Insteon news from EH Expo


Senior Member
SmartHome plans to ship the first 3 Insteon SKUs on May 25th, 2005. Prices start at $19.99. They are the RF Signalinc, the Controlinc and the LampLinc dimmer module.

The Controlinc is similar to an X-10 maxi controller. It has a tilt/swing stand on the back so it can stand up (on its front edge). The tilt stand can be removed and then the Controlinc is designed to wall mount in a double gang box. The unit would still hang out the front, it is not flush to the wall, so it would appear similar to a thermostat or alarm keypad. The price is expected to be $29 ($39 at the most).

The ApplianceLinc and LampLinc modules (and presumably the wall switches) ARE fully backward compatible with good old X-10. Of course they don't offer much advantage when used this way, but it offers compatibility with existing systems. The receivers actually listen for both the old X-10 PLC commands (using housecode/unitcode) and the new Insteon PLC commands (24 bit hardware serial, like a MAC address). They do not need to be switched between an old X-10 (slow) mode and the new Insteon (fast) mode, like we were previously led to believe.

The network is advertised as dual-band, but that is a bit misleading at this stage. The only units to use RF so far will be the RF SignaLincs, which are used to bridge the residential phases. The modules and wall switches so far are Insteon & X-10 PLC, but not RF. This is primarily done to reduce costs as adding RF adds significantly to the basic module cost. Eventually there will be battery powered RF devices (motion detectors, thermostats, etc). These devices MAY be RF repeaters as that choice is left up to the manufacturer, but that may be a waste of battery resources. It makes more sense to let AC powered devices (such as a SignaLinc) do the RF repeating.

SmartHome claims that when using the Insteon protocol, devices can respond in 0.04 seconds, then add another 0.04 seconds for the acknowledgment as Insteon is fully 2 way. If the command needs to be repeated to reach its target, then the response time would multiply. If you are using the old X-10 addressing, then it is the expected 2/3 second response time. SmartHome claims an RF range of 150 ft and a speed of 10 messages per second. The command can also have a payload of up to 16 bytes, so you can actually transmit data via Insteon.

There are a total of 10 Insteon products planned to be released by the end of July. These 10 products are actually 18 SKUs, which I believe is due to 2 pin vs 3 pin, etc

All LEDS are now white & color caps will be available. The KeypadLinc can have different colors for different buttons.

The Software Developers Kit should be released within 30 days. It is $99 and will include a computer interface and at least one module. The protocol will be open. There will be a Hardware Developers Kit available sometime later. This is essentially the same thing, but in a raw circuit board format suitable for mounting in a panel (such as JDS, HAI, Elk).

There is a PowerLinc module planned which can emulate an X-10 TW-523 module. This would give instant Insteon support to legacy hardware panels (such as JDS?) I suggested that they also needed a CM11a or 1132C emulater to give the same instant access to more modern software applications (such as HomeSeer) and they seemed receptive.

When SmartHome tested the fist batch of hardware they had 3 mangled data commands/packets out of 63,000 sent, so the error rate seems pretty low. Insteon mode operates at 131.65 kHz for PLC and 902-924 MHz for RF. Computer interfaces are planned with RS232, USB and Ethernet interfaces.

Great Review.

Just to clarify, if I read and understood your third paragraph correctly.

The modules will respond to BOTH formats? ie, the same module can accept an X10 signal to turn on, and an Insteon signal to turn off, for example?
JohnBullard said:
Just to clarify, if I read and understood your third paragraph correctly.

The modules will respond to BOTH formats? ie, the same module can accept an X10 signal to turn on, and an Insteon signal to turn off, for example?
Yup, that is my understanding. Except it will turn off a lot quicker than it will turn on ;)

I don't know if they default to A1 by default like the old X-10 stuff, or if they default to not having a legacy house/unit code at all. It would be nice if they didn't default to having a legacy code, that way spurious 120kHz noise on the line would never trigger it.

I also confirmed that the KeypadLinc 6 and Keypad Linc 8 will become one multipurpose SKU. You get both the 6 & 8 button panels and can change as desired.

show pictures are at
Just to clarify, if I read and understood your third paragraph correctly.

The modules will respond to BOTH formats? ie, the same module can accept an X10 signal to turn on, and an Insteon signal to turn off, for example?

Yup, that is my understanding. Except it will turn off a lot quicker than it will turn on

Hmmm, I'm not so sure about this statement. I thought (after talking to two different Smarthome reps at CES in January) that these switches could be set up for one OR the other protocol!

I've been wrong before though! ;)
Based upon my conversations with multiple people over multiple days, I am pretty confident in what I reported. SmartHome's FAQ at also seems to confirm this.
Does INSTEON work with other home network technologies?
Yes, INSTEON will be introduced with an Ethernet, USB and serial bridge to allow communications with the Internet, computers and wide variety of security and wiring panels. Additionally, INSTEON supports communications with existing X-10 based devices. Smarthome expects development of additional bridges to other network technologies based on market demand.

Should I continue to purchase X-10 based products or wait for INSTEON?
One of the significant advantages of the new INSTEON technology is it's backwards compatibility with existing X-10 products. As an example, an INSTEON switch can turn on an X-10 lamp module and an X-10 switch can turn on an INSTEON lamp module. Homeowners can continue to purchase X-10 devices today and then migrate over time to INSTEON.

Will there be an upgrade program for X-10 devices to INSTEON?
There is no need to upgrade X-10 devices, INSTEON devices will work with X-10 devices and X-10 devices will work with INSTEON devices.

New info:

I have confirmed that Insteon units will ship with NO default X-10 address configured. That means they are completely immune to X-10 communication or 120kHz noise, if this is needed. You can add an X-10 address and remove the X-10 address without resetting the module.

The $99 SDK package will include a LampLinc module, a PowerLinc USB (or serial) computer interface and a ControLinc controller.

The SignaLink RF phase coupler has a config mode to assist the user in getting the two units on opposite phases. The config mode uses the LED to indicate if the second unit is on the same or opposite phase. Therefore the user just needs to keep moving the second unit until he gets the correct LED pattern. More than 2 SignaLink units are allowed in order to increase RF coverage.

The PowerLink USB & PowerLink Serial can download & execute stored macros, similar to the existing 1132CU. The PowerLink Ethernet unit will NOT be able to download & execute, it is very similar to the existing 1132U.

To add an Insteon unit to a software application, there are expected to be two methods. The first method is to use the unit config button to get it to transmit its serial number, model number and firmware version. A listening software app should then be able to add this info to its configuration and give it a user friendly name or location. The other method would be to brute force type the serial number (which is printed on the rear of the unit) into the software application.

In general, the current xxxLinc line of products will be replaced with units that have the same features and same price and ADD the Insteon speed, features and benefits.
I questioned the Smarthome guy also about the X10/Insteon setup, and I also got the answer that it will do both at the same time.

Another item on the KeypadLink design. On the current KeypadLink units, the illumination behind the button makes a circle, with the corners and edges dark. Very difficult to read in the dark. The new units have been reworked and defraction added, so the entire button should be lit.

And on IMG_0264_Mario_John_Marcus_David.JPG, it should be Mario_Jim_Marcus_David
wow, this IS interesting because this is NOT the story they were touting at CES!

I guess the product is so new, even Smarthome reps don't fully understand it yet!
jlehnert said:
And on IMG_0264_Mario_John_Marcus_David.JPG, it should be Mario_Jim_Marcus_David
Sorry about that Jim, guess I was in a hurry. It was great to meet you!