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Dump Insteon and go with z-wave??

sorka

Active Member
18 months ago, I got fed up with x10 reliability and decided to try insteon. I bought 20 or so switches(combination of dimmers and relays). Was very impressed with the control reliability. So far, I've not had a single failure even with signals traveling 130 feet from one end of my house to the other and across legs.

However, I bought those switches with the understanding the other products like wireless remotes, motion sensors, etc would be avaiable soon. But that never came and there's no word from Smarthome when this will happen. I bought the software SDK so have spent some time in the insteon.net forum. Insteon released quarterly road map a year ago and missed almost every milestone. And when I say missed, I mean almost every product scheduled for release over the last year never came to be. That combined with people constantly complaining about bugs in the PLC and SDM and pretty much no help from smarthome on anything has left me and many others with the impression that development has been stalled. Additionally, reading here about so many of you having problems with failing springs in the switches is starting to make me regret the 20 switches I did buy. Also, SH raised the price of their ICON switches 50% from $20 to $30 and have proceeded to tell me twice when I asked that they've always been $30.

I held off buying the other 100+ switches and modules I'd need to complete my conversion because I wanted to be sure I'd get the supporting products (yet to be developed and released) before making that kind of investment.

Looking at Z-Wave, the product selection is far more impressive and covers pretty much everthing I need. Z-Wave is more expensive, but not much more.

So the big question: what would I be giving up to jump from insteon to Z-Wave? UPB is out of the question as it's well over twice as costly.
 

HLS

New Member
sorka said:
So the big question: what would I be giving up to jump from insteon to Z-Wave? UPB is out of the question as it's well over twice as costly.
I am happy with Insteon performance and I am testing different controllers to see what fits my desires and wallet.
If you are so unhappy that you throw your Insteon devices out the door - let me know and I will come get them or pay for shipping..... :D
 

Squintz

Senior Member
Z-Wave comes with its own issues. I have been a z-wave user for a long time and I love the speed and reliability and I also like the product selection. However, I have had my share of frustration. The biggest issue is product interoperability. All certified z-wave devices can relay the messages sent by other devices but the issue comes in when you want to have one device control another deivce. For example you may want to have a Single Master remote control to control your HVAC and Lighting as well as you A/V equipment. You would think that devices like the Harmony 890 would be able to control HVAC but as far as I know it can't at this time. It is however considered a master remote. IMO a master remote should be able to control everything z-wave. Instead I am stuck using two remotes. One for A/V and Lighting and another for HVAC.

So this is just a friendly warning that even tho z-wave does have a nice product selection they are still working out the above issues. The good news is that the issues have been aknowledged by zen-sys and will hopefully be worked out.

The other good news is that remotes like the Harmony 890 and Monster AV300 have upgradable firmware which means that support can be added for missing devices at a later date.

Finially, if you are going to make the switch I would recommend using an Intermatic USB Stick for computer control of your devices. Also, the monster AVL300 seams to be the best master controller available but like I said as of now it lack support of some devices. The ACT remotes seem to offer the most support for devices but their firmware is not upgradeable meaning you would need to buy another remote if a new product were to become available.

Good luck and welcome to the world of DIY HA and the bull crap that comes along with it.
 

Digger

Senior Member
I have 11 Insteon switches still installed and only 2 or 3 working. The rest act like a normal switch but do not link etc or if they link they dont get the commands most times.

Smarthomes answer has always been "Buy More" except for one guy who admitted line noise was probably the problem from CFL's.

I have the same list and yes they missed milestones 80% or more of the time. If we did that where I work we would be fired (or out of business).

Icons have gone up 100% in price for the relay switches and I have the proof somewhere burried in the reciepts. I paid $17 or so and not they are $35 with no sales anymore. When I inquired they said that was the intial offering price to get the product out there and they half admitted they expected some concerns in the begining.

I ebayed most of my uninstalled switches and took a loss but in the end I think minimized my loss. SH refused to take them back after 30 days even though they were unopened. I havent bought anything from SH recently and dont plan on it due to their lack of support of their products.

They had the right idea. They just tripped and fell flat on their face. They appear to have fallen and cant get up. They do market their product very well though. If only it worked.
 

Herdfan

Active Member
I have about had it with Insteon as well. I have had to replace multiple devices as well.

I am also looking to go with Z-wave as soon as Leviton gets more products in the pipeline although I understand I will not be able to do some of the things I do with Insteon.

Jan 2006 Insteon WAF: 9
Jan 2007 Insteon WAF: 3

If Insteon would make a Leviton quality device, I would not be looking elsewhere.
 
I guess I'm on the opposite side of the fence with Insteon. I have been using Insteon since it first came out and for the most part am pleased with the product. I have had a few hardware failures but some of these were partially my own fault. I am also pleased with Smarthome for offering to upgrade hardware for us early adopters that have to swap out PLCs or keypadlincs, etc. Since I use Powerhome swapping out a device is somewhat painless. I have about 30 Insteon devices in my house, 3 of which are keypadlincs. I should mention that I have had a few signal quality issues in the past but these have all been tied back to UPS power units or a very noisy dehumidifier in my basement. I have corrected these problems with filterlincs.

I must admit I am disappointed and somewhat concnerned over the missed product releases in 2006. Also I just read that the soon to be released remote will require new RF access points because Smarthome had to change something that won't allow the remote to be compatible with the RF lincs we already have. I will chalk this up as another early adopter issue but it sounds like Smarthome may not offer to upgrade our old RF lincs and this doesn't sit well with me. With all the missed product dates I have to wonder if Smarthome is taking some time to address some of the hardware quality issues and possibly taking some time to make adjustments to the existing product line since they now have a good deal of experience under their belts. If this is the case then I can live with the missed product dates but this may be an overly optimistic thought and it is possible that just don't know how to manage a product line. This year should prove this out.

I guess at the end of the day I am happy (and my wife is happy) with the speed and reliability of the Insteon network. I have recently switched my Insteon control over from my M1 to HomeSeer and this turns out to be a great move. I have much more flexibility with the Insteon Plug In from HomeSeer than I had with the Insteon capabilities with the M1 (full group support, direct polling of devices, recognition of group commands and keeping the device status up to date even when using groups, don't need a delay between lighting commands, etc). I have also found HomeSeer to be a bit more reliable with controlling the lights because it has built in achnolegement checking and retry logic where the M1 is fire and forget.

I have a good amount of $$ and time invested in Insteon and I hope this year shows Smarthome taking some strong steps forward from a quality, a partnerhip and from a product development persective. If other companies start developing Insteon stuff this should help as well.

Think positive thoughts. That's about all we can do.

Matt
 

ano

Senior Member
UPB working fantastic here. Once I got good signal, it works everywhere, and it works at a professional level. I have ~48 switches, and none have ever gone bad. You can get switches for around $55, so they really aren't that expensive. I actually got a bunch at $35 when they were at Fry's.

sorka you say your house has 120 switches, which to me would indicate its a pretty big house, if not a pretty expensive one. But you can't spend $10 - $20 extra per switch to get a professional solution? What you save in cost, you'll certainly spend in wasted time and aggravation. How much time and money are you wasting installing and removing switches. That has got to be worth $10 - $20 per switch there.
 

sorka

Active Member
ano said:
UPB working fantastic here. Once I got good signal, it works everywhere, and it works at a professional level. I have ~48 switches, and none have ever gone bad. You can get switches for around $55, so they really aren't that expensive. I actually got a bunch at $35 when they were at Fry's.

sorka you say your house has 120 switches, which to me would indicate its a pretty big house, if not a pretty expensive one. But you can't spend $10 - $20 extra per switch to get a professional solution? What you save in cost, you'll certainly spend in wasted time and aggravation. How much time and money are you wasting installing and removing switches. That has got to be worth $10 - $20 per switch there.
I have not been able to find UPB switches for only $10 to $20 more. That's the price z-wave is falling in. Do you have any links for prices?
 

sorka

Active Member
Well, I didn't think I'd get so much response in such a short period of time. I was really hoping to find a good reason to stick with insteon in the replies. One of the posters above talked about headaches because master remotes don't control everything z-wave. I'd be happy just to get a remote(wireless that is).

When looking at the product offering and the rate of offerings, it really appears to be that the HA manufacturing community has chosen to go with z-wave and not with insteon. Perhaps that's the real issue. SH may have been relying on external partners to partner up and start producing products but it isn't happening for whatever reason. Timing? Poor initial execution? Who knows. From a technology standpoint, I really like insteon. I'd like z-wave even more if it had power line transmission in addition to wireless.

So far, I've not needed the RF links and that's the one thing I've really liked about insteon. With x10, I fell into the trap of after adding more, needing to buy booster links and signal links. I finally got to the point where my expertise(the art of tuning x10) could not produce reliable results. The endless hours of placing signal repeaters and implfiers and still not getting reliability. It was at the time that I was trying to decide whether to buy expensive x10 line analysis and debugging tools to track to problems of signal strength that I decided that x10 was just fundamentally flawed for a large house with. After all, I only had about 30 x10 devices and that was failing. What would happen if I went to 120?

Insteon seemed to solve the problem by fundamentally improving signal strength with synchronized time slot repeating. So the more devices you added, the stronger the signal would get. At first, when I added 3 or so switches, there was slightl reliability issues. But once I added 10, it was rock solid.

Smarthome has taken a great idea and executed poorly. I just can't believe all of the spring failures people are reporting. This is going to happen to all of my switches? If I knew I'd have to replace them all soon, then there isn't an investment to protect when considering going with z-wave.



Also, my HA software is all home grown using LabVIEW. It ties the insteon network(through the PLC), the DSC Power832 alarm system (through a digital IO card), and the video surveillance system.
I have a number of cameras and am using a video surveillance application that triggers on motion. It allows masking of areas (for things like plants in the wind). I'm using a udp ports to communicate to LabVIEW which is doing all of the smart stuff. It does things like look at camera events and motion detector events(I have some x10 motion floods as well). Other examples: if it's night time and someone drives up to the end of hour cul-de-sac, the lights at the front of the yard come on for a short period. If someone drives into the driveway, more lights come on closer to the house. If the garage door is opened at night, the light inside turns on. If the alarm is armed, various lights come on outside the house and various lights go on and off inside the house in a staggard fashion depending on which cameras and motion sensors are triggered. If any of the breezway or back porch cameras are breached while the alarm is armed, LabVIEW throws a relay for outside speakers in those areas and using to text to speech, warns whoever is there that they are being recorded. If it's during the day time and in the breezway, then it announces a friendly visitor message(UPS delivers to the breezway a lot). If the phone line is disconnected, the outside speakers near the phone box announce that the phone line has been removed and that the alarm system is switching over to cellular backup. I don't actually have a cellular backup ;-) If the power is cut, the alarm system tells LV and another message saying that AC power has been cut and the system is switching over to battery. The PC and surveillance system are on a UPS.

If I switch to z-wave, is there a PLC equivalent with either an SDK or a well documented protocol so I can re-integrate into my LV based HA?
 

ano

Senior Member
Many here can recommend places to buy switches. I recommend Worthington.
http://www.worthingtonsolutions.com
Don't look for a fancy web site, because they don't have one, but they have good prices and service. (I have no financial interest in them.)

Simply Automated is also working on a lower cost switch, but I don't know when it will be out. Currently, the US11-30 is about the cheapest.

I have not been able to find UPB switches for only $10 to $20 more.

What do Z-Wave switches go for nowadays? UPB switches are about $55 - $70
 

ano

Senior Member
I added the UPS message thanking the delivery guy for the package when he opens a package box I have outside my front door. The first time it went off, I think he dropped all the packages because he was in shock. Now he brings all his UPS friends over to see the "talking house."
 

Squintz

Senior Member
Z-Wave switches go for $40 - $120 depending on the brand and type of switch. The $120 switches being Monsters new dimmers and the $40 switches being ACTs and Intermatics switches. The Monsters are certainly a much much better quality but you get what you pay for.
 

IVB

Senior Member
ano said:
I added the UPS message thanking the delivery guy for the package when he opens a package box I have outside my front door. The first time it went off, I think he dropped all the packages because he was in shock. Now he brings all his UPS friends over to see the "talking house."
Man that's awesome. How do you know it's him and not someone else?
 

sorka

Active Member
I need to do some more resarch.

Someone in the insteon forum said that z-wave works with .net which I have full use of through LV. Is there a place I can goto to ask questions about using the z-wave PLC with .net? Since it uses .net, I assume there's a device manager that runs on the pc that takes care of the low level protocol stuff?

Also, can individual z-wave switches be grouped to do scene lighting like insteon?

For instance, I'm doing some kitchen lights right now. For the island, I was going to have 5 pendant lights with one master switch and scenes to ramp them up at different rates. Each light would be cross linked to an additional sepeate swich under the island bar corresponding to each light location so that individual pendants could be turned on or off.

Can z-wave stand alone switches do stuff like this without a master controller?

Assuming I can do all of this, I'll probably try to do the conversion quickly. I got an RMA last month to return the sdk and PLC because when I bought it, it said it came with email support. What they don't tell you is that the email support certificate is good for *ONE* and only *ONE* ticket and that it was $30 per issue after that. That's all fine and dandy except that the SDM is so buggy that what SH wants you to do is pay them for each bug you report to them rather than the other way around. So I called them really pissed off about this and they issued an RMA. So that's $200 back right there.
 
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