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What lighting switches do you recommend?


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#1 Mr Spock

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 03:12 PM

In the very early stages of planning a new construction system; 2500 Sq Ft 2 story. So what are people using and liking these days? I'm looking for long term quality/reliability, good looks, and of course accurate control (AKA the opposite of X10). I'll pay up to $100 per switch if they will last at least 10 years. My current X10 based switchlincs and keypadlincs have not been great regarding longevity.

Insteon? I've heard they have changed the protocol several times, leading people to need to buy the ISY interface. True? How is their current product quality/reliability?

Z wave? I don't (yet) know much about products using this method, but people seem to be using it.

Zigbee? Any good product using this?

UPB? I'm partial to a good PLC standard. Seems less popular these days.

#2 Rupp

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 04:07 PM

Stick with Z-Wave Cooper switches http://store.homesee...itches-C64.aspx
or UPB switches as these are both quality protocols and both offer quality devices.

#3 Frederick C. Wilt

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 05:01 PM

I'm partial to UPB but Z-wave based technology seems to be a safe choice as well.

#4 Frunple

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 05:13 PM

I agree with both above. UPB and Zwave are the way to go. I use both with no problems at all and when I do have an isue (just lost a switch in lightning strike) SAI takes good care of their customers as do all UPB vendors. can't say for zwave cuz I never had any problems with it.

#5 tenholde

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:04 PM

UPB

#6 nightwalker

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:26 PM

Also a happy UPB user here. One failure in 6 years.

#7 Rupp

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 07:57 PM

The beauty of using Z-Wave is that there are a lot more devices in addition to light switches like door locks and deadbolts, temp and humidity sensors, blind controllers, motion sensors, door sensors, thermostats, etc. which all all to the mesh network.

#8 Work2Play

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 01:16 AM

I've been using UPB for about 4 years now - started small in first house, then went big with a ~60-switch install in the current 4K sq ft house (having grown up with X10 I was familiar with PLC and the basics of home control). I did a lot of research and landed on Simply Automated because of the cost/flexibility/value balance. I have never once regretted that decision.

Z-Wave is also looking great - and I know one of these days I'm going to incorporate Z-Wave for something (though tstats are serial; lights are upb; locks are hacked RF - not sure what's left!). They work fine together and both have their place. Z-Wave is certainly more accessible it seams with even local retailers now carrying different products.

That said, when I started out Z-Wave wasn't where it is today and UPB was - so that's where I went. Check the article about UPB in my signature for my full experience.

Unfortunately I don't consider Insteon a contender. I know that's not fair as many people use them and are happy with them - but the single-source bugs the crap out of me - and while SmartHome appears to have fixed their quality issues for now, who's to say someday they won't do another complete 180 and go back to screwing everyone over... Insteon is just a part of what SmartHome does - and any day they could change ownership or reevaluate products and leave everyone high and dry. That, and I've heard more bad stories than good about dealing with them on the dealer/integrator side.

#9 jdale

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 10:37 AM

Insteon? I've heard they have changed the protocol several times, leading people to need to buy the ISY interface. True? How is their current product quality/reliability?


There were changes in the past but it's been stable for a while. Some old-timers have had reliability problems but those seem generally resolved and when problems do arise they are now good about replacing units (even very old units in the case of some issues). I wouldn't buy old or used stock on Ebay. With new equipment I don't think it's an issue.

The ISY is not necessary, you can do everything by tap-linking or use HouseLinc 2, etc. Linking and setting up devices by pressing buttons works but can be tedious if there are many interconnected devices. That's largely what I've been doing. But the ISY is powerful, yet requires little power, and makes set-up super easy. Thinking about getting one myself.

#10 Lou Apo

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 07:07 PM

There were changes in the past but it's been stable for a while. Some old-timers have had reliability problems but those seem generally resolved and when problems do arise they are now good about replacing units (even very old units in the case of some issues). I wouldn't buy old or used stock on Ebay. With new equipment I don't think it's an issue.

The ISY is not necessary, you can do everything by tap-linking or use HouseLinc 2, etc. Linking and setting up devices by pressing buttons works but can be tedious if there are many interconnected devices. That's largely what I've been doing. But the ISY is powerful, yet requires little power, and makes set-up super easy. Thinking about getting one myself.


What he said.

Insteon did not change protocol. The probably changed manufacturer or something along those lines because they had QC problems, but those have been gone for several years now. I have over 60 swtiches and have had zero problems since 2008.

ISY is awesome, but it has nothing to do with Insteon protocol changes (if such an event ever occurred it happened a very very long time ago as the protocol has been the same since I bought my first switch 8 years ago). It has to do with the fact that any installation involving more than a handful of switches gets very complicated to program. If you are going to have a lot of switches then you are going to need something like an ISY or a PC based application (ie Homeseer) that does something similar. ISY is extremely good at creating a HA lighting setup with the absolute least effort possible. I have never in my life owned a product that is as well supported as ISY is and now that the Insteon switches don't break, it is a top notch system. My Insteon switches look good, feel good, work well, and generally are a pleasure. Yes, I am very annoyed that the ones I bought a long time ago all failed and I had to pull them and replace them with new ones. Because I had an ISY, replacing them was only a mechanical problem, since ISY automatically programmed the new ones exactly the same as the ones they replaced by clicking one button.

#11 wuench

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 07:59 AM

What he said.

Insteon did not change protocol. The probably changed manufacturer or something along those lines because they had QC problems, but those have been gone for several years now. I have over 60 swtiches and have had zero problems since 2008.

ISY is awesome, but it has nothing to do with Insteon protocol changes (if such an event ever occurred it happened a very very long time ago as the protocol has been the same since I bought my first switch 8 years ago). It has to do with the fact that any installation involving more than a handful of switches gets very complicated to program. If you are going to have a lot of switches then you are going to need something like an ISY or a PC based application (ie Homeseer) that does something similar. ISY is extremely good at creating a HA lighting setup with the absolute least effort possible. I have never in my life owned a product that is as well supported as ISY is and now that the Insteon switches don't break, it is a top notch system. My Insteon switches look good, feel good, work well, and generally are a pleasure. Yes, I am very annoyed that the ones I bought a long time ago all failed and I had to pull them and replace them with new ones. Because I had an ISY, replacing them was only a mechanical problem, since ISY automatically programmed the new ones exactly the same as the ones they replaced by clicking one button.


Actually Insteon DID change the protocol. They now have the "v2" protocol which is basically a bug fix for "v1". The older devices had a firmware bug that miscalculated the checksums on extended messages. This forced all devices to only use the 1byte at a time messaging, which is why programming Insteon is so slow. The v2 fixed this, but is not backwards compatible (i.e. the v1's can't use the extended messages but the v2 switches can.) I think v2 also added some encryption and other protocol features. Also the addition of the dual band switches should hopefully improve reliability. If they were smart they would've removed these buggy switches from the market when we were all screaming about it early on. Now we are stuck in this situation where all controllers like the ISY must support the slow discovery/linking v1 method. Since every insteon device is a repeater, if it is v1 and v2 message comes through it will butcher the checksum.

But you are correct the switches do seem to be better, a lot of the bugs got shaken out by the early adopters. Although there are some older switches floating around out there so I always check this site for info.

Edited by wuench, 29 August 2011 - 08:04 AM.


#12 Mr Spock

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 08:39 AM

Great info everyone. Thank you.

#13 Lou Apo

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 09:41 AM

Actually Insteon DID change the protocol. They now have the "v2" protocol which is basically a bug fix for "v1". The older devices had a firmware bug that miscalculated the checksums on extended messages. This forced all devices to only use the 1byte at a time messaging, which is why programming Insteon is so slow. The v2 fixed this, but is not backwards compatible (i.e. the v1's can't use the extended messages but the v2 switches can.) I think v2 also added some encryption and other protocol features. Also the addition of the dual band switches should hopefully improve reliability. If they were smart they would've removed these buggy switches from the market when we were all screaming about it early on. Now we are stuck in this situation where all controllers like the ISY must support the slow discovery/linking v1 method. Since every insteon device is a repeater, if it is v1 and v2 message comes through it will butcher the checksum.

But you are correct the switches do seem to be better, a lot of the bugs got shaken out by the early adopters. Although there are some older switches floating around out there so I always check this site for info.


I guess this is a matter of symantics. "changed protocol" "requires ISY" implies that Insteon changed to a new protocol that is not compatible except with a special adapter. This is not the case. While they may have changed the way things are done behind the scenes, the fact is that an old Insteon swtich works just the same as always when connected to a new switch. From a user perspective, it makes no difference, except that perhaps a new switch does it quicker. It would be like changing from USB 1.0 to USB 2.0. It would not be like switching from a com port to a usb 1.0 device.

Either way, if you are putting in a new installation you will only have new devices. And anyone putting in more than a handful of devices needs something like an ISY to do the grunt work and keep track of everything for you no matter what system you buy.

#14 Quixote_1

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 05:47 PM

Can anyone recommend some ZWave plug-in modules and switches that will fade on and off like the Insteon ones do?
Thanks.

#15 Mr Spock

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 11:39 PM

Quixote_1, what do you mean by fading on and off? Is there some kind of problem with the Z wave devices and fading?

With regard to Insteon and control, if you use Homeseer or CQC is there still a need for the ISY to "take care of the grunt work and keep track of things"?




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