Inside Lutron CEDIA 2017 Booth: RA2 Select Is ‘Total Gamechanger’
'Amazing' Lutron RA2 Select expands integrators ability to offer affordable wireless control of lighting and shades with completely app-based installation and consumer-level control.
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After seeing the new Lutron RA2 Select in the company's booth at CEDIA 2017, CE Pro 100 Dave Gilbert, senior vice president of Audio Video HiFi Buys in Cherry Hills, N.J., put it simply: "This is a total gamechanger."
Lutron showcased lots of new technology in its booth in San Diego, but RA2 Select was generating the most buzz among integrators at the show.
Gilbert noted, "Lutron RadioRA2 Select will allow us to get more clients to experience the magic of Lutron as it is priced right. But just as important any of my technicians, even apprentices, can program it. Even me and I’m not a tech."
Ryan Herringer of CE Pro 100 integration company Sound Concepts in Jonesboro, Ark., called the system "amazing."
What Gilbert, Herringer and others are so excited about is RA2 Select, a new, simpler wireless lighting, shading and home control system providing smart home control for homeowners while providing easy app-based setup, installation and scalability for integrators.
It consists of a 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.
Positioned Between Radio RA2 and Caseta
RA2 Select repositions the boundary for integrators between Caseta and Radio RA2. Previously, it was a costly jump for a dealer for the design, initial starting costs and programming for Radio RA2. Clients who wanted more functionality had to commit $15,000 to do a full Radio RA2 system.
Also, Caseta has a limit of 50 devices. So once a homeowner goes above 50 devices, the integrator had to completely remove a Caseta system, including all the keypads, to upgrade to Radio RA2. Now, RA2 Select goes to 100 devices, and is fully compatible with all the keypads and switches used for Radio RA2, meaning as the system expands there is no need to rip out any previous devices. The only thing the integrator has to swap out is the main repeater.
RA2 Select also comes in at a much lower price point with much easier set up. Indeed, inside a separate enclosed "experience room" in the Lutron booth at CEDIA 2017, Kelsey Lord of Lutron literally stepped attendees through the set up of a single-zone system with multiple lamps and keypads (along with a motorized shade and Sonos audio) in just 7 minutes. By the way, the room also had Amazon Alexa integration.
RA2 Select is completely set up using just an app... there is no PC utility. The integrator simply sets up the system in contractor mode in the app, which has three main sections: Devices/Scenes/Schedules. During the demo, Lord set up an "Entertainment" scene with automatically comes with pre-set levels for lights and shades. She added a shade and added audio using the contractor mode. Homeowners are encouraged to access the contractor mode on their own to make changes, or "call us back" as one integrator quipped during the demo for clients who are techno-phobes. Dealers did not seem to mind that their clients have access to the contractor mode because that empowers the customer.
RA2 Select 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.
It 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 keypads are wireless, battery powered (10-year battery life) devices that offer flexible mounting options. The Pico can be mounted on the wall or on a table with a pedestal. The 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 Amazon, Apple, Google, Honeywell, Nest, Sonos and others. 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.
Palladiom Shading System with Exposed Rollers
In its booth, Lutron also showcased its new Palladiom Shading System with exposed rollers, highlighted by a 12-foot-wide demo.
On the surface, the system might appear just be another exposed bracket shading system, but it is an entirely new shading system built from the ground up by Lutron with a new drive, bracket, wire management and installation system. The result is a fast installation for dealers with minimal light gaps and hidden wires.
The engineering is quite remarkable.
"The bracket has a footer on it that is precisely proportioned to the projection of the bracket. So for a 2-inch-wide system the maximum rollup is 3 inches. So you have concentric circles with the bracket. The mechanism that is used to slide the bracket in has a cover that slides over it to conceal the wires. That ring is exactly the same size as the ring on the outside edge of the bracket to create a symmetrical, consistent look. Likewise, the screws have a cover that hides them. That adds the the symmetrical proportion of the bracket."
Another subtle element is the bracket includes four rubber bumpers (try to say that fast) that prevent any noise or metal-to-metal grinding that might take place when the shade starts up or stops. The cover itself also has a rubber shock absorber to prevent noise. Also, the bottom rail is much smaller and pentagonal in shape versus rectangular. That allows the rail to seat up closer to the bracket when the shade is fully open. The rail also has the same finish as the bracket.
Atelier Fabric Collection = 200+ Choices
Lutron also unveiled at CEDIA 2017 its new Atelier fabric collection with more than 200 choices for integrators and designers.
To make it easier to choose, Lutron has an Atelier Kit that dealers can purchase. The kit has all the fabrics arranged by color. Lutron has color consultants employed at the company who worked closely with fabricators and the design community to come up with the textures and colors.
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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