$25k on Lutron RA3 or traditional and then Matter devices?

We’re in the midst of a large (6500 sq ft) remodel. Framing is done, and electrical is in process. The contractor is pushing us to decide on a lighting control system so the electrician can complete the wiring. The proposal from the electrician–above and beyond their existing contract for wiring and standard switches–is $25k for mid size system:

2 8ANS switches @ $400 each
37 Touch Dimmers @ $400 each
11 Companion dimmers @ $350 each
7 4 button keypads @ $350 each
1 RA 3 processor @ $500 (my estimate, not stated on bid)
4 hours of site meetings, design, and 10 scenes programmed, $2600
Total $25,000

The device prices are described as “install…”

Their pricing is a bit over the top, given the MSRP on the devices. Including “install” does not make sense to me, since their existing contract already included pulling wires to all of the switch locations.

Second, just as I received this bid (yesterday) I found out about Matter–sorry for not being late to the party. That seems to really through this whole thing into doubt.

So query: what path to take?

  1. stick with traditional switches, and later retro fit with Matter compliant devices? The contractor is painting doom and gloom about how we’ll need ugly six-gangs all over the place. I reviewed the RCP and there’s at most one 5-gang, and a number of 3 gangs. With carefull planning we should be able to reduce the 5 gang, as well as set up the lighting circuits for later smart control of scenes.
  2. Go with the RA3 but negotiate a much reduced price. My think is to specifically separate out device costs from programming costs. Devices should be competively priced, and then they can justify the programming costs. Or is their approach the standard in the industry?
  3. Something else? Say Caesta devices now and mix in Matter devices later?

As to existing ecosystem, we’re Alexa users. I’m comfortable handling programming of devices. I already took the Lutron RA3 introductory course, which is more or less trivial.

Sounds like an exciting project!

I’m not up to a longer answer at the moment, but a few quick points:

  1. Matter. Lutron is likely to eventually support Matter for many of their models the same way they support Apple HomeKit: through their SmartBridge (or main “Repeater” for RA3). That’s a common approach: it’s the same way Philips Hue bulbs will work with Matter (through an update to the bridge, not the individual bulb). But unlike Philips, Lutron hasn’t named a date yet.

Most experts don’t think that’s an issue because Lutron already integrates with all the same major home automation platforms that Matter will, including Alexa and SmartThings and Apple Home. The only thing missing would be integration with budget platforms like Ikea Dirigera. So I don’t think most people would put off a Lutron installation now just to wait for Matter.

If you intend to use the Apple Home app, then there’s no reason to wait: Lutron will already show up in the Home App and already runs locally that way, so Matter doesn’t add anything. If you intend to use the Samsung SmartThings app, again, no reason to wait: Lutron already has an integration. Both of these will bring in the Matter-compatible devices of other brands so again there’s no real reason to wait.

Here’s a typical Matter analysis in this regard:

  1. Caseta, The Caseta system can only handle a max of 75 devices and the only multi button devices it has are the Picos which max out at 4 buttons, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also, it’s unlikely to handle a house your size since the range is limited to 60’ with one extender, and you’re only allowed one extender. So it’s 60’ in one direction but only 30’ in the other. you’d probably have to run multiple Caseta installs and have fewer models to choose from.

I use Caseta in my own home and am very happy with it, but ours is 1800 square feet in an U shape and no multi button devices above 3 buttons.

  1. installation charges Can’t say for sure, but that charge typically covers programming the device, including any integrations like Apple Home or SmartThings. Not just physically installing the device in the wall. Those can be fairly labor intensive. I’m not saying $50/device is a fair price, but $1500/system is pretty common, and that’s for a smaller house. And if there are a lot of multi button devices those do add time and complexity. :thinking:

And, yes, I would say almost all lighting contractors take the same approach yours is: “bid the project, not the piece.” The exception is for homeowners who buy a place that already has a Lutron system installed and now they want it reprogrammed and a few more pieces added.

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Hopefully other community members will have more to add.

If I was you I would get at least three quotes from Lutron installers by using the following search page.

https://www.lutron.com/en-US/Pages/WTB/wheretobuy.aspx?AID=1

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That is extremely expensive. I had an electrician install a zwave version of this on a job for 8K and he had to run the copper wiring from the breaker box through existing walls as well as a dozen CAN lights with wiring. I personally wouldn’t wait for matter as long as you are going with a hub based solution like Hue or Lutron. Those brands will make themselves compatible with Matter down the road.

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Thanks for the thoughtful feedback.

  1. I’m getting another bid on the system. Question: Is it proper to disclose the existing bid to the new comer? I’m told that in the trades this is not done. But in other areas, like buying a car etc. it’s totally normal to disclose existing bids to potential vendors.

  2. Am I correct in thinking that smart planning can minimize both the wiring costs and N-gang problem? Example: We have a great room (65x25) combining living room, dining room, family room. In each there will be two circuits (4 cans, and a center light/fan), so 6 circuits to be controlled. Traditionally, if you wanted full control of all circuits from all three locations, you would need a 6 gang of 3 & 4 ways at each location, thus wiring all switches to power, and commons between them. My understanding is what with Sunnata switches, you only need a 2 gang at each location, with on Pro Switch, and two companions, with travelers between them. A keypad then can control any combination of the 6 circuits as a scene (i.e, one button on the keypad for all on/off, one button for some other combination). Thus, this eliminates all of the extra traveler wiring that would otherwise be necessary.

  3. Following the above logic, it’s only when you have a secondary or tertiary light (e.g., a specific downlight for a fireplace, or a switched outlet), that you “hide” the switch in a service closert, and program a keypad to control it. In other words, you don’t need to put all the switches in a central closet and use keypad$ everywhere.

Thanks

I would not disclose bids to either side. Just find out their price and negotiate them down.