Review: Introduction to Rako lighting training

posted on Wednesday, 9th September 2015 by David Slater

Rako 

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Off to evaluate training courses again, this time Rako in Rochester for a look at the lighting market. We have been big fans of Rako dimming products for many years. Designed and manufactured in the UK, with a wealth of experience in lighting controls, Rako offers a wide range of products from wireless to hard wired dimmers, to curtain and blind motors.

Rako Controls was founded back in 2002, and has grown steadily. Its current manufacturing unit is a 10,000 sq. ft. ISO 9001 certified factory. Rako’s first product was the retro fit wireless dimmer unit; overnight the product was a great success with installers, as no major upheaval or rewiring was needed. If you do want to go down the hard wired route, then Rako also produce the Rak-4 which is a four channel dimmer rack.

The training course, Introduction to Rako, is run by Paul Wafer and designed for any installer wanting to start specifying and installing the Rako product. It’s entry level and provides an overview on how to build your first Rako system. Its free to attend for CI installers.

First up is an explanation on how the technology works using low frequency 433 MHz RF. It transpires the reason Rako uses this low frequency band is that it’s very reliable and works over a long distance without being effected as much as high frequency products.

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Next up is advice on how to work out how many circuits you are controlling, and understanding that scenes are not just about replacing the switches. On a seven button Rako keypad you have 4 scenes, an off key and a slider for up and down dimming. This means you can have as many as 16 circuits controlled from a single 4 scene keypad.

Having set up the basics, the Rako course seamlessly digs a little deeper, with an explanation of the difference between leading and trailing edge dimmers; leading edge work fine with tungsten filament lamps but with all of us trying to save the planet and shifting over to LED lamps, the trailing edge dimmer is what you will have to use. Rako leading edge dimmers have a minimum load of 20 watts, while trailing edge have a minimum load of just 1 watt.

Given the minefield that is LED, it’s certainly useful to get the inside track on series and parallel wiring,  constant current LEDs, and dimmable and non dimmable drivers. Rako helpfully has a review of all manufacturers LEDs at leds.rakocontrols.com. This is a great resource as it stops those awkward moments on site when incompatible products are used.

Setting up a Rako unit has always been simple - set the house number, then the room number that has dimmers in, and then assign each channel of the room to the dimmer by pressing the program button on the dimmer module. Once all have been programmed, you can then think about adding additional control via iPads and iPhones. This is done with a Rako bridge. Again it’s a simple procedure: upload all the channel information to the bridge and download the app. Then  it’s all done, ready for you to control all your lights in the house.

A key new release from Rako is the new Rasoft Pro software. This has had a complete makeover and I have to say it is a major improvement over the old version. You can now list devices and delve deep into system setup and testing. If you are a novice, it holds your hand while setting up house and room data. If you are an expert you will have a lot more info in your hands. This is a major update and worth downloading instantly.

Example Lighting Plan - Ground

So what do we think of the Rako course? Well, if you want to increase your profit in your CI business I suggest you enrol on this course double quick. It will give you a great overview of all the products that Rako currently sell. I would also recommend that you follow the session up with the advanced course, as this will open the door to advanced programming and full system integration. Also, if you are a CEDIA member you will benefit in getting 3 education points for taking this course.

For more information on Rako lighting, head over to the Rako website here.

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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