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Looking for a versatile offline system


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Hello, all.  I'm brand new, here.  I am a master electrician and well familiar will all the pitfalls one might encounter with traditional switching and dimming.  I thought I was technically savvy and had a good grasp of the options concerning automation until I made my first nearly blind buy.


Here's where my story starts:

My company sprung for a trip for many of us to go to Las Vegas in 2014.  It was the Cosmo Hotel and among other luxuries in my room, I was particularly entranced by the smart switching and scene setting of all the lights.  This was the first time I encountered such control and I guess the magic aesthetic beauty of Caseta and RadioRa stuck in my mind.


Fast forward to a couple days ago and I realized I would need a dimmer on the Lithonia LED shop light which hangs above my desk.  This is a dimmer-capable light which has three prongs.  I went to Home Depot and took a look at their selection.  I knew I loved Caseta and wanted the same light show I had in Vegas.  I also realized the "lamp" dimming kit was only 2-prong, so I purchased the in-wall version with free Pico.  I got this kit home and spent a bit of time wiring it into a nice deep bell box with cord glands and an extension cord cut in half and finished it off with a nice white princess plate.  The absence of a neutral concerned me, but the box seemed to imply none was needed even for LED's.  I mounted it on the wall with heavy duty 3M Command strips.  I press the buttons on the device.  Nothing happens.  I then realized that it was a 2-wire switch and that the LED fixture does not have enough idle draw to power the dimmer.  After 2 hours of research, I realized there is in fact a version utilizing the neutral.  It's called the "PRO" and is not sold at Home Depot.  I ended up ordering it off Amazon for $74.  Not sure if I will regret that decision.


The only other thing I really know about automation is that most rely on an internet connection, but that the Wink 2 is reported to have local control now.  I am about to register for courses in RadioRa 2, but I am afraid it will just be a bunch of overpriced Y2K era tech.  I feel like Lutron has already burned me by marketing pro and consumer goods under the same branding with little or no technical info on the boxes sold at the store.


Here's what I want to do in late 2016:

-Dim an LED strip fixture with a neutral guaranteeing power to the dimmer,

-Install Hue's in some fixtures to play with the moods of various times of day,

-Include desk lamps in scenes using 2-prong devices capable of dimming dimmable CFL/ LED,

-Mount battery-operated keypads on the wall.  For example, I want to press a scene on a keypad next to my bed and have all the hue lights come up dim and warm to reduce sleep disturbance.  In such a nighttime scene, I would also want non-Hue dimmers to come up to a low setting.  I want to come in the front door and press another scene to set up the light levels for office work.

-I want this all to work when the Internet goes out.


What is my best bet?  Again, concerning something like RadioRa 2, I am very electrically savvy and understand pro level things like RS485, but I also don't want to be paying inflated prices for outdated tech.  I am basically just a guy living on somewhat of a budget who wants to just go to the store, pick up some Clear Connect parts, add some Zigbee and Z-Wave parts, and get a reliable, low latency system.


Thanks for any advice on where to start.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been using home automation for about 25 years now, starting with the venerable X10. Right now my home is being controlled exclusively by z-wave and Indigo running on a Mac mini. No internet connection is necessary to make it work. You can pick up a used Mac mini from eBay so your biggest cost is likely to be the software, Indigo.


If you want to reduce the cost still further you could use Open Zwave, but expect a steep learning curve. It depends on how valuable your time is.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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  • 4 weeks later...

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