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Z-Wave vs Insteon - Opinions?

KenM

Active Member
Hi,

I am an amateur software developer.
I have maybe fifteen Insteon devices installed in my house.
I am thinking of purchacing some Z-Wave devices in order to do a side by side comparison of everything, including the software SDK.

Before I commit to that, I am curious, as to what the general opinion might be from the people who actually use these things. Please try to keep the flames on low.

Opinions? Comments?

Thanks!

Ken

Edit:
I went ahead and ordered a minimal Z-Wave system and SDK. I want to do a fair comparison of the software and hardware from a developer and user's point of view.
Stay tuned!
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
I'm all Z-wave after having invested heavily in X-10 just to have it burn out and go random after a few of our Houston thunderstorms.
 

Steve

Senior Member
I think it is a great idea for a non biased technical person to do a side by side comparison, including the protocol and SDK. My only problem is you are already starting off biased by only comparing Z-Wave and Insteon. Why not UPB? For it to be a truly valuable exercise I think you need to compare all 3. My $.02
 

KenM

Active Member
Good point,

I sort of had to pick two due to financial restrictions and SDK availabliliy.

Ken
 

ChrisWalker

Active Member
One of the biggest differences is that Z-Wave is a tried-and-true wireless mesh-networked protocol, while Insteon is currently a powerline protocol with a wireless phase coupler (and an upgrade path to wireless devices).

Also, Z-Wave is currently supported by many large manufacturers, and the protocol speed is quite zippy--40kbps with many new devices.

Chris
 

Steve

Senior Member
Well then I would at least compare apples to apples. Z-Wave is wireless system while Insteon is basically PLC. UPB is also PLC. Also I do not believe you need an SDK for UPB, just all the specs and commands which are here. You can get a comprehensive UPB product eval kit for around $100 or perhaps someone can loan you a PIM and module. I just think it makes more sense to either compare PLC protocols or *all* HA protocols. That's the kind of review or document I think would be most useful. Again, my $.02.
 

majortom

Member
I went ahead and ordered a minimal Z-Wave system and SDK. I want to do a fair comparison of the software and hardware from a developer and user's point of view.

How much did you pay for a Z-wave SDK? What platforms does it support? Last time I looked at Z-wave, they would not allow an open source development project based on their license agreement.

Neil Cherry's blog comments on this. This was true as recently as CES of this year.

/carmi
 

DavidL

Senior Member
MainLobby supports all of them. And we do that so that the end user can swap technology (or use all of them at once) without having to reengineer their user interface.

We have just added X10 support leveraging the Insteon controller.
UPB is available, Z-Wave is next to finish polishing up.
They all work. Nice to be able to rely on automation of a light beyond what X10 was capable of (in most installations).
 

johnnynine

Active Member
I would be very interesed in a ZWave vs Insteon comparison. I have several Insteon devices installed and am having a lot of problems with my switches not recognizing my 1st switch press. It happens a lot as I've explained on another thread... so much that I am considering alternatives at this point.

As far as apples to apples goes... any lighting solution is fair game whether it's wireless, powerline, or otherwise. ZWave and Insteon are somewhat similar in cost, and UPB is more expensive what I recall so it makes sense to me. But that's just my humble opinion. :eek:

Let us know what you find.

Thanks
 

KenM

Active Member
Majortom,

I think the basic SDK is $49.99. I (pre)ordered one with a hardware starter kit for $149.95. The web page wasn't real specific as to the exact date this thing would be available other than it looked to be soon. It looks like Win32 is the platform right now as they mentioned a .NET library.

Steve,

Where I am at PLC devices don't fare too well. I have even managed to block some Insteon timer events from occuring just by turning on CFLs in my kitchen. Insteon couples phases with RF, but it does not communicate directly to the device with RF so I am still at the mercy of powerline noise. I wanted to try out the RF only protocol and Z-Wave seemed to have some serious backers / partners. I agree this is not a scientific comparison. Just one between two selected protocols.

Ken
 

Steve

Senior Member
Certain CFL's (especially dimmable ones) can be very damaging to PLC signals. It may be a less expensive option for you monetarily and time wise to either change or replace the CFLs and keep Insteon. CFL's can kill UPB as well.
 

majortom

Member
ChrisWalker said:
One of the biggest differences is that Z-Wave is a tried-and-true wireless mesh-networked protocol, while Insteon is currently a powerline protocol with a wireless phase coupler (and an upgrade path to wireless devices).
Another difference is that Insteon has very inexpensive switches ($20) and is available via HomeDepot.com and at some Home Depot stores. It also has an open, freely available protocol document.

Insteon is defined as as a dual medium technology. This is not an upgrade path, but built in to this protocol from its inception. Given that a properly configured Insteon network always has a wireless to wired bridge, all gear (either dual or single medium) can communicate with all other gear.

/carmi
 

KenM

Active Member
Hi again,

Insteon is good, very good, compared to X10.

There are currently some minor hardware and software issues with Insteon that are starting to trouble me. These are what prompted me to test out Z-Wave.

My biggest issue now is WAF (wife approval factor). I have had too many Insteon appliancelinks fail in various ways. The one that filled the room with a burnt electronics smell was a definite negative minus on the WAF meter (all of these failed units are in my junk box and can be made availabe for inspection). The fact that I have had five of these appliancelinks fail in five months is also a definate negative minus WAF. I bought the full priced ones, not the less expensive ICONS. (more -WAF points).

The bright flashing indicators on some of the Insteon wall dimmers earned me about a -2 WAF (-3 and I have to clean out the rain gutters on demand). The too bright LEDs earned another -1.

I'm just searching for a way to get back into the positive WAF range. Have pity on me.

Z-Wave things might be as miserable as Insteon on the WAF front, I don't know. Mine will be here in about a week (I ordered some wall dimmers to solve the 'flashy light' problem in the sleeping area).
I only plan to be honest in my evaluation.

Ken

(edit)
I asked Bob Cusey (SH) to cancel my Insteon SDK membership today. Hopefully that will happen soon. I do not need that anymore. I have only ever been doing this just to make my wife happy (well I believe that). When Bob comes back with a 'cancelled' notification I will not have ANY ties to any of these big names. And will once again be a free man.

k

Edit:
I guess I lied. After I resigned my membership with the Insteon SDK, I can now say. I will be replacing problem (smoking/flashing) Insteon modules with Z-Wave.

ken
 

Guy Lavoie

Active Member
Ken might simply be as frustrated with the lack of support from Smarthome as I am. I got the SDK in March and SH seems to have completely abandoned the developers forum.
 
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