Is the Lutron Grafik 4000 still a viable option for your building? In this blog, we look at whether it’s time to upgrade from the Grafik 4000 and which options to consider.
After many years of service, Lutron has announced the end of support for their long-time workhorse, Grafik 4000. The end of an era, certainly… but now the question for many end-users becomes, “What’s next for my lighting system?” Hopefully, this article will provide some ideas, insights, and inspirations on what to do next with your existing Grafik 4000 series lighting control system.
What Was the Grafik Eye Series?
The Grafik Eye series has been a staple for Lutron Electronics for decades. Most recently, Grafik Eye could be roughly divided into the 3000 series, the 4000 series, and the 5/6/7000 series. The 5/6/7000 series typically involved whole building systems powered by one or more central processors, along with computerized software, for an advanced, automated control experience.
The 3000 and 4000 series of Grafik Eye typically served more modest spaces. The 3000 series featured as its center piece, a Grafik Eye main control unit with between 3 and 6 built-in line voltage dimmers. These units could be inter-connected with other main units, or remote keypads, to create simple dimming systems, typically for a single room. These units were great for board rooms, classrooms, a small restaurant, etc…
But what if a few lightweight dimmers weren’t enough? Enter the Grafik 4000 series. The main unit of this system looks exactly the same as the Grafik 3000 main unit. But instead of packing line voltage dimmers, the 4000 main unit is simply a low-voltage remote, signaling dimming commands to one or more dimmer panels, usually located in a nearby electrical room.
The Grafik 4000 system was the perfect solution for one or two larger spaces, such as auditorium-style classrooms, restaurants, small ballrooms and meeting spaces, churches, and similar areas. Grafik 4000 systems featured a variety of accessory devices, including remote keypads, infrared remote controls, partition sensing devices, sensor inputs, and Audio/ Visual integration access points.
Do I Have a Grafik 4000 Series?
First things first… how do you even know if you have a Grafik 4000 system? Lutron has several products that utilize the Grafik name, and they are not all Grafik 4000.
The Grafik 4000 series is all built around the centerpiece device, the 4000 series Grafik Eye main unit.
So, the first question is, obviously, do you have one of these devices? As these are the master control stations, they are usually installed prominently in the controlled area. However, they are sometimes installed in electrical rooms, back-of house spaces, or AV closets, so make sure to look everywhere!
Now, just because you have a Grafik Eye doesn’t mean you have a Grafik 4000 series. These Grafik Eyes can also be found in the 3000, 5/6/7k series models. What’s the simplest way to find out which you have? By the part number!
How to Find the Grafik Part Number
The cover of the Grafik Eye pops off (I like to grab under the cover from the bottom and pop it upwards), and underneath, there will be a sticker showing the part number of the unit. The part number will either start with a GRX or OMX. To be part of the 4000 series, the Grafik Eye must have a part number of GRX-4XXX. If you see an OMX, your unit is a 5/6/7k series model (If you see this, your system has actually been obsolete for a while now! Reach out to Paratus Service Group today to learn about upgrade options!).
The number “4” in the part number indicates the unit is part of the 4000 series, as opposed to finding a “3” which would, simply enough, indicate a 3000 series.
So, what did you learn? Do you have a Grafik 4000?
So, Grafik 4000 Is Obsolete. Now What?
First off, don’t panic. Lutron dimming systems are workhorses and incredibly reliable. Your Grafik 4000 series system has likely served you well for over a decade (and, in many cases, much longer). Lutron will support the components of your system for several more years.
However, the obsolescence of Grafik 4000 does present something of a quandary because there are no direct upgrade options available for this product line. Additionally, because the Grafik 4000 series uses dimming panels, any upgrade has to take into account the existing circuitry and lighting distribution components. Tackling an upgrade or replacement of a Grafik 4000 series needs to be looked at very carefully because making the wrong choice could be costly in electrical labor, replacement hardware, and facility downtime.
We at Paratus Service Group always recommend the upgrade path that presents the best combination of re-using existing hardware and infrastructure while also providing the best possible system functionality and feature set. With regards to Grafik 4000, we have a few recommendations based on the specifics of the job.
Bring Your Grafik 4000 to Quantum
First and foremost, your facility can consider an upgrade to Lutron’s flagship product line, the Quantum system. By installing a Quantum processor, your existing 4000 system will become supercharged with many new features that come with this premier control system. The quantum processor will communicate with your existing dimming panels, allowing you to keep the most expensive and tightly integrated component of your system. By keeping your panels, you eliminate the need for major electrical work and significant downtime while circuits are reworked. We can also recommend a package of panel components that can be used to refurbish your dimming panel, bringing it up to a modern, supported level.
Quantum Main Unit
So, what about the main unit? The Quantum processor speaks Lutron’s current protocol, referred to as “QS,” while the existing Grafik Eye main unit speaks a protocol called “GRX.” This means that the Grafik Eye is incompatible with Quantum… but that’s ok! The Grafik 4000 main unit is obsolete, that is the part we are trying to replace anyway! We recommend simply replacing the 4000 series Grafik Eye with one or more QS keypads. You will lose the ability to control your lights in a ‘zone by zone’ manner on the main unit but retain the ability to call preset lighting scenes. However, no worries, the Quantum system features a web application and mobile application that replaces the zone-by-zone control of the Grafik Eye.
Some downsides? The Quantum processor is not inexpensive and can be overkill for a small 4000 system. Additionally, the web application and mobile application features do require a full-time server or computer system in order to operate, which again, could be overkill for a small application. Another drawback is that for the Quantum processor to work in this application, the dimming panels and the control station keypads must be on separate cable runs, which depending on your building, may be very easy to achieve or surprisingly tricky. We recommend you let our team at Paratus Service Group walk your facility and make a recommendation that is right for you.
Grafik 4000 to Athena
Another option for this upgrade, which will be more budget-friendly, is moving your 4000 series system to Athena. Athena is the newest commercial offering from Lutron and includes some exciting new features.
Like the Quantum upgrade, the Athena upgrade requires the installation of a new processor. However, many of the other drawbacks listed above for Quantum don’t apply to Athena. For instance, if you can connect the Athena processor to the internet, Athena will use a cloud-based server to host its mobile application for no additional charge, eliminating the need to provide a dedicated lighting server. Also, the Athena system upgrade will convert your panel communications into the same QS communication protocol the control devices use, so there is no need to separate the cabling between dimmer panels and controls.
One other potential benefit of an Athena upgrade… Athena is compatible with Lutron’s other newest system, Ketra! If you’d like to learn about adding the magic of Ketra to your building, please consider this upgrade path. Contact us to learn more!)
The Athena system upgrade does have some drawbacks of its own. Primarily, some emergency features don’t transfer over, so the appropriate emergency lighting provisions must be in place. Again, these are complex conversations, so if this is an upgrade you are considering, please get in touch with us to learn about the specifics of your application.
The Final Word
This article is meant to be a general overview of the upgrade options for Grafik 4000 systems, which are now obsolete from Lutron Electronics. After decades of service, the Grafik 4000 systems all over the world feature a vast number of intricacies, part numbers, generations of lighting components and specific implementations. This guide is certainly not intended to provide a blueprint for your specific application but rather a general overview of the process we at Paratus Service Group take when considering upgrade options for your facility.
Upgrading from Grafik 4000 to Quantum or Athena is simple with Paratus. If you would like a no-cost, no-obligation walk of your facility by a trained and authorized field engineer, please reach out to us here at Paratus Service Group to learn more. We’d love to be of assistance!