Goodbye X10, Hello Insteon

January, 2013

After 10+ years and a significant investment in X10, I’ve finally decided to cut over to something more reliable.  I was really getting irritated with the lack of responsiveness of the X10 system, and the thermostat getting unexpected temperature set results.

A couple of years ago, I installed a pair of Insteon ToggleLinc switches to control the outside coach lights for the front door and the garage door.  I picked them primarily because they look like a standard toggle switch, unlike the X10 alternatives.  As it turns out, these are excellent bridge technology because they allowed me to later switch to the Insteon protocol with a minor reconfiguration.  This existing investment in Insteon made it a logical choice for the rest of the house.

My investment in X10 includes

  • 6 appliance modules (various brands)
  • A Rain8 irrigation control
  • An X10 thermostat
  • 1 X10 RF Tranceiver
  • 5 remote control
  • 3 PSC05/CM11A modules for computer interface (1 for the thermostat, 1 for the Rain8, 1 for the PC interface)
  • 2 ToggleLinc switches (configured as X10)
  • 1 X10 alarm chime
  • 4 Plug-in Noise Filter
  • 1 Leviton HCA02-10E 2-Phase X10 coupler

I’ve now replaced all these with Insteon devices:

  • 40 ToggleLinc and SwitchLinc switches (reconfigured for Insteon)
  • 1 Insteon SmartLinc for computer interface
  • 3 Insteon Access Points
  • 6 Insteon FilterLinc – line filters for noisy electronics
  • 1 Insteon Mini Remote
  • 2 KepadLinc Dimmer modules

Just for fun, I’ve also purchased:

  • 1 ApplianceLinc
  • 1 LampLinc
  • 1 Insteon LED bulb
  • 2 Insteon Leak sensors

After some research, I determined that I could continue to use the Leviton Phase Coupler since it is a passive device.  I also re-used the X10 alarm chime since Insteon has nothing equivalent.  I decided not to go with an Insteon thermostat, and selected a WiFi thermostat instead.  I also replaced the Rain8 irrigation control with Grayhill relay controls as I mentioned in an earlier post.

The primary challenge with the X10 solution was that I was unable to get a 2-way interface to verify that the commands sent were actually received and acted upon.  The secondary challenge with the X10 solution was that I was only able to get about 80% success in signal receipt.  I was able to address both of these issues with the Insteon solution.  Insteon is inherently more reliable due to its protocol that leverages every node as a repeater.

I re-wrote the Watchdog WDX10 interface module and called it WDInsteonControl.  I was lucky enough to find an excellent API set for controlling Insteon devices from Soapbox Automation called FluentDwelling.  It gave me the tools I needed to send both Insteon and X10 commands as well as verify the state of the Insteon device after the command was sent.  It worked well in my lab, but when I tried to use it to control the other devices in my house, it didn’t work well.  After I added a lot of retry logic, I was able to get better than 98% success.  Since the Watchdog3 server was dedicated to running only the SARAH and WDCarProximity modules, I decided to run the new WDInsteonControl module on it.

Overall, I’m much happier with the Insteon platform.  I get faster response with the new system, and also enjoy a quieter state transition (the X10 modules made a loud click when the relay switched).  The combination of the FilterLinc and the Insteon “mesh” network approach has made for a very stable system.  I have needed to move around the Access Points when installing new switches to get optimal coverage – it just takes a bit of trial-and-error to find the best locations.

In the process of retro-fitting the house with Insteon, I’ve discovered a concerning lack of quality control with these Insteon devices.  So far, I’ve had to return 4 for warranty replacement.  It’s a pain because there’s no easy way to test them – you have to commit to wiring them in fully before you can see if there are issues.  Luckily Insteon has a great warranty department and never gives me a hassle.  They even cross-ship the replacement.

Pictures:

InsteonInterface

Watchdog Insteon Control module that interfaces with the Insteon SmartLinc

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3 Comments

  1. My 2017 experience is that Insteon Lamp modules run $50 each. Also the Insteon Hub is not compatible with X10 so if you convert to Insteon, everything must be replaced. Articles from 2013 and 2014 seem to come from paid writers and not much word from end users.

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