Lutron dimmers: which one for me?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Aaron Gould, Apr 27, 2003.

  1. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey everyone...

    I need a fairly simple dimming system, and Lutron products are conveniently available for me. The trouble is, I can't figure out what product/model I need!

    I need something that will enable me to control four pot lights; each light basically at the corners of a rectangular room. I need four settings:

    1. full brightness
    2. full darkness
    3. front two lights on, rear two lights off
    4. front two lights off, rear two lights on

    Additionally, I'd like several dimming levels with the above settings.

    I would also like a remote, just like the Spacer/Grafik Eye systems.

    Can anyone tell me what product will do this? I don't really want to spend too much on the dimmer (roughly 100CDN/75US maximum).
     
  2. MikeWh

    MikeWh Second Unit

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  3. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I bought a remote control Spacer dimmer (single) Saturday from the Home Depot around the corner from me -- $65 CDN. I guess these are cheaper in Canada?

    I'm reviewing the Spacer PDF brochure and it appears I need two of these single dimmers; one to control the front two lights, and one to control the back two lights. Does that sound right?

    The one I purchased the other day included a remote -- but it looks like it controls only one dimmer. Should I simply purchase two single dimmers (with remote sensors), and then hunt down the remote that controls multiple dimmers?

    I didn't see it while at Home Depot, hopefully it won't be tough to track down!
     
  4. MikeWh

    MikeWh Second Unit

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  5. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Mike. That's exactly what I'm after. I don't think I'm too concerned about where to point the remote. The switch box is located at almost exactly 90 degrees to the right of the seating area, so pointing the remote to my right isn't going to bother me much. I do appreciate the heads up though!

    Just curious -- your three-way switch (the one by your door), is that one the same as the other two, or is it a different model?
     
  6. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    Aaron,
    Check the part number of your dimmer before purchasing the IR remote.

    Lutron sells Spacer dimmers through home stores. These dimmers have part numbers like SP-600-xx. They do not support multiple scenes. If you buy another one, it will simply follow the first one.

    Spacer System dimmers, like the ones Mike describes, have part numbers like SPS-600-xx. These are generally available through electrical supply houses. They support 4 different scenes, and will do what you want.

    Another way to tell them apart, the Spacer System dimmers have clear plastic backboxes, while the Spacer dimmers have opaque backboxes.

    This is confusing I know. Similar names, one letter difference in the part number. Identical front panels. Big difference in functionality.

    I have three channels of Spacer System Dimmers in my theater, and they satisfy my needs.

    I'd also note that, if you have a Pronto, the IR codes for Spacer System are available @ remotecentral, so you don't have to purchase the Lutron remote.

    Regards,
     
  7. MikeWh

    MikeWh Second Unit

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    Aaron,

    The 3-way is Spacer's "accessory dimmer" SPS-AD-xx.

    Also, Tom is absolutely right re: "Spacer" vs "Spacer System." Good catch, Tom. I had forgotten about that. I think they should seriously consider changing their product names. I was confused with it at first too-- I'm guessing every customer probably has the same confusion.

    The "SP-600-xx" is actually what I have, as I only needed to control one set of lights. I bought mine as a kit (SP-600M-HT-AD-WH) with the accessory dimmer included, and they only came in white and almond, I think (as a kit, that is).

    I purchased mine through a lighting supply store. I'm sure mark-up was considerable. I'd think HDepot would do a special order for cheaper. They're also available online:

    http://www.lutron.com/lutron/PurchaseOnline.asp?
     
  8. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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  9. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Stunt Coordinator

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    Location:
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    I visited two local electronics dealers today. One of them wanted $130CDN/$90USD for the SPS-600 dimmer. The second dealer I visited wanted only $93CDN/$64USD for the same thing. That's quite a price different between dealers!! And the cheaper dealer was far more helpful and pleasant to deal with. Needless to say, I think I'll be ordering through the cheaper and nicer dealer!

    The remote was $107CDN/$74USD, so roughly the same prices as the mmlighting.com link that Tom provided.

    Even though this is quite a bit more than what I initially wanted to spend, I've decided on getting two SPS-600 dimmers with a 4-scene remote. That should serve my purposes adequately. I anticipate I'll not regret it when my room is finished and I experience the "theater magic". [​IMG]

    Thanks for the help guys, it was certainly appreciated!!
     
  10. ChristW

    ChristW Agent

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    What exactly are the differences between "scenes" and "zones." If I understand it, I think a "scene" is simply a bank of lights that you want controlled by the Lutron Spacer System. However, I can't figure out what a "zone" is. Is that a term for multiple rooms? (for example, zone A is the living room, zone B is the dining room, etc?).

    I havn't decided where I want to put lights yet (if anyone wants to take a peek and offer suggestions, check out:
    http://www.fezam.com/basement2.gif), but my initial thoughts were to have some sort of either recessed or track lighting in the theater, one on the left, one on the right, as well as sconces on the right wall (on either side of where the screen will be). So if I wanted to control these individual banks separately, I'd need to be able to control three "scenes," correct? In that case, I'd be able to buy the same Spacer System (page 3, option 3) as mentioned above, correct? And if so, how do I figure out the product number for this? [EDIT: I re-read the messages above and found the part numbers, thanks!] From what I gather, Home Depot doesn't have these, but they can be special ordered? I'm hoping that the product number will help there. Ordering online is an option as well.

    I finished framing, now I need to run electrical and low-voltage, so I'm at the stage of trying to figure out where the lights/switches are going to go.

    Thanks all!
    CW
     
  11. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    CW,
    You would buy three separate Spacer System Dimmers that will define your three lighting "zones". These three dimmers can then be programmed as four separate "Scenes", plus all ON and all OFF. A scene is simply a pre-programmed preset level that can be set for each of the dimmers, with a single IR command.
     
  12. BillBel

    BillBel Auditioning

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  13. ChristW

    ChristW Agent

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    Tom,
    Thanks for the info, I think I get it now [​IMG]

    I'm guessing that I don't need SPS-5WC-**; I think that's only used if you want to be able to press a button on the wall to get a certain scene, correct?

    I was reading Lutron's site, and apparantly the MX-500 supports the dimmers out of the box, so I don't need to buy a remote control either. Time to dust off the manual and figure out how that works... [​IMG]

    One last (stupid) question. Being new to anything remodeling related (first home...[​IMG], how do I figure out whether I need the SPS-600 or the SPS-1000? Just add up the wattage of the lights connected to the device? So if I had 5 lights, and they were each 100W, that's 500W, and I'd be fine with the SPS-600? I want to make sure before I buy the wrong one... [​IMG]

    Thanks all, this forum and the people in it are great! [​IMG]

    EDIT: One last question about this -- I just looked through the 16 page PDF file, and can't find an answer as to whether you can physically turn lights on/off with the SPS-600 or not. From the looks of it, you have to buy the SPS-5WC-** in order to physically turn lights on/off from the switch area. Is this a true statement, or am I missing something in the PDF? Thanks!
    CW
     
  14. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    CW,
    Correct, you don't need the -WC wall control unless you want master control of all your dimmers from one location.

    Correct, the dimmer wattage is the sum of all the lamps on the same circuit.

    You can turn the lights on and off, and adjust brightness level, independently from each dimmer.

    In my theater, I grouped all the dimmers in a single wall box and also used a separate three way switch for the room lights, right near the entry door.

    Pay attention to where you want switches based on your basement layout. You may want a switch for the theater lights at the bottom of the stairs, or even the top, etc. You may want to add zones so that other lights in the basement and the stairwell dim automatically when you're playing a movie. You get the idea. Live the layout.
     
  15. ChristW

    ChristW Agent

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    Remember the part where I said I'm new to this? Well, it's going to really show now... [​IMG]

    What do you mean by a "three way switch"? Just a light switch with three settings (instead of two)? Now whne you turn the lights on with the three way switch, you can still turn them off again with the remote (and vice versa)? It sounds like the three way switch gives you physical control without spending $100 for scene access. Is that a true statement? I'm not understanding how the three way switch controls the lights in your room, so if you could elaborate a bit further I'd really appreciate it. Alternatively, we can drop this to PMs if it's too basic for general consumption. Thanks!
    CW
     
  16. Tom Rosback

    Tom Rosback Stunt Coordinator

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    A three way switch arrangement allows you to turn the lights on and off from more than one place. In a typical basement wiring application, you use three way switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.

    This is also an option with the Spacer System. These are listed in the Lutron Spacer System catalog, along with wiring instructions.

    Home Depot has a book on electrical wiring that might be helpful.

    Also, you'll need to wire to code, as State Inspections are required in Minnesota. Code determines where and how many outlets you have, where light switches must be located, etc.
     
  17. MikeWh

    MikeWh Second Unit

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    CW-- to elaborate on the "three-way switch"-- the wiring can get a little complicated (at least it was for me, when I first did this). Something to keep in mind: You can control a single circuit from more than 2 locations, as well (e.g., 4-way).

    Lutron refers to these "multi-location" switches and dimmers as "Accessory Dimmers/Switches."
    http://www.lutron.com/spacer/specsheet/spacersystem.pdf

    Like Tom said-- read, read, read. Then draw out your plans on paper. It'll save a lot of headaches when it actually comes to connecting the switches to wires that are now behind sheetrock.
     

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