Insteon PLC advice

gregoryx

Active Member
Okay... I know Insteon is much-maligned at this point... and I really appreciate the posts from those with EXPERIENCE in the alternative solutions (UPB and Z-Wave, specifically, as similarly-timed introductsions to a similar market). Those posts point out that as much as may be wrong with Insteon there's simply goods and bads to all the various solutions out there.. which is so true of most things in life, of course. :(

I intro this way so that I might avoid any of the "you need to dump Insteon and go with a true-RF-with-integrated-hard-wiring-and-direct-ESP-ready-solution that'll be perfect next decade" (though that DOES sound cool). :p


Here's the deal: after juggling the SignaLinc locations a bit, I have them in a location that produces 100% reliable communication 100% of the time between Insteon switches. Did I say 100%? I meant to. 100%. Might as well be hard-wired, they're so fast and reliable. All 50 devices. 100%. Don't like it? Don't believe me? Come visit; the weather's great here. :D

I've replaced the switches that died when there were power-surges. I've replaced a couple of the ones that flickered (found another recently). I've replaced one of the flickering KeypadLincs (the button lights flicker when other devices send signals), so I know I can replace the other dozen eventually.
Yeah... there are reliability and firmware issues. :ph34r:

I've been messing with HomeSeer and MainLobby and now HouseLinc and PowerHome. I have Elk working beautifully - though for basic load on/off stuff mostly. The software progress is slow, but it is evident as progress.
Yeah... the software development is slow. :D

Anyway... why the post?

PLC consistency.

I've got three PLCs - one to the Elk, one to the HA PC (interchangeably used for HS/ML/PH/HL), and one to my PC for testing and such. The one at the HA PC doesn't pick up the devices as consistently and reliably in HL as on my PC. I've found that if I move from outlet to outlet this changes. My guess is that there are lots of retransmissions between switches to create the reliability I've seen and the PLC is not doing this... so I'm seeing inconsistencies.

I added another SignaLinc at the HA outlet and plugged the PLC directly into it. Is this bad? It didn't help much.

I'm about ready to run another feed to the location from the panel - which I expect will work great - but I'd much prefer an RF-based fix.

Help?
 

wuench

Senior Member
I have had an old filter on for a while. My outlet supports my AV rack, which has a UPS and surge strip plugged in. I was having decent reliability but just swapped out all of my switches for the flicker issue. Only 3 out of 11 worked reliably. I unplugged the powerstrip and they all worked better with a couple of issues. I uplugged the UPS which was using the old X10 filter and they all work now. I have never had 100%, group communication was always unreliable but single switch communication worked pretty well. I ended up moving the surge, which is still unfiltered further down the circuit and plugging the UPS back into the filter, things are still working.

I just ordered two filterlincs today. One for the UPS and one for the powerstrip.

I think Insteon is just a suceptible to noise and signal sucking as X10. The only plus is the repeating switches which may help.

I was also wondering if moving Signallincs as close to the electrical box as possible would help. I have one outlet hanging off the box now, adding another one on the other phase and then plugging the signallincs in would put them as close together electrically as possible. I wish SH would make a hardwired repeater.
 

gregoryx

Active Member
Mmmm... thanks for the feedback. I'll try filters for sure.

I thought that the "FilterLinc" units were no different than the old X10 units. True? False? Same / similar frequency for Insteon, I thought.

I absoultely disagree about the "just as suceptible to noise and signal sucking"; there is no comparison. I had such a disasterous mess trying to do 2-way X-10 with only a dozen devices that I had to disable all the transmitting; and I still had questionable reliability. The only change I made when I replaced them all with Insteon is I REMOVED the filters! 100% reliability.

That said, I'm thinking maybe it is a noise issue as you all suggest. That rack has a LOT of stuff on it - from the 400Wpc amps to the PCs, changers, etc - and perhaps it just needs isolation. I'm going to give it a rip.
 

fitzpatri8

Active Member
wuench said:
I think Insteon is just a suceptible to noise and signal sucking as X10. The only plus is the repeating switches which may help.
Anything that uses a powerline carrier is going to be succeptable to noise generated by other devices on the powerline. This can be an issue with all the powerline communications, including wireless intercoms, x10, Insteon, UPB, etc.

Insteon does a damn fine job of overcoming minor to moderate noise and signal suck issues with its repeating mesh network, its rf signal repeater/phase bridges, and its two-way signalling that confirms the command was received. Still, there are limits.

Imagine you are attending a party where a loudmouth drunk is creating a scene. If he's on the other side of the room, you can adapt to the situation by having the people in your group talk a little louder.

Then the drunk is joined by another playing the piano. Your group adapts, each member talking to the person next to them, then they passing the message along in turn.

Finally, while the host starts trying to calm the duo, a third inebriate with a banjo sneaks in via an unsecured patio door, and the trio starts another set while moving over right next to your group. At that point communication is hopeless.

Insteon and UPB can both tolerate the one or two noisy drunks okay, but when the trio gets started, then you have to start either quieting them down (adding a filter between the noismaker and the grid) or kicking somebody out (removing/replacing the noisy device).

Remember: Drink responsibly. And always keep banjos safely locked up when not at bluegrass festivals. :)

Tom
 

wuench

Senior Member
The SH website says the Filterlinc's work for Insteon. Like I said, even my old PCS X10 filter is helping. I would unplug the equipment and do a little experimenting before you drop any $$$ though.

You guys are right. I guess what I meant to say is I think Insteon is just as suceptible to signal suck, which is what I belive the UPS and surge are causing. Noise would be less of an issue (but still an issue) due to the checksum, repeating of transmissions, and meshing of the switches. What I was thinking was, the signal isn't any stronger, unlike UPB.

I too had a house full of two way x10 and I really don't miss being jolted from sleep by all my bedroom lights coming on. I think most of those type issues are due to x10 collisions, not noise. Insteon's checksum at least lets me sleep through the night...
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
wuench said:
I too had a house full of two way x10 and I really don't miss being jolted from sleep by all my bedroom lights coming on. I think most of those type issues are due to x10 collisions, not noise. Insteon's checksum at least lets me sleep through the night...
But what do you do for all the X-10 devices that have no Insteon equivalent? Screw-in modules, true fixture modules (as opposed to inline modules), Ultrasonic Command Consoles, etc.
 
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