Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Trying to get started Insteon or Z wave?


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 A new user

A new user

    Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 08 December 2010 - 04:39 PM

Hi all, new here to home automation. So far I have 4 security cameras I bought from cctvhotdeals.com along with their dvr, I have a full wireless alarm from alarmsellout.com

I am looking to put in new lighting in my office where my computer is and I want to be able to control that lighting from my computer. I am researching and found z wave and recently stumbled on insteon, but the question is which way do I go?

I'm now in a whole new world, and searching home automation on youtube is making my head spin.

I do computer support for a living, so don't mind technology and learning new things at all.

That said, which direction should I move towards to make my whole house accessible from the internet, such that I can see what rooms have motion, make lights turn on and off on schedule, control my living room lighting from my harmony remote so I can hit movie mode and have the light auto dim and everything setup to movie mode etc?


Please help me get started in the right direction. I don't want to buy, sell re buy, and keep wasting money so trying to do this right. One thing I also saw on youtube that I LOVED was the guy talked said:


Guy: Computer
Computer: Yes
Guy: Play rock music
Computer; Ok, and rock music started playing.

I was thinking above could be accomplished by finding some wireless microphones that would shoot a signal to usb dongle in computer, then run from audio out on computer to my receiver, but am all ears and eager to learn

Thank you in advance.

#2 sloop

sloop

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 113 posts

Posted 08 December 2010 - 04:45 PM

anything but insteon - return to candles and oil lamps before insteon - get nekkid with janet reno before insteon

search any forum and read about insteon and the company that makes it

#3 Rupp

Rupp

    Cocoonut

  • Registered
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2844 posts
  • Location:Huntsville, Alabama
  • Experience:guru
  • Software:HomeSeer
  • Hardware:Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-PLC, X10-RF, UPB, INSTEON, Z-Wave, 1-Wire
  • Audio:Squeezebox
  • Video:Windows Media Center
  • CCTV:analog, ip

Posted 08 December 2010 - 06:27 PM

Z-Wave works well once you get a good mesh of devices. I use a mixture of Z-Wave, X10, Insteon, and UPB in my home and each has it's advantages. X10 is cheap and this time of year I must have 30 lamp/appliance modules in use for all the Christmas lighting. Z-Wave offers some nice devices like door locks, temp sensors, etc. UPB works well for distant switches and the Insteon devices were some testing devices and most have died.
The text to speech you listed is exactly what I use with HomeSeer. There's a good thread on the HomeSeer message board about wirless mics but I never had any luck with these so I use my phone line to issue commands. Works good via the phone.

#4 Digger

Digger

    Cocoonut

  • -=Gold Supporter=-
  • 3208 posts
  • Location:New York
  • Experience:average
  • Hardware:Elk M1, ISY-99
  • Tech:INSTEON, Z-Wave
  • CCTV:ip, dvr
  • Phone:VoIP via ISP

Posted 08 December 2010 - 08:00 PM

My opinion if you have to choose between Insteon and Zwave the choice is clear to go with Zwave. UPB is also a great protocol.

Read the forums and form your own opinion of Insteon, Zwave, UPB etc.

#5 Deane Johnson

Deane Johnson

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 299 posts
  • Location:Omaha, Nebraska
  • Experience:average
  • Software:CQC
  • Hardware:Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, Z-Wave

Posted 08 December 2010 - 08:49 PM

I have to add my vote for you to be very cautious in considering Insteon. Of the two, I would pick Z-wave in a minute.

One thing you need to consider is whether or not you have the white neutral wire at each switch or dimmer location. If you don't, the only protocol of the 3 discussed that doesn't require a neutral is Z-wave. Both Insteon and UPB do require a neutral.

Don't be lulled into thinking that because your home is reasonably new (assuming it is), that it would be up to date with a neutral everywhere. What happens is that some electricians simply run a loop from the ceiling fixture down to the switch box with only the black hot wire going down and back up, leaving no neutral in the box. This meets code in most jurisdictions, but sure doesn't help us with home automation.

#6 Lou Apo

Lou Apo

    Cocoonut

  • Registered
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2614 posts
  • Location:Austin TX
  • Experience:average
  • Hardware:ISY-99
  • Tech:INSTEON
  • Audio:Custom
  • Video:Windows Media Center
  • CCTV:analog, dvr

Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:49 PM

Insteon is fine. Yes, they had really bad QC until about two years ago. They extended everone's warranty to 7 years on the old stuff and started putting quality components into their products. I have a huge Insteon setup and have replaced all of it, under warranty, with new stuff that is now all less than 2 years old. None of the newer stuff has had problems.

If you only are planning a small installation, I think zwave would be good and simple and reliable with just a few devices.

In a large setup I would look at UPB or Insteon. A large setup requires a good controller and the ISY made by Universal devices is awesome, especially if you have some programming experience. At present it only works with Insteon but UPB support is comming.

Insteon will be less expensive than UPB by about half. They also have a larger array of products. UPB is less sensitive to power line noise. Insteon has the new dual band stuff which is probably going to be more reliable than anything else but the cost is almost up to UPB prices.

Tests by IndyMike on power consumption of the newest version of Insteon would indicate that it consumes, by far, the least amount of standby power of anything, something like .25 watts.

Insteon will directly hook up to x10 if you have any of that or want to use some of it. If you want to add some automation that isn't critical and want to do it on the cheap, x10 is the answer. I use lots of x10 stuff mixed in with my Insteon for Christmas and it works nicely.

#7 oberkc

oberkc

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • Location:Springfield OH
  • Experience:average
  • Hardware:ISY-99
  • Tech:X10-PLC, X10-RF, INSTEON
  • Audio:Custom
  • Video:Windows Media Center
  • CCTV:ip
  • Phone:VoIP via ISP

Posted 09 December 2010 - 07:40 AM

I am a happy user of Insteon and feel confident recommending it. My suggestion, however, is to base your decision on availability of the devices and contol software that fits your need. Most of these protocols would work will for a simple application such as a couple of office lights controlled from a computer. It might even be worth experimenting with X-10 (cost risk is low).

Deane Johnson's point about neutrals is good. Neutrals are not required by NEC code, even today (I understand there is a proposed change in work to require neutral, but it is yet to be approved).

Given my initial impressions from your post, however, I suspect office lighting will be just a start for you. Once you get into it, your automation system will grow to most of the house. Consider likely growth as you choose your protocol and components.

#8 KenM

KenM

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 322 posts
  • Location:Southern CA

Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:13 PM

I was an early INSTEON user and developer. I came away with some low opinions about anything associated with that name. Things may be different now. If you search around on INSTEON plug-in filters, you will start to uncover a whole new aspect of that power-line technology. They have a mix of RF/Power-line devices now so the communication reliability may be better for those devices. The end result is that you 'might' have a 100% reliable system, until your dryer turns on, or you plug in a new printer. Then you have to buy some filter modules and hunt around for the offending device to connect it/them to.

I was also an early Z-Wave user. Some of the early hardware had reliability problems. I bought into the Vizia-RF line when it was first introduced and have been happy ever since, no failures. HomeSeer is a little expensive but it works well with most Z-Wave devices. Z-Wave will either work well or not, It won't decide to take a reliability dump when you are a few thousand dollars into a gradual upgrade. I have read of people with multistory houses having problems so approach any non-wired technology with a little caution. In my location Z-Wave works well and is about 99.9% reliable. A drawback to the type of devices that I have is that they are 2-wire (no neutral required). They draw operating power through the load so just any CFL will not work (mine recommend incandescent lights). I have found some CFLs that they are happy with. I believe that you can now purchase 3-wire Z-Wave switches. Just something else to be aware of. My 1950s house is all 2-wire so I did not need to jump through any hoops on the wiring.
I could go on but a lot of this is already spread around on various message boards, and it can get boring. ;)

Good luck.

ken

#9 A new user

A new user

    Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:47 PM

Thanks for the info everyone, sounds like z wave is the way I will pursue.

Just for clarification, if my house wiring (built 1980) has a white, black, and ground wire I should be ok right?

Furthermore, Vizia is a good line? I was actually looking at the vizia switches


I was an early INSTEON user and developer. I came away with some low opinions about anything associated with that name. Things may be different now. If you search around on INSTEON plug-in filters, you will start to uncover a whole new aspect of that power-line technology. They have a mix of RF/Power-line devices now so the communication reliability may be better for those devices. The end result is that you 'might' have a 100% reliable system, until your dryer turns on, or you plug in a new printer. Then you have to buy some filter modules and hunt around for the offending device to connect it/them to.

I was also an early Z-Wave user. Some of the early hardware had reliability problems. I bought into the Vizia-RF line when it was first introduced and have been happy ever since, no failures. HomeSeer is a little expensive but it works well with most Z-Wave devices. Z-Wave will either work well or not, It won't decide to take a reliability dump when you are a few thousand dollars into a gradual upgrade. I have read of people with multistory houses having problems so approach any non-wired technology with a little caution. In my location Z-Wave works well and is about 99.9% reliable. A drawback to the type of devices that I have is that they are 2-wire (no neutral required). They draw operating power through the load so just any CFL will not work (mine recommend incandescent lights). I have found some CFLs that they are happy with. I believe that you can now purchase 3-wire Z-Wave switches. Just something else to be aware of. My 1950s house is all 2-wire so I did not need to jump through any hoops on the wiring.
I could go on but a lot of this is already spread around on various message boards, and it can get boring. ;)

Good luck.

ken



#10 BLH

BLH

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 711 posts
  • Location:South East CT.
  • Experience:average
  • Hardware:ISY-99
  • Tech:X10-PLC, X10-RF, INSTEON

Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:05 PM

If you only have a Black and a White and both are connected to one terminal of the original switch. You have a switch loop and no neutral in the switch box. Basically the line from the fixture is one of the wires to the switch and the other is back to the fixtures load terminal.

Edited by BLH, 09 December 2010 - 02:06 PM.


#11 A new user

A new user

    Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 09 December 2010 - 02:06 PM

Would this allow z wave to work? I don't want to waste money if I can avoid it.

Also where is best place to buy z wave stuff? zwaveproducts.com?

If you only have a Black and a White and both are connected to one terminal of the original switch. You have a switch loop and no neutral in the switch box. Basically the line from the fixture is one of the wires to the switch and the other is back to the fixtures load terminal.



#12 Deane Johnson

Deane Johnson

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 299 posts
  • Location:Omaha, Nebraska
  • Experience:average
  • Software:CQC
  • Hardware:Ocelot
  • Tech:X10-RF, Z-Wave

Posted 09 December 2010 - 03:25 PM

Would this allow z wave to work? I don't want to waste money if I can avoid it.

Also where is best place to buy z wave stuff? zwaveproducts.com?


One of the places you might want to compare prices and service with is a CocoonTech sponsor:

http://www.automatedoutlet.com/

Prices seem about as good as anyone has, and the personal service is pretty good from what I hear. My own limited experience with them was very positive. I bought several UPB dimmers, went to install them, and discovered I didn't have a neutral and that UPB needed one. Nobody had told me this previously. They promptly issued a return authorization.

There are probably other places to consider, I just don't happen to know who they are.

BTW, the Leviton Vizia RF+ switches are probably the most reliable around. One thing to know about is that they aren't a rocker paddle. You push on the bottom only. It's a click on, click off switch or dimmer. Some like this, some don't.

On the issue of a white and black wire in the box, you're right. The presence of the white wire may simply mean it's being used to loop down from the fixture. I have a Vizia RF+ dimmer operating on one right now. However, I would certainly like to see someone with more Z-wave experience answer your question on the switches working on the loop circuits. Just an abundance of caution.

#13 sloop

sloop

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 113 posts

Posted 09 December 2010 - 03:30 PM

i second the automatedoutlet recommendation - great service and tons of advice - in fact, i'd call them now and ask your questions - they sell all kinds of lines of products

#14 Work2Play

Work2Play

    Cocoonut

  • -=Gold Supporter=-
  • 4465 posts
  • Location:Northern California
  • Experience:guru
  • Software:Elve
  • Hardware:Elk M1, RUC-01
  • Tech:X10-RF, UPB
  • Audio:AirPlay
  • Video:XBMC
  • CCTV:ip, dvr
  • Phone:3CX, Asterisk, FreePBX, Grandstream, Ooma

Posted 10 December 2010 - 12:45 AM

Just to add one point - my experience is with UPB, not any RF technology - but in any case, there seem to be workarounds when there's no neutral. There are ways to restore the neutral with a fixture-based controller, then rewire the run to the switch so that it's hot/neutral with no load control - then use virtual links. In my last house (80's) they did a few of these end-of-run switches; in my new house, I've only come across one so far... but in neither case has it stopped me from automating them.

#15 BLH

BLH

    Dedicated Cocooner

  • Registered
  • PipPipPip
  • 711 posts
  • Location:South East CT.
  • Experience:average
  • Hardware:ISY-99
  • Tech:X10-PLC, X10-RF, INSTEON

Posted 10 December 2010 - 06:43 AM

Insteon also has a workaround.
They have kits with an Insteon fixture mounted module and a Insteon SwitchLinc. With it you again wire the line and neutral to the existing wires in the switch box to power the SwitchLinc and then it controls the fixture module. I tried one and in my older homes very small fixture boxes. The module didn't fit.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users