This is the fourth part of our 8-part Deep Dive Series into the LiteTouch system. In this blog we’ll go over the most popular LiteTouch replacement options available and how viable each choice really is. 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, please contact us or leave a comment below for us to address.
After Savant pulled the plug on LiteTouch in 2015, it worked directly with Lutron to offer a replacement package. LiteTouch replacement kits essentially are new systems that replace every keypad/dimmer/relay/other module in the house while utilizing the existing wiring where possible. LiteTouch keypads requires a three-conductor cable but they recommended the installer run a four-conductor cable to allow one conductor for spare and future-proofing. Unfortunately, some installers didn’t use a four-conductor cable so if you are considering replacing your LiteTouch system, you should always check the wire running to your keypads so you can determine your replacement options. In TSB LiteTouch Series 6: Replacing LiteTouch we discuss the wiring a little deeper. Another important note about the existing wires in your LiteTouch installation is that the wires to the Keypads are typically not shielded or twisted, which can be an issue for some automation systems, especially since the industry standard for most automation systems today are to use twisted cable for communication with keypads.
Our first LiteTouch replacement option is the Lutron HomeWorks QS system. This system uses the same wiring infrastructure for the modules as LiteTouch, however their wired keypads require 4-conductor wire: one pair 22 AWG (0.34 mm2) twisted/shielded for communication and a pair of 18 AWG (0.75 mm2) (or 12 AWG [2.5 mm2] for longer wire runs) for power. As a result, the existing LiteTouch infrastructure for switche may not optimal for the installation of HomeWorks QS wired keypads. You will need to consult a Lutron installer to check if it’s possible with your existing wires.
Your options if you choose to go with Lutron, and they can’t use the existing wires, are to either run new wire to each keypad or use RF keypads and power them using a low voltage power supply (using the existing wires) as shown in Figure 1. RF is not as reliable as having hardwired keypads so we recommend running a new wire where possible if you would like to use the Lutron HomeWorks QS system. RF is not a bad solution, however sometime wireless signals can become hard to troubleshoot, whether it’s the amount of glass, metal, mirrors, sharp angles in your house, or your furniture. Wireless currently cannot be as reliable as a wired connection.
Figure 1. Lutron Keypad Connection Diagram
Next, we have Vantage, a company owned by French industrial group Legrand. Vantage uses a wiring architecture that requires only two wires between the keypads and the controller. This makes it so the systems can make great use of the existing wires in a LiteTouch system to offer a straightforward replacement option. Vantage’s LiteTouch replacement kit is its InFusion system but modified to fit in a LiteTouch enclosure. Vantage is a decent replacement option to go with, but it is pricey. We have found some outdated numbers online. The Vantage LiteTouch retrofit kit comes with a Vantage controller and an enclosure with inserts for three modules. This kit goes for $4,000 alone. On top of this you will have to replace every dimmer and relay module which is up to $2,000 each and then a set of new Vantage keypads. (Source: Replacing Savant’s LiteTouch Lighting Control System: How Much Will it Cost?)
Crestron is another option that uses two wires for power and then communication over RF (wireless) by using Crestron’s infiNET wireless suite of devices and a RF transceiver. As we mentioned above with Lutron, we don’t recommend using RF and especially not in larger homes or home with lots of sharp angles, glass, metal or mirrors.
Finally, we have Loxone, for which we have a bias. Loxone can be wired using the same wiring architecture that LiteTouch used for both the keypads and the panel modules. This means there is no need to make any holes in your walls to run new wire. The process of transitioning your system to Loxone is very straightforward. Loxone can use both a 2-wire with wireless communication, like Lutron and Crestron, or use 4-wire to power and communicate with the Loxone keypads, like Lutron. Once again, we always recommend hardwired solutions even with Loxone. Some of the key differences between Loxone and the other options is that all of the functionality of your old LiteTouch system can be replicated in Loxone with ease, and the Loxone automation system is affordable with a completely transparent pricing model. Best of all the Loxone programming software and the app are free to download and the automation data is always stored in your house.
Regardless of the option you pick, with a modern home automation system you have new features that weren’t available 40 years ago like being able to control your automation system through your phone, or integrations with more devices in your home, like oven and fridge. With Loxone, the app is controlled from the device in your home, much like the LiteTouch CCU, this means your data is never sent out over the internet and you still have complete control over your system if your internet goes down. From our perspective, what separates Loxone from most other home automation providers is their focus on protecting your privacy, their accessibility and their transparent pricing. You know what you are getting and you can easily be in control of your system and the home automation from the app. For all these reasons we think Loxone is the best choice for replacing LiteTouch with.