Sunday, October 09, 2016

Insteon Smarthome

My daughter came up with an idea to have her outside lights turn on at sunset and turn off at bedtime. That sounded simple until I tried to actually do it.

I found switches that actually had an embedded processor that you told the latitude and longitude and the time and it calculated sunset/sunrise.

That seemed straightforward but it was not to be.

She added an additional requirement that she wanted to be able to turn them on from her bed. That complicated it tremendously. Now the switches had to be networked.

Well, this did simplify the timing. The clock/timing could be managed centrally and the switches could just be sent on and off commands.

What I found was's Insteon system.

The switches would fit in a regular plate.

They could be managed by a controller.

Let's just say "Don't do that." Smarthome replaced the Controller with their Hub.

Smarthome has an app that controls the Hub.

That seemed so simple. It wasn't.

Thankfully the 3 circuits involved were all single switched circuits. 3-way circuits are much harder.

So I removed the old switches and installed the Insteon switches. After lots of reading manuals and a couple of calls to Smarthome's support (actually pretty good) I got 2 of the 3 working.

To net it out, the switch that wasn't working was on a different leg of the breaker box. I had an electrician come out and move the breaker for the non-working circuit to the "right" place.

He didn't understand it either. He just moved it around in the breaker box and it was still on a different leg.

So I started looking for alternative ways to bridge the legs.

I found a Range Extender that bridges the legs.

Smarthome said you had to use the Range Extenders in pairs but I read the documentation closely and decided that the Hub would act as the other member of the pair. I moved from receptacle to receptacle around the house until the light turned green and I was done!

Total elapsed time - 18 months!

Then she moved. I inherited the parts and pieces and moved them to my house where they worked fine the first time.

I'm so satisfied that I have expanded my system with a lamp module.


gwynn said...

They also make a phase coupler that will correct the electrical issue ( Amazon echo makes a nice addition to the ensemble as well.

Unknown said...

I have an extremely large Insteon system, have been using Insteon since day 1 and beta test for them.

The more devices you have, the more reliable the mesh network is. Most wired Insteon devices now use a combination of two methods to communicate..... signal over the AC power and RF. Using access points and dual mode devices resolves communication across the AC supply "legs". The reason this is an issue is because of the way the transformer that feeds your house creates 110v-115v from 220v-230v. Basically there is a center tapped transformer that the carrier current signal must traverse to get between 110v legs in your house. This tend to attenuate Insteon signal greatly.

Check out Stringify to add even more versatility to an Insteon install. Stringify will allow you to have Insteon interact with and control things like Harmony remotes, Nest devices, and hundreds of other smarthome products.