Insteon, A Year Later.

Posted by Steve on Mon, 09/01/2008 - 1:01am

Last year, I was struggling with upgrading my home automation hardware from fickle X10 to the latest/greatest, Insteon. While cleaning up the blog today I ran across a comment I'd made promising to write about my experience with Insteon after a year of living with it. That was like 18 months ago so I'm a bit late.

The summary? It's been flawless. About the best thing I can say about a technology is that it works so well you forget that it's technology. You turn on a conventional light switch; you expect it to work. It's been pretty much the same with Insteon.

The problems I had with Insteon initially reduced to two things: a very noisy powerline LAN for my Slingbox and I didn't have enough Insteon devices in my network to provide a reliable communications cloud. After retiring the problematic Slingbox (the Worst Customer Support Ever) and adding more Insteon switches, my problems disappeared.

Since then, everything just works. The lights go on when they're supposed to, dim when they're supposed to and shut down for the night at the appropriate time. No more wondering if I turned off the 700 watts of shop lighting in the basement just as I'm dozing off. Insteon will get it if I didn't.

Consider this a 100% positive review of Insteon from one who's experienced with it. I was pleased to read that Insteon is burying the pricier competition, like Zigbee and Z-Wave. It's not often that I pick the right horse.

Insteon has a bunch of new devices for me to play with. I plan to pick up their low voltage control device for a couple of ideas I've got in mind. And, at last, there's finally some open source development happening with Insteon. The latter is the best news because it's been the hobbyist/enthusiast world that's driven the home automation market and found so many interesting applications for it.

Other Insteon sources
Linux Home Automation

In other news, I got word today that I might get called for CHF's Gustav relief effort in the next couple of days. It's unlikely unless my client decides to deploy the referral and transportation management software I built for them this year, TRMS. They're spitballing ideas how to use it in disaster relief. I'm not sure how it would apply but in case they do, I'm the only one who knows how to set it up so...

In real life, I own a software development company and my main client the past couple of years is Children's Health Fund (CHF), a large charity begun in 1987 by singer Paul Simon and pediatrician and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Dr. Irwin Redlener. A media bulletin was released today committing the organization to Gustav relief.

After Katrina/Rita, CHF had some of the first medical units in place providing aid to victims of these terrible hurricanes, even while FEMA was still looking for its boots. CHF owns a fleet of MMUs (mobile medical units), basically large trucks which are portable docs-in-a-box, providing both emergency and routine wellness care.

CHF does terrific work and the CHF folks are some of the most amazing people I've met. Unfortunately, they've spoiled me from ever wanting to build another pet deodorizing e-commerce site again.