Ask 100 integrators what they think of when they hear “Lutron” and chances are you’ll get the same 100 answers: “They’re the lighting control company.”
Instead of reinventing an already-functioning wheel, Lutron partnered with Honeywell to develop two thermostat systems incorporating Lutron’s Clear Connect wireless technology. The two offerings include the TouchPRO wireless (pictured) and the 3-Part thermostat.
And, well, that’s true; Lutron is definitely one of the major players in residential and commercial lighting control. When your founder–Joel Spira in Lutron’s case–basically invented the modern-day dimmer and is inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, lighting control probably is gonna be your legacy.
But when I spoke with Spira, lighting was just a small part of the story; Spira hopes that Lutron’s ultimate legacy would be a far broader one of energy management. While lighting accounts for 12 percent of a typical home’s energy usage, heating and cooling make up the bulk of energy usage, around 40 percent. And if energy management is to be your legacy, then HVAC control is a must.
Instead of reinventing an already-functioning wheel, Lutron partnered with Honeywell to develop two thermostat systems incorporating Lutron’s Clear Connect wireless technology. The two offerings include the TouchPRO wireless and the 3-Part thermostat.
The TouchPRO model looks like a typical on-wall thermostat and replaces existing models. It was slightly smaller than my original–think old-school, analog, mercury filled glass cylinder– Janitrol controller, so some painting might be required if retrofitting. Once installed, there are some simple configuration settings–system type, changeover valve setting, temperature offset, etc.– performed on the unit itself.
The 3-Part system–HVAC Controller, seeTemp Wall Display, and Radio Powr Savr wireless temperature sensor–is a bit more involved. First, it’s obviously three parts instead of one. Second, the HVAC wiring connects to the HVAC Controller module instead of the in-room, seeTemp control. Third, the seeTemp installs into the wall like a lightswitch, not onto the wall like most thermostats. In new construction, this would all be outstanding, as wiring could be run wherever you like–say a closet–and then the seeTemp installed discreetly instead of prominently at eye-height, as in 99 percent of installs. But in retrofit situations, it’s trickier. In my case, it meant tying the HVAC controller directly into my Heat Pump system up in the attic and removing some blocking in the wall to cut-in the seeTemp. The HVAC controller comes with a wired return air duct sensor; a probe that pokes into the ducting and serves as a back-up temp gauge in the event that the wireless sensors should fail. The seeTemp powers either via highvoltage or the HVAC system’s 24-volt wiring when replacing an existing T-stat.
Lutron’s 3-Part thermostat includes an HVAC Controller, seeTemp Wall Display, and Radio Powr Savr wireless temperature sensor.
The seeTemp has simple room and set temp indicators along with an eco button that automatically adjusts settings two-degrees for instant energy savings. The Powr Savr wireless temp sensor is small and unobtrusive (think halfdollar size), has a 5-year battery life, and sticks onto a wall wherever you want to monitor temps. Additional temp sensors can be added to take an average across multiple areas.
Following the physical install, the units function like basic t-stats until they are added to a RadioRA2 system–useful if installed prior to full programming. So, they made hot and cold just like they were supposed to, not really exciting. But once they are added to a RA2 system–much like any other device–they provide all manner of control and automation magic. Want to use the system’s timeclock function to automatically adjust temps at any time during of the day or sunrise/ sunset? Done. Want a car-visor button that puts the system into an energy-saving “away” mode? Simple. Want to automatically set lower cool point when you press “watch movie” on the remote? Easy. Need to use occupancy sensors to only heat/ cool when there is a body present? No problem. The system allows for practically any automation option you or your customers could want, all via simple programming in the RA2 software.
The thermostats also integrate beautifully with Lutron’s Home+ iPad app, giving users info on current settings, as well as providing easy adjustment to temp heat/cool schedules for wake, away, home, and sleep settings for both weekday and weekends. With a properly setup VPN network, temps can be checked–and adjusted– anywhere in the world.
I had 800 words for this review, and could certainly have written more. Or I could have summed up the entire thing in just two: Use it.
Easily integrates with RadioRA2 system; tons of automation options; seeTemp allows more discreet placement of controller
Retrofitting 3-Part system a bit challenging; installing thermostats can be a bit tricky and might require an HVAC professional
• Can utilize additional temp sensors for averaging
• Can interface with seeTemp wall display for multiple control locations
• Includes wiring module for use in 1 Heat/1 Cool retrofit systems with only four wires available
• Includes HVAC Controller, seeTemp Wall Display, and Radio Powr Savr wireless temperature sensor
• seeTemp can be powered from 120-volt AC or 24- volt power from HVAC equipment; installs in standard single gang wall-box