Test INSTEON now or wait?


Active Member
Alright guys,

I am about to order my HA system! Yes, its quite exciting to be finally getting some of the stuff I have been researching and watching for months.

Anyways, I am getting the Elk M1 Gold, along with the XSP for lighting control. I am also going to be getting some motions to test occupancy lighting. Here is my question:

Should I order a few switchlincs/ICONS to see how well they work with the m1? I am going to be comparing them to the SAI and HAL UPB switches in order to determine the right solution for the new house. However, I do not want to order the INSTEON now if they are going to be updated soon, as I would have to order more and reevaluate them. So should I wait for smarthome to update the insteon, or just test them and see how it goes?
I am not aware of any plan or need to roll the firmware on the switches. I know a few have seen issues with flickering loads, but I haven't. You will want newer firmware on the keypadlincs and the computer interfaces, but I think you are fine with testing the switches now. And if you did decide to wait, we have no idea how long that wait might be. SmartHome has been sadly quiet about some of the issues and their plans/timetables to resolve them.
They are raising their prices steadly though............ I got a catalog in the mail about a month ago stating summer 2006 and when I went to order there were higher prices and they said "sorry those are the old prices". Every item had a higher price. Even with the 15% off I still paid a lot more.

In fact the order arrived about an hour ago and I have to open it. These will be the last I order since its not worth expanding any further until I see what else they may or maynot come out with. The lack of any RF devices and limited wattage on relay swiches is a problem as is the hit or miss functionality. And I am still waiting almost 3 months now for a replacement switch. They stated that they could not locate receiving it in the system so I gave them the tracking number and never heard back.

In my opinion the Insteon has been dissapointing. I probably should have bit the bullet and went with a more expensive system. Live and learn.

Sorry Smarthome but this is my opinion..............the concept is great but the implementation is not what it should be.


Digger said:
Are you saying the pricing has gone back down, or they sent you a catalog with old pricing? I went through the same "migrate to Insteon?" dilemma this week (because of the 15% off sale), and decided the pricing just wasn't low enough to lure me in, especially considering some of the issues some are reporting. Insteon could take off, but I think they need to be a little more aggressive in their pricing, they need to take care of some of these issues, and they need to roll out some more products. If some of the other major manufacturers jump in and start offering devices, this could happen.
The catalog I received in the box with todays shipment had prices about 25% lower than what they charged me a few days aog when I ordered (and was told that I could not get those prices anymore since they were the old prices).

It is just aggravating that they have a product that is half way decent if they could get there act together and their service is ehhhh and they have the nerve to raise prices and still give you a catalog with the old prices you cant have anymore.

They really need to get their acts together. For the moment I am not opening the boxes. I might just return everything because of the way they are.


I guess its like their is a lifetime warrunty until something breaks routine.
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I would encourage you to go ahead and purchase the products now to evaluate. I do work for SmartLabs but I live with INSTEON and love it. (Shameless plug? Maybe, but at least I am honest <_< ). I am not aware of plans to update INSTEON-enabled products except for minor bug fixes and the like, if and when they are found so that we can continually improve our product.

As Wayne mentioned we have acknowledged we are working diligently on a solution to a load flicker that has arisen the past few months. As the information becomes available I will post to the public.

Digger – I would suggest calling customer service to see if anything can be done. I don’t have the knowledge to comment on this, as I do not know all of the circumstances regarding your order(s).

I had called to place the order since I knew I had an up to date catalog with the $19.99 price. I figured if I mentioned the $19.99 price they would give it to me. Well they didnt so I then ordered over the internet to get the 15% off at least. Then I get them today with another catalog with the $19.99 price yet I paid the $24.99.

I was told that the $19.99 was the old price and that the prices had gone up on most of the Insteon. No reason was given when I asked why.

I bought 4 switches to replace 4 that do not link to anything (each other or the M1) which I had bought at the $19.99 price minus 15% months ago and never got to work other than as a regular switch. Those will have to go back also but I am still waiting for the one from March to be replaced. I do have some working Insteon switches and dimmers and after I eliminated a lot of noise from CFL's they are working ok now with only a few missed commands now and then. Thwy are basically as good as X-10 except a lot quieter.

Can you understand my frustrations with Insteon?
SmartLabsMike said:
Digger – I would suggest calling customer service to see if anything can be done. I don’t have the knowledge to comment on this, as I do not know all of the circumstances regarding your order(s).
Can you comment on the price increases in general? I expected prices to be steady or drop as production ramped up. A rising price send all sorts of bad signals and creates havoc for those of us with budgets and deployment plans.
The original prices on Icons were $19.99. Now they are $27.99 on sale for $24.99. So they went up 40% in about 6 months unless you get them on sale. Yet they still say they are "NEW" on the website.

I dont know why the drastic increase unless they put them out there originally dirt cheap to get people to try them.

I should have bought 100 at $19.99 with the 15% off. I could have made a lot on eBay with them (almost a grand) <_<
The biggest problem with using Insteon with the M1 so far has been administrating the larger lighting systems. We really need a piece of software to install and update the entire Insteon Lighting System without having to run all over the house pushing buttons.

PowerHome <_<
I will invest in PowerHome shortly. It cant link the devices to the M1 yet but I bet they will get to that soon from what I read. That will make life sooooo much better. Powerhome seems to be a reasonably priced program for what it is.

Its annoying that a total of 5 out of 11 Insteon devices were bad. One died and 4 never could be linked from day 1 (so I bought replacements). Then the prices are going up fast so I am not a happy camper. I am waiting since March for the first one I sent in for exchange which they may have misplaced talking to them (happens I guess).

I dont mind spending money on a product that works well (within reason). The M1 wasnt cheap (on my budget at least) but it has been rock solid. The GE Wireless devices have been perfect to date except one Keyfob died (happens).

The WAF of the ELK is a 10 out of 10 (she thinks its so cool to have a speaking alarm that text messages her cell phone for certian things). She wanted the alarm more than me which gave me some flexibility on the budget for that. I dont think she knew what I was getting until it was setup.

The WAF of the Insteon is maybe a 2 at the moment with all of the aggravation with the missed commands at first (now resolved with getting rid of noisey CFL's), and the 4 useless switches. She can accept one dying from a static discharge once I explained what happened. My acceptance factor is not much higher either.

OK MAYBE I AM TO CRITICAL...............I am an compliance engineer I cant help it. I am paid to be critical.
I would say it is ok to order a few to test with, but I wouldn't place any big orders. There are just too many issues right now that can only be fixed in firmware/hardware.

As Mike mentioned, the flickering problem is one. I believe the thread on AccessHA says they are working on a hardware fix for this. It occurs with high loads, but well under the switches rating, usually floods.

Also, there are lots of protocol issues that need to be addressed in switch firmware. We need the local status messages added, and extended messages needs to be fixed so it doesn't take hours to program a house full of switches and makes the protocol more reliable. Right now everything needs to be programmed one byte at a time. Also, something needs to be done to make group communication more reliable. Firmware is not field upgradable, so if changed it requires a switch replacement.

I don't want to sound like I am bashing Insteon too much. I like the product, it is a big step up from X10. The switches work and are, for the most part, reliable, and I think they are well designed physically. I think issues are natural in any first generation product these days. But in my opinion it is still a beta, and I would treat it as such. No way would I recommend spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on it at this point.
I have found the price increases puzzling myself. Originally it looked like it was relays, but then it seems icon dimmers have the same increase.

A comment on the rationale might be helpful (depending on what it is) as depending on the circumstance, some people do not buy everything at once and install in phases. In this manner they expect a certain price point and have an idea of the overall investment.

In regards to the initial question, I was frustrated with some of the initial issues and replacement switches, but Smarthome has not given any issues replacing switches so far (and did not with older lines either). I would hope that the need to replace them is trickling down (I have one more to take out this weekend as it is erratic but I believe it is the last of my early switches). I would be quite upset if these issues continue, and even more so if later than the 2 year anniversary given the base warranty. I was expecting some issues when trying out a new product like this initially, and was 'prepared' in some respects for that. I would hope we are out of the early adopter phase now however...

I'm using insteon with an elk and have automated some of the lighting using the elk. After working out some reliability issues (I continued adding switches and added in a bunch of signallincs) and sending commands separately from the elk (which requires sending some of them a minute apart, which was reasonable in my cases) I have had no issues.

I do look forward to better management for the links in general (including the elk).
Mike said:
I have found the price increases puzzling myself. Originally it looked like it was relays, but then it seems icon dimmers have the same increase.
The Icons are another disapointment for me. They come closer to the pricepoint these things should be at to really take off, but they leave out features that should be available in all of these products, simply because technology makes it cheap. I have to pay extra if I want a longer ramp-up time than .1 seconds? How does that possibly cost more to produce?

While you definitely have to consider the source, here is an interesting article. The point of view is of course going to be a bit tainted... I don't agree that the newer emerging technologies aren't necessarily better than X10. Of COURSE they're better, X10 is almost 30 years old. Technology has advanced a LOT in the past 30 years. But with all this advancement in technology, someone like Insteon can't build a switch that is anywhere near price competitive with X10? And if I want adjustable ramp rates, (something that should be a "freebie" considering how today's technology allows software features to be embedded into a chip at no additional hardware cost), I have to pay a premium on top of the "basic" model, which itself is already over twice as much as an X10 switch? In 30 years, they really should have been able to do a little better in getting some additional features and cost reduction.

The point that I think is most valid in that "article" is that of price. If Insteon was priced much closer to X10, and was available at the nearby Home Depot, these things would really take off. People are ready for a "connected home". X10 was really a product before it's time. Yet despite that, "X10 is in more than 5 million homes and has shipped more that 100 million products". That's pretty impressive considering that for the most part, it's a niche product. I think products like this are ready for prime time. 30 years is more than enough time to identify and fix the problems (speed, reliability, 2-way comm., etc.). Technology can certainly help with that. But the price has to be something that isn't balked at by the average consumer once they start multiplying it times the number of switches and outlets in their home. X10 can build switches that aren't much more that a standard manual dimmer (or sometimes even cheaper!). >$20 per switch is going to keep this in a niche.

Ok, that's my rant for the day. <_<