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Thread: Exploring RadioRA3 instead of Caseta

  1. #1
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    Exploring RadioRA3 instead of Caseta

    Hello,

    We are currently remodeling significant portion of our home and planned to install smart switches. I was only aware of the Caseta line that we had used in a previous home. We have three major concerns with the Caseta switches:
    1. They are kind of ugly (subjective)
    2. Hard to use in the dark
    3. Impossible to disable fade on/off


    I just learned about RadioRA3, which sounds like a great solution for our lighting situation. I really like the Sunnata dimmer switches. Unfortunately, it seems that it can only be installed via dealer or I have to take an online course first. We are on a tight timeline because our renovation is already underway. Ideally, I would install the cheapest non-smart switches that I can find temporarily and then upgrade to RadioRA3 via a dealer or myself eventually. This fails for some of the locations, where I had planned to use Caseta smart dimmers and connect pico remotes in other locations to create a three-way switch. Can I connect Sunnata dimmer switches to pico remote for the same effect? Is that possible without a RadioRA3 driver? And which Sunnata dimmer switches do I need to get to be ready for use with RadioRA3 wireless at a later time? If this is possible, I could go ahead and install non-smart switches everywhere and install Sunnata switches in the required locations and upgrade to RadioRA3 eventually.

    Thank you
    Phil

  2. #2
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    No, Picos use the traditional (and best IMO) Clear Connect A which is 434 MHz and Sunnata Devices use (the wimpy, oversaturated IMO), clear Connect X which is 2.4 GHz. The only way to use a pico with a Sunnata device is to have the Ra3 processor.

    Honestly though it really helps to understand Ra3 in detail BEFORE you install it, even if you plan on programming it later because there are some design issues like maximum distance, minimum distance to the first dimmer, etc. to consider. I've had the misfortune of getting hired to program systems that people who didn't know about the system in the past and have been the one to pay the price. As such, it's always better to have the same person who designs the system to program it and even better, to install it. With me, I do the design, I do the electrical installation, and I do the programming. That way if a light doesn't work, I'm the only person to call...not withstanding any additional integration that the "Savant guy" may or may not want to do. Food for thought.

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  4. #3
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    I have RA3 in my house and I'm doing everything myself. It's really not that hard. The online course takes about 3 hours to complete, maybe a little more depending on your pace. There are dealers that will sell you the Sunnatas hardware so you can install them yourself. The real problem right now is availability. Sunnata dimmers right now can take 1-3 months to deliver because of the chip shortage. I'm still waiting on a number of mine that I ordered last month and now I'm told I won't see them until September. And Caseta systems are all of the Pico style controllers. RA3 uses Sunnata but you can still install RA2 Maestro or RA2 Picos as needed in your house. Lots more flexibility than Caseta.

    When you order the RA3 controller, you have a choice of either ordering the unit with the PoE power injector or the other kit with no injector and a choices for wall mounts. I have a PoE switch already so I just the later kit but choose what you need. One other thing is that you can install the switches first and activate them later in the Designer. They can work "dumb" without programming. But activation is pretty easy.

    SparkyCoog is right about distance requirements. My home isn't that big so I think I can handle a single controller but there is support for 2 if you need the extra distance or if your home has a lot of switches. You can have 100 of the Sunnata style "X" devices and 100 of the legacy Maestro devices per RA3 controller. The latest version of Designer updates the RA3 controller to have better range but I've not had a problem to begin with.

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  6. #4
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    Lastly, Picos can emulate 3 or 4 way switches in controlling a RA3 Sunnata dimmer hooked up to a load. The best part is that Picos can be placed almost anywhere, even stuck to a wall with double sided tape.

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  8. #5
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    Thank you SparkyCoog and Sevenfeet, both your answers were super helpful! I already have the picos and the Sunnata dimmers. I got them through prolighting.com and they arrived within a few days of ordering. I will have to order the processor and have already started the online training for RadioRA3. I will get the processor with PoE Injection. Our home isn't huge either. In the worst case, I will have to move the processor a bit and maybe run an ethernet cable. Nothing that would be prohibitively challenging.

    I will let y'all know how it goes but it may be a few weeks before I have another update. If Lutron ever makes wireless remotes that look like Sunnata, I will also replace the pico remotes. I think they are note quite the best looking solution but are certainly the most practical one for wireless 3+ way switches, as Sevenfeet pointed out. It is actually really cool that they can go on drywall with an actual claro plate on top: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCJM0AnGhoQ

  9. #6
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    If you are choosing RA3/Sunnata over Caseta because of the more pleasing aesthetics (the choice I recommend for my clients - RA2 or RA3 instead of Caseta), you are doing yourself a dis-service by not using the remote dimmers (RD) or remote switch (RS) modules for n-way setups instead of Picos.

    The RD for Sunnata include the lightbar controls. This makes the remotes for 3-way switches look and operate almost identically to the primary switch.

    Pico's, even the 4-button or 2-button, look very different than the regular Decora dimmers or switches, and all Pico's do not have any LED or indicator lights, so they have no feedback on current state or operation.

    I only recommend using Pico's if you don't have existing n-way setup and can't cut-in a new j-box and wiring for proper n-way setup. For new construction or remodel, do yourself a favor and wire-up full n-way setups to preserve all options.

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpivR View Post
    I only recommend using Pico's if you don't have existing n-way setup and can't cut-in a new j-box and wiring for proper n-way setup. For new construction or remodel, do yourself a favor and wire-up full n-way setups to preserve all options.
    Another option, which is what I usually do, is replace the remote location with a button panel. This has the matching aesthetic but can be far more functional. And you don't need a proper n-way setup, just hot and neutral in the box.

  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by miked212 View Post
    Another option, which is what I usually do, is replace the remote location with a button panel. This has the matching aesthetic but can be far more functional. And you don't need a proper n-way setup, just hot and neutral in the box.

    Until we get hybrid Sunnata keypads like we have in RA2, that's a workable way to add wired keypads. But often the remote location isn't ideal for a keypad in some homes.

  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpivR View Post
    I only recommend using Pico's if you don't have existing n-way setup and can't cut-in a new j-box and wiring for proper n-way setup. For new construction or remodel, do yourself a favor and wire-up full n-way setups to preserve all options.
    I 100% agree. I wish I had learned about RadioRA3 earlier, then this set-up would have been definitely possible! I have the pico remotes in place now and I am not too unhappy about them. If there ever is a remote that is better aligned with the Sunnata I will probably bite the bullet and spend some on that, too.

    Thanks to all the replies! I have my RadioRA3 system up and running and it works like a charm. The software takes a little bit of getting used to but does its job. I plan to update other locations in the home with Sunnata switches as well.

  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanslovsky View Post
    I 100% agree. I wish I had learned about RadioRA3 earlier, then this set-up would have been definitely possible! I have the pico remotes in place now and I am not too unhappy about them. If there ever is a remote that is better aligned with the Sunnata I will probably bite the bullet and spend some on that, too.

    Thanks to all the replies! I have my RadioRA3 system up and running and it works like a charm. The software takes a little bit of getting used to but does its job. I plan to update other locations in the home with Sunnata switches as well.
    Glad to hear that it worked out. The Lutron Designer does take a bit to learn and it makes some assumptions regarding operation and UI that training and experience will help. Like you, I'm still new at this. I still have to carve out some master some scene creation.

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