Is Insteon a Reliable Automation System?

May 8, 2013 home automation, Insteon, 0 Comments
Insteon Home Automation


Insteon advertises its home automation and security product line as being more reliable than all others on the market. Most home automation systems utilize your home network to transmit commands and information between control modules and devices being controlled. Some use a proprietary wireless network to make command and control connections. This system goes one better by combining a wired and wireless signal.

How the System Ensures Command Broadcasts Are Received

As I mentioned above, most home automation systems use either a proprietary wireless network or your home’s Wi-Fi network to connect the various devices on the network. Insteon, on the other hand, uses both a proprietary wireless network and the electrical wiring already present in your house to broadcast status messages and commands.

Additionally, every module in the network is both a transmitter and receiver. When a command is sent from one of the wireless remote controls, every connected device in the house rebroadcasts the command until a confirmation is received from the target module. Every other system I’ve looked at relies on signal strength alone to ensure that the correct module or device receives the given command. This gives an added layer of reliability to the system that others just don’t have.

You’ve Got More Options with Insteon

Every home automation product I’ve looked at allows you to control a wide range of devices. Some products give you more granular control than others, but they all offer the same basics. Insteon goes one better, by offering a line of light bulbs that can be incorporated into the network. Some of the types of products that are available include:
Is Insteon a Reliable Automation System?

  • LED light bulbs
  • Light dimmers
  • Wire-in modules
  • Sensors
  • IP cameras
  • HVAC thermostats and controls
  • Plug-in modules
  • Handheld remotes
  • Tabletop remotes
  • Light switches
  • Sprinkler controllers
  • Energy monitoring devices

The LED bulbs in this product line are unique in that they are the first LED light bulb in the market that can be controlled remotely and are fully dimmable, through the network. These bulbs consume only eight watts of power, yet, when on full brightness, supply the same amount of light that a 60-watt incandescent lamp produces, and they have an expected lifetime of up to 52,000 hours.

The plug-in modules include dimmers for corded lamps, simple on-off switched outlets for appliances, outlets that allow on-off control of devices that consume less power, low voltage I/O monitoring devices for monitoring electric locks and door switches/contacts. The dimmer units give you full control over the brightness of lamps and how quickly they go from off to full bright. All plug-in modules come in two-prong and three-prong versions.

Image via Insteon

Control Everything with Custom Hardware

There is a hub that gives you full control over the Insteon network of devices throughout your house from a computer (Apple or PC) or a smartphone/mobile device (Android or iOS). The hub is able to send alerts to your via email or SMS to let you know if motion or leak detectors have been activated.

The iOS software is the interface between the hub/network and your Apple iOS device. The functionality they’ve built into this system is truly mind-blowing. Having a party? Use the software to program your lights to brighten and dim in time with the music. You can even program the lighting in your house to suit your mood or the holiday atmosphere.

Unlike some other products, this one doesn’t leave the Android crown out in the cold. Everything the iOS app can do, the Android one can too. If you go away on vacation or for work, you can use the software to program the system to light your house exactly as if you were home. Combine it with a mobile Cable/Satellite and TV apps, and you can really make your home look lived in by remotely turning the TV on and off and changing the channels.

For Windows users, there is the Insteon Desktop software. The software gives you full control of networked devices throughout your house from a single location. You can program lighting events, program the sprinkler controllers, monitor the motion sensors and IP cameras, or create schedules for everything from your heating and cooling system to your coffee maker.

There are also software packages that allow you to integrate the products with X10 products, use a Java-enabled browser from anywhere in the world, and quite a few other functions. All of these software packages are available on the company’s website for free.

I’ve looked at quite a few different home automation products over the past few months, but I’ve got to admit, this is the cream of the crop. The functionality available with the system is second to none. The number of controllable and controlled devices is simply staggering. And the array of control options is far better than what’s available from any other company or home automation system.


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Mike is a certified low voltage installer with over 10 years of professional experience in the field, much of it working for Cable TV companies. He also has over a decade of experience in the computer field as a network engineer and support specialist. Mike's hobbies include installing high-end audio and video systems.

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