Lutron RadioRA 2 - easy wireless home automation
Why home automation?
Home automation has been around for some time now. The ability to control your home's lighting, blinds, security and other systems has brought convenience and an improvement in quality of life for many homeowners, especially with the advent of mobile devices. Being able to check from anywhere, at any time if you left the lights on, or who's ringing your doorbell is certainly reassuring, and difficult to give up once you've experienced it. Now that big players like Apple, Sonos and Google have joined the party, things are only going to get easier and more integrated with our daily lives.
With automation, your home adjusts to suit you. It allows you to protect valuable art or furniture by having blinds automatically close as the sun reaches them, or having lights turn on to welcome you as you arrive home. Security is enhanced as lighting turns on and off to simulate activity while you're away and you can even integrate smart locks and doorbells into a system.
There's no question that adding automation to a home makes it more enjoyable and easy to live in, but the hardest part is often getting started. Is there a big financial outlay required? Do I have to do everything at once? Do I have to tear my house apart to run wires? You may be surprised to find that the answers to these questions are all 'no'.
No wires required
It's true that if you want a full-function, do-everything system, then running wires while you're undertaking a new build or substantial renovation is a good way to go. Wired connections will always offer increased speed and reliability over wireless options and are the preferred connection method, although the gap is definitely closing with modern RF systems offering outstanding reliability. If you are building or renovating, then it's a great idea to contact the Soundline team early in the design process to see what your options are and make sure they're properly integrated into the final design. We'll help you make the right decisions early on and more importantly, futureproof your system.
But what if you want the benefits of automation without the inconvenience of renovating? Well it's easy with the RadioRA 2 system from Lutron. You can enjoy lighting, shade, temperature, music and appliance control from wall-mounted keypads, handheld controls or mobile devices - in your existing home, no renovation or building work required. RadioRA 2 offers almost all of the benefits of a fully wired automation system with none of the hassle.
The Pico keypad from Lutron offers simple, lighting control from anywhere in your home.
The Radio RA 2 select system
So what makes up a RadioRA 2 system? Here we'll go over the basics so you can see how easy it is to get started with home automation.
At the heart of the system is the Main Repeater. Think of this as the brain of the system that controls the rest of your devices such as light switches and blinds. A small box about the size of an AppleTV that you can hide away that will wirelessly control the devices in your home. An auxiliary repeater can also be added if you need to extend your range to outdoor areas, or the number of devices to be connected. The Main Repeater also contains a clock that allows you to schedule lights turning on or off, blinds raising or lowering and other tasks.
The Lutron RadioRA 2 in-line dimmer (left) and main repeater (right)
Connecting your repeater to your lights is the job of the Lutron in-line dimmer. This is a small module that’s placed in the wire running to your lights and has the job of switching or dimming your lights, as directed by the repeater. You’ll need one of these per light circuit in your home. They’re easy to install (we recommend having an electrician install them for you) and provide a reliable, wireless connection to the main repeater - which is what makes the RadioRA 2 system so appealing. The wiring for your lights is already in place, and apart from that, there’s nothing else needed. The repeater will connect to your in-line dimmer and straight away you’re in business. No drilling, cutting, plastering or painting required.
Other devices like keypads or motion sensors work in the same way. Just place them where required and enjoy all of the benefits. Connections are wireless, and the batteries that power them are good for around 10 years.
You might think that changing the way you turn your lights on and off isn't that exciting, and you'd be right. Although it can surprisingly convenient to be able to adjust your lighting through your phone or voice, the real power comes when you start automating this ability and combining it with other devices. One example might be setting a movie scene, where at the touch of a button the lights dim and all the blinds in your lounge lower. Or perhaps you arrive home late at night with your arms full of shopping. Because your phone knows your location, the front door and kitchen lights are automatically turned on for you as you arrive, while the blinds have been automatically closed since sunset thanks to your Lutron system.
Security is another great application of the Lutron lighting system. While you’re away from home, the Lutron system makes it easy to schedule your lights to turn off and on, or blinds to raise and lower in a random or scheduled pattern. The more automated lighting you have in your home, the more realistic this effect of someone being home is.
There is also the option of wirelessly adding motion sensors that activate lighting when someone walks into a room. Never again will you have to fumble in the dark for a light switch, or forget to turn the lights off when you leave the room. The number of ways you can make use of these functions is really only limited by your imagination.
When it comes to control, Lutron gives you plenty of options that are loaded with convenience, ease-of-use and look great in your home.
Your smartphone gives you total control over the system thanks to the Lutron app. You can easily control individual lights or blinds or setup a schedule to do it all for you. The app is intuitive and quick to use, making it truly useful day to day. If that’s not enough, the system is also compatible with Apple’s Homekit; and also works with the Siri and Alexa voice assistants. Fast and easy access is never a problem.
If you prefer something more fixed, there are plenty of switch and keypad options. The Pico keypads are small enough to place anywhere, such as a benchtop, wall or bedside. Because they’re wireless, you can move them anywhere you need them, and you can even order them engraved with your own labels.
Palladiom keypads are a replacement for the traditional wall light switches and come in a wide range of colours and finishes. Buttons are backlit and indicate which pre-configured scene is currently active in your room. Build quality is outstanding and a subtle click with each keypress makes these a joy to use. The buttons sit flush to the faceplates to create a clean look and like the Pico keypads, custom engraving is available. Palladiom keypads are available in many different button layouts, depending on your requirements.
At the top of the keypad range sits the Allise. Sleek architectural design, customisable buttons and a large range of materials and finishes make the Allise keypads jewellery for your home. These are beautifully built keypads that look amazing in any of the polished, brushed or painted metallic options. Various button configurations are also available to suit the needs of your room.
The Lutron Allise keypad (left) and Palladiom keypad.
One of the best features of a Lutron system is its reliability. The company has been around since the late 1950’s and has developed a reputation for producing components and systems that just work. You should never be left wondering if your lighting schedule is going to take effect or that your blinds really are drawn. With a Lutron system you can have confidence that both individual components and the system itself will perform beyond expectations for many years to come. And rest assured, the Soundline team is always available to help should you need support with anything. We've invested many years into designing, installing and supporting Lutron systems and have them in our own homes. If you'd like to know more about what the Lutron RadioRA 2 system can do for you, get it touch with the Soundline team. We can walk your through the options and show you more about how it works, and how easy it is to get started.