timing is right, before a lot of RR3 information starts to circulate the RadioRa 2 forum?
    Thanks for the whitepaper link. Read it and it sounds like there are some good reasons for the addition fo 2.4 GHz. However it doesn't justify dropping support of a key device.

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