Insteon or Zwave?

I can't decide between the 2. Any experiences on either of them?

Thanks, JT

Reply to
JT
Loading thread data ...

I can't compare for you because I've not tried Zwave. However, I am in the midst of converting almost all of my X10 stuff to Insteon. The setup is a bit tricky and unless they develop a SIMPLE software interface for it I think it will be their downfall as the average consumer won't bother dealing with it. (How I long for the easy days of code wheels!) I've done so much switch tapping this weekend I feel like a woodpecker! That being said, I don't know if Zwave or the others are any easier.

Reply to
BruceR

Bruce,

I'll be able to answer that fairly soon. I'm installing an ELK-M1G in our new home and I plan to use Z-Wave extensively. At present I'm researching communicating (hard-wired) swimming pool controllers since the unit on the wall is shot.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

One of my concerns with Insteon is that involves long-term viability. The protocol has no support from any major industry players. If they drop the line all of your hardware becomes obsolete. Z-Wave has numerous manufacturers developing or currently selling products.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Hi Robert,

I'm installing a M1G in my new (rebuilt) home now. I have been tinkering with it on the bench for about a month and feel the 500 rules are going to be a bit short for HA. When you consider that every "text message" definition and every AND in a rule is counted a a rule - you run out quickly. I think I'll still be using my Homevision to supplement the shortcomings of the M1G.

I'll be very interested to hear about your experiences with z-wave. My installation is relatively simple, and so I'm putting back a bunch of my PCS dimmers and using Lamplincs for table lamps. Being on my own power company transformer I always enjoyed 99+% reliability with x10.

The built-in temp sensors in the M1 keypads are a nice touch....too bad the keypads can't talk as well. All in all the M1G looks like a winner.

John SW Missouri

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D>

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D>

Reply to
jmj1492

I've got an Elk M1-G and about 80 X10 devices in my house. I also use Homeseer and various scripts.

In addition, I've done numerous other X10 installations and a couple of Insteon installations (no Z-wave yet).

I share the concern about Insteon's long term viability. However, with chips becoming available, we'll see if other mfr's support it or not.

The downside risk is small though for your average buyer since there are no new wires, it's x-10 "compatible", etc.

As far as the M1-Gold goes... it's very advanced compared to other "burglar alarms" but can't hold a candle to a "computer" in terms of programming. It's nice but its automation abilities are limited:

- You can't say do x, y and z then wait 10 minutes and do a, b and c - There isn't any way to "manage" rules which becomes an issue once you start getting a lot of them or want to do things to groups of rules. - You can't programatically enable/disable rules on the fly. - You can't say if((a or b) or (c and d))... just "and..."

If you're doing simple scenes and basic daytime-off/nighttime-on kinds of functions, the M1 is fine. But complex automation needs a more comprehensive programming ability than the M1 has.

Right now, I've got a PC connected to the M1 via the serial port and will probably replace that with an Ethernet connection (once I find out all the limitations of the $150+ add-on to the M1).

This gives me the ability to do what I want/can on the M1 and use the PC to handle the heavy lifting.

IT would be awesome to have one box that did it all, but I haven't seen one yet that I could afford.

Reply to
Mitch

tinkering with it on the bench for about a month and feel the 500 rules are going to be a bit short for HA. When you consider that every "text message" definition and every AND in a rule is counted a a rule - you run out quickly. I think I'll still be using my Homevision to supplement the shortcomings of the M1G.

It depends on what you want it to do and how much you can offload. Interfacing with a PC-based HA solution your options will be broader. I'd make sure that anything mission critical (security and HVAC, for example) is directly on the ELK-M1G.

installation is relatively simple, and so I'm putting back a bunch of my PCS dimmers and using Lamplincs for table lamps. Being on my own power company transformer I always enjoyed 99+% reliability with x10.

Well, I originally thought I'd start with the security sensors and then move on to HVAC before lighting and finally do the pool controls. However, a stray surge at the current pool controller has changed my plans for me. Intermatic has a Z-Wave pool controller though I don't know if it's in production yet. If not, I'll just get something with a serial connection and pull some cable.

the keypads can't talk as well. All in all the M1G looks like a winner.

You can install small, flush-mount speakers in the wall or ceiling near the keypads. These can perform double-duty using ELK's 2-way voice system if you like.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

I believe you can do that -- just not directly.

True, but for most that's not a major drawback.

There are ways to do a logical OR.

That depends on what you want to do. In my home I want the system to arm after a certain time each night if there's no motion. When I arm in home mode I want the HVAC to go to a comfort setting. In the away mode I want it to go to economy settings. When I enter a room if the room is dark I want the lights to come on. When I come in through the garage I want a path of light to the keypad and from there on to the kitchen.

The fun part will be setting up the pool controls. There will be temperature and water level sensors for the pool, the spa and the solar collectors, plus a wireless remote to activate the two spa motors (pumps for air and water). I want the pool temperature to remain between 80º and 85ºF from 9:00 am until midnight. The spa should go to ~100ºF on demand. Primary heating for both units is from the solar collectors on the roof. Auxilliary heat is supplied by a gas-fired unit. I hope to do all of this using the ELK unit.

I have lots of spare PC's around so connecting one to run something like CQC (assuming I ever hear back from them) or HomeSeer (if I don't) is always an option. I might also run an Asterisk server for my VoIP services. They use a fair chunk of online BW but very little processing power so I might decide to play around with some Unix stuff as well.

I plan to add the Ethernet module so I can monitor and control stuff from Brazil when I'm there (usually several months each year).

Sounds about right.

Same here though I get the stuff wholesale and anything I use as a learning or demo tool is partly tax deductible. :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Reply to
Dave Houston

Thanks for the heads up on that, I think it may be worth a try. I've been playing with PowerHome but until I get my arms around it, the tap-tap method is still my SOP. BTW, re: quality issues. So far I've found 2 defects among the 27 Insteon devices I've installed to date. One is a bad V2 Wall Dimmer that won't remember it's ramp rate or dim settings and the other is a bad Keypad Linc that won't control anything other than it's native load.

Reply to
BruceR

"Robert L Bass" wrote

When I got an Omni I thought I was going to be able to use it to pretty much run the house. It's taken a while, but I am far more inclined to now take a "confederation" approach. I've decide to use specialized controllers for each major "area" of HA/HT/AV/CCTV/COM operation that could stand alone and function alone but that also could report to and take orders from a higher level device. A big push in that direction came from situations where a systems failure in the Omni rippled, unacceptably, into other systems. So far, I am working with serial communications although I'd rather be using ethernet. But that could change as new products hit the market.

I started to think of the house as a PC running an OS. Certain operations were much more critical than others. I needed some way to insure that a failure in a "nice to have" system doesn't cause any issues in the "must have" systems. Running the pool control from the ELK would be a prime example of what I'd consider to be mixing too many levels of criticality on one device. Who could ever troubleshoot something like that other than you, the programmer/designer?

Is it really $150 to add ethernet to the ELK? Those kind of prices chill me even further to the idea of ELKs for everything when you can get ethernet for free, along with a CPU on an ITX or Micro-ATX PC. You can add network cards or get motherboards with more than one ethernet port if you needed more.

I think the newer and more fancy $150 Mini-ITX PCs have three ethernet ports on the motherboard now because they are used as gateways, routers and servers by so many people. Think of how much more thoroughly you can test the reliability of the average PC than you can test the reliability of an OMNI or ELK CPU. Hundreds of diagnostics and programs to run. Huge installed base. So, for $150, I get a machine that can run Unix, DOS or Windows, costs as much as a ethernet bridge for a dedicated controller and provides much, much more.

The big, fancy, $1000 controllers may be in decline as a result. Most are too hard for anyone but a geek to program and their IDEs run from poor to "this has to be the stupidest way to program ever!"

Everything you add has the potential to be just another domino in a cascade failure. :-) The same, unfortunately, can be said of the PC v. ELK/OMNI solution. Though I may sound like I am professing a solution, I am still casting about searching for the perfect combination of design elements.

I've also learned that whatever I design, it has to be serviceable when I am "out of pocket" for a long period of time. Mostly that means a good inventory of swap in parts. With the Mini-ITX route a preconfigured CPU spare would be about $250 max. With the ELK/OMNI route, it would be closer to $1000. I also like the idea that a PC-based system's CPU "pulls" a lot more easily than a system board in either the ELK or OMNI. There's really no way I can think of, other than wiring the terminal strips to multi-wire connectors, to swap control units in the OMNI/ELK sorts of setups.

I'm betting I can get an awful lot of mileage out of $250 for the ITX box running an old copy of HomeSeer from the early 2000's, before the invasion of the plug ins.

Just read about the local prison gangs killing 30+ Brazilian cops. You might want to go into the small arms business, too! :-)

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
Robert Green

"You can't say do x, y and z then wait 10 minutes and do a, b and c "

You can do this by using a dummy output. When you do x,y and z turn output 202 (ie) on for 10 minutes. Then make a rule that triggers when output 202 turns off.

John

Reply to
jmj1492

Good idea. I guess my basic point is that maintaining lots of convoluted rules becomes pretty difficult after awhile.

I've got lots of little things like this in my elk "code." But, when I want to change something, it's like untangling spaghetti.

Don't get me wrong. I think the M-1 is great for contact closure stuff, etc. And, it's probably cheaper than trying to add boards to a PC to do all that.

I just find that it is impractical to try to do EVERYTHING on the M-1. Programming just isn't as sophisticated as a PC.

I'm getting tempted to write an app for the PC that acts as the Ethernet server for the M-1 (instead of buying the ethernet card for the M-1 since it's pretty expensive).

Mitch

Reply to
Mitch

"I guess my basic point is that maintaining lots of convoluted rules becomes pretty difficult after awhile"------

I agree Mitch. I've resigned to the fact that I will still use a Homevision for most HA and IR stuff. The ability of the M1 to send/receive text thru a serial port should make integration a snap.

The M1G is a bargain considering all that's built into it and the HA part is adequate for basic needs. I should have it up and running by mid July and will have a better feel for it then.

I know it isn't aBIG help, but you can drag RULES to any location in the rule list you want. At least you can keep related things together that way.

John

Reply to
jmj1492

That's true, but you may find more efficient ways to code the system as you continue to play with it. If you'd like help some help, shoot me an email specifying your needs and I'll go over it with ELK engineering. They're very helpful, creative folks.

Please don't take this the wrong way -- it's not a dig. You might just need a fresh look at your code. Sometimes when I'm working out a problem I get caught up in trying to make it work a certain way and miss an easier, more elegant solution.

Significantly so. It's also more reliable for security and fire alarm.

Granted. That's why software like CQC is popular. It allows you to implement complex algorithms and multi-tiered logical decision making. The ELK provides a solid platform for security, fire alarm with HA functionality. Its analog capabilities set it apart from most other stand-alone controllers and certainly from everything in its price range. Because the ELK is not a PC it is also not likely to need to reboot while a critical process (say reporting an alarm) is running.

Make it robust and I'll sell it online for you. :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

I've been programming on-and-off since 1969. I've coded in almost every major computer language that's been produced -- from Assembler, FORTRAN, COBOL and ALGOL to LISP, C and all its variants to scripting languages like PYTHON, PERL, etc.

There is no way to "engineer" an application on the M1. You just write some rules and create a sort of state machine to do what you want. It's just not enough sometimes.

Maybe I will write a PC front-end for the M1 and you can sell it for me Robert ;-)

Reply to
Mitch

There's already a PC frontend, you could call it HomeSeer. :)

Reply to
none

Coincidence: I took a 10-month programming concentrated study course in

1969, hoping to get into the booming software development market. As things turned out I ended up starting my own business which had nothing to do with programming at the time. Over the years since, however, I've had various software needs that were not being handled by any of the canned packages I found. I've written a few programs to handle those needs. The related area where I have done lots is in programming and integrating various security and automation related systems.

I'm sure you've got tons more experience developing PC software that I have. However, I might still be able to help you with your ELK system. If you'd like me to try let me know. I'd do it for fun -- no fee.

Perhaps I was unclear. I meant that I would discuss your app with one of the engineers who designed the ELK-M1 system -- not that he would "engineer" a solution.

If you do I'd be delighted to market it. Make something good and I'll get ELK to list it on their website, too. They're good about stuff like that.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

I didn't mean to say I was a great programmer or anything. Just that I've done enough software engineering to know the general tricks of the trade and what type of software environment one needs to support a complex automation system. I'm sure they could make the M1 somewhat better, but I doubt the system has enough memory, etc. to do things on the level I'm interested in (support for a Hebrew calendar, management tools for sets of rules, scripting, etc.)

Thanks for the offer re: the Elk. I may take you up on it.

Reply to
Mitch

Cabling-Design.com Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.