RadioRa 2 changes everything for Lutron, a pioneer in wireless lighting control.
Ten years after RadioRa debuted — followed by several incompatible variations of the product — Lutron has standardized on a single RF technology for that class of wireless lighting controls: RadioRa 2.
Goodbye RadioRa senior. Goodbye RadioRa SR. Goodbye AuroRa.
“When we looked at coming out with the next-generation RadioRa, we wanted to do a lot of things that the architecture of RadioRa wouldn’t allow us to do,” says Lutron product manager Jeremy Kleinberg.
RadioRa 2 is a life saver for countless CE pros who install Lutron products. It solves several shortcomings of the original Ra in terms of price and performance. In a nutshell:
- More loads: control up to 200 wireless devices (dimmers, keypads, shades, etc.)
- Better performance: faster two-way RF
- Fewer components: One main repeater does it all: RS-232, IP, RF (100 devices per main repeater, up to two repeaters for 200 devices)
- PC programming
- Multibutton keypads that control the loads of the switches they replace
- Native RF communications with Sivoia QS motorized shades and new occupancy/photocell sensors (can a thermostat be far behind?)
- Significantly lower cost (see below)
The Price of RadioRa 2
Let’s get right down to it. What does RadioRa 2 cost?
RadioRa 2 starts with the main repeater, which houses the radio, RS-232 and IP ports for integration, and an on-board astronomic clock. All this for the low low price of $499.
To get all of that stuff with RadioRa, it would cost $1,400: $400 for the repeater, $600 for the RS-232 interface and $400 for the IP gateway. And you wouldn’t get a time clock with that.
A standard RadioRa 2 dimmer costs $149; specialty dimmers are $199. That compares to $190 and $270, respectively, for the original Ra.
This pricing makes RadioRa much more feasible for smaller jobs. Whereas $1,400 was a tough starting point for a smaller job, $499 is palatable.
A RadioRa 2 system with six basic wireless dimmers would start at $1,400. A similarly endowed RadioRa would start at $2,540.
More of the RadioRa 2 Family
The key enabler of RadioRa 2 is a new communications protocol (not mesh networking) and a new radio “that allows us to scale much more easily than RadioRa,” says Kleinberg. “When we redesigned the system, not only did we innovate in terms of features but also in the design and cost.”
The range of the RadioRa 2 repeater is similar to that of its predecessor: about 30 feet (good for a 2,500-square-foot home). Users can add four auxiliary repeaters to the system.
Hybrid dimmers. In addition, Lutron is debuting its first hybrid seeTouch keypad/dimmer with Ra 2. “It’s good news for retrofit,” Kleinberg says. “Just swap out any switch. It controls that load and works with the system.”
The keypads are available in a variety of configurations, such as three top/three bottom buttons and five top buttons with raise/lower buttons.
RF sensors. Two new sensors are available for RadioRa 2: the Powr Savr wireless occupancy/vacancy sensors and photocell sensors.
Grafik Eye integration. Also, Radio Ra 2 is interoperable with the newish Grafik Eye QS Wireless. Currently, that product communicates wirelessly with Sivoia QS shades and Powr Savr occupancy sensors, but not with the next-gen Ra 2 lighting controls.
Kleinberg explains, “Some customers use Grafik Eye QS Wireless as a single-room system in a theater, dining room, or other area where there are many zones of light that can be wired back to one box. It offers lots of control in one sleek package with many, many color options. If those customers later choose to expand with RadioRa 2 , their Grafik Eye can be controlled as a seamless part of the system. ”
Motorized shades. This one’s a biggie: RadioRa 2 is compatible natively with Sivoia QS Wireless motorized shades. Thus, a single keypad can operate both lighting and shading scenes. In fact, a single scene can trigger actions from both the lights and the shades – no gateway device required.
Lighting and shade control – the ultimate package for controlling the indoor environment. Or is it? Lutron is rolling out an RF thermostat but it isn’t clear if the product is compatible with RadioRa 2 or just the new HomeWorks.
End of an eRa
Lutron has moved to a new wireless RF technology for RadioRa 2 and compatible RF devices. It utilizes Lutron Clear Connect RF technology – sort of a culmination of 10+ years of wireless development.
So the new wireless products will not be backward-compatible with RadioRa and its various spinoffs.
To be clear, just because a Lutron product employs Clear Connect does not necessarily mean it is compatible with other Clear Connect devices.
As Kleinberg puts it, “Clear Connect is a brand umbrella that covers RF technology.”
HomeWorks QS Wireless
Wait, there’s more. The old HomeWorks Wireless is now HomeWorks QS Wireless, so it too can operate Sivoia QS shades and respond to the Powr Savr sensors.
Also, Lutron is debuting a new RF thermostat and universal remote for HomeWorks. What took so long on the thermostat?
The company is adding new smarts to HomeWorks under the aegis of the Quantum light management system:
Hyperion Solar Adaptive Shading – Provides complete control of window coverings based on the position of the sun. State-of-the-art technology is used to calculate the appropriate position of window treatments based on the geographical location and orientation of the home.
Green Glance – Allows homeowners to track how much energy they are saving using HomeWorks QS Wireless via a display screen.
And Lutron is showing a spectacular new keypad design, modeled after its Vierti dimmers (below).
One last thing: During CEDIA, Lutron is showing bridges that allow its products to communicate with ZigBee and Z-Wave wireless devices.
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Lutron is breaking out of the gates at CEDIA 2017 (booth # 4800) with the launch of several new products, including a new wireless control solution dubbed RA2 Select, stylized HomeWorks QS Palladiom Thermostat and completely new Palladiom Shading System, new compact DIN rail modules, and more affordable Finiré Prime LED lighting fixtures. Also, the company has completely redesigned its app interface across all its lines, from Caseta to Radio RA2 to HomeWorks.
"All these represent significant investments into the residential systems channel. We have thoughtfully developed end-to-end solutions that will help differentiate Lutron dealers and drive more business to the entire custom installation channel. These products expand the offering and reposition some of our system boundaries," says Rich Black, director of residential business development.
Palladiom Shading System with Exposed Rollers
One of the biggest reveals from Lutron is its new Palladiom Shading System with exposed rollers.
“This is not just a new exposed bracket, it is an entirely new shading system with a new drive, bracket, wire management and installation system," notes Black. "It makes installation fast with minimal light gaps and hidden wires. Lots of innovation made this possible. A lot of the magic in the system is what you can’t see in terms of engineering to do things like be able to drive the fabric all the way out to the edge of the roller to minimize the light gap.”
Other features include ultra-quiet motors and a new hem bar. The shade is coordinated with the Palladiom keypad and the new thermostat. That coordination may help Lutron dealers win more projects.
RA2 Select Fills Gap
RA2 Select is a new, simpler, differentiated lighting, shading and home control system providing smart home capabilities and controls for users while providing easy setup, installation and scalability for integrators.
The radio frequency-based lighting and shading control system consists of an RA2 Select main repeater and up to four optional wireless repeaters. The main repeater connects to the home’s Wi-Fi router which integrates with the cloud and the Lutron app located on the homeowner’s smartphone and/or tablet.
RA2 Select repositions the boundary between when to use Caseta versus when to use Radio RA2.
“Now there is a product that fills that space between a DIY / retail-available product like Caseta and Radio RA2," says Black. "That was a pretty big jump for what a dealer had to do for design, initial starting costs and programming.”
— Rich Black, Lutron
Black says dealers told Lutron they had many clients who wanted more functionality but were not ready to make a commitment of $15,000 to do a full Radio RA2 system.
The system is completely set up using the Lutron app. There is no PC utility. It uses pre-configured Pico keypads, which at $56 each represent a much lower investment for the client than having to use $300 seeTouch keypads that are needed for a full Radio RA2 system. According to Black, in beta tests some integrators were able to set up systems in just 15 to 20 minutes.
RA2 Select contains a curated set of control options including Pico scene keypads, and RadioRA 2 dimmers, switches and appliance modules. This new system also works with Sivoia QS Triathlon and Sivoia QS Wireless roller shades, drapery tracks, Kirbé vertical drapery, and roman shades systems.
Lutron’s Pico is a wireless, battery powered (10-year battery life) device that delivers convenient control and flexible mounting options. The Pico can be mounted on the wall or on a table with a pedestal, putting control where you want it without the need to pull wires. Users can adjust lights and shades to levels that meet their activities using the Pico scene keypad. In addition, Pico wireless controls are available in four gloss colors as well as select Satin colors providing coordinated aesthetics to match RadioRA 2 dimmers, switches, keypads and accessories.
The system works with leading smart home brands, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Honeywell, Nest, Sonos and more. It can support up to 100 devices, which is double the number of devices that Caseta can support. RA2 Select is available only for CE pros, and aims to provide simplicity, speed and profitability for installers to get on and off jobs quicker, and increase profits.
RA2 Select Main Repeater is $249 list price. Lutron wireless repeater is $199 list price. Pico scene keypads start at $56 list price. The price includes the main repeater, dimmer, Pico wireless remote control and free Lutron app.
HomeWorks QS Palladiom Thermostat
Lutron is also debuting the new HomeWorks QS Palladiom thermostat, which offers a sleek, clean finish by featuring buttons and faceplates made of the same material – plastic, glass or metal – for a coordinated aesthetic. The t-stat also has large, tactile buttons with backlit, engraved text that are easier to find in a darkened room.
The thermostat also features variable backlight intensity controlled through Lutron’s Dynamic Backlight Management, which adjusts the brightness based on the ambient lighting conditions. Animated heating and cooling icons on the LED display indicate when the system is running.
Temperature control can be added to HomeWorks QS whole-home scenes via keypad buttons, timeclocks, or the Lutron Connect App, which gives homeowners the ability to monitor and adjust temperature while home or away.
The unit also supports multi-location control of HVAC (i.e., one on the first floor and one on the second floor). The thermostat can be integrated with third-party control systems. The Palladiom thermostat is compatible with conventional 5-wire forced air systems and fan coil units.
Suggested retail price is $400 for plastic, $600 USD for metal or glass.
Finiré Prime LED Fixtures
Lastly, the Coopersburg, Pa.-based company is debuting its new LED downlight solution called Finiré Prime. It comes with a five-year warranty, and a two-day ship turnaround.
Finiré Prime LED fixtures come standard with 90+ CRI, two-step color consistency, and a Lutron 1 percent dimming driver. Additional features include a shallow ceiling 3.5-inch non-IC housing and a tilt mechanism allowing adjustable or downlight solutions within each round or square trim kit.
Finiré Prime is available in both IC and shallow non-IC housing options. Other features include:
- Tilts up to 25°
- 2700K and 3000K
- 90+ CRI LED options
- 14W,1000 lumen output
- 30° and 65° beam spreads
- Secure clips for mounting into the ceiling without additional hardware
- Round or square options
- Trim in matte white
According to Lutron, the new fixtures give integrators the ability to specify/design lighting fixtures with confidence, eliminating the need to be an expert in lighting design. Installers simply select the trim shape, color temperature, beam spread, housing and control type.
It also allows integrators to make decisions later in the construction cycle, simplifying the planning process. Suggested retail price starts at $330.
DIN Rail Modules Fill Gap
Last but not least, Lutron is unveiling new DIN rail modules offer more technology and flexibility, especially for applications like MDUs or smaller homes.
— Rich Black, Lutron
Black notes, “Because of the efficiency of the modules and the way they plug into the panels, it allows for a little more panel density compared to our traditional modules that take up a little more space.”
He admits that sometimes it was tough for an integrator to know whether he should install Radio RA2 or HomeWorks on a small project due to the startup costs and gear needed to start a HomeWorks system.
Sometimes, that was unacceptable from the client’s standpoint or the HomeWorks dealer did not feel like it was the right decision to put in all that overhead.
"But now, with products like these new DIN rail modules, which live on our powerful QS Link, you can get control keypads, shades and lighting via the DIN modules. That allows you to use a one-link processor, which simplifies the design and makes it easier to run the wires. This allows a Lutron dealer to now do more projects using HomeWorks. For example, a $2 million condo—even though it might only be 2,000 square feet — certainly deserves to use equipment like a Palladiom keypad. This DIN solution helps a dealer implement a very simple system at a reasonable cost.”