This is the second part of our 8-part Deep Dive Series into the LiteTouch system. In this part we go over how LiteTouch works and some different things it controls through the use of modules. At TSB we are committed to educating people through our own independent research about automation systems. However, we are not perfect, so if something appears wrong in our research then please contact us or leave a comment below for us to address.
How LiteTouch Works
LiteTouch is a hardwired panelized home automation system. LiteTouch works by using “modules” to control functions such as for dimming lights or controlling relays. These modules are wired and enclosed in panels. The user interfaces with the system by way of keypads that are placed throughout the house. The keypads are comprised of a grid of buttons, ranging from one button to nine. Each button is programmed to control individual loads or pre-programmed scenes. By pressing a button on the keypad, a signal is sent to the Central Control Unit (CCU). The CCU then processes it and carries out the programmed command. All commands are run through the CCU as it is the brains of the automation system. Programming of the CCU is done through software called LiteWare, which is run on a computer that is locally connected to the CCU via a cable.
There are lots of different modules available for various things you need. The most common modules are the various dimmer modules. These are either 4-channel or 8-channel dimmers and come in either 120, 240, or 277 volts. The 4-channel or quad dimmer module has a much higher capacity than the 8-channel dimmer. For this reason it is used for higher wattage lights. The 8-channel dimmer module is better suited for dimming lots of small lights. Using both modules together makes for an efficient lighting setup. It is important to note that when LiteTouch was made it focused on incandescent and fluorescent dimming so it’s not designed for LEDs. Therefore, LiteTouch dimming modules can have problems when dimming LEDs if you’ve upgraded your lights to save energy.
Quad Channel Dimmer Module wired in a panel
The next most common module you’ll find is the 8-channel relay module. This is for switching a load ON or OFF. For example, switching a fan ON or OFF or switching a light ON or OFF. You can also control bi-directional motors with up to 4 different loads. Something like this could be used for a ventilation system, with fans oscillating between intake and exhaust to circulate air. Another use case of bi-directional motor control could be for opening and closing a skylight. The 8-channel relay module also comes in a higher power version for switching bigger loads. This is useful for being able to control something like heaters in your home.
There is also a low voltage relay module for switching low-voltage loads. This is better suited for low voltage controls such as an alarm system or to control your LED strips. Just like with the various types of dimmers, the different types of relay modules allow you to combine them for the most efficient combination.
So far we’ve gone over simple ON/OFF control or dimming. The real magic starts with programming the CCU for specialized functions. By combining the lighting controls that we talked about before with specific parameters, your home becomes “smart”. This is where you can add things like time-based control to your lighting. For example, if it is past 11 pm, you can have the pathway lights turn on automatically to help you walk at night. You could then have them turn off automatically after a fixed time. Additional smart capabilities can be added to the system via a module that adds data inputs. These data input modules come in two types – maintained contact and momentary contact data input. With these modules you can add things like a motion sensor to a room that turns on the lights when someone walks by or the added use of RF remotes.
All of the modules can be replicated with newer automation systems, such as the Loxone automation system. With newer systems you also have additional features such as mobile control and remote access. In addition you have much stronger integration options to work with many smart devices. However, you want to be careful to ensure that the brains of your automation system remain in your home, much like LiteTouch was.