This is the first part of our 8-part Deep Dive Series into the LiteTouch system. 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.
A Brief History of LiteTouch
LiteTouch was a home automation company in the late 70s with very advanced lighting control capabilities. Their system was reliable and able to do just about anything you wanted them to. One of the key features of LiteTouch was the ability to have customizable and reliable controls from a local controller. This involved no use of an app or an Internet connection because everything was hard-wired in your home and simply worked. Mind you, 40+ years on, some problems did arise.
As LiteTouch grew its technologies became desirable with an acquisition by Nortek in 2007 and then then by Savant in 2012. Savant had the goal of integrating LiteTouch’s lighting technology into their existing automation lineup, which is why you will see some LiteTouch Systems with Savant branding. To Savant, LiteTouch would allow them to provide their own dedicated lighting offering, in addition to having the flexibility of working with other lighting control providers. Unfortunately, after just three years of acquiring LiteTouch, Savant had to pull the plug on LiteTouch, leaving thousands of existing LiteTouch customers with no official support for their systems. Thankfully, Savant did partner with other systems providers, such as Lutron, to offer replacements systems which you can read more about in TSB LiteTouch Series 4: LiteTouch Replacement Options.
If you have a LiteTouch system, your options for maintenance and repair moving forward are limited. You can stock up on replacement parts online and either try to replace them yourself or, if you’re lucky, have an experienced former LiteTouch dealer or have a remote LiteTouch specialist service your system. However, this isn’t a feasible long-term solution as the pool of available labor talent and compatible parts are drying up; remember, LiteTouch is from the 70s. For parts you must also understand that you’ll be paying a premium by buying parts from people who have stockpiled them, and you also have no guarantees for how long these replacements products will last compared to the brand new LiteTouch products. However, at TSB we believe in reducing our footprint wherever possible, so we always recommend repairing the system, if possible. We talked about some common errors in TSB LiteTouch Series 3: Troubleshooting LiteTouch if you want to try to solve some problems yourself.
Despite the many strengths of LiteTouch, no system is perfect and without some form of maintenance, eventually, one of your modules or even the main controller will go down. If the main controller goes down, this will compromise your lights and anything else controller by your LiteTouch automation system. Furthermore, if you’re thinking of selling your home, this is a risk a potential buyer of a property must factor in as well. Imagine coming to your home one night to see the lights are no longer responding, this can leave some in an awkward situation. Another piece we came across in our research is that LiteTouch does not dim LED lights very well. Since technology has changed so much having to pay for large electricity usage can become overwhelming and is not good for our global footprint, in such a case we would recommend a complete replacement.
A complete replacement would imply removing all your existing LiteTouch system components. This involves the panels, the CCU and the switches being replaced with some more modern and reliable option. Given the popularity of LiteTouch, other companies have flocked to fill the void with their solution of LiteTouch replacement options. Companies like Loxone, Lutron and Vantage now provide strong LiteTouch replacement options without re-wiring your house.
From our perspective, LiteTouch’s growth and end brings up the issue of consumer independence. LiteTouch was an old company that made good products, so good in fact that some of their systems are still running smoothly! That is great news for a homeowner, bad news for an integrator, and the best news for the planet. Unfortunately, today, companies are not following suit. Instead, average consumers are faced with cloud-based devices that are in-operational if the internet goes down, if the companies “servers are under maintenance”, or if the company just suddenly goes bankrupt. We’ve seen it all, and quite frankly LiteTouch was refreshing to research and read about.
Once LiteTouch ended support, everybody with a system was left to fend for themselves. How do you avoid that as a homeowner or somebody who is looking for an automation system currently? There is no right answer to this, and we would argue this is unavoidable. A situation like LiteTouch again is inevitable. However, at TSB we believe systems like LiteTouch can be easily mitigated by providing more consumer independence and providing transparency and access to homeowners. Imagine having a LiteTouch system, but easily being able to replace or program it at your own time or having a dedicated person on your caretaking personnel that can adjust the software and hardware. If that was the case, LiteTouch would be an easy fix, and most issues would be easily fixed in-house. With TSB, our mission is to empower the end customer and give them back their independence. We’ve done this by providing online lessons, videos and detailed schematics so you can repair your own property or use your local electrician or other tradesperson to fix the automation systems we work with. We do this because to not learn from our past is foolish, and to produce or install products that have a quick end-of-life is not good for our planet or our species.
If you would like to learn more about our LiteTouch replacement solution, please click here.