Insteon SwitchLincs @$39.99


I imagine that both current and upcoming Z-Wave devices will be priced according to market pricing and demand. Manufacturers have already split products along two lines--less expensive Z-Wave products and more expensive "fully featured" Z-Wave products (think Intermatic HomeSettings vs. HomeSettings Pro).

That said, I fully expect the price (especially on the standard lines) to come down in time. Zensys is pushing for volume and a very inexpensive chip to help make that happen.

Also, it's important to note that Z-Wave has generic device support for window shade coverings, thermostats, garage doors, and more. Plus a whole breadth of new highly-tested products to fill out the line which are getting ready to ship.

Rupp said:
Noise on the power line is just that. It can affect UPB as well as Insteon because it's all PLC based.
I don't think noise and interference are problems unique to PLC based systems. When I turn on my Plasma TV it sometimes squelches the signal to a nearby RF weather display. At least with with PLC noise issues you have the option to use a filter to solve the problem. How do you filter Over The Air RF noise that interferes with a Z-Wave switch?
upstatemike said:
How do you filter Over The Air RF noise that interferes with a Z-Wave switch?
Z-Wave is designed to frequency hop around those types of issues, and as a digital fully-acknowledged protocol running at a non-2.4GHz frequency should work fairly well even in homes with a bit of wireless congestion.

That's not to say that the possibility is ruled out, but the likelihood of it happening is likely less than the possibility of having too much noise to carry data on the powerline (or possibly even too much noise to carry data across twisted pair).

I know that some Z-Wave manufacturers have done quite rigorous testing with random bursts of 900MHz-ish noise, and I would welcome input from them or anyone else who has done extensive Z-Wave RF testing to pitch in here.

Regarding the Insteon SDK, if you have been using this much, I would like to talk to you. I have been trying to use the Device Manager ActiveX interface to write some software in LabVIEW. I develop automation systems in LabVIEW for a living and wanted to 'roll my own' home automation system. The problem I have run into is their ActiveX implementation is bad. They did not properly design the callback function. This needs to be exposed as an event so that a callback function can be assigned to it. Unfortunatly, they do not understand this so they came up with some hack to make it work with C++ and VB. If anyone has made a C++ or VB app that can talk to the Device Manager properly, I would like to see the code. Maybe I can then make my own ActiveX wrapper or .NET assembly that acts as an intermediary and properly exposes the callback event.


I don't use the Smarthome SDK-provided code because it is unusable outside of a windows environment. However, I've found more than enough quirks and misbehavior in the controller itself to go around for everybody. I'm personally convinced that we won't see reliable software support till there is a controller revision.

Regarding PLC noise.. The biggest source of misbehavior that I've seen is that Insteon switches still speak X10. If you go and bind an X10 address to the switches, then all hell can break loose if the X10 carrier is unreliable.

eg: if you send C-4 C-OFF and C-5 C-ON
and if some of the X10 messages got lost, you can end up with C-4 turning ON instead of Off and so on. Just turning on and off wall switches can cause phantom light state changes because of partial X10 message streams getting through.

My personal recommendation is to NOT bind X10 addresses if you don't need to be actually using them.

Regarding adding Insteon devices and destroying your existing X10 network.. If you replace existing X10 transcievers with Insteon devices, then nothing of X10 is hurt. The problem comes when you add new devices. If you've have 10 working X10 devices (hah!) and suddenly add 40 Insteon devices, your X10 devices are probably going to go to hell.

I've yet to find any devices that upset Insteon. I went around and removed the plug-in noise filters and everything kept working while X10 went down the toilet. There were a few wired-in noise filters that I couldn't easily remove, but I am feeling confident about the robustness of the powerline protocol.

The major question-mark that is left is Smarthome's firmware... It was brought up on another forum that there were problems if you had two "remote" linked devices and activated the controller on both at exactly the same time. The firmware retry mechanism never breaks the deadlock and both lose the message. eg: if you have two switchlincV2's set to turn on two remote V2's via insteon, then pressing the two at exactly the same time will cause NEITHER of the two remote ones to see either message.

I never tried this with UPB.