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Lighting Control by Control4, Lutron, Crestron, and Vantage: Who's the Best?

Lutron RadioRa2 System

A Residential/Commercial Audio, Video, and Technology Consultant walks into a bar. It sounds like the start of a joke. Unfortunately, it really is a joke that someone paid with a lot of money.

My family recently tried a hip pizza place West of the Chicago Loop. As I walked in, I saw the Lutron RadioRA2 Lighting Control system that was designed and installed directly behind the Hostess Desk. (Look at the picture on the left.) I started laughing and asked if I could take a photo of the wall. "Of course," the young woman proudly stated as if I was looking at an art masterpiece. I was actually thinking, "I cannot wait to share this to the industry. Who designed this?" If you look directly above the Computer Screen you will see a keypad. While the keypad is very nicely engraved, they still had to place stickers next to the engravings to help the users out. Does that make any sense?

The photo to the right is of a Vantage Lighting Control processor I found buried deep in the crawlspace of a home. This is an area that is not only damp but directly above the home's sump pump. It does sit very delicately on some foam,

Vantage Lighting Control System

however. Great idea to lift it above the floor as to not get it wet. I also like all the power cords going into the one surge protector. It is important to protect that investment.

Below are some standard light switches and dimmers that I found in a home many years ago. My apologies for the photo as resolutions were not that great from phones yet. I hope you are as impressed as I was. First of all, the sheer length of the banks of switches are truly incredible. It had to take that electrician multiple hours to just place the cover plate on these 6 bank units. As well, there are dimmers and switches by different manufacturers each requiring the homeowner to operate them in a completely different way. This is not to mention how do you know what dimmer controls what group of lights?

Consumers have spent a lot of money on equipment to control the lights in their businesses and homes. The location of these installs have been in very high wealth areas. But, what is the common denominator with all of these lighting control installations? Obviously, it is not the lighting control systems. We have found that ANY of these systems work perfectly well when planned, designed, coordinated, and installed correctly.

So who does manufacturer the best and smartest lighting control system? We constantly read and hear different installers, manufacturers, and reviewers stating and even arguing that Lutron is better than Crestron or Control4 is better than Vantage. There are another dozen companies I have not even named. Yes there is some differing minutia in the operation of systems which the purchaser should know. As well, there are price differences dependent on style and design of systems. What is truly the deciding factor when choosing a lighting control system you may ask? I say, "Do you prefer Pepsi or Coke?"

Above Tech Tonic designed a Lutron Homeworks System for a client's home. The keypads had to recess into the millwork wall and they were engraved to control the lighting and shades in two different adjacent rooms. We only had 6 buttons to work with. The client chose Lutron ONLY because they liked how the keypads looked compared to the other firms. Now they could have picked Control4, Vantage, Crestron, or even standard dimmers. However, just like Pepsi or Coke has a distinctive flavor, we as Consultants know the key ingredients inside their bottles, mixed together just the precise way, makes them work correctly to the users tastes.

All this talk has made me hungry. Maybe my family will want to go get a pizza!

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