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Thread: Where to start? bought house with full lutron system that is now obsolete

  1. #1

    Where to start? bought house with full lutron system that is now obsolete

    Hello everyone, stumbled upon this board this year (no idea how I missed it). First time poster - hopefully can get some information and start to solve my lutron problems!

    I bought a home that was built in 2001. House is fairly big and has a ton of lights. Somewhere in the neighborhood of ~250 individual light bulbs last I counted, though far fewer circuits / switches. Given an equivalently insane electric bill, I tried to replace with some dimmable LED bulbs in the highly used areas/fixtures. Most went in and worked just fine, but once I got around to replacing the "normal" A19 bulbs, 100% of them audibly buzz regardless of the dim setting (even max) and regardless of the manufacturer (tried Philips, GE, Ecosmart, and Cree). Also, some candelabra bulbs won't turn off all the way. Electrician said it's because of the lighting system, but has no idea how to fix it.

    Former owners both died so they're not around to answer questions and there is zero documentation. I have normal light switches as well as light "pads" with multiple scenes, and it all feeds into an electronic brain downstairs that has a dedicated breaker box and 10 circuit breakers running into it. No labeling (that I can find). If I had to guess, I'd say it's a 15 year old Homeworks system. No idea which version. It's only lighting, no shades or other stuff. Not familiar with Lutron's current lineup either, though I'm trying to get there with what limited info I can find. If there are only 3 systems out there now for houses then I'm on the right track I'd guess.

    Making it worse (impossible?) is that I'm in the middle of nowhere geographically. The nearest homeworks authorized guy (a "company" of 3 people) is 1 hour away - the owner of which is the guy who installed it it turns out - who is retired and doesn't want to lift a finger to help. He came by once, I chased him for price quotes to update my system for nearly a month - nothing. The only thing he did was send his other two guys over once, which basically consisted of me explaining exactly the same thing to them that I told the guy that installed it. They reacted with shock and awe as I relayed my story about my prior experience and begged for them to quote me. And they the promptly chose not to give me a any quotes either. They did plug in their laptop to the serial port on the brain, tell me "you're lucky, this is the last version of this system that can be upgraded to work on wifi", and left.

    The next closest homeworks business is 2 hours away and they aren't interested in working with me because I'm too far. The third closest is 4 hours away, you can guess what they think.

    This is even more frustrating because, while I have a day job, I have rental properties and was trained as an electrical engineer -- this should be right up my alley, but I can't make heads or tails of Lutron's system as there just isn't much information out there resource wise, particularly for a DIYer like me, and I don't have the software or interface to hook into the brain. Hoping this board can steer me in the right direction.

    Ideally, I'd like to:
    1) Figure out what exact system I have
    2) Understand what the upgrade paths are well enough to make an informed decision
    3) Select the one that best meets my needs, keeping in mind that there is slim to no chance of any authorized installer setting foot in this house - it's going to be all on me
    4) If none of the above, what alternatives to lutron there are

    At the end of the day all I really want is to be able to use LED bulbs, utilizing my existing infrastructure as much as possible, without them buzzing and without giving up the ability to dim the bulbs. Doesn't seem like it should be this hard. A huge plus would be to be able to use my iphone to control my lights. Also, I'm not looking to gut and redo the house, not only because of the inability to get a pro in my area to do it (see above), but also because I'm handy (other than this) and prefer to save some money on it.

    Tomorrow I plan to go to home depot and buy a few LED specific dimmers (I understand that is what drives the buzz) and swap out a few circuits to see if that makes a difference; I have a sinking suspicion it will have no impact because of the brain downstairs and/or the brain won't recognize the new switch I put in.

    Any help is VERY!! appreciated! Thanks!

  2. Likes Blair S. liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member
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    Hi 2tall

    Best thing here is to contact me by email I can help explain things for you. mcignarella@hotmail.com

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  5. #3
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    What state are you in? We do some work remotely and could help you through this.

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  7. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by minpark View Post
    What state are you in? We do some work remotely and could help you through this.
    Upstate NY

  8. #5
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    Did you ever get the issues resolved?

  9. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by randyc View Post
    Did you ever get the issues resolved?
    I got a connection going once and was able to get into the system and do some minor modifications but wasn't able to get a sense of what upgrade paths and costs looked like.

  10. #7
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    If you have "the last version of this system that can be upgraded to work on wifi" it sounds like HomeWorks Illumination. Also, if the processor is black, it is HomeWorks Illumination. If the processor is galvanized it is HomeWorks Interactive. It is possible you have a RF based system but based on the description of the panel it doesn't seem likely.

    The good news is, if you have Illumination, you can use Lutron's Home Control+ app.

    Lutron has a few parts. I believe they will build a processor if necessary. They are very proud of their legacy equipment. However, proud you think they are, add a zero!

    You may be able to find some used equipment on the web. Buying used electronics has it's own risks.

    If you send me a copy of the database, I can give you more specific info. randy.ledinc@gmail.com

    PS: I am originally from a little town near a small town outside of Watertown. Still have some relatives in the area.
    Element Integration
    5621-122 Departure Drive
    Raleigh, NC 27616
    www.elementintegration.com

  11. #8
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    Stumbled across this thread and am in a similar situation... Purchased my home in 2006, was built by a custom theater installer, so I have a really cool theater and Lutron Homeworks thought the house. I think there are 2 "regular" switches total - every light is Lutron.

    I do have the archaic windows software and have made some changes as needed, but would really like to integrate the system into the more modern world - wondering if there are any off the shelf products? I have been thinking of building a gateway using a raspberry pi to act as a RS-232 "scene" manager, something I can address over IP and activate lights or scenes. Since I have Amazon Echo devices, it would be really nice to be able to have Alexa turn on and off lights. I am also an EE, and have an IT background, so comfortable integrating things like Pi's and Arduino's, but before I tackle this from scratch, thought I'd ask here before re-inventing the wheel...

    Thanks!

    Steve

  12. #9
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    I'm in the same boat. Does anyone recognize these units?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'm having trouble understanding what the components are.
    I do have a GrafikEye controller with 3 zones, but not one that looks like any of the online manuals.
    I'd like to replace the control system with one that has a web interface, ideally a locally hosted HTTP control interface.
    Any suggestions on what I should be looking at from Lutron?
    Are there other manufacturers that have control hubs that are compatible with the dozens of Lutron switches and dimmers around this house?
    Is there a quick way to get a list of all the devices in the house?

    Thanks,

    Chris

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevel View Post
    Stumbled across this thread and am in a similar situation... Purchased my home in 2006, was built by a custom theater installer, so I have a really cool theater and Lutron Homeworks thought the house. I think there are 2 "regular" switches total - every light is Lutron.

    I do have the archaic windows software and have made some changes as needed, but would really like to integrate the system into the more modern world - wondering if there are any off the shelf products? I have been thinking of building a gateway using a raspberry pi to act as a RS-232 "scene" manager, something I can address over IP and activate lights or scenes. Since I have Amazon Echo devices, it would be really nice to be able to have Alexa turn on and off lights. I am also an EE, and have an IT background, so comfortable integrating things like Pi's and Arduino's, but before I tackle this from scratch, thought I'd ask here before re-inventing the wheel...

    Thanks!

    Steve
    If you have HomeWorks Illumination you can add the Lutron Home Control+ app. There are some limitations. I believe you are limited to 40 keypads and you will not be able to make edits from the app like you would with a QS based system. There is also a default web interface. If you enter the IP address of the processor in your browser, it will display the keypads you have enabled. The same flag that makes the keypad available to the app makes it available to the web interface. Phantom keypads can also be made available for the web/app. Remote access would be through a VPN.
    Element Integration
    5621-122 Departure Drive
    Raleigh, NC 27616
    www.elementintegration.com

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