Insteon Failures


Active Member
I just posted this in the SH "techmall" forum, and a similar one in the HS Insteon forum (in quotes):

"This stuff is turning out to be such JUNK that I can't replace it as fast as it breaks! I just replaced two Icon dimmers this evening, and then found a 1000W V2 that has gone belly up. Just DEAD - no response, no light, no LED, nada. I also have another ICON relay paddle that takes multiple presses to activate (already replaced it once) and a V2 relay and Icon relay that won't report their status via local control.

I have 62 Insteon devices in this house, and that's 62 more than I wish I had! I've had to replace 19 of them so far, not counting those noted above. Smarthome should be paying me to have this stuff (or at least reimbursing me for the massive amounts of time I've spent trying to fix their junk)."

As you can tell, I have officially HAD IT with SH and their poor Insteon quality. As I've said about a hundred times now, great concept, but world class sorry, stinking, horrible execution! It's just failure after failure after failure in my system. Switches are just going dead right and left. The latest one isn't even turned on manually, as it's in a cabinet and just reponds to the KPL. And I bought a 1000W switch for less than 500 watts, just to get the best quality and greatest margin of safety possible. I guess it could be a 1 watter for all the good it's doing now, sitting there DEAD. We have a group of people coming over tomorrow, and the lights controlled by this are needed for that event. Guess I'll be switching things around, rigging things to work because SH can't seem to get their act together.

If it were one, or two, or even a half dozen devices, I could live with it. But one-third of them, either due to failure or SH recalls?

JUNK, JUNK, JUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
thanks for posting this - makes me feel better about my decision to defer automating my lighting until I can afford a Lutron sol'n. No use automating something if it either won't work, or if I have to pray that it'll work, or spend countless hours tweaking it.
Hey, SmartHomeMike, do you think you could get some input on this sort of issue from high enough up that it would be meaningful?

I haven't had anywhere near this bad of an experience, but I sure have heard a lot of this sort of statistic. If I were the CEO and/or high-level owner of this company I'd have something to say - one way or the other.

Any chance you can drum up a response from the top dawg?
The ApplianceLinc V2s; even the replacement ones from the recall; don't like some loads. They suptter click and turn on or off when switched. Told Smarthome but got no replies other then "Thank You"
Just an observation trying to make sense of this. It seems there is a bit of randomness to this issue. On one hand you hear of alot of problems, like here and from Digger, otoh I see people like UpstateMike and WayneW that seems to have few to no issues like this (UM I recall did but things are stable now). Are some people not speaking up or are there just very few large Insteon installs? Do the failures happen in batches, like perhaps as the result of some surge activity or it is completely random over time?

Surely someone, especially SH should be tracking stats like this. Perhaps a CT poll or polls are in order?
I have about 40 insteon devices installed and had about a 20% failure rate initially. I've replaced an appliance module, Icons, SwitchlincsV2 and the PLC. All replacements have worked well with no failures. I have 2 KPL which need replacement (and work okay) but I'm waiting until a firmware update (which I believe is in the works) before replacing the KPLs. I use PowerHome. With its ability to easily replace devices in the software I have no real insteon problems.

The replacement process through Smarthome was generally painless, altho I bought the starter kit through (which was much cheaper at the time) and they did give me a hard time about replacing some of those modules - but eventually Smarthome did replace the modules for free with free return shipping.

I feel Insteon is a great leap over X10 and works well. The quality control was and still may be flawed, but I figure its new technology and hey I just had to replace a 4 month old WD harddrive that failed, and I'm constantly replacing parts in my PC so I guess I'm used to it.

Having said that, I decided not to buy any more insteon until any remaining problems are fixed. I am concerned that there will be additional firmware updates that will eventually require us to purchase new devices. At this point, since I have my core Insteon devices running well, I don't want to take that risk.
As some of you may recall I got spanked by SH for opening my mouth and was told to keep it shut from now on. I will say just a few facts (like I will really keep my mouth shut).

Out of a high of 13 or 15 installed at one point I am down to 2 working properly. I did a lot of work on my system yesterday and tripped alarms testing some additional smoke detectors and CO detectors I was putting in. I have my system set up to turn all of the lights on in an alarm. Only 2 came on. I already knew that a few days ago that I was down to about 2 but yesterday was a good test since I tripped over a dozen alarms playing with things.

If I go into ELK RM they do not come on individually. If I try and link them to each other even in the same box they dont link. I wont say they are useless since that would upset SH so I will day they are "Linkless" and is probably the root of my problems.

Manually all of the ones installed turn on and off but I have had 2 in the past just drop dead or stay on forever and ever even with manual presses.

I got replacement Powerlincs but only tried one so far and it worked.

I have a wholehouse surge suppressor. I also have a TON of CFL's and that may be part of my problem. I replaced a lot and things were better for a while. I tried LED lighting but the quality of the light isnt there yet.

SH I am not trying to bash you...... but Todd from Customer Service if you read this I am TIRED of replacing them and TIRED of being told to add more. Two switches in the same box on the same circuit should link even if they are the only devices in the house. SmarthomeMike if you read this talk to your QA guys (I hope you have them) and your Engineering guys and get to the root of these problems. Do some burn in tests at full load in an elevated ambient of 50 C or so and cycle the units under test remotely and manually for 100K cycles and see the failure rate etc. Find what fails and requalify new components.

If you buy cheaper components for production you have to repeat the tests above (I would as a Component/Compliance Engineer for a large manufacturer). Your Engineering might have designed these to take an atomic hit only to have the components substituted with cheaper ones that drop dead .

SH needs to do their homework. If they do this stuff will rock.
I feel Insteon is a great leap over X10 and works well.

The Leviton DHC switches (their version X10) we installed here have been working flawlessly for the last several years. There are a couple dozen of them, including the 16400 controllers. The switches have true rocker action, and the dimmers ramp up and down when switched. There has not been one failure, and the Leviton switches with their gated AGC have never missed any commands in this 5000 square foot house. Including plug-in modules and the irrigation control, we have about 50 devices under X10 control. Everything works.

Many people complain about X10 reliability due to using the cheap X10 products. You get what you pay for. Unfortunately, that is what is giving X10 a bad name.

I have 20 Insteon devices in my house and am generally pleased with them. Early on I had one 1000W dimmer go out (from overheating becuase of too much surrounding insulation). I had one relay self destruct (literally with an internal pop) when manually turning on. I had one partial paddle failure (soft and spongy feel) where I replaced the switch. Oh, and recently I had a seriel powerlinc stop working but this was due to a lighting surge.

So I am batting somewhere around 15% if you don't include the keypadlinc swap out for a higher version and the future rounds of any version related swap outs.

Once powerhome hit the market my enthusiasm jumped because of some of the flexibility and managability challenges that were now easily overcome.

I do admit that seeing the posts about the failing switches, the paddle issues, now the buzzing and brighter LEDs really have me wondering if smarthome really knows what they are doing. You have to figure that as the adoption of Insteon grows (becuase of all the hype and growing product set) while these problems still exist then the level of negative feedback regarding Inston is going to increase exponentially. Us early adopters are little more tolerant to things not working perfectly but the average Joe certinaly is not going to put up with it. It would be nice to see some other vendors offer Insteon products to build in some competition.

My biggest disappointment really to date is with the support from Elk and my M1. I use the M1 to do all of my lighting control and at this point I consider the Insteon funtionality supported pretty limited. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that they commited to supporting Insteon very early on, but I have seen several posts on Elk's website asking about their Insteon roadmap and have not yet seen a reply. I am afraid that they are going to defer to powerhome for additional functionality (such as full group command support, required delay between commands, address management, etc). I don't want to be controlling my lighting from both the Elk panel and powerhome at this point.
I have several Intseon devices installed and had considerable difficulties at one point but I don't think my problems ever approached the levels described here. My problems are primarily as follows:

- I have to use X-10 mode for a lot of my Insteon switches because the Rozetta solution required to let my Stargate control Insteon directly is not yet available. I would consider using X-10 exclusively like JeffVolp but my X-10 reliability issues are not missed signal problems but rather false activation issues. (I cannot block external signals because my service entry neutral conductor is too thick for a whole house blocking coupler to be installed). This issue should be resolved when RoZetta is released and I can redefine the ways I use Insteon and X-10 in my environment. Eliminating X-10 completely is no longer a goal of the final design.

- I have KeypadLincs with flashing LEDs and/or a firmware glitch when linking to ControLincs. I am waiting for a stable firmware rev on the KeypadLincs to be released so I can replace them. The KeypadLincs can still be used until the repaired version is ready.

- I had some switches fail. One stopped working and 2 or 3 had the problem with the local control switch getting flaky. After replaceming those I have not had any more mechanical failures.

- I have a need to wall mount some ControLincs and the brackts for doing that have not yet become available.

- I have had false activations on some Insteon switches but have not completed troubleshooting those yet. (Stray links?, Stray X-10 addresses assigned? Noise?)

In general, link management is very easy because of PowerHome. Linked keypads and switches work very reliably even in areas that soak up X-10 signals. There have been no new hardware failures for a long time now. I mostly use relay switches and CFL lights and have had no issues at all with CFL. The true rocker action and light pipe options are still better for me than any look and feel offerings from UPB or ZWave. Insteon is till cheaper than high end X-10 switches from leviton etc.

I just finished getting things back to something that resembles working order, thanks to an extra switch I had here and the ability to switch things around quickly thanks to a LOT of experience at it. Had to do this before an event my wife is having at our house today, and just made it.

May I ask one thing? If you are having any quality problems, please speak up. I've become convinced that SH responds to user complaints if they think enough people are going to be vocal, so PLEASE speak up. On the other hand, if you have a fairly large system (say 25 or more devices, to ensure a reasonable sample) and have had no problems with quality, then please let everyone know that as well.

I don't want to bash SH. I just want my equipment (and everyone else's) to work reliably. I'm convinced this forum, the one on (SH's own forum) and the HomeSeer Insteon forum can be very effective at having SH take notice of these issues, develop and communicate a reasonable plan, and resolve this once and for all.

Again, I WANT SH and Insteon to be successful. A great start to that would be to fix these problems and COMMUNICATE the plans to accomplish this to the community of people who have invested in the technology to date.

I was talking to a friend today who knows someone that works with SH as a developer on the Insteon. Apparently what we are saying is nothing new to them from what he knows. They just dont know what to do about it.

They may be in a bind. They are locked in somewhat on the protocal and the hardware and to some extent the pricepoints (although prices have gone up a lot on most items).

From what I learned 3rd hand they need to make some tough choices.

Cant swear any of this is fact. Just something I was told when I brought the whole insteon headache up in conversation.

BTW my friend said he was told by his friend not to buy it and to stick with X-10 for now. and see if things can work out. I for one dont have money to scrap this and start over.
I think I've documented my "issues" previously... I should probably put it in a separate file 'cause clearly the story ain't quite over. :p

Okay, here's an export of my notes from my Insteon mind map, if you really care to read 'em. :blink:

{edit: having trouble with the attachment}


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What happened to the "Touchlincs" my friend said they "died at birth. Anyone know if that is true or not?


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I now only have 2 lamplincs and a controllinc installed in my master bedroom after having around around 15 devices total.

My wife and I had A LOT of trouble with the wall switches. They ignore the 1st quick tap completely. So on a normal basis a double tap for full on would require a triple tap and to just turn a switch on or off required a double tap very consistantly. In April, SmartHomeMike gave me a reply at TechMall indicating that this was "by design to prevent switches from falsing on or off". In the same post he also said "I have read several requests for this in the past 2 weeks I have made an internal request to change the feature moving forward in the next revs to the product." however to my understanding there have been no changes regarding this. I don't really think we tap them that quick.

Can you imagine clicking an icon with your mouse on your desktop and your computer ignoring the mouse click to prevent false clicking. That's rediculous IMHO.

For reference, here is the link.

I've tinkered a little with interfacing a lamplinc with my Elk M1, and have had pretty reliable success once I finally got the M1 to recognize the lamplinc. However the M1's powerlinc is plugged into the same outlet at the lamplinc. :p I'm not real sure about where grouping on the M1 stands at this point.

ZWave is really the only other option for me, but at $100 a switch for the ones that supposedly report their local state change to a home automation unit... It's too expensive. I did see Intermatic switches at Fry's for $39, but they don't report their local state change.

And don't expect a response from SmartHome in this thread. I have noticed they typcially avoid threads with anything that might be construed as heaving critisizing in them. -- Honestly I don't blame them.

edit: typo