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RadioRa 2 - First Day Impressions

dgage

Active Member
I have had several requests for information about my RadioRa 2 setup, which I purchased several weeks ago.  Well, I finally was able to get my electrician friend to come over and install my RadioRa2 switches today.  Due to a winter storm, I didn't get my other shipment Friday so I didn't get all of the switches installed that I wanted but I did get my kitchen installed. 
 
First, my configuration, which is 3 sides of a kitchen. (Third side is because that was where a switch was for the breakfast nook and I couldn't remove it)
1. Entrance from garage to kitchen
Switch 1: Garage light (Not RadioRa 2 yet due to late shipment)
Switch 2: RRD-10ND dimmer (controls main recessed cans)
Switch 3: RRD-H6BRL hybrid 6 button keypad (controls local load - counter lights)
 
2. Opposite side of kitchen
Switch 1: RDRD remote dimmer (controls main recessed cans)
Switch 2: RRD-H6BRL hybrid 6 button keypad (controls local load - floor led rope light)
 
3. Breakfast nook
Switch 1: RRD-H6BRL hybrid 6 button keypad (controls local load - Island pendants)
 
Hybrid Keypad Setup (all 3 are the same although the reason it is called a hybrid is that it also controls one local load.  In my case, each of the hybrid keypads control a local load - buttons 2, 3, 4 below)
Button 1: Main (recessed cans)
Button 2: Pendants (local load on keypad 1)
Button 3: Counter (leds under upper cabinet) (local load on keypad 2)
Button 4: Floor (led rope light at island cabinets toe kick) (local load on keypad 3)
Button 5: Shades (for future motorized shades...if I ever add them)
Button 6: All Off (Turns off 1-4)
 
Main Repeater - I almost left this off but I wanted to be clear about this.  This is the heart of the system and is the main controller for the RadioRa 2 system and is required.  Mine is located centrally in my house in the top of a closet and should reach most areas of my house with its 30' radius range.  I have mine connected by Ethernet although it also has a serial port for control.  Primarily connection would be via the network with the serial port used to integrate with other systems such as HAI, Elk, or similar controller.  If you need more range, you can put an additional Auxiliary Repeater.  I believe you would need access to the upper tier software to add more than 1 Auxiliary Repeater. 
 
Keeping in mind that I just set them up and have used them for less than a day, here are my thoughts. 
 
1. Setting up (programming) the system has a slight ramp (mainly hybrid keypads) but wasn't difficult and fairly elegant.  Not a ton of options.  No double taps that UPB and other switches have (at least that I have seen).  Also, switch identification and pairing is by serial number on each switch.
2. The switches will control a local load even if you haven't setup the system and paired with the Main Repeater.
3. Status is instantaneous.  If I press a button or switch, all of the hybrid keypads update instantaneously.  Also, I have an All Off button on the hybrid keypads and it lights up green once all of the other kitchen lights turn off.
4. Nice feature (although you pay for it) is that the hybrid keypads come with a voucher for free engraving.  Until you get the personalized engraving, the switch comes with 3 sheets of labels to identify your buttons appropriately.
5. Small thing that I would rarely use but when I was putting the labels on the hybrid keypad buttons, there is an off switch that you can pull out to disable the switch.
6. Switches are nicely constructed and seem to work perfectly.
7. Keypads have a glow that is nice at night.  Software gives a 5 step control on glow so something that is nice in the kitchen can be turned off for the bedroom.
 
Overall, I like the system but my implementation so far is small and I don't have anything exotic installed.  In the shipment I am expecting are some remote switches (non-dimmer) that I needed for the garage and a few other places.  Also, I have a couple occupancy sensors coming.  So I will be able to give more information soon but so far so good.
 
One reminder before people get too excited about RadioRa 2.  I haven't read anything negative about RadioRa 2 except for the cost and dealer oriented distribution.  To get the software (first tier for up to 100 devices) I had to watch some training videos online, take a 1.5 hour online course, take an exam, and then buy the RadioRa 2 Starter Kit (or equivalent).  Lookup Lutron RadioRa 2 Blast Training for more info.  So some will (rightly?) complain about the controlled distribution but it was not hard to get access to the first tier of the software.  Cost is more expensive than UPB or Zwave but RadioRa 2 seems more coherent with more elegant options available than any other lighting system I saw besides other closed systems.  RadioRa 2 has a myriad of dimmers, switches, occupancy/vacancy sensors, temperature controls, light level sensors, etc that are all wireless and don't eat batteries like crazy.  So it is a nice system but it isn't perfect. 
 
Oh yeah, one other shortcoming...RadioRa 2 has limited support in (DIY ORIENTED) HA software with CQC being the only one that I know of that has support of the main software (Elve, CQC, Homeseer).  Hardware wise, HAI has an interface that you simply need to integrate with a serial port.  Elk requires a ~$300 add-on to integrate with RadioRa 2.  Higher end systems such as Crestron or Control4 (and many others) have support for RadioRa 2 but those are usually less DIY oriented than even RadioRa 2.
 
Just wanted to give a quick update since there is so little info on RadioRa 2 out there.  I will give more info in the future as I expand the system and learn more about it.
 
David
 
EDITED - Added clarification of DIY ORIENTED HA software support vs higher-end systems as several pointed out in comments.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
This is GREAT information, thank you!
 
Do you know if the protocol is difficult to implement?  Trying to figure out why there is such little support.
 

dgage

Active Member
Here is a link to the Lutron RadioRa 2 Integration protocol.

http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/040249.pdf

It SEEMS easy to implement but I haven't tried. I do know you can telnet (up to 8 or 10 sessions including interfaces like HAI) into the main repeater and see and send commands although I haven't tried that yet either but that shouldn't be too hard to take a look at. Here are a couple command examples from the PDF:

This command sets a dimmer (1) level to 75% with a 1 minute and 30 second fade time.
#OUTPUT,1,1,75,01:30<CR><LF>

This command presses button number 1 of a keypad (2).
#DEVICE,2,4,3<CR><LF>

Regarding the lack of support, I'm going to assume the controlled distribution and expense are the primary reasons.

David
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
That forum is dead (unless there are hidden sub-forums).  If that's the best out there when it comes to RadioRA 2, I would love to start a forum here (if there is a demand for it).  I understand Lutron doesn't want this to become a DIY product, but there are plenty of people out there with existing Lutron installs who want to maintain the system themselves.
 

Neurorad

Senior Member
Most pros have no need for a forum, and usually couldn't wait for an answer. They pick up the phone if there is a question.

Starting a RA2 subforum here would be a great idea, IMO. Maybe Lutron would promote it, unofficially. Your using RA2, e, would be useful for the project.
 

az1324

Senior Member
But then you would need to also have a subforum for Clear Connect, MRF2, QS, Stanza, Quantum, Spacer, ... what else? :p
 

crisms98

New Member
Like the OP, I installed my RadioRA2 system by going through the online training and exam.  So far the system has been solid and responds pretty quickly when controlled from an iphone or ipad.  RR2 is actually supported by many HA systems including ELK and control4 to name a few.  ELK allows you to integrate RR2 via serial interface using ELK-M1XSLU. An example of this integration would be to fire a rule that turns on the light in the entire house and flash the outdoor lights to visually attract attention when the alarm is tripped at night.  if you have a shading system, it could also be added in the previous example where all the shades are raised when the alarm goes off.  
 

rapamatic

New Member
I have a quick question about the Lutron training/exam. Can you register and complete the training as an individual or do you need to have a registered business (and tax ID, other verification, etc.) to complete the training?

Thanks!
 

dgage

Active Member
I did not need company verification but I didn't advertise I was a consumer either.  I actually purchased a domain to setup a company email similar to Gage Solutions...just to seem more official.  But definitely no tax ID was needed.
 
And yes, as several have pointed out, there are many more high-end commercial systems that integrate with RadioRa 2, it is the DIY oriented systems that don't have as much support.
 
David
 

rapamatic

New Member
I'm glad to hear that its relatively easy to at least sign up. It will probably be a few months until I have the time to complete the training classes and order some stuff to play around with, but I'll be sure to update with my experience, since there is so little info about RA2 out there for advanced DIY'ers.
 

lleo

Active Member
Whether the DIY unfriendliness or other factors such as cost, it is indeed hard to find good info on RA2. I have chosen this system for retrofitting my home about a year ago and went through the training/got access. Getting started was easy, but I could have used or still could use some hands-on experience on how to rewire or reconcile multi-gang switches into keypads and/or how to hide switches.
 
Like the OP above has keypads and switches ganged together, at least in my house whenever there is more than 1 button controlling a load from the same spot, someone will be confused and the WAF goes way down...
The fact that the system is flexible and you can program or change things later is great. The occupancy/vacancy sensors are useful too. I also got trained in the basic honeycomb shades that are battery powered and integrate very easily with RA2, but these other than bathrooms are not accepted by my significant other...
For now, Lutron is making it difficult to move forward beyond this point, to get access to other shades, even with the fact that I have a tax ID and even considering stepping into this business...
 
To close, I am glad that this surfaced here, and to know that here are folks with whom I can discuss questions encountered, and who do not feel that I am creating competition or taking the bread out of their mouth...
 
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