Lighting control on small network


Active Member
I was wondering what people's experiences have been with Insteon, UPB, and Z-wave in a small installation? The house is 2200-2500 sqft and I'm thinking there will be less than ten devices total in the end. I'm concerned about reliability when the mesh network is small. Thanks for the help!

I can tell you from experience that UPB works fine (it isn't really a mesh network). I did test Insteon, and had no problems either (only tested like 3 modules). I think Z-wave could be the only potential problem, depending on the layout of the hardware.
When I installed UPB, I started with 2 switches and have been adding a couple every couple months. I've had no issues when it was as small as 2 switches, and I have no issues now (I'm about 1/2 done). I can't speak for the other technologies, but my UPB setup has been rock solid on any size network.
Only Zwave uses a mesh network and may be an issue in an install with only a few devices. Either Insteon or UPB should be fine but I personally use UPB and its my PLC system of choice. Even though it is recommended for all installs, there is a very good chance you could get by without a phase coupler since the signal it uses is so strong.
I am currently testing Z-Wave from Intermatic that I got from Lowes. I only have a basic controller in the master bedroom and 2 lamp modules and an appliance module. The 2 lamp modules are downlstairs, one in the master and one in the living room. I have the appliance module on the 2nd floor. House is about 3400 feet.

It has worked without a glitch everytime for about 30 days.

That being said, I am leaning towards UPB because I want to go much larger in my automation and want a hardware controller opposed to a software solution running on a pc/server. I have also heard very positive comments about UPB's reliability.
I think many of us intended to create a "small" lighting control system and then ended up with robust control of LOTS of loads. I for example live in a modest home of 2000SqFt and I have nearly 40 UPB dimmers and modules (rcptl's and I/O's). I now have 6 standard lighting loads left and they are probably going to all get swapped as well. UPB has been incredibly reliable and frankly, fun. UPStart software allows you to do so much with them.

That is good for me to hear, since I am considering a big install myself. I am waiting on an estimate.
Jamie, I started out with just a few insteon devices. Worked great and were so reliable and had such quick response time that I quickly replaced X10 switches and standard switches so that I'm up to about 30 devices. The programming flexibility for these devices is a very attractive feature for those who like to fiddle. I'd encourage you to buy a few to experiment with before making a final decision.
Currently have 7 modules(intermatic), in a small house where basically all the modules and controller are within 50' and can "see" each other all the time. No problems, been using this config for several months. :)

What software do you use to control UPB devices ??

I'm thinking if Windows Media Center + plugin (mControl or something else) could
be work.

any clue ?
Insteon is fast and reliable here, and the value is fantastic compared to competing protocols.

For not more than the price of a single device with another protocol, you can pick up a plug-in starter kit. For just $99 (free shipping, too, if you order from Home Depot online), you'll get two SignaLinc RF coupler/repeaters, a couple of lamp modules that can plug in anywhere, and a ControLinc. Since each device is a mesh network repeater, so if necessary you can move those LampLincs anywhere in the house you need to boost the network.

Obviously price isn't the only basis for your decision. Flexibility is great, since every device can be part of several scenes, each with different ramp rates and dim levels. Device response is instant, not delayed by a second like some systems. And since controllers, responders and couplers are all available as plug-in devices, you can experiment with the protocol to your heart's content without rewiring the house or calling in an electrician to wire in a coupler.

My zwave stuff has been rock solid. I just got a zwave thermostat and so far that has been a cool add on. I also put together a seperate network for my x-mas lights this year and used the built in timer in the remote. It worked perfect.
Thanks for the responses folks. It seems like in most things in life you get what you pay for B) UPB is very attractive because I think I can count on one hand the number of problems I've read about it. I would have to try and see if the delay would bother me, but suspect I would be ok with it. Just wish it did cost so darn much. It's good to know that you can start with 2 or 3 devices and build up (cuz I'm not going to be able to purchase the whole lot at one time B) ) I know there is 3 vendors for UPB, which one would people recommend? Is there any differnce in feature set, or is it just price and looks?

Insteon of course has the price going for it. :p