Another HA technology thread...

roussell

Active Member
I know there's huge flame-war potential here and it's been discussed before...but...

With a birthday, anniversary, and Christmas coming up; the wife is asking what I want as gifts. I have been on the fence for a while trying to decide which HA hardware to move to from X10. My initial thoughts were Insteon, even after the first problems which I chalked up to it just being new and now having the kinks work out. It now looks as though it’s going to be a while before the bugs are worked out and terrifies me to think of placing an order for several dozen Insteon components and having to RMA most/all of them because of defective paddles/flickering/load handling/etc… UPB sounds great, but it’s still seems the priciest (although I like that MisterHouse now supports it) and from what I read, the double-tap delay would have my wife demanding they be pulled out before the first full-day of use. So I guess I’m left with z-wave. I like z-wave because from what I’ve read there seems to be few negatives. I wish they had an Insteon-like keypad and a led bar on the dimmer, but other than that I think it would fit my needs nicely, plus they’re available at Lowe’s and that helps when you’re wanting to try something quickly or realize that you have $40 that the wife doesn’t know about. :)

I guess what I’m asking is for you guys to talk me out of z-wave… Is there anyone who has gotten the technology and has been unhappy with it? That’s an easy answer for UPB and Insteon but so far I haven’t found anything on the board that would indicate that z-wave tech is a bad purchase.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Terry
 

Steve

Senior Member
It's no secret I use and like UPB. That said, I think the delay issue and others are VERY subjective and think you really need to see it for yourself before you decide. You can get UPB kits for $100 to try out. I would never try to talk anyone out of something because everyones needs, wants and opinions differ and what works for one doesn't work for others.

I honestly have not used Zwave other than cursory tests, but I can tell you I am firmly in the 'wired' camp. All hearsay, but the 'new' Zwave stuff that really works well is comperable if not more than UPB (at least from early price sheets), so lets call pricing a wash. Some people may also think I'm fanatical, but there is already waaay too many wireless devices in use around us. Ignoring even the obvious potential for interference, blocked signals, range, etc (since sure PLC has its own issues with noise, etc), the last thing I want in my home is every switch, module, etc, throwing more wireless 'energy' into the environment.

Many tech heads like myself and engineers would love to debate this with me but I can tell you polluting our homes this way is truly not healthy and does interfere with our bodies subtle energy fields. I was forced into studying alot of this stuff so I stand firmly in what I know, but I am not trying to influence anyone - just kind of throwing it out there.

I would be happy to discuss this with anyone in a friendly manner via PM, but really don't want to get into it and debate it here. Just wanted to give you some other perspectives to chew on...
 

ano

Senior Member
I don't want to start another debate, as that has been done many times before, but I will have to disagree with you that UPB is the most expensive. Fry's carries HAL UPB switches (actually made by Simply Automated) for $34.99 I checked the Fry's price on the Z-Wave switches, and they were $39.99.

On the delay, I'm not sure if recent switches reduce the delay, but I can tell you, my wife is pretty fussy, and I don't think she has even noticed the delay. Most lights dim up over a few seconds anyway, so its really not that noticable unless you are really looking for it.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I keep changing my mind on this but currently I plan to use Leviton stand-alone motion sensors and Lightning Switches.

Biggest negatives on Z-Wave is the loose standards so you never now what functionality is supported from one manufacturer to the next. Also the reporting of local operation was a problem (and a legal battle) for awhile... not sure if that is all resolved. Also the really nice looking Z-Wave stuff from Leviton etc is going to be just as expensive as UPB.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Steve said:
...the last thing I want in my home is every switch, module, etc, throwing more wireless 'energy' into the environment.
Which is why all my AC wiring is in conduit or BX. I just don't understand the current fascination with Romex wire in new home construction.
 

johnnynine

Active Member
upstatemike said:
Biggest negatives on Z-Wave is the loose standards so you never now what functionality is supported from one manufacturer to the next. Also the reporting of local operation was a problem (and a legal battle) for awhile... not sure if that is all resolved. Also the really nice looking Z-Wave stuff from Leviton etc is going to be just as expensive as UPB.
These are the reasons I haven't jumped on Z-Wave yet. Without the reporting of local operation your home automation items must poll the devices for their state.


I tried out Insteon but the paddles have a "supposed" built in falsing protection that prevent the switch from turning on the light if you tap it too quickly. They need to shorten the falsing delay or turn off the feature completely before they are reliable enough for my family. We must be quick tappers.

edit: typos
 

roussell

Active Member
Thanks for all the replies. I actually agree with you Steve on the wireless issue, I don’t even have wireless networking yet (although that’s mostly from a security standpoint). I would like to learn more about the dangers of stray RF energy - I thought (probably incorrectly) that the dangers were mostly caused from high potential, low frequency energy such as living under high-tension power lines. I do however have a friend that used to work in R&D with a famous cell phone maker and although he can’t talk about some of the things they studied, he absolutely will not use a cell phone without a headset.

I have tried Insteon but have not given UPB a try yet – mostly because of the perceived higher prices. I didn’t know Fry’s carried the UPB stuff and that price makes it comparable to Insteon and it’s definitely cheaper than the z-wave stuff referenced. I also didn’t think about the ramp rate when turning the lights on, big WAF points there so the delay may go un-noticed. I’ve waited this long, I guess the best thing would be to order a few UPB switches and give them a try. The biggest thing that sucks about that is that I had decided to move to HouseBot from MisterHouse when I upgraded everything – not a problem with z-wave or Insteon - but HouseBot doesn’t support UPB and now MisterHouse does…Oh well, I guess that’s the way it goes. :) I know there are other packages that support UPB, but I’m cheap… :D

Terry
 

IVB

Senior Member
Are you having issues with your X10 that makes you want to replace it? Or, are you adding new functionality with (insteon/zwave/etc) that you don't have with X10?

If not, you could try a path where you get something that adds value above and beyond what you've currently got, rather than just swapping out technologies.
 

KenM

Active Member
I bought into INSTEON in December of 05. I love the protocol and reliability. Some of the hardware and marketing 'things' soured me on INSTEON after months of testing and swapping.

Having said that. I bought some Z-Wave wall swtches and some portable Z-Wave controllers and am 98% happy with them. The small controller is battery operated and is about the size of a TV remote.

It depends on what you want. From my limited experience (about 4 months) Z-Wave has proven reliable (though expensive). I have not had any performance issue. The loads the killed my INSTEON appliancelincs are being switched by the Z-Wave appliance modules without any problem. These modules do not have remote current sensing (on detect) so that may not be a fair comparison.

Just for the 'wow' factor, I would say, buy a few Z-Wave switches/modules and a remote. My wife enjoys the simplicity of pressing a (battery operated remote)button and having the lights go on or off (even if the computer is turned off). My INSTEON interface was a tangled mess of X10 to X10-RF to X10-powerline to INSTEON PLC to software ... You get the picture there.

And holding up the clunky wired INSTEON remote thing, to 'wirelessly' control lighting, well, is a bit of a joke.

My own opinion, others will (I hope) vary.

ken

edit corrected spelling
 

roussell

Active Member
IVB said:
Are you having issues with your X10 that makes you want to replace it? Or, are you adding new functionality with (insteon/zwave/etc) that you don't have with X10?

If not, you could try a path where you get something that adds value above and beyond what you've currently got, rather than just swapping out technologies.
I’ve been pretty lucky in that my X10 network is decently reliable. I have a few black holes I the house (mid60s split-level ranch) where X10 goes to die – I’ve tried many things to get those areas to work and have just given up on them with X10. I would like to get lighting in those dead spots automated and also add some more functionality around the house, including automating a large greenhouse as well as a workshop and future pool/poolhouse/hotub. I don’t want to spend any more money on X10 and so that brings me to my quest.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m cheap so I would like to use what working X10 stuff I have rather than dumping it or selling it for next-to-nothing. I’d eventually replace it all, but more of a piece-at-a-time thing all-at-once. Insteon is appealing because in theory it would allow me to do just that. I suppose Z-wave is the same since it is totally wireless and doesn’t care what’s on the power line. I thought I had read about UPB interfering with X10 but can’t find that reference now, so it might have been a bad dream….

Terry
 

roussell

Active Member
KenM said:
I bought into INSTEON in December of 05. I love the protocol and reliability. Some of the hardware and marketing 'things' soured me on INSTEON after months of testing and swapping.

I've actually followed your progress, I liked that app you were working on and was sad when you left Insteon though I completely understood your reasons from your posts.

Just for the 'wow' factor, I would say, buy a few Z-Wave switches/modules and a remote. My wife enjoys the simplicity of pressing a (battery operated remote)button and having the lights go on or off (even if the computer is turned off).

That's one of the bigger reasons I was considering z-wave. As silly as that sounds as a deciding factor, the remote has very high WAF. :)

It looks more and more like I will have a hybrid house with (at least) two technologies. I guess what I need to get is a few switches, modules, and PC interface for UPB and Z-wave and compare them back to back in real-world situations.

Terry
 

fitzpatri8

Active Member
I think Ken said it best--it does depend on what you want.

I had an extensive x10 setup when I started experimenting with Insteon, and I already had HAL Deluxe and a WGL wireless tranceiver in place, so it has been pretty easy to transition gradually from one technology to the other. Initially, my Insteon gear had x10 codes assigned and worked pretty much like any other nice x10 switch. Once the x10 to Insteon translator and software that supported native Insteon signals came out, I removed the x10 addresses from the switches, plugged the wireless receiver right into the Translator, and got the best of all worlds--Insteon speed and reliability, coupled with backward compatibility with remaining x10 stuff. We've got two very active dogs, and we're not always carefull to secure wireless remotes before engaging in horseplay with the beasts. For us, I'm glad that when we break an x10 remote I can replace it easily and inexpensively.

If you want to make a clean break from x10, Zwave gives you that chance. If you want to build on an x10 system and gradually transition to better speed and reliability, Insteon does that.

Tom
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
KenM said:
Just for the 'wow' factor, I would say, buy a few Z-Wave switches/modules and a remote. My wife enjoys the simplicity of pressing a (battery operated remote)button and having the lights go on or off (even if the computer is turned off). My INSTEON interface was a tangled mess of X10 to X10-RF to X10-powerline to INSTEON PLC to software ... You get the picture there.
Any x10 remote will work with UPB, without a PC, thanks to the Elk M1 and a W800. I do this myself, and it's a great combination. Not having to rely on a PC is a big plus indeed.
 
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