Lighting Controls power via PC- What are the software options?


Active Member

I am looking to buy a whole boatload of Insteon parts tomorrow (before the sale ends). It got me thinking about software options.

My goals for the lighting portion of this project are to:

1. Have WM5/PPC control using my treo
2. Have WM5/PPC control using a Dell Axim X50v with wifi
3. Have pc control from any of the 5 PC's floating around my home
4. Have some sort of touchscreen setup (Fujitsu 3400 ish)
5. Have remote control using X10 controlers (cheap enough for every room) that push the PC to do various lighting tasks

I would like to be able to remotely turn lights on & off as long as I have some sort of internet connectivity, from anywhere.

I was & am looking at CQC, but I am concerned that it might be more complicated than I need & could be a very steep learning curve.
Homeseer looks interesting, but I dont like the up charges for all the added features.
I have not looked much at Cinemar but I think its in the same price range as CQC & probably at the same user level.

Are there other options for basic lighting controls via PC with Insteon? (not the X10 CM15A).

I was in the same situation as you a few months ago.

I started with HouseLinc, which I think is a great package for Insteon programming and simple Insteon/X10 timers and events. However, its inability to save groups to the PLC made me move to PowerHome, which I've been using for just over a month (and just purchased yesterday). I love it for Insteon programming - the interface is a bear, but once you learn it it's not too bad. The programmer (dhoward) also really seems to know his Insteon stuff.

However, PowerHome doesn't really fit my long term goals. For whole house automation I ended up going with CQC. I will keep using PowerHome for my Insteon programming, but my timers/events/interfaces/etc will be in CQC.

You're definitely right that there's a learning curve, but a bunch of key people in the forums are WAY more than helpful. Most people behind the drivers also seem more than willing to work with you to solve issues and make improvements.

I thought about not going with CQC because of my time constraints, but in the end I figure CQC has the potential to do pretty much ANYTHING you want, and while it may take some time to learn the ins and outs, I felt tying myself to a more limited product would be more of a time waster. If I went with a more limited product, I know 6 months from now I'd want to move to something else.

With CQC, I believe I will grow into the product, rather than hoping the product will grow with me.

Right now, I only have basic Insteon timers and events setup. I hope to do a lot more work on it over the next few months.

(BTW - If you only want lighting controls, maybe CQC is a bit overkill. While lighting controls is my first project, I eventually envision moving to security system automation, thermostat automation, and more. I also hope to tie in my Russound whole-house audio setup once the Russound driver imrpoves.)
Well another option that I have just switched to and off of Homeseer is Girder 5 which has an Insteon plugin. The nice part is that Netremote is very integrated with Girder 5 so you can create touch screen interfaces that run well on a slower tablet like the 3400. The new built in scheduler is very easy to use.

Girder 5 automatically creates a web interface to control all your devices. Its turning into a very nice all around package. The side benifit is that using Netremote with its Mediabridge lets you buld a true multizone whole house audio setup very easily.

You can check my Now Playing interface based on Netremote & Girder 5

i tried homeseer - the interface to my ppc worked well - i did not use it over wifi though - i assume it worked the same as the phone carrier's data network - the pages load faster than accessing the pc with rpc - but the technology is there to use rpc to access the pc from the ppc to control any software you choose (i use dyndns to assign a url to the pc) - i guess you could use the wifi network in your home as your rf remote too (assuming the wifi radio does not eat the battery power too much)

i had no luck with x10 on my insteon network - the more insteon i added, the less reliable x10 became - even with 2 boosterlincs, x10 was unusable
For a network-distributed set of requirements like that, you'll definitely come to appreciate CQC's true client/server architecture. You can administrate any server from any machine, plus the unlimited whole-house license lets you easily turn all of those machines into "servers" if you want. It's also much easier than at first glance, if you attend a few of the webinars and watch the tutorial videos, it'll all "click". It's really quite easy once you understand some basic theory. Hell, I could teach you the theory of how to do just lighting inside of an hour or so.

I have not looked much at Cinemar but I think its in the same price range as CQC & probably at the same user level
No ability to custom create lighting for that PDA via Cinemar, unless you resort to Web Server control. Not nearly as attractive, and not optimizable if you do out-of-house-control since there's no fat-client viewer app that runs on it.