Insteon and X-10


Senior Member
One of my biggest worries when starting my conversion to Insteon was the need to keep X-10 functionality during the transition. I was sure this would be a problem because I had well over 100 X-10 modules installed and most of them were 1-way (PLC or "low suck") devices. It seemed only logical that the 2-way Insteon devices would attenuate the X-10 signals in the house and that at some point during the conversion X-10 would just stop working at all.

Now that I am about 115 devices into the transistion I am happy to report that this is not a major problem at all. In fact I have had only a couple of locations where the X-10 signal was affected at all! Because my Stargate does not do Insteon yet I have had to program any light controlled via motion detector or that that is on a timed schedule, with an X-10 address. Only one has failed to work immediately and this was reolved with a boosterlinc.

The most dramatic surprise came last weekend when I replaced some modules in my home office. A lot of things come together under my desk and I had 5 piggy-backed v1 modules under there to control various lamps and stuff. The cluster of 2 lamp and 3 appliance modules is fed by a short extension cord that plugs into an outlet that is shared by a UPS for my monitor.

I replaced the 5 v1 PLC (1-way) modules with 5 Insteon 2-way modules. Then to add insult to injury I ran another extension cord out of the feed-through outlet on the last module and ran it to the top of my desk where I plugged in a controlinc. (another 2-way device) I also plugged a powerlinc into that cord so I could test out PowerHome.

Buried in the cluster of 5 modules is 1 lamplinc that needs an X-10 address so Stargate can turn on a small lamp in the evening. With the UPS right there, X-10 was right on the edge even using the old PLC devices. I figured replacing 5, 1-way devices with 7, 2-ways would absolutely kill the marginal X-10 signal.

Long story short, the lamp works great with X-10. 100% reliability! Needless to say I have stopped worrying too much about any serious impact to X-10 from my Insteon installation.

I'm disappointed to say that I saw the opposite after installing Insteon devices.

I've got a house full of Switchlinc X10 devices (only five 2-way switches) that have worked amazingly well. I would only experience a missed X10 lighting command once every couple months.

After installing a kitchen & living room full of Insteon (4-Switchlinc, 2-Keypadlinc, 1-Lamplinc, 1-ICON dimmer) my remining x10 Switchlincs miss multiple on/off commands daily!

I'm not bent out of shape about it, just chalking it up to the transition...

DaveRye said:
So X10 works pretty well after all eh? Even Insteon can't kill it :)

Dave Rye
Yes, it turns out it works better than expected with Insteon. My only serious gripe with X-10 was the fact that the message structure was simple enough that I had a lot of poblems with modules turning ON from noise. Insteon stuff is pretty immune to that problem so I don't have to worry that all the lights on the third floor are going to go on unoticed till somebody next goes up there in May or June.

On the other hand I will still be using X-10 for many things for the foreseeable future. For now I need it for control via my Stargate. I also depend on my Ultrasonic Command consoles and am not ready to give them up. Also fixture modules and screw-in modules are still X-10. I also use an X-10 IR controller with my universal remote in my TV room.

I don't think there are going to be Insteon options for any of these for awhile anyway.


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OMG! I didn't know anyone but me still had those "ultrasonic consoles"!!!

I purchased mine from Radio Shack over 20 years ago. I'm amazed it still works!

I guess somethings never go out of style ;)

Not only do they still work , I also have some spare units still new in the box so I can keep using them until the Insteon equivalent is available (might be awhile).
And I have two Ultrasonic Command Consoles that I use in the garage. Mine were made well before BSR stood for Brave Sir Robin . . .
I just installed my 3rd Insteon device (Icon dimmer in X10 mode for now). As luck would have it, it cannot hear X10 commands from my HA system on the other phase. The kicker is that my "old-tech" X10 devices on this phase work!

My other two Insteon devices, which are on the same phase as my controller, are a lamp module and another dimmer. The lamp module can be reached, but the dimmer cannot.

Does this make sense to anyone?
I to am having very intermitant problems with my Insteon devices. They work then they dont then they work sporadically then not at all.

Very Strange!!! I have the RF lincs in place and my devices are not that far from each other. Several are on the same breaker (different rooms) and some work and others dont.

Local control like a regular switch works fine. Everything else (linking to each other or to my ELK M1) is hit or miss. I am not using the X-10 mode. I called tech suppport and they had suggested I add more switches which I added 4 yesterday. One switch worked fine yesterday that wasnt before I added the additional switches but today it doesnt work and I changed nothing since it was working fine.

I so wish I had waited before investing so much money in this.

Of Course when I go into that room for something I need and walk out of the range of the PIR the light goes off and leaves me in the dark. Any other time it doesnt want to work right.
Maybe X-10 signal strength was already borderline in that location? Do you have an X-10 phase coupler/repeater in your house? Do you use any BoosterLincs? Shifting a BoosterLinc around to a more strategic location might solve the problem.
OK a little more experimenting noted that if I repeatedly send the off signals I will eventually get the lights to turn off. Turning on always works but off does not always work.

Very Strange!
I haven't had the same linking issues, although when linking to the M1 I found it was easier for me to link each one, verify the m1 got it, then do the next one. Of course this will get more and more painful as more switches are added.

I was thinking Smarthome should update the USB/Serial controller to be able to read signal strength and insteon messages more directly. If you can connect one to a laptop, think of the troubleshooting possibilities (plug it in in one location, send the signals and monitor on a laptop. Change to another location, retest, etc).

Even if you had another plug in module to link to it. It would definitely help understand when to add signallincs, and to better understand what is happening. At least is seems like it would.
Insteon Signals start 800us before zero crossing. I wonder if they are also effected by a lamp dimmed below 50% dim level?
I link all of my devices one at a time.

The operation is very sporatic and is getting to the point where the wife is looking at me like "and this stuff cost how much".

It does not seem to be a problem with the M1 but more like the Insteon signals dont get through to the devices.

I have a command in M1 that all lights go off when I arm away and its daylight out so that we dont accidently leave lights on. I arm away and few turn off. I disarm and rearm away and a few more turn off. Even two switches in the same box for different lights dont operate at the same time.

Very flaky!