Replacing a massive Crestron system

Hi everyone! I’ve listened and read here a lot more than I’ve posted so thank you all for your help!

i’m back with another Q. I’ll try to keep it brief but useful. I’ve tinkered in home automation for quite some time, but stay at the intermediate/advanced user level. I’m not at the point where I’ve built my own custom devices and or controllers, but I’ve used them and kinda understand how they work.

My wife is an interior designer and is getting into talking to her customers about smart lights, home control etc. (This sentence will make sense in a sec)

Her current client has an interesting scenario and they were curious if I could help them smartify their house. Here’s what they have:

  • 10+ year old Crestron system
  • 20 LiteTouch relay control boxes with about 8 relays per all wired back to 4 control units
  • total of about 180 switches, dimmers, fans, etc.
  • 8 zone audio also running through that crestron rack
  • each room has a little Litetouch control pad with anywhere from 1 to 9 little dimple buttons that controls that room and scenes (each panel has a 18guage low voltage signal wire running back to the attic)
  • ZERO light switches in each room… all 110 lines for ALL fixtures are running to ONE room up in the attic

They were curious if they can move to a smartthings hub with Alexa control all over the house.

My brain first started with zwave switches to replace each of the relay spots, but that got VERY silly VERY quickly (180 switches on one wall!)

Then I started thinking about little zwave plus in-line relays… seems more manageable to have 180 2 inch by 2inch devices on that way. (the ENERWAVE Z-Wave Plus Relay for example)

Then I saw things about arduino controlling 8 and 16 port relay modules, but that has custom programming and I didn’t want to open that door unless I needed to.

What would you do about lighting control?



They’re probably better off talking to a Crestron lighting dealer about looking into upgrades of that Crestron equipment. As far as I remember, Crestron made (still makes) upgrades available for older systems to modernize them and not have to gut those home run designs - including, if I’m not mistaken a way to link them directly with Alexa once they use the new controllers.


As @nathancu mentioned, Crestron has added Alexa integration which works well with their systems.

And smartthings has nothing comparable as far as either audio or wall controls. Assuming they can afford it, they will probably be much happier with an updated Crestron system.

If they can’t afford it, that’s a different issue, but you would still probably be looking at a different platform than SmartThings because of the home theater integration.

So they are definitely not inclined to spend the $ they were quoted. I would say they have it, but just aren’t interested in anything that proprietary and locked in. It’s a home they purchased and they’re working through digging all the old stuff out.

they were quoted about $30k to bring the keypads and controllers up to the current versions… and then another $20k to smartify it… and THEN about $20k estimate to add audio, cameras, etc. That’s almost $70k they would love to use elsewhere.

They do have a home theater room, but that’s an isolated configuration and not really part of crestron. After they smartify their house they plan to attack the home theater - they currently have 6 remotes they need to work through to watch a simple netflix movie. That’s later tho.

What other platforms give them a good foundation to grow from?

what I was thinking is that the smartthings can serve as the ZWave hub, and then other audio/video/etc can run off of Alexa.

the theater is a separate project… the first plan is to make the house a bit more intelligent and flexible (routines, etc)

With the current suggested (and enforced on Android) 200 device limit in SmartThings, i’d say that alone rules out SmartThings. It only gets more complex when you consider the unique wiring and touch panels. Unless they want to spend a lot of time researching and self-supporting what DIY devices will work, i’d say they’re unfortunately stuck with Crestron or some other professional system.


Personally, at this point I wouldn’t recommend smartthings to anyone in your wife’s position. There are going to be a lot of client headaches as the products transition to the new platform and you just don’t want to be held responsible for those. :scream:

The “eight audio zones“ that you mentioned are part of what I’m counting as a home theater system.

The prices they were quoted sound about right for Crestron. It’s very reliable, it has a lot of features, it runs locally, but it’s intended for very high-end homes.

The setup sounds too big to me for a smartthings implementation as well. There is now a hard limit of 200 devices (including virtual devices and Wi-Fi devices), and it sounds like they will hit that almost instantly. ST support also doesn’t recommend more than about 40 Z wave devices on one hub, although a lot of people do go for more.

Control4 is definitely worth considering if they want a high-end system but don’t want to spend Crestron prices. It’s normally professionally installed, but there are some DIY options.


Le sigh… I get it.

Last Q before I submit the recommendation… what about going with Wifi switches and avoiding the entire concept of RF brudge hubs? Kasa, etc?

The biggest reason it seems like I’m pushing is that they like the customization and flexibility of using skills, routines and other consumer oriented automation. They already have a bunch of dots and shows around the house and are getting the family used to routines.


WiFi will run into the same max devices issues in most homes.

Have them get a quote from a Lutron dealer for lighting. Don’t make any pre-assumptions about specific models, etc—let the installer do the evaluation. Their systems work great with Alexa, including Alexa routines, they are very well engineered, highly reliable, and can be matched to different budget levels. Lutron can also be integrated with Sonos for a good whole house audio system if desired. Both Lutron and Sonos scale up and down well. You can add motorized window coverings also, a nice option for many interior designers.

The end result will be a solution that is much more expensive than SmartThings, but also much more reliable. And much less expensive than Crestron.

And here’s a page on Lutron that shows some of the options designers might consider. Not all options are available for all models, but it’s a company that’s very comfortable working with interior designers and takes their concerns into account.

My number one advice for your wife when recommending smart home equipment is something she already knows for, say, recommendations for lighting or bathroom remodels. The first priority should be reliability. You don’t want to be held responsible for after-installation headaches.

The second priority for anything that requires electrical or plumbing work is that the client be able to find reliable licensed contractors to do the installs for any idiosyncrasies the home may have. This is easy for Lutron.

If you are choosing a system for your own home, you can choose to save money or add features by cobbling together lots of budget devices because you’re the only one who has to deal with any maintenance issues. But when you are making a professional recommendation to someone else, you need a system that has the rough edges sanded off, that will be reliable and simple after the install is done. And that hopefully has its own quality tech support if any questions do come up.

Anyone who can afford to pay a professional to make recommendations can afford one of the better quality home automation systems, so the professional should take advantage of that. :sunglasses:


one very basic way to add smartthings to that system would be to add 180 smart outlet plugs in that attic controller room and then use wireless button controllers in each room. you can have more then one button controlling each light in addition to phone/tablet app control. still this would be several thousand dollars, but you could start out with just a handfull of the primary lights and add on as time goes.

I doubt if that could be done without rewiring the entire house and even then I’m not sure it could pass code. Plus their electric bill would go way up.

The LiteTouch system described in the OP’s first post is a low-voltage system.

A single power supply supplies 2 amps (2000 mA) of power. A dual power supply consists of two single power supplies.
For example, a nine-button keypad draws about 100 mA; 20 nine-button keypads draw about 2000 mA, the capacity of a LiteTouch power supply.

Replacing a 10 mA button with a conventional smart plug of 10A is literally 1,000 times as much energy use. They just aren’t comparable device classes. :thinking:

power from the control room runs to each light so the smart outlets could be put in the control room.

Adding 180 conventional outlets to a control room that Is currently operating a low power homerun system will require massive rewiring.

(Actually, adding 180 conventional outlets to any room will probably require massive rewiring. you’re talking about 15 new circuits coming into that room. For most people that means a whole new circuit box, even assuming their local jurisdiction would approve it.)

yes, if you did all 180, but if you only did a few of the major room lights then just a little rewiring.

If you only did a few then you might be able to limit the amount of rewiring needed, but you still increased the energy usage by 1,000 times for each switch you rewire.

It’s not impossible, and again someone might decide to do that for themselves, but for a professional consultant like the OP’s wife to recommend it to a client seems very risky from a reputational standpoint. JMO, of course. :sunglasses:

the good thing is that no matter how you update the system, all the lights (power) are run to one control room.

another even easier option would be to use smart light bulbs.