Time for HA, finally. Thinking Insteon. Mulling this for 20 years. What is best?

was waiting for CeBus, but that petered out. Meanwhile X10 kept going, and going. Then this Insteon system popped up, with the Powerlinc controller that does not require an always-on PC. Could do the PC, but maybe that powerlinc is good enough. What do you suggest?

Goals:

lighting control, mainly fluorescent and incandescent, eventual LED hot water heater GUI, but downloadable to a controller Reliable across phases, low susceptibility to powerline noise Not susceptible to external signals, nor emanating to other homes As reliable as a plug-in light timer Randoming Responsive to sensor signals Time of day/available sunlight ephemeris Longevity for good future expansion

There are a few desired capabilities. How would you satisfy them? X10, Insteon, something else?

Thanks.

Reply to
Greg
Loading thread data ...

From reading my posts, you probably know I'm partial to X10. Properly installed, it can still give you a lot of bang for the buck. However, X10 will not meet at least one of the items on your list. I don't know anything other than hardwired control that is totally immune to external signals. And power line control signals can couple out to other homes sharing the same transformer.

Will Insteon still be here 25 years from now?

BTW, I don't recall those plug-in light timers being very reliable. That's why we went with X10 in the first place.

Jeff

Reply to
Jeff Volp

None of my neighbors have X10, as far as I know, but, someone could plug into an external outlet and mess around with the signal. This is far-fetched, of course. But the Insteon has some kind of protection against this, if I recall correctly.

25 years of longevity would be great, but isn't X10 near the end of it's usable life? Or is it being refreshed? I think the Insteon people would like to believe that it would pay for their retirement, but the current offering does not look like it will pay for that. It seems to be a good system, but is it as "High Concept" as X10? I think not. X10 sounds really cool. Insteon is hard to type.

I would like a wall-outlet replacement. Insteon does not have this. X10 might.

But I like Insteon, they are still there after a couple of years. And they are X10 compatible, apparently. I am leaning that way, but, after

20 years of watching the market, X10 is still there.

Such a dilemma.

Reply to
Greg

CFLs can render both X-10 and Insteon useless.

Why?

Either X-10 or Insteon can meet this requirement. I think Insteon's controllers may have more memory7. The software available for configuring and downloading is equally abysmal for either system.

Insteon uses RF to couple the phases. It's simpler and more reliable than standard X-10. Both are susceptible to powerline noise (see above re CFLs).

As far as operating your lights and appliances, Insteon is immune to outside signals. It is not immune to jamming from a continuous signal whether RF or PLC. X-10 is susceptible to outside signals and interference.

Both Insteon and X-10 are far more reliable.

I'm not sure whether either can do this when operating standalone. I really don't use their controllers as they intend them so can't answer specific questions like this.

Depends on the sensors. You need to be more specific.

Could you rephrase this in plain English? If you mean dawn/dusk, both systems do this. I think X-10 requires you to download a table annually (maybe the CM15A does this internally?) - I don't know how the Insteon controllers handle it. It's a simple calculation that's well within the capabilities of the microcontrollers used.

Your guess is as good as any.

I would probably opt for Insteon and hope they "live long and prosper". Some third party devices are beginning to appear but there have been some stumbles and the designer has a poor track record.

Or I would wait to see how HomePlug Command and Control (HPCC) fares. It should be more reliable but also more costly. The alliance has also fragmented so there are now 3 (at last count) competing "standards" in this area.

formatting link
snipped-for-privacy@yahoogroups.com

Reply to
Dave Houston

The one thing X10 has going for it is that it is sourced by a bunch of different companies. While a couple have abandoned the business, others seem to be going strong. There is certainly a diverse assortment of devices that can be controlled by X10. With its large installed base, I would give it a better chance of being around than some of the newer technologies.

Yes, X10 does make a wall-outlet replacement. It has been reported that the small plastic piece that toggles the contacts on/off often breaks. I had one of mine fail that way too. It was the Leviton version that was actually manufactured by X10.

Insteon does have some X10 compatibility. However, most of their modules also significantly load the X10 signal. So X10 reliability will fall off as more Insteon devices are installed.

Jeff

Reply to
Jeff Volp

Jeff, Right you are about X10 reliability falling off as more Insteon devices are installed but you, sir, have solved that problem (at least for me) with your XTB II product. I have about 60 Insteon devices right now and untill installing the XTB II the X10 signals were almost worthless evem with an ACT repeater. Now, with the XTB II installed at a panel and in TW523 emulation mode, I have no X10 problems at all!

Jeff Volp wrote: snip

Reply to
BruceR

Bruce,

Please refresh my memory. Why is it that you use INSTEON in the X-10 compatibility mode rather than natively?

The native mode has numerous capabilities that (at least) legacy X-10 does not including signal repeating, the ability to 'discover' INSTEON devices, give them names/descriptors ("bathroom mirror light") and download them to the devices for future reference, determine device type and revision number, and so on.

Are these capabilities also available in the X-10 compatibility mode?

TIA ... Marc Marc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

I'm using most of the Insteons in X10 mode until the RoZetta is ready. The problem is that I have everything programmed in my Stargate and there is no Insteon equivalent to the Stargate. Alas, Stargate only sends X10 so I need to translate the X10 signals to Insteon. The Insteon translator that I got as a beta is frozen in some unknown mode and has lost about half of the programmed translations. Once I have the RoZetta installed (soon!) I will be able to pretty much eleiminate X10 signaling entirely.

At that po> On Thu, 4 Jan 2007 10:33:31 -1000, "BruceR"

Reply to
BruceR

Is this because they do not dim? Or do they interfere with the signaling somehow?

To maybe save on electricity costs:

formatting link

It appears that the INSTEON PowerLinc Controller V2 USB performs +/- 15 minute randoming of 'events' and also provides the ephemeris function to use dawn and dusk (with offsets) as event times, using the "Essential Timer" software.

For instance: an outside motion sensor might turn on an internal light (wish it had a little more intelligence). Water sensor might turn on dehumidifier and blink a light.

Sounds good, also it does not directly connect to the internets as the HPCC stuff might, which sounds a little safer.

Thanks

Reply to
Greg

Got it.

I asked in part because it seems that you are well satisfied with the X-10 (protocol) installation using INSTEON hardware. One of the primary, long-standing complaints about X-10 has been the poor tactile feel of the X10 (brand) and most other (eg Leviton) X-10 hardware. Years ago I spent $$ on a few expensive non-X10 X-10 switches that also disappointed in one way or another including touch and feel.

After living with 15 or so INSTEON ICON (the inexpensive ones) dimmer switches for a few months, I've concluded that they are 'good enough" to serve as primary switches even if they weren't used in HA with a controller. In other words, they would not need to ripped out on sale of the house, and don't irritate the SO, or confound Grandma.

Being able to dependably control them with either protocol (X-10 or INSTEON) is -- from that most basic, practical homeowner perspective -- effectively an 'optional extra'. Which option you take becomes less important because the most important consideration (the infrastructure equivalent of "do no harm") is satisfied.

Mis dos limpuras ... Marc Marc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

Many put out noise which block both X-10 and Insteon. Others filter that noise but also filter X-10 and Insteon.

I think the key word is "maybe".

There are some third party products that provide for IO using Insteon. See the Smarhome Insteon products section. I'm not familiar with the details.

AFAIK, Marrick discontinued the only X-10 IO board a few years ago.

I'm fairly sure there will be a firewall between HPCC and BPL.

formatting link
snipped-for-privacy@yahoogroups.com

Reply to
Dave Houston

hehehe

Smarthome has it now, their 'Sensor' for $149:

"With support for eight outputs or three inputs or a combination thereof (3 inputs, 1 output), you can detect and monitor external events, such as a garage door contact closure or a temperature sensor. The inputs can then send out a preprogrammed INSTEON group command to any device in your INSTEON network or any device connected to the unit's outputs used to control any low AC voltage load, such as light dimmers, speed controls for electric fans and alarm systems."

sounds like a nice, but expensive, toy (tool)

Reply to
Greg

The Insteon people say that there will be two networks in the home, one for automation, one for media, and that they will be non-interfering. Hmm, maybe that is why the HPCC HA stuff is last in their development. Perhaps they will merge with Insteon.

Wish they would make an in-socket wall plug, but they are probably wrestling with the conundrum of dimmer or switch.

The Insteon people have continued to produce new products, and they offer a 7-year warrantee. So I just placed an order:

a powerlink usb controller, rf repeaters, dimmers and switches, finally after 20 years of research, hemming and hawing, and waiting!

Thanks for your info. It helped finalize my decision,

especially you Dave, since you have a website full of X10 into and research, and still recommend the Insteon.

Happy new year, all.

Reply to
Greg

HomePlug actually has three separate systems. One is high-speed BPL (both in-house and access), one is 200Mbps for streaming media, and the last is low-speed HPCC. I doubt they will merge with Insteon - the tecnology is very different. I haven't yet seen any projected costs for something like a dimmer using HPCC.

That will probably come. In the meantime they have inline relays and dimmers so you can accomplish more-or-less the same results.

In addition to strong warranties they have a lenient return policy. Unfortunately, you will probably need one or the other. They have a lot of recalls.

Now, instead of hemming and hawing, you can start cursing the gremlins that will surely arise. ;-)

Good luck.

formatting link
snipped-for-privacy@yahoogroups.com

Reply to
Dave Houston

I doubt that INSTEON/SmartHome would offer a dimming wall outlet that accepts standard plugs.

As I've written previously in this newsgroup, an in-wall dimmer with a standard receptacle would be a violation of the US National Electrical code

110-3(B)+ 404.14(E) and bad practice to boot.

And an in-line dimmer powering a duplex wall receptacle would also be a violation and should not be recommended for that and other good reasons.

Lutron has a dimming wall outlet product that will not accept a standard plug that they sell as conforming, but ABIK, there has never been an X-10 in-wall duplex outlet that dims.

Alas, you waited four days too many ;-) Up until 12-31-06, the ICON dimmers were available for $17.60 each ($19.99 each less the 12% discount on all SmartHome products) and free shipping to boot.

ABIK, they are now $29.99 each and shipping extra. The half-price sale on INSTEON products for developers may still be going on though.

....Marc Marc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

That makes sense. Luckily the Insteon stuff only takes up one plug in the outlet. Gots to look forward to pulling the couch out another couple inches :)

Eeek about the recall rate. I got a $99 deal on the repeaters and the dimmers, and they didn;t come with the 7 year warrantee availability.

Reply to
Greg

Note too that the "inline modules" are effectively jist wall switches for which they charge but don't provide the front plastic parts. So one can turn any wall switch into an in-line module.

I bought an in-line module and built it into my hardwired AC and lighting system so that it now powers an AC contactor (relay) which in turns in controls (ON-OFF) 20 amp duplex outlets outside the house. The inline modules aren't rated for 20amps and a short (eg from sawing through a chain saw power cord) would blow out the TRIAC-based version rather than popping the breaker.

The term "recall" conjures up circumstances and safety issues that didn't apply to most of the reasons for returning INSTEON products. And the one-year warranty has been sufficient to cover the issues entirely (at least in my case).

The principle reasons for returning equipment has been to replace early versions for updated revisions. The USB/RS-232 interfaces were upgraded and problem fixed that involved flickering/flashing/blinking when dimmers were used at power levels over about 250 watts under some circumstances. I've made both exchanges. There was also one true 'recall' that might have involved a potential safety issue but I don't remember what it was and it didn't affect me although I have at least one of most every INSTEON hardware product offered as of this summer.

So most of the returns were due to early bugs/issues during the first year's production that have since been (apparently) been worked out. I would not have even have known about the 'flickering' issue had there not been reports on the internet about the phenomenon. I had to set up a test situation to replicate it in my house.

So I wouldn't fret about it. Most likely you are past the bleeding edge of product introduction. But if you are the sort of person that is driven to visiting the web site of your computer's manufacturer weekly to see if an update/tweak is available for its BIOS, you will likely also have more opportunities to tinker and play with INSTEON returns too ;-)

... Marc Marc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

There may have indeed have been a principle involved, but my fingers should have been sent to the principal's office for typing this ;-)

What software are you using/contemplating? I have found SmartHome's own HouseLinc Desktop - 2416D to be useful. The major bugs have finally been swatted in HomeSeer's 'free' INSTEON plugin, and the ELK M1G supports INSTEON as a standalone controller that doesn't need a PC. The Elk, in turn, is also supported by an HA PC controller running CQS or HomeSeer.

In my experience, these all now work well enough for daily use. HouseLinc is the simplest and has the most tools for configuring, labeling, trouble-shooting etc. There is other software out there, including freeware/shareware, but these are the ones I own and am most familiar and so can recommend.

HTH .... Marc MArc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

Thanks for the info/tip on ramp rate. That's a feature I don't use (yet) but there may be reasons to.

I prefer the single LED's of the ICON to the multi-LEDs of the more expensive V2's. The feedback that matters (to me and mine) is the actual dim level of the light being controlled for which looking at LEDs is almost always superfluous and less informative.

It has taken me a while to get used to an LED that is ON when the light is OFF and OFF when the light is ON. This is counterintuitive for me. If I go to turn OFF one of two lights in a bank of two in which one is currently ON and the other OFF, if I don't consciously stop to think, I invariably hit the wrong switch.

As I've written here before, based on my dissection/inspection, the ICONs are visually identical to the V2's except for number of LEDs populated on the PCB. For all I know, one could solder on more LEDs to the ICON dimmers if one were so inclined.

... Marc Marc_F_Hult

formatting link

Reply to
Marc_F_Hult

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.