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Which is the better lighting option for an HAI system, UPB or Radio Ra2?


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#1 JLK

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 05:22 PM

I am building a new house and plan on using an HAI OmniPro II system for home automation. I am not sure if I should use HAI's UPB lighting system or Lutron's Radio Ra2. Can anyone tell me which one they recommend and why? Thanks.

#2 Steve

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 09:29 AM

That's not a simple question to answer. First, UPB is not HAI proprietary. UPB was developed by PCS and is a standard protocol used by several manufacturers. UPB devices are programmed via a freely available program called UpStart. Now HAI does have something called HLC which lets you program and control UPB without the need for UpStart. It works well for your basic stuff but when you get advanced you will need UpStart anyway. UPB is powerline based meaning all control signals are sent over your powerline. For some people with 'dirty' lines this causes a problem. Ra2 is a proprietary RF (wireless) system and can work without your powerline. Of course it is subject to other RF interference but it is pretty robust.

The bottom line is HAI supports both so the decision really comes down to other factors - you want to minimize RF in house, noise on powerlnes, look, cost, feel, breadth of device available, support, etc. Those are all things you need to consider before choosing a lighting technology. With Ra2 I believe the software is only generally available to dealers/installers and not the general public so that may be a small factor to consider.

Lastly, if you search these forums, especially the Home Automation forum you will find a plethora of information about lighting including these technologies (more so for UPB since it is more popular/widely used). User Neurorad knows alot about Ra2. And not to confuse but keep in mind there are other options like Zigbee, either like Centralite Jetstream or now any Zigbee that supports the HA profile.

Oh, and make sure your electrician puts a neutral wire in EVERY switch box!

#3 JLK

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:23 PM

Thanks for the advice.

#4 lupinglade

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

I'd go with HLC (UPB by HAI), simply because you will likely get the best feature set when combined with HAI's controllers. They also tend to be very reliable even in larger homes or with noisy wiring.

Wanted to note that you have to differentiate basic UPB from HLC, because you will not be able to easily program a generic UPB switch to use an HLC-type setup. So if you decide to go this route, make sure you get actual HAI HLC UPB switches. You can mix and match, but as Steve mentioned for the regular UPB switches (as well as more advanced scene programming) you will need to use UpStart which is quite a bit more work, especially if you want to use an HLC-like layout in your home (which allows for nice instant status updates when switches are pressed etc).

Edited by lupinglade, 27 March 2012 - 02:45 PM.


#5 Work2Play

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 01:43 AM

So I don't have HAI, but from what I've read over many years of being a part of this community, you can make any ol' UPB switch work like HLC as long as you follow some rules. Hopefully one of the die-hards can add the appropriate link - but I do remember that any UPB switch from any manufacturer can be set up to follow HLC.

#6 js19707

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:52 AM

i'm surprised this post has so many pro-UPB/HLC comments and no one commenting on RR2. FWIW, I have a ~30 device Gen2 (mostly HAI-brand) UPB install (including a UPB phase coupler) and i'm planning to switch to RR2 (equipment is all here, sitting in a box waiting to be installed as soon as i find a contiguous block of a few hours where i'm not working or on dad-duty).

i've been frustrated by a few aspects of UPB / HLC:
1. that there is no collision detection for use of the bus (as seen in the case where you have two UPB switches next to each other that rely on UPB links to effect their function, e.g. virtual 3-way switches; hit the paddles of the two switches one after the other, and one or both UPB messages will be lost)
2. 'popcorn' effect when you switch on one or more rooms via HLC
3. high latency of using switches to affect dimming levels via UPB links (tend to under/overshoot)
4. inaccurate state tracking with HAI-brand HLC devices (and, yes, i have checked the configuration is correct).
5. i've also had UPB devices occasionally develop corrupted programming; not sure why that happens but it's happened more than once.

it's not clear that RR2 will necessarily be better for me but based upon what i've read and heard from others, i'm expecting it will be.

#7 Work2Play

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 04:57 PM

I have 60+ switches here now and a good handful of lamp and appliance modules, and I can't back up those claims... the only issue I have with UPB is that it doesn't have a good way to keep status through the use of Links, but most software packages have a way around this and it certainly hasn't caused me to lose any sleep.

I use all SA devices - I'm happy with their dimming performance (some lights I extended the default fade rate so I could have more granular control), etc.

The collision issue only comes up for me if two switches are hit at the exact same time; if they're within half a second they work fine. I've worked around this with some custom actions - instead of hitting both rockers on/off in a group, I just double-tap either of them and it causes both to act, or a whole room to go on/off.

Unfortunately I don't have any RRA experience to pull from though - so hopefully you're happy with that setup.

#8 Desert_AIP

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 03:57 AM

I have more than 60 UPB units on an Omni Pro II system.
They're setup in the HLC scheme.
They are all SA units.

Setting them up is easy. All HLC really is is an allocation of units and links in a specific structure.
You don't have to use the default behaviors for the HLC links.
The room associations do not have to be a single physical room.
It's very flexible and reliable.

I have the phase coupler in the circuit breaker panel.


There are several good threads on this site about using non-HAI UPB switches int eh HLC mode and modifying ht ehLC link behaviors.
Here are the relevant HAI knowledge base article links.

http://kb.homeauto.com/default.asp?id=547&Lang=1
http://kb.homeauto.com/default.asp?id=637&Lang=1
http://kb.homeauto.com/default.asp?id=546&Lang=1

Edited by Desert_AIP, 29 March 2012 - 04:28 AM.





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