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Thread: Help a homeower & newbie to home automation

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Help a homeower & newbie to home automation

    Greetings everyone,

    Some months back we purchased Amazon echo and then progressed into buying a Insteon home kit. We loved controlling outlets but as time went on really wanted to automate all of the house, as best as we could. Over the last six weeks I've purchased 18-switches (dimmer and on/off). I'm comfortable swapping out light switches but when I saw they needed three wires (including the neutral) I started calling electricians. Now I'm looking at a pretty hefty bill along with having many walls in my home opened or damaged so (as my wife says) "I can have my toys".

    Recently I met with someone who shared with me that the Lutron RA2 does not require three wires. Is that true?

    Also, what additional will I need? A bridge?

    Sorry, very new to all of this. While I have been reading up I just don't want to make another mistake again.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    For a system of your size, I'd suggest you look into the Caseta line. They have dimmers which don't require a neutral. Much more budget friendly. And Radio Ra2 requires you to take an online course, and then find a dealer who will sell you the equipment. Caseta is made for smaller (<50 device) installs, and is easily available for purchase.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    The downside to not using a neutral is you're very much more likely to later have trouble with LED lighting. There's technical reasons behind it, but basically if you want LED lighting you're really better off having switches that use a neutral.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post
    The downside to not using a neutral is you're very much more likely to later have trouble with LED lighting. There's technical reasons behind it, but basically if you want LED lighting you're really better off having switches that use a neutral.
    Yes, you are technically better off, but the cost of re-wiring a home is substantial, an imo the cost/benefit isn't there. Furthermore, given the choice between Lutron 2-wire dimmers with a bulb they have tested for compatibility is, again imo, a much better option than a neutral wire dimmer from a company (Insteon) with a high rate of device failure and which is a small, not particularly financially strong company vs. Lutron which is orders of magnitude larger and more technically and financially robust.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Pay me now or pay me later, as the saying goes. That and don't tell me I didn't tell you I told you so...

    If you pay heed to Lutron's testing and use the elements they recommend then you're definitely in better shape with regard to dimmers without a neutral. Just be sure to stick to that. Lay in a supply of replacements to avoid future availability/compatibility problems.

    Personally, for the example cited, I'd look closely at just how robust a system I really wanted to achieve. I'd make strategic changes to the wiring in appropriate stages to accommodate that. I wouldn't push for rewiring a whole home, certainly not unless a lot of other work was being done that would also require plaster/paint work. But if there was the potential for those renovations... I'd certainly look to factor automation/wiring changes as part of the bigger picture.

    There's a lot of ways to automate lighting. Not everything has to be done just one particular way. But there's a few situations where putting in a little effort will save a lot of headaches down the line.

    There's potential here to transition a customer away from Insteon, but I wouldn't use just 2-wire (no neutral) as the driving factor. It's an important benefit, but at a pretty big price jump for just the devices. That and there's no mention of which Insteon devices he's got in the wall already (keypads, dimmers, etc). What he has mentioned is "the wife" and "toys". Two big flags on the play. THOSE I'd use as factors to push for Lutron. You really can't compare the quality of anything else to that of Lutron dimmers. They're just better. Better in how they handle the dimming and better in how they operate on a daily basis. The latter being what I'd consider THE most important thing when it comes to the notion of "Wife Acceptance Factor". These things, done right, really do work well. No eye rolling or complaining when some cobbled up system won't work right.

    So I'd ask just what circuits are giving trouble and be sure those aren't going to continue to be problems, even with 2-wire dimmers. No sense in digging the guy another hole to jump into...

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