Centralite

Spanky

Senior Member
We have a Centralite System at ELK that we have worked with for several years. It works very good.


There are two technologies in hardwired lighting control:

1. Central switch or dimmer control like Centralite, Vantage,... The switches and dimmers are located in a central location in the home and high voltage wired back to the light. The wall switches are low voltage, CAT 5 wired to the central control. Great for new construction, hard to retrofit older homes.

2. Wall switch dimmers wired back to a controller like OnQ, EDT... CAT5 wire is run from each wall switch or daisy chained back to the controller. Also great for new construction, easier to retrofit older homes, but still not easy.

Because it is hardwired, the response is quick and absolute. When you push the button the light will change, period.
 
Thanks for the response! I am seriously considering the Centralite LiteJet. I have an ELK M1 that I want to interact with it. Questions:

1. The Elk can easily send commands to the Centralite from the Elk's schedules, light (load) toggle, dimmer level, and scenes, correct?

2. Does the Elk get status updates when a person manually presses switches on the low voltage Centralite switches?

3. Does the Elk get status updates when a person manually changes dimmer levels from the low voltage Centralite switches?

4. The Elk connects through a serial port expander, correct?

5. Not really an Elk question, but is there anyway to access the Centralite via ip directly?

Thanks for your help.
 

Spanky

Senior Member
1. The Elk can easily send commands to the Centralite from the Elk's schedules, light (load) toggle, dimmer level, and scenes, correct?
Yes, full control from the M1 using a M1XSP Serial Port Expander.

2. Does the Elk get status updates when a person manually presses switches on the low voltage Centralite switches?
Yes, switch presses now come back to the M1. Earlier versions of the Centralite Controller was not sending back switch presses, but now it does.

3. Does the Elk get status updates when a person manually changes dimmer levels from the low voltage Centralite switches?
Not sure!!! I know when the light goes on and off it does. Will have to check.

4. The Elk connects through a serial port expander, correct?
Interface with an ELK M1XSP Serial Port Expander which handles all the protocol translation between the M1 and the Centralite.

5. Not really an Elk question, but is there anyway to access the Centralite via ip directly?
Yes, get a M1XEP Ethernet Expander and you will have control of the Centralite lighting also.

Hope this helps.
 
This helps tremendously, and looks like I am more convinced that this is the way to go in my environment. I love the ability to be able to re-program Centralite buttons at any time without having to change the High voltage side.

If you get more info on the dimmer level status, let me know.

Also, I have not seen one of the Centralite systems in person. Do you have any negative impressions of the system? Any negative impressions of the keypads?

These seem to be much more affordable than the Leviton or Lutron systems.
 

Stormy

New Member
Do you have any negative impressions of the system? Any negative impressions of the keypads?

I'm going to ramble, because I've been researching and on the fence about what to do with my lighting for almost two years. A little background: We have 2400 sq ft that has been remodeled so far. Everything is homerunned (about 36 loads) and all keypad locations have a Cat5e and 18/8 (to keep all options open). Centralite has been at the top of my list because I wanted hardwire, standalone, and a company who will help an advanced DIY'er. I also liked the simple architecture and simple published ASCII I/O.

To answer your question... I talked to a salesman at Centralite a while back and he sent me two complete sample switches (four button with engraving and the electronics). One was the "Classica" the other was "Europa".

My take on this was that they were nicer than all other DIY switches I had looked at (I can't stand the membrane style ones at all). I felt that they fell a little short of Lutron/Vantage in terms of look and certainly they don't have the huge selection of styles and finishes which is fine in our case as we're looking for mostly white anyhow.

My wife and I really didn't care for the Europa - it was too modern looking and the plate is oversized. I was disheartened as this was the latest and greatest. It does support up to 8 buttons where the Classica only supports up to four.

As mentiond, the Classica was quite nice. Simple design, normal dimensions and the layout looked clean and well proportioned. The only thing I didn't really like (though this is being a bit nitpicky) is that the single button version isn't one button of the same size as the four button - it is one big button and same for the two button. So the button sizes vary from plate to plate (assuming different button configurations). This is opposed to say the Lutron SeeTouch which has the same button size but you can have one or 8, they just stack them and the cutout is sized to fit.

In the new Worthington catalog I noticed that listed in the LiteJet section there are two new styles that oddly enough can't be found at the Centralite website. I don't have the catalog handy, but I think one was the "Mystique" and I don't remember the other. These look to be a step in the right direction (assuming you think Lutron is the right direction). One of these uses the square buttons (Like the Lutron large button keypads) and the other uses the slim buttons (stacked like the designer style keypads). From what I can make out in the picture, the plate may be screwless and has a designer touch to it with a recessed border that looks pretty darn nice. We are now leaning towards going with the slim button style. My only nitpick with these new ones is that the engraving (as seen in the picture - haven't seen it in person) looks out of place. On the square button it is off to the side (whereas it is on the button with Lutron) and the slim button again has it off to the side (whereas it is under each button with Lutron). Small things, but reason enough that we are pretty sure we will skip the engraving.

Just to throw one more thing into the mix, I got a reply from Jimmy Busby (Centralite CTO/R&D guru) and he said that the controls are basically momentary contact switches and you could use just about anything to send a signal to the controller. The reason I had asked this was I considering hacking a Lutron or some other switch to control the Centralite controller. (I should add that I'm really sold on the Centralite architecture and hardware for all sorts of reasons and really prefer to use them for the core of our lighting). He said that they had in fact done a small hack before to do this with another manufacturer (can't remember who). My impression was that it would be a bit expensive to do it this way and it would probably make more sense to just go with Homeworks if I really wanted to get this crazy.

Here's another thing - since I've already waited this long, I might have to wait until July when CBus (Clipasl) is supposed to debut in the US. Now if the price isn't right or they are not DIY friendly, then I may still consider cracking open one of their (BEAUTIFUL) saturn keypads and see if I can hack it to work with Centralite. FWIW, I've seen four button saturn's go on ebay for < 100 US, which works for me.

A couple other things worth mentioning... I'm still not sure if I'll go with Elegance or LiteJet. For the next 3-4 years, one LiteJet will handle our needs and I figure I can swap in an Elegance down the road unless Centralite decides to merge the product lines and allow chaining of additional LiteJets. I'm still trying to figure out if there is some value in the Elegance that I'm missing in the LiteJet, but considering I'm going to use an Elk M1G and CQC, I think that the Centralite will really just be a load center with a few scenes.

OOOOH - this just in. I was trying to figure out which third-party switch Centralite had hacked to get working with their stystem and visted Touchplate. Lo and behold the switches on their homepage look VERY similar to the new Centralite ones (In fact the white 8-button one is called Mystique!) and the other was the Ultra (which might be what the Centralite one was called). So I don't know what's up with this. Since they are not on the Centralite website, I'm thinking maybe Worthington just had these in their section in the catalog or maybe Centralite is OEM'ing them? The plate looks nicer in the catalog than the touchplate site (which has screws and a simple plate).

Okay, that's enough. Hope this helps!
 

Spanky

Senior Member
CBus / Clipsal is already interfaced to the M1 by our Australian partners, Ness Security. CBus seems to have alot of features. Looking forward to seeing it work in the US.
 

FrankMc

Active Member
CBus / Clipsal is already interfaced to the M1 by our Australian partners, Ness Security. CBus seems to have alot of features. Looking forward to seeing it work in the US.


You definetly wont be disappointed ;-) .....The Saturn Switches are real nice but a bit expensive ........Got one in my Lounge room ...

http://www.hobby.armaghelectrical.com.au/page79.html

Also able to control my CBUS Lighting via Homevision....


Frank
 

FrankMc

Active Member
Wow, those are nice looking! Will programming allow for the LEDs to glow Orange for ON and Blue for OFF?


Yes you can....My Saturn switch leds are orange when off and blue when on.....

Frank
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
FrankMc said:
Wow, those are nice looking! Will programming allow for the LEDs to glow Orange for ON and Blue for OFF?


Yes you can....My Saturn switch leds  are orange when off and blue when on.....

Frank
Very very cool!!
 

Stormy

New Member
Yep, those are the switches. Like I mentioned, they're similar, but not exactly the same. The backplate is a bit different. I looked in my Worthington catalog, and they are called "Ultra" and "Mystique". Though they don't explicity call them "Centralite" controls in the catalog, they are listed as "New - Premium Keypads" in the Centralite section (page 29). So maybe Touch-Plate controls are a drop-in fit? As I mentioned before, I couldn't find anything about them on the Centralite site.
I think the 24 load system for suffice for me for now, but I wish you could add on in smaller increments than buying another 24 loads.
My thinking is that for my current needs, 24 + some UPB's (for a few non-dimming loads) will suffice. When I need to expand, I'm either thinking (hoping?) they will allow for expansion beyond 48 loads with the LiteJet or I can swap in an Elegance panel while keeping all my exisitng switches and programming (hopefully). I have to say that at $1561 for the 24 load dimming panel (Worthington price) is very attractive and that I don't have a problem with having to buy in 24 load increments. FYI, if you were to go with Elegance, it scales up 12 loads at a time IIRC.

Guess I'm going to hold off a couple more months to see what happens with Clipsal. In the meantime, I'm going to try to grab one of the Clipsal controls off ebay and try to figure out if it can be hacked into Centralite if I decide to go that route.

I'd like to hear where you go with your lighting decision - sounds like we're in a similar spot. I'll do the same.
 

Stormy

New Member
Did a little more poking around at touchplate, and noticed the cutsheet directory doesn't have a default doc which makes it easy to see all cutsheets:) http://www.touchplate.com/cutsheets/

What I found interesting is that the cutsheet for the Mystique keypad says the caps can be engraved whereas the Worthington catalog shows the engraving on the sides (which i didn't care for). I'm going to guess that the Worthington catalog doesn't accurately represent the engraving. Also it seems the TouchPlate switches have a lot of options for finishes.

So here's my preference (in order):

1. Clipsal control and switches (pricing/availability might limit this)
2. Centralite control and Clipsal switches (my hacking ability might limit this)
3. Centralite control and Touchplate switches (99% sure this will work)
4. Centralite control and Centralite switches (last resort - I really don't like the stock switches)
 

FrankMc

Active Member
Hi Stormy

I dont think it would be viable / possible to hack a clipsal "Saturn" switch ......

Just pulled apart a standard two gang Cbus switch and its got a microprocessor and other electronic stuff in there.....

Would wait if possible for it to be released in the states...Might be an idea to drop an email to Clipsal Head Office here in Oz in regards to the U.S. Official Launch....??

http://www.clipsal.com.au/

HTH
Frank
 
Top