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Insteon questions

tanstaaf1

Member
After browsing forums and WebPages for a frustrating year, spending many thousands of dollars along the way based on incomplete and misleading information, I’d like to finally be able to commit to a switch/automation framework and be able to seal up my walls. This is expected to be a massive home automation project on a very large home (I’m thinking something approaching “Bill’s†house, in functionality if not size, with motion detectors and other switches all over the place providing smart lighting and AV support, among other things). Robustness is essential. I already bought Stargate hardware, before I heard a whisper of alternatives such as HomeSeer; I would like to use Stargate but I am prepared to abandon it if advisable (I note HomeSeer is much more timely in supporting the X10 options). Right now my highest priority is settling on a lighting switch standard so I can get the electrician busy.

After initial excitement at the thought of X10, extended X10, A10, ALC, Zwave, and UPB (and some inquiry into other things such as Lutron, Radio Ra, and Crestron, etc.) I’m now pinning my hope on Insteon. but I have concerns:

(1) Has anyone deployed Insteon enough to comment on whether it has approximately 100% reliability of signal transmission? (I understand that the protocol requires retry if receipt is not acknowledged – something missing from Zwave, X10, etc. but presumably not from UPB)

(2) Do any of the automation “computers†out there (e.g., HomeSeer, Premise, Stargate, etc.) have Insteon support? Is it fully implemented (e.g., two way support) and solid or only a hobbled or “beta†version? Is it “native†or merely an X10 to Insteon “converterâ€? I’m concerned about “converterâ€-type drivers because of (a) additional opportunity for bugs/SNAFUs and (b) I’m given to understand that any X10-based translators are restricted to X10’s poky speed because they *first* must receive an X10 signal which is limited by its implementation to the 60 Hz AC wave. Is this correct?

(3) What are the key differences between the Insteon “linc V2†and lower priced ICON series of light switches, aside from maximum amount of (a) wattage and (b) lighting “scenes†supported? Are there any important “gotchas†to keep in mind in choosing one or the other (I’m obviously inclined to use the much lower priced Icon for all my simple singly controlled devices with ordinary wattage)?

(4) Are all switches intrinsically capable of being designated as “three way†switches (this is my take on what I have read – and on the absence of dedicated “slave†switches).

(5) Insteon stresses its radio/mesh network capabilities, in my reading, in its overall positioning as a dual band (radio PLUS powerline) approach. However, I’m beginning to wonder if it is more appropriate to classify it as mainly a powerline system with the rf added on only in a couple specialty devices in order to bridge the legs of the powerline: (http://www.smarthome.com/2476s.html) says: “To ensure network reliability 2 SignaLinc RF's are required in each home with INSTEON enabled products. While a single SignaLinc RF will bridge INSTEON signals between radio frequency and powerline signals, two properly installed SignaLinc RFs will also act as powerline signal repeaters, maximizing the reliability of your INSTEON network.â€

[a] Is this true? In other words, the various switches have no RF capability of their own? If so, shouldn’t Insteon be most accurately characterized as mainly another powerline system rather than being positioned as mainly an RF system? More importantly, imo, if this is true than doesn’t it mean that extensive use of mobile wireless remotes – which is surely a key part of the future of home automation – is considerably hobbled?

If mainly powerline, then how can Insteon claim effectively instant speed (as I recall only .05 second latency between signal transmission and receipt)? X10 and even UPB have *much* longer latency due to powerline characteristics.

Those are my key questions at this point. I’m hoping for some happy answers – but truthful, complete answers (or, at least, telling me you *think* but you don’t know firsthand) will be a considerable improvement over where I am right now…regardless of how “happy†they make me.

BTW, I want to be clear that I am still willing to consider alternatives to Insteon (either UPB or Zwave are the other strong contenders), so speak up if you have a strong opinion. All I'm saying is that based on my current understanding of issues such as speed, reliability, cost, 2 way, products currently on market, and overall feature set, I'm currently leaning toward and about to go forward with Insteon.

Thanks
 

brothers

Member
As of today, I'm almost completely X10-free (still got two old SwitchLincs I need to swap out). Aside from the two "legacy" devices, I'm running nearly thirty Insteon widgets from HomeSeer, and they are completely reliable. I was originally running these things in X10 compatibility mode, and I had X10 "dead spots" - uncontrollable devices - in various places in my house. I've got an X10 bridge/repeater, a couple of BoosterLincs, and filters on various suspected noise sources - it still didn't help.

Now that I've switched to native Insteon in HomeSeer, everything works. And it's perceptibly faster than when I was controlling them via X10.

The Icon devices are just as reliable and (almost) as functional as the other Insteon stuff - they're just missing a few features (missing more X10 features than Insteon features).

- Dennis Brothers
 

Steve

Senior Member
Wow, I think you win the award of the year for mega first post. Welcome to CocconTech.

Since I don't have a lot of time right now to answer in detail, I will share just a few personal thoughts.

1. On something like this, you definitely want a hardware based solution. For whats available today, that would be like the Stargate, Elk M1, HAI Omni line or new Homeseer Pro100. I would never tell you to toss an existing investment, but the M1 is a fan favorite around here. I compared them all (except Homesser - not available, and went with M1). There are a few Stargate users here who are happy but I believe looking to possibly move to M1 - they can offer their opinion. So, if you are keeping the Stargate, I'm sure you can use it nicely. If open to anything, I highly recommend the Elk M1.

2. On the choice of lighting, if this is a new build and walls are open, I would suggest a hard wire solution. That will always be the most reliable. I am not a fan of wireless for HA, so personally I would not use Zwave. In the PLC world, it is really between UPB and Insteon. Insteon is lagging in software which makes it difficult to setup in a large environment. It seems to perform well but doesn't have a long history. UPB is the choice of most professional installers. It is also super reliable, and contrary to what you posted, is almost instant - at least at automated control. There is a slight delay when you manually press switch to control load due to sensing for multiple clicks. There are many posts here describing that. My personal choice for the majority of lighting was UPB and I am very happy with it and the SAI switches. The UPStart software makes UPB easy to install. IMHO, Insteon is not ready for large installs yet and is not fully supported by the major players. Perhaps in a few months. I may use ICON relay switches to control flourescent lights in closets, garage, etc., but UPB was and remains my choice for the majority.

Hope these quick thoughts help a litlle.
 

ChrisWalker

Active Member
tanstaaf1:

After reading your post, I just wanted to clarify a few things:
(1) Z-Wave does retry automatically if a reply is not received--using various paths, etc. It's built right into the protocol along with collision detection.

(3) The load on switches (wattage) depends largely both on the rating of the switch and the manufacturer. Some manufacturers are very liberal in their ratings, while some are more stringent. I would ask a lot of questions about load experiences with the various manufacturers' switches before committing to such a large purchase/installation. Having installed hundreds of devices (even in a single home), I would recommend purchasing from one of the long-established companies with a long-established reputation of quality.

(4) That depends on the manufacturer of switches. I know that many of Intermatic's and Leviton's Z-Wave devices are all "3-way" as an option--but it's really up to the manufacturer and the product line and price point, etc.

(5) [a] yes, INSTEON is mainly powerline, with possible future RF bridging capability.

As far as opinions and personal research go, quality of protocol, quality of hardware, reliability, and functionality all lead me to lean towards Z-Wave. It's very fast, super-reliable, low-cost ($3 a chip--with many $40 devices), 2-way (depending on product and price point), and has a ton of products either on the market or currently in manufacturing. Plus, it supports basic profiles as well as extended functionality, so your system can grow and is backwards- and forwards-compatible.

Chris
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
tanstaaf1 said:
(1) Has anyone deployed Insteon enough to comment on whether it has approximately 100% reliability of signal transmission?
I am just starting to convert to Insteon but I have 52 Insteon devices installed so far and signal transmission reliability has been 100%. I have had 1 device fail (just stopped working) and had it replaced.

Do any of the automation “computers†out there (e.g., HomeSeer, Premise, Stargate, etc.) have Insteon support?

Short answer is no, not yet. The translator will be out shortly which solves the problem for most time and condition based applications but as you point out there will be the standard X-10 latency for motion detector and touchscreen applications.

I’m obviously inclined to use the much lower priced Icon for all my simple singly controlled devices with ordinary wattage

First of all, if the Icon line is where your budget is then UPB is going to give you severe sticker shock! I would plan for full V2 anyplace where looks matter and use Icon for companion switches as well as attic, basement, garage, etc. Note the Icon LED goes off when the switch is on and on when the switch is off. Sounds OK when you think of the LED as a night light but if you are used to an LED that follows the state of the load, the transition will bug you more than you might think.

Are all switches intrinsically capable of being designated as “three way†switches?

Insteon does not use wired companion switches and depends on protocol linking switches together to create multi-switch configurations. An insteon switch is considered a companion switch if you simply don't connect anything to the load wire and link it to the switch that is actually controlling the light.

shouldn’t Insteon be most accurately characterized as mainly another powerline system rather than being positioned as mainly an RF system? More importantly, imo, if this is true than doesn’t it mean that extensive use of mobile wireless remotes – which is surely a key part of the future of home automation – is considerably hobbled?

It is not being positioned as mainly an RF system. Not intended to be, never will be, doesn't want to be. I don't follow your logic about future implementation of remotes being hobbled. The RF protocol exists. The receivers exist. We are just waiting for smartHome to release some remotes. I will agree that this should probably have been a higher priority than getting Icon out but then I don't know the big picture as regards distribution channels like Home Depot. Maybe Icon was needed to get that niche going. Anyway, RF reception by each switch v.s. some dedicated receivers would not be an advantage in an Insteon environment.

If mainly powerline, then how can Insteon claim effectively instant speed (as I recall only .05 second latency between signal transmission and receipt)? X10 and even UPB have *much* longer latency due to powerline characteristics.

Not quite correct. X-10 and UPB have much longer latency because of the method they use to transmit signals over the powerline. Insteon just came up with something faster. Getting faster messages onto a powerline is no big deal. There are devices that will let you use your powerline for full bandwidth ethernet. The trick is how fast you can send powerline messages with a device that retails for under $20, and is still rock solid reliable.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
ChrisWalker said:
tanstaaf1:

After reading your post, I just wanted to clarify a few things:
(1) Z-Wave does retry automatically if a reply is not received--using various paths, etc. It's built right into the protocol along with collision detection....

(3) The load on switches (wattage) depends largely both on the rating of the switch and the manufacturer. Some manufacturers are very liberal in their ratings, while some are more stringent. I would ask a lot of questions about load experiences with the various manufacturers' switches ...

(5) [a] yes, INSTEON is mainly powerline, with possible future RF bridging capability.

As far as opinions and personal research go, quality of protocol, quality of hardware, reliability, and functionality all lead me to lean towards Z-Wave. ...
Chris,

Zwave was what I was most interested in maybe a month ago. Then I heard from multiple sources that while 2 way communication was part of the specification this aspect of the spec was not enabled due to "patent issues" with Lutron. More recently I read a post that said this had just been resolved -- but even if that proves true, how long will it be before switches on the market support it? How long until the controllers such as HomeSeer, which support Zwave, update their software to support the enablement?

In addition, I also started hearing nightmare stories of screwed up "node" tables. While, admittedly, every standard has had some reported problems (UPB makes a disconcerting "buzz" and is big and ugly; Insteon switches currently run very hot in the experience of at least one poster) the Zwave problems sounded more difficult for me to ignore -- and the current lack of 2 way was simply a deal killer for my specification, where I want to track every switch switched at all times and without continual "polling" (the proposed workaround).

On a major positive front, Zwave does appear to have the only broadbased multivendor support at this time (I think this is likely to be a problem for Insteon and UPB as few top tier manufacturers are likely to feel enthusiastic about competing head to head with the spec holder cum manufacturer -- that is like putting a "kick me" sticker on your own back!). I corresponded with Leviton regarding their plans and they are apparently releasing new Zwave switches by early 2006. Leviton is a 600 lb gorilla in switches and I expect their switches will be really nice and competitive.

Thanks for the warning on wattages. I have heard enough problems regarding various switches, and personally experienced enough discrepancy between what vendors say they are providing and what they actually provide (with "gotchas") that I hope and intend to be careful here -- as well in other mfg issues such as "scenes" and overall presentation.

I regard RF support as important for future applications. This is a major positive for Zwave, imo, and one of my mentioned concerns re Insteon not really being an RF network. Not only are many sensors such as motion detectors most easily placed when wireless, but I expect portable universal controllers/ locators will have an absolutely integral role in home automation within a decade -- any system which doesn't fully support wireless will be flatly archaic. Not only does wireless allow you to control/communicate with your house from anywhere in the house but -- more importantly -- it allows your house to know where you are at all times -- so it can best serve you. This requires, at minimum, enough fixed RF receivers in the house to be able to closely (room by room at least) triangulate. Thus UPB seems to be ignoring the future from the start and, for similar reasons, I am now concerned about Insteon (another area in which I was initially significantly misled/mistaken after early readings and conversations with some supposed "experts" espousing Insteon).

Of course, when that future arrives we can always rip out all our Zwave, Insteon, and UPB stuff in another decade and buy ZigBee or something -- eh? ;-)
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Steve said:
There are a few Stargate users here who are happy but I believe looking to possibly move to M1 - they can offer their opinion.
Since I am one of the Stargate people who has looked hard at the Elk M1 as well as the HAI Omni I will share a few opinions on this topic.

The reason I went with the Stargate originally was because it was a super reliable hardware solution that was extremely configurable but dead simple to program. I am more of a super user than a programmer or hobbyist. The stargate lets me play with a lot of automation technolgies like thermostats, physical inputs, voice announcements, telephone control, keypads, analog measurement, ascii I/O, and lighting control, from a single integrated platform.

People who run Stargates are usually not the type who want to define their environment in terms of scenes or modes (home/away, movie time/ bedtime, etc.) Stargate people aren't generally satisfied by defining a threshold and triggering something when it is crossed but would rather have the system monitor data and do different things based on several data ranges. While users of other controllers talk about how to get a thermostat hooked up to their system, people on the Stargate Users list have detailed exchanges on how to measure, log, and utilize furnace runtime data. Users of other controllers might have an alert to tell them when the mail has arrived while a typical Stargate user might have the mailbox greet the mail person in a pleasant voice, turn on an interior light in the box to make it easier to see, and then page all the phones in the house to announce the mail has arrived, etc. In other words each event tends to have a bit more logic behind it than you might see employed on other controllers.

The point of this is that to migrate from a Stargate to another hardware platform, you have to figure out how you are going to do all the things you currently do with the Stargate on the new controller. Things like:

*Deeply nested If/Then logic

*Trigger events on changes to variables or analog input values (not just crossing a predefined threshold, but any change in value).

*Robust handling of ascii messages

*Built-in support for caller ID, telephone announcements, and touch tone control

*Ability to speak complex messages including variable values such as thermostat set points or accumulated run time of furnaces and other devices

*Ability to scale analog input using gain and offset values

*Built-in support for IR control of A/V equipment

*Low cost multi-button keypads with LED indicators

*Medium cost backlit LCD keypads

*Support for a large amount of physical I/O (80 opto isolated inputs, 64 buffered alarm inputs via CADDX, 40 analog inputs, 128 relay outputs, 500 IR commands).

Both the Elk M1 and the HAI Omni have some of these abilities but neither has all of them. And neither has the programming flexibility to match Stargate yet. Based on the target market for HAI, I don't think you will ever see an Omni able to do all the things a Stargate can. I am still hopeful that Elk will get there with the M1 but it would be nice to see some kind of a roadmap on where they are planning to take that platform.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
Steve said:
1. On something like this, you definitely want a hardware based solution. For whats available today, that would be like the Stargate, Elk M1, HAI Omni line or new Homeseer Pro100... I highly recommend the Elk M1.

2. On the choice of lighting, if this is a new build and walls are open, I would suggest a hard wire solution. That will always be the most reliable. I am not a fan of wireless for HA, so personally I would not use Zwave. In the PLC world, it is really between UPB and Insteon. Insteon is lagging in software....
I'm very grateful for the welcome and the useful information.

(1) I will look into Elk; this is the first recommendation I have heard for it (I thought everyone was a HomeSeer!) I suspected I would want a dedicated HA computer even after hearing of HomeSeer. What makes Elk best of the choices, in your opinion?

(2) About 1/3 of the walls are open. I actually invested a several thousands of dollars when I was young and HA foolish (about six months ago) stringing cat5 to all the light switches in several rooms, after reading that Stargate (the only HA computer I heard about until fairly recently) supported hardwired ALC switches. Then, the "gotcha": Stargate does support ALC, but only one way it won't listen to the switches.

:) (rant on) There are so many frigging "gotchas" in HA I can hardly believe it. I remember the early days of microcomputers -- knowledge was hard to find but it was my experience that when you finally were told or read something from someone who was deeply involved in microcomputers that the the information was reliable. I can't tell you how many people I encountered in the last year who held themselves out as HA experts for hire ... until I started asking them some simple questions ... at which point they let me know they only did "home theatre" or "lutron wiring". Sheesh. (rant off) :(

Now I have spagetti cat 5 all over creation but I have come to the conclusion, perhaps mistakenly??, that the new protocols (UPB and Insteon, at least) with their 2 way and repeat-if-not-acknowledged logic must be (please, God) so close to 100% reliable that the massive investment (and opportunity for screwups) of hard wired control lines is unnecessary. That is, I'm leaving the spagetti in where I've already got it -- but I don't intend to use it and don't intend to continue stringing spagetti everywhere.

Still, I've read over and over and over that if walls are open I "should" put in the wire and/or that "hard wired is best". Is this really the case or is this possibly just because for decades, when X10 or Lutron were the only real alternatives, it WAS true? I really don't want to string any more spagetti ... especially if it really isn't necessary.

:blink:
 

ChrisWalker

Active Member
tanstaaf1,

Most of the Z-Wave issues you've heard of are due to software and hardware which either aren't Z-Wave certified or which have quality issues outside of the Z-Wave chip itself. We've done a ton of testing with Z-Wave chips, and they seem to work very well in and of themselves.

As far as messed up node tables, you just need a smart remote. We have one for your PC (currently in the final stages of beta--pm me if you'd like a copy) which fixes all that for you, and there are smarter remotes coming to market which can take care of this as well.

Also, if you're talking about "live status" in Z-Wave (vs. 2-way, which often means acknowledgement of commands), I am unfortunately not a patent expert. I've heard a number of people mention things about that feature not being implemented in Z-Wave devices, and often it's followed up by the statement that any wireless repeater RF products would have the same issue. Maybe that's why INSTEON doesn't have any switches with RF chips in them. But we're starting to see manufacturers adding this capability to various products (like PIRs and thermostats, so far).

One nice thing about Z-Wave is that it's designed with a lot of backwards- and forwards- compatability in mind. Therefore, an investment today will still be valuable tomorrow, even with new protocol and chip upgrades. The backwards compatability has been very good to date.

Anyway, this is a big investment for you. If you can make it down to CES, or to the International Builders' Show, I would recommend stopping by and visiting some of the Z-Wave manufacturers' booths. There are a lot of very nice, well built, and reliable coming out.

Chris
 

Steve

Senior Member
tanstaaf1:

It sounds like you already have your mind set on Zwave, so I would recommend you pursue that. I'm sure it will mature next year and be a nice solution if you like wireless.

I don't know if you actually tested UPB or Insteon, or just did a lot of reading, but wanted to comment on a few of your remarks.

(UPB makes a disconcerting "buzz" and is big and ugly; Insteon switches currently run very hot in the experience of at least one poster)
The 'buzz' in UPB is a capacitor discharging. The loudness depends on the type and quality of the cap. Some are louder than others. Have you tried any yourself? Opinions vary on this, but IMHO the buzz is a non issue. Using SAI switches unless the room is absolutely dead quiet you can not even hear the buzz under normal operating conditions. Plus 1000's of pro installers and their customers would not tolerate it if it were a big deal. And what is 'big and ugly', the switches? IMHO the switches at least by SAI are top quality, good looking and feature rich.

On a major positive front, Zwave does appear to have the only broadbased multivendor support at this time (I think this is likely to be a problem for Insteon and UPB as few top tier manufacturers are likely to feel enthusiastic about competing head to head with the spec holder cum manufacturer -- that is like putting a "kick me" sticker on your own back!).
Sorry but I can not agree on this point. I guess it depends on your perception of 'broadbased multivendor'. UPB devices are made by 3 significant companies - Pulseworx(PCS), Simply Automated and HAI. Each vendor has a slightly different style and feature set. SAI has been a very energetic and responsive company and is growing strong.


I regard RF support as important for future applications. This is a major positive for Zwave, imo, and one of my mentioned concerns re Insteon not really being an RF network. Not only are many sensors such as motion detectors most easily placed when wireless, but I expect portable universal controllers/ locators will have an absolutely integral role in home automation within a decade -- any system which doesn't fully support wireless will be flatly archaic. Not only does wireless allow you to control/communicate with your house from anywhere in the house but -- more importantly -- it allows your house to know where you are at all times -- so it can best serve you. This requires, at minimum, enough fixed RF receivers in the house to be able to closely (room by room at least) triangulate. Thus UPB seems to be ignoring the future from the start and, for similar reasons, I am now concerned about Insteon (another area in which I was initially significantly misled/mistaken after early readings and conversations with some supposed "experts" espousing Insteon).
While I can go along with there will certainly be uses for wireless now and in the future, I think many people including experts will argue for absolutely reliability, wire is the way to go. Sure its easier to install a wireless device but with proper planning and proper structured wiring, a wired home will be the most reliable and bulletproof. I'd hate for a critical sensor to fail just because the battery died or a signal failed. Plus, Murphy lives in my house and I'm sure he would pull those pranks on me. I think wireless would be good for the 'cool' HA things, not critical functions. In that regard, I would use RFID to communicate back to the central console, whether it be M1, HAI, HS or whatever and use those inputs to control critical functions via hardwire, UPB, Insteon or whatever. Using a panel like Stargate or M1, use best of breed. Don't shoehorn yourself into 1 technology so solve all issues.

Again, these are just my opinions. I trust you will take all input, evaluate equipment and make the best choice for your particular needs.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Since I was typing through the last several posts...

HA is not one size fits all. You have to analyze your needs and really research what you are doing or you can very easily waste a lot of money.

Spaghetti shouldn't be strung throughout a nice home, rather it should be served al dente with a good marinara sauce. Bad wiring is worse than no wiring. There are many elegant structured wiring solutions from companies like Leviton, Channel Vision, etc. If you implement a good structured wiring solution with plenty of the right cable, you will be in good shape and futureproofed. You need to run cables to all locations that may have switches, keypad, volume controls, sensors, detectors, etc. This is a lot easier when the house is built. If only a portion of walls remain open, this may not be a cost effective solution. Yes, PLC like UPB and Insteon approach 100% reliability, but they never will be. The only sure bet is a dedicated wire. But is PLC 'good enough', yes, probably. I bet you have more failures on your 802.11 then you do on your wired ethernet network - same idea. Does that mean the 802.11 doesn't work, no - of course not.

I'd suggest doing a bunch of searching right here on CT. There is a ton of info on the different protocols and controllers. You will see the M1 is fan favorite here. But if you have Stargate, use it. As Mike points out, it is more mature right now, but Elk is catching up very fast and will surpass it.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
upstatemike said:
Since I am one of the Stargate people who has looked hard at the Elk M1 as well as the HAI Omni I will share a few opinions on this topic.

...
People who run Stargates are usually not the type who want to define their environment in terms of scenes or modes ...In other words each event tends to have a bit more logic behind it than you might see employed on other controllers.
...I don't think you will ever see an Omni able to do all the things a Stargate can. I am still hopeful that Elk will get there with the M1 but it would be nice to see some kind of a roadmap on where they are planning to take that platform.
This is very interesting to me and, once again, I thank the various folks on this board for sharing their perspectives, experiences, and knowledge.

My background is in programming and not in hardware and my ideal of a properly automated home requires massive logic -- which is something I just couldn't get across to the guys who wanted to sell me a Lutron or Crestron system. My earliest thoughts about massively automating my home began after I had been burglarized twice and had my house outfitted with an alarm system based around motion detectors in every room (there were too many windows/doors to bother monitoring them all and, besides, I was less concerned about how someone got in my house than whether they WERE in my house!). It seemed to me that my alarm system should be smart enough -- even if I didn't have it set to protect me against intrusion at any particular moment -- that it could "strongly advise me" when there were too many "moving bodies" in the house. Similarly, it seemed that if my 4 year old daughter was wandering around I should be able to ask my alarm system where she was (if I was here she must be there) and direct my voice to a speaker in her vicinity (as this is too big a house to simply call out and expect to be heard).

Anyway, it was the desire to program "simple" logic into the motion detector system that initially motivated me. Now I am mainly driven by frustration -- that I've put too much time into this "hobby" to not see it completed! :)

BTW, I went to the Stargate two day training/seminar in San Diego earlier this month. While I was and am vocally disappointed that Stargate hasn't done a good job of keeping up with the emerging X10 alternatives (Insteon and Zwave; it does support Lutron and UPB) I was very impressed with other aspects of the system. I was unexpectedly impressed with the windows based IDE and programming language.

More pointedly, the capabilities available through its Web Expander and Pocket Web Ex add-ons, to integrate Stargate to your home wireless network, allow you to do some really amazing things. And "HomeRunner", the new quick-design touch-screen interface software that works through WebEx, blew my socks off!

Imagine having a picture of your house where you can touch any aspect of the house to either control it (triggering complex logic with a touch) or drill down to controls. For example, imagine having touch panels in your house that display a schematic of your house. If you touch the "entertainment room", for example, you will get a picture of the entertainment room with all its lights and components. Touch the garage door picture and the real garage door opens. Touch the picture of your wall light and the light comes on. Touch the picture of the light now on and it goes off ... or dims, depending on the light and your touch. Touch your TV and you get a picture of your remote control. Touch "on" and "13" and your TV turns on to channel 13. Imagine being able to put together this whole interface with a digital camera and an afternoon. THAT is the functionality they demonstrated and are releasing this month! For those of you who might provide HA services for a living, that is going to really impress any clients you have who want HA but don't want a geek interaction. (God, am I providing free advertising or what?)

Anyway, Stargate does have some neat new features coming available. I only wish it had -- or was close to having - native support for Insteon and/or Zwave so I could buy a few of each and start figuring out for myself which was going to best meet my needs.
 

brothers

Member
Semi-random comments addressing various points raised in the thread so far:

Insteon will be supported by all the major HA software vendors. I currently have it running in HomeSeer; SmartHome's own software package should be out Real Soon Now; many others are in the works.

You should see a burst of new Insteon products in the coming months, as SmartHome releases Insteon chips at incredibly low prices. They also claim to be keeping the chip prices low at small quantities, so we'll probably see a number of interesting narrow-segment "boutique" devices hit the market.

If you're using HA software or a (suitable) dedicated controller, the RF thing is easy and (fairly) cheap. You connect a receiver (like the W800) to your computer or controller, and use the ubiquitous X10 PalmPads or equivalent as your remotes (and any other wireless "X10" device, like motion sensors, you care to use). The computer/controller does the X10 to Insteon translation. Don't confuse X10 RF with X10 powerline - they're apples and oranges.

Any system with a web interface opens up many possibilities for remote control. I can control my HomeSeer system with a Nokia 770 Web Tablet that I carry in my pocket.

- Dennis Brothers
 

JohnBullard

Active Member
tanstaaf1,

You've had a lot of answers and opinions to your questions. Are you still confused? ;)

In my opinion, there is not "A" single perfect solution to Home Automation, each platform and control protocol has strenghts and weakness, with new features and support always being added.

And, each user is very passionate about their choice.

Many of us use a combination. I use an Ocolet controller for critical applications, and HomeSeer for the "fluff". (First mention of the Ocelot in this thread? Now the Elk M1 Gold does most everything the Ocelot does and more.) Edit: If the Elk had been available then, I would have gone with the Elk, coupled with HomeSeer.

Many use HomeSeer and MainLobby to do what you saw in the Stargate demo.

Others couple HomeSeer and RFID for room (and which person) occupancy tracking, and the voice recognition you hinted at in one of your other posts.

And still more use a combination of X10, UPB, Zwave and Insteon in their homes.

So a combination of HomeSeer, (Elk, Ocelot, or HAI Omni), RFID, Bluetooth, CQC, MainLobby, etc. along with a variety of different switches...... the possibilities to mix and match are endless, depending on what you want to accomplish. As a programmer, use may appreciate the power and flexibility of HomeSeer and MainLobby in conjuntion with another hardware platform. Is IR control important to you? What about intergrated security cameras? What about wiring for these before your walls are closed up?

No answers from me, not even a strong opinion either way, I'm still waiting to see how each of the three (Zwave, Insteon and UPB) newer protocols mature since all three are "dangeling the carrot" with teasers for "wait till next year and see what we offer" promises.

I realize you have walls open and need to get the electrician to work on your switches, please keep us posted on your decision and how it works out!
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Steve said:
You will see the M1 is fan favorite here. But if you have Stargate, use it. As Mike points out, it is more mature right now, but Elk is catching up very fast and will surpass it.
I hope this is true. Nobody wants to see a new super "all-in-one" platform to standardize on more than I do, but I would still feel better if there was some kind of roadmap published to show exactly where the M1 is going. At one time HAI looked like they were going to be the next super platform but at some point they stopped adding programming features and started focusing only on refining user interface devices (keypads and touchscreens). I hope Elk continues aggressive development on the automation features of their product.
 
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