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Thread: Is Lutron a bad idea for LED lighting?

  1. #1
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    Is Lutron a bad idea for LED lighting?

    This is madness. I can't seem to find a single downlight that meets my needs (4" square retrofit, 600+ lumens, 90+ CRI) and is compatible with Lutron Radio Ra2 dimmers. Not only that, but if a led light is compatible with one dimmer it may not be compatible with another. So if you have more than one dimmer the challenge becomes that much greater. I've remodeled my entire house and all my switches go to a closet to accommodate Lutron RR2 control. I am really starting to regret this decision.

    Lutron tries to help but they do a bad job. I have found at least three different Lutron tools/lists to help you find compatible dimmable bulbs. The problem is that there is that a giant list of make/model numbers for each dimmer which doesn't really help me find what I'm looking for. I can't search Google for every make/model in hopes that one has the specs I am looking for.

    How does anyone successfully navigate this quagmire? (Please don't direct me to the Lutron compatibility lists for reasons stated above.) If the state of the technology is this finicky then Lutron really ought to manufacture their own led bulbs that people can trust will work. And they should sell them at a reasonable price. I'm not holding my breath. And Lutron should make all their dimmers work the same way so that if a bulb works with one dimmer it works with all dimmers. I am not an electrical engineer so there might be complexities I'm not aware of but the fact that every dimmer requires a different list of compatible bulbs strikes me as poor engineering.

    This forum doesn't get much activity. Can someone recommend another online forum where Lutron is discussed that is more active? Something tells me I might Reddit might be the place for that.

    I don't know how strictly the mods are about deleting criticism of Lutron so hopefully this doesn't get deleted. When I started my remodel I was convinced by people that Radio Ra2 is the best lighting control but it has been massively frustrating.

  2. #2
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    I hear you. This is why I have a full-time job. Even with the improvements in dimmer compatibility over the past 5 years LED Dimming Control is still not a science as much as an art developed through experience, if I can be so bold :)
    Most of my time designing Lutron systems is spent researching compatibility for any and all LED fixtures in spec packages.

    I can think of one manufacturer that might fit your needs- Element by tech lighting. I've done a few projects and I think they're going to fit your spec. They report on their website to work well with something like the 10ND dimmer. I've had the chance to test them here at my office and the 3" round retrofit LED worked very well. It's still a little bit of 'buyer beware' as when we spec'd the Element downlight it was listed as a non-IC application but when we opened the package we found that there was a sticker showing IC rating on the housing.

    EDIT: No, Lutron is a great idea for LED lighting control. Buy samples of whatever you think you might use and keep the receipt. LEDs are still new enough that you need to test for yourself what 'compatible' means.
    Last edited by digit1; 05-02-2017 at 10:28 AM. Reason: more info

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by digit1 View Post
    I hear you. This is why I have a full-time job. Even with the improvements in dimmer compatibility over the past 5 years LED Dimming Control is still not a science as much as an art developed through experience, if I can be so bold :)
    Most of my time designing Lutron systems is spent researching compatibility for any and all LED fixtures in spec packages.

    I can think of one manufacturer that might fit your needs- Element by tech lighting. I've done a few projects and I think they're going to fit your spec. They report on their website to work well with something like the 10ND dimmer. I've had the chance to test them here at my office and the 3" round retrofit LED worked very well. It's still a little bit of 'buyer beware' as when we spec'd the Element downlight it was listed as a non-IC application but when we opened the package we found that there was a sticker showing IC rating on the housing.

    EDIT: No, Lutron is a great idea for LED lighting control. Buy samples of whatever you think you might use and keep the receipt. LEDs are still new enough that you need to test for yourself what 'compatible' means.
    If you have a full time job doing this don't you have a list of compatible LED's ready to go? Haven't you found any that work so you don't have to test every time? Crazy that you can only think of one product that might meet my needs.

    The Element light you are referring to doesn't seem to be the type of downlight that fits in a standard led downlight housing. These bulbs seem to run $80+ which is insane before you consider they require a housing that is $300+ each.

    I have not gone far enough along the process to make a definitive conclusion but everything I have seen and experienced to this point tells me that planning for Lutron with LED lighting is a massive mistake. You shouldn't have to experiment with multiple products and multiple dimmer in HOPES that you MIGHT find a combination that is satisfactory. Lighting is a critical component of any home and it's not something that you should have to be a beta tester for. Lutron seems to have built their reputation before LED lighting come on the scene, but my goodness, this is a complete trainwreck.

    I mean, think about it, you state that you have a full time job because of this quagmire. It is completely unreasonable for anyone to have to hire someone to identify lights that are compatible with Lutron. And as a full time specialist it seems like you cater to people who have very high budgets for lighting. I don't think most people want to spend $80+ per downlight, let alone $400+ per light.

    This experience makes me really appreciate what Phillips has accomplished with their Hue system. People can laugh but they have an ecosystem of LED's and dimmers that work together flawlessly. I don't think it's possible to have a Lutron system that works as well with LED lighting as Phillips Hue. The fact that these problems have existed for years suggests that Lutron is never going to fully iron this out. Perhaps Homeworks works better but Radio Ra doesn't seem to live up to the hype.

    Sorry for the rant, I'm just so frustrated with this and afraid I am never going to be happy with the lighting in my home because of the decision to wire for Lutron. I made some bad assumptions and didn't do enough homework. Ugh.

  4. #4
    Dear Psycho:

    You are 100% right, LED lighting is complicated, and there is no solution that just works on every LED light. That went away with the incandescent light bulb. Lutron does a pretty good job with LED lighting, but the market is filled with many manufacturers of fixtures, and they have just as many designs for the electronics in their fixtures and LED bulbs.

    In general, designing a good dimmable circuit in your fixture or bulb tends to increase it's cost to build. As such, many fixture vendors are designing for low cost first, and then considering dimming as a secondary consideration. They also sometimes release a good dimmable bulb, Lutron tests it, and then the bulb maker redesigns it to reduce cost, and changes how well it can dim.

    You MUST choose the right dimmer, for the fixture or bulb. Do you know which RA 2 dimmers you are using? Have you already bought them?

    I also have a full time job doing control systems, and yes, many people are perfectly OK with $500 fixtures that dim well, and $2000 shades.

    In the case of Hue, yes, its a nice little system of bulbs, with the dimmers built in. It is one nice way to eliminate the variability of the combinations of dimmers and fixtures. The catch is that it doesn't have the variety that the rest of the fixture market offers.

    If you would like help, we help design systems, and fixtures every day.
    Last edited by pscheetz; 05-04-2017 at 08:27 AM. Reason: spelling
    Phil Scheetz
    Lighting Control Solutions
    pscheetz@lightingcontrolsolutions.com

  5. #5
    Hate to say this but as a Crestron lighting programmer and Lutron as well, Lutron seems more flexible with LED compatibility, and definitely does more testing- i'd say they are the best out there in regards to those two points. As Digit stated there is no real standard for these LED manufacturers to abide by. Its like the Wild West- a complete mess. With either system we deploy we have some fixtures that just dont dim right no matter what. Hopefully Lutron and other players out there can come up with some kind of breakthrough that lets them handle any type of LED. Not holding my breath though.

  6. #6
    BTW. another factor that matters is how many bulbs or fixtures are on a zone. In case you are considering testing, it would be best to test the actual number that will be on the circuit.

    1 bulb vs, 6 bulbs, vs 12 bulbs, can yield different results.
    Phil Scheetz
    Lighting Control Solutions
    pscheetz@lightingcontrolsolutions.com

  7. #7
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    Mag-LED...they have great engineering, done in the USA.

  8. #8
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    I am in a very similar position as the OP, and came to this forum out of a similar frustration.

    I am adding recessed lighting to a just-purchased house. Because of the slanted roof, my contractor recommends adjustable downlights (e.g., eye or gimbal) for 6" can. I would love to have a Lutron dimmer (e.g., http://www.bestbuy.com/site/lutron-c...?skuId=4667800) to control them. We have 4 recessed lights per zone.

    But I went through the list (http://www.casetawireless.com/Docume...ulb%20list.pdf) and could not find a single adjustable downlight on the compatibility list. Does anyone know of one that would work? Or do I need to just abandon my idea of using the Lutron?

    Suggestions?

    - - - Updated - - -

    I am in a very similar position as the OP, and came to this forum out of a similar frustration.

    I am adding recessed lighting to a just-purchased house. Because of the slanted roof, my contractor recommends adjustable downlights (e.g., eye or gimbal) for 6" can. I would love to have a Lutron dimmer (e.g., http://www.bestbuy.com/site/lutron-caseta-wireless-in-wall-dimmer-white/4667800.p?skuId=4667800) to control them. We have 4 recessed lights per zone.

    But I went through the list (http://www.casetawireless.com/Documents/3683415_Caseta%20CFL%20LED%20Bulb%20list.pdf) and could not find a single adjustable downlight on the compatibility list. Does anyone know of one that would work? Or do I need to just abandon my idea of using the Lutron?

    Suggestions?

  9. #9
    You may need to look at the Caseta Pro Dimmer. I am not sure if it is sold through Home Depot, but your contractor can get through an electrical distributor.

    The dimmer in your link is a C.L dimmer, which will work pretty well with many fixtures and bulbs. You may want to look at the phase-selectable dimmer and see which fixtures it works with. It is likely that it will work better, with a wider range of fixtures and/or bulbs.

    http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum...369987_ENG.pdf

    This dimmer has a neutral, and can be set to forward or reverse phase dimming. It's more money, but has better performance on most fixtures.
    Phil Scheetz
    Lighting Control Solutions
    pscheetz@lightingcontrolsolutions.com

  10. #10
    Your bulb list is old. Look at this one:

    http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocum..._Bulb_List.pdf
    Phil Scheetz
    Lighting Control Solutions
    pscheetz@lightingcontrolsolutions.com

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