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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  08:19:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have about 40 various Insteon dimmers and switches in my house. Two of them are in the ceiling with the fixture. It's highly difficult to get access to these hidden dimmers and the switch they were linked to has gone bad. Smarthome customer support said I need to get either the address of the devices or physical access to their pairing button. They did mention that some software can get the ID and pair them without that access. Does anyone know what software can do this and know the easiest path to registering and linking devices using software?

I have an ISY99-4i , a serial link and a USB link as well. So I have the hardware necessary to access the network, I just need a method of polling or scanning the network to get the address of those devices or whatever else is out there that offers a no physical access solution.

Anyone know what would work best here?

Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10765 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  08:59:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When you added the modules to the ISY it recorded their addresses. It can remove the links to the old switch, then it can link those two modules to your new one. If you haven’t used the ISY in a while, you can get guidance here: http://forum.universal-devices.com
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  09:15:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Unfortunately I didn't get these added to the ISY.
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SeanM
Administrator

USA
86 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  09:27:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Are any of the devices that you can access linked to these devices that you cannot? If so you can choose the 2nd or 3rd option when adding a device after selecting start linking. The second option has the ISY pull in the ID and links to other devices of the device you are adding while the 3rd option causes the ISY to add the link and IDs and then go through those newly added devices and do the same. The 3rd option can tale some time.
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  09:52:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That would be nice. The issue that caused all the trouble is that both of the keypads I had linked to the ceiling fixtures went bad within about a week of the other. I replaced them, but they are just dummies and aren't really connected to the ceiling fixtures. You may be scratching your head so here is why: Ever buy a home that the lightswitch on the wall goes to an outlet in the room and there's no wires in the ceiling? I had that in 2 rooms of my house. So I had power at the wall switch and I had an electrician run power to the ceiling fixture so it's always on and used the In-Line Dimmer Switch in the ceiling connected to the light fixture. I linked the in-line dimmer to the wall dimmer keypad and buttoned everything up. It was very painful to do and I had no idea I wouldn't be able to link these using some kind of software in the future if I didn't have physical access to the link button on the in-line dimmers.

I bought the ISY and haven't played with it since. So I've not had a chance to link devices to it just yet. I (incorrectly) thought it would poll everything out there and let me link them without having run around my house and push buttons on every single Insteon device in my house - that's mega painful.

Edited by - [email protected] on 09/16/2019 10:26:16 AM
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  10:45:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No software will poll your network. For security reasons, you wouldn't that anyway. The ISY can import other links from linked devices. With that said, due to many different factors, the best way of ensuring a clean install and avoiding headaches would be to factory reset your devices and start from scratch

Edited by - lilyoyo1 on 09/16/2019 10:48:05 AM
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  3:24:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Security from what? The protocol is a powerline protocol and is not IP based so I fail to see the inherent security needs as those can be handled by the host devices that translate such services - think of Hue for example. If a new bulb is screwed in you just go to add new bulb and it shows up because it's new and not in the existing DB. Not to mention, the protocol doesn't go any farther than your house so it's not likely for anyone to remotely hack into your Insteon light switches from across the globe. It's not IP.

Don't take it the wrong way, but did you develop the protocol and know for a fact that's why it works that way or did someone at smarthome tell you this?
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10765 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  3:43:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If you are leading an obscure existence in a suburban house, it might only annoy you if a teenager in one of the handful of houses that share a transformer with you could turn your lights on or off at will, or could turn your heat on in the middle of summer.

What if you shared a highrise building with 40 other families, how would you feel about any one of them being able to scan and take control of your gear at will?

What if you are a diplomat at a foreign embassy, what risk would it create if someone could park across the street and scan and take control of the lighting in your facility?

All I’m saying is, most security features are a pain until you need them. When and if you ever need them, you’ll be glad they are there!
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BLH
Advanced Member

6071 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2019 :  4:03:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The Insteon protocol was developed by Smartlabs. Smarthome is the retail sales division.
The way you link it and it can't be scanned for it's ID. Is from the original designs and is even documented in the earliest developers data we got in the Developers Group.

Not like X10 where you could possibly control another installation. If you had a controller you could try all 256 addresses until you controlled the setup. Each Insteon device has 1 ID out of 16,777,216
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  12:04:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So you're saying that 16 Million keyspace is secure? Ever hear of Des? It has 2^56, or 72,057,594,037,927,936 keyspace and it's way insecure. Even 3DES isn't secure. Your example of 16Million is like the old days of VGA and their 16 Million colors. It's just not secure. A modern laptop can iterate through that rapidly.

And to the other poster's comment about being a diplomat at a foreign embassy...I mean get real. "park across the street" and magically send powerline commands to their Insteon gear? Insteon isn't and never was a protocol for commercial building automation. That just doesn't exist. It's a home protocol. I also think the "inconspicuous" van across the street would get some attention so again, red herring. Your point about an apartment building is probably the only one that might be realistic as long as you own the place because no apartment is going to permit you to swap out outlets and fixtures.

Just because there's not a product out there that polls the powerline for devices doesn't mean it can't be written to interact with the IFTT API's that exist for interfacing with Insteon in a simple Python script. I'm shocked no one has written one yet based on all this "you can't" hyperbole.
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  07:26:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]

Security from what? The protocol is a powerline protocol and is not IP based so I fail to see the inherent security needs as those can be handled by the host devices that translate such services - think of Hue for example. If a new bulb is screwed in you just go to add new bulb and it shows up because it's new and not in the existing DB. Not to mention, the protocol doesn't go any farther than your house so it's not likely for anyone to remotely hack into your Insteon light switches from across the globe. It's not IP.

Don't take it the wrong way, but did you develop the protocol and know for a fact that's why it works that way or did someone at smarthome tell you this?


You're obviously a newbie to Insteon but yet want to be smart with all those who definitely know more than you. Great way to get future help on the forums. In regards to developing insteon. No I did not. However I do personally know the guys that did develop the protocol as well as install insteon for a living.

I won't rehash how shortsighted your response is as others have already pointed out the fallacy of your argument. At the end of the day, you may not like the reason but it still doesn't change a thing. No existing software does what you want so it's a moot point. If you feel one can be created, feel free to be the first to create one
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  08:27:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Saying "no, it's about security" and not giving references (like to an RFC) is not helpful or indicative of proof. Does anyone have a technical document/reference on the protocol that supports the stance that this is all about security?

The numbers I quoted about DES compared to the 16M number that was thrown out speak for themselves. Any CS major can write a script to iterate through 16M keys and a modern computer can do that very quickly.

I've been using Insteon for 12 years, but haven't had the need to do this until my keypads reached their end of life. Which appears to be a common thing for them - they don't last longer than 10 years typically. I haven't delved into it because I haven't had the need to until now. It's not that I'm a "newbie" to it - though I do admit I am in terms of understanding the protocol - I just haven't had the need to delve into it.

I apologize if I've offended you. I'm just shocked no one has run into this problem before. I'm also shocked this is not a functionality. Other similar systems (such as Hue, which I've mentioned and also use) don't have this problem. That said, Hue is a specific/narrow implementation of Zigbee but it has the ability to add a new bulb without having physical access to it and pressing a button on it. You do that to the controller. Which you already have to do in Insteon. It just seems like a limitation rather than something that was intentional but I don't have proof of that so I'm asking for references.



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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10765 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  10:04:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
At some point in the process, you have to establish a trusted relationship between controllers and responders. With some brands of devices, they establish that trusted relationship with the first controller they meet when they power on; with other devices they rely upon close proximity. Insteon uses unique device addresses and Set button taps. Each system has strengths and weaknesses, to be sure, but to forego any attempt at a secure design would just invite trouble. It is not a happy experience when a neighbor installs gear similar to yours and inadvertently (or on purpose) starts controlling your stuff. That actually happens with some other popular automation equipment! The Insteon design avoids that.

If you had kept a record of installed device addresses, or if you linked to a bridge or controller, or if you had asked before both linked controllers became unreachable, then you would be able to change out those two keypads with a minimum of fuss. Most users today have at least a Hub in the mix in order to use an Amazon or Google voice assistant, so they don’t have the same exposure you do. Without that, your path of least resistance is to go into the fixture to access the modules.
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  10:28:29 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To anyone I may have offended. I was not trying to offend you. I'm trying to get answers and this process has been frustrating, disappointing and i've not receive much for help by technical support in India. I apologize if I offended you.

@Tfitspatri8 and @all:
So with that in mind (that I"m going to have to open up the fixtures and get the ID and link them at the same time) - any recommendations on a straightforward tool to manage and create new links and wipe all existing links between devices (once their ID's have been established)? I'm asking because I've replaced about half of my keypads over the last 3 years and I've observed odd behavior. For example, the new keypad in my kitchen somehow is controlling my basement switches - and those were just installed a few months ago when the basement was finished. I never linked them. What I really need is something to link and setup everything and then not use it again. The house is going to be listed in the coming months.

I like Insteon products' functionality and ease of installation. So I have a big box of gear that will go in the new house - including my ISY99-4i and at that time will want a better solution to use and manage the entire setup frequently.

So I have 2 requests/issues:

1 - I need something to help build out devices and manage their links (controls to/from other devices).
2 - I need a more robust method of managing a new installation which will be installed in the near future. The ISY994i is powerful, but it would be nice to have something more accessible. The Insteon Hubs are not good performers for me. I went through 3 of them in about 5 years (and unfortunately never added these ceiling lights to any of them.)

One last question - if there are only 16Million possible addresses, is it possible that someone is going to get a duplicate ID at some point? I would think that Insteon will have surpassed 16Million devices at some point. Also, the odds are very likely against them, but it seem that theoretically, this could happen if you're unlucky.
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  10:30:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]

Saying "no, it's about security" and not giving references (like to an RFC) is not helpful or indicative of proof. Does anyone have a technical document/reference on the protocol that supports the stance that this is all about security?

The numbers I quoted about DES compared to the 16M number that was thrown out speak for themselves. Any CS major can write a script to iterate through 16M keys and a modern computer can do that very quickly.

I've been using Insteon for 12 years, but haven't had the need to do this until my keypads reached their end of life. Which appears to be a common thing for them - they don't last longer than 10 years typically. I haven't delved into it because I haven't had the need to until now. It's not that I'm a "newbie" to it - though I do admit I am in terms of understanding the protocol - I just haven't had the need to delve into it.

I apologize if I've offended you. I'm just shocked no one has run into this problem before. I'm also shocked this is not a functionality. Other similar systems (such as Hue, which I've mentioned and also use) don't have this problem. That said, Hue is a specific/narrow implementation of Zigbee but it has the ability to add a new bulb without having physical access to it and pressing a button on it. You do that to the controller. Which you already have to do in Insteon. It just seems like a limitation rather than something that was intentional but I don't have proof of that so I'm asking for references.







As I stated, I personally know the team behind I steon so I've had conversations with them about certain subjects. With that said, your reason about using a computer to search 16m addresses is waaaay out there. Someone has to really really really want to run every combination of numbers while sending out the insteon signal and waiting for a response back from a device. As long as that would take, it's not a feasible solution. Running numbers is simple. Running them until you actually connect to an insteon devices a different story. You would still need a plm to send out the insteon signal, the plm to send out a message and wait for a response. That process alone would probably force a person to have a computer running nonstop for at least 6 months to a year.

With hue. Hue searches on startup. Their devices send out a link command Even then, it doesn't always find devices. Not only that, once a device is linked, it no longer can be found via that method unless factory reset.

There are other considerations as well. Insteon devices are designed to work without any software. You can manually link to them which can be an issue as neighbors can do the same as well. Hue needs some type of software in order to link to them. There is no manual capabilities of linking so that allows for them to do things that insteon cant

Using insteon and taking time to understand how it works are 2 different things. While I know about how it works due to conversations I've had with those in charge of insteon, you can easily find the insteon white paper online via a quick Google search which also talks about this as well.
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  10:44:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]

To anyone I may have offended. I was not trying to offend you. I'm trying to get answers and this process has been frustrating, disappointing and i've not receive much for help by technical support in India. I apologize if I offended you.

@Tfitspatri8 and @all:
So with that in mind (that I"m going to have to open up the fixtures and get the ID and link them at the same time) - any recommendations on a straightforward tool to manage and create new links and wipe all existing links between devices (once their ID's have been established)? I'm asking because I've replaced about half of my keypads over the last 3 years and I've observed odd behavior. For example, the new keypad in my kitchen somehow is controlling my basement switches - and those were just installed a few months ago when the basement was finished. I never linked them. What I really need is something to link and setup everything and then not use it again. The house is going to be listed in the coming months.

I like Insteon products' functionality and ease of installation. So I have a big box of gear that will go in the new house - including my ISY99-4i and at that time will want a better solution to use and manage the entire setup frequently.

So I have 2 requests/issues:

1 - I need something to help build out devices and manage their links (controls to/from other devices).
2 - I need a more robust method of managing a new installation which will be installed in the near future. The ISY994i is powerful, but it would be nice to have something more accessible. The Insteon Hubs are not good performers for me. I went through 3 of them in about 5 years (and unfortunately never added these ceiling lights to any of them.)

One last question - if there are only 16Million possible addresses, is it possible that someone is going to get a duplicate ID at some point? I would think that Insteon will have surpassed 16Million devices at some point. Also, the odds are very likely against them, but it seem that theoretically, this could happen if you're unlucky.



What do you mean you need something more accessible than the isy? What type of access are you looking for? While controllers are subjective, the ISY is one of THE best controllers for insteon. IMO it is the best.

Since you already have the ISY, you already have what you need to create your scenes and manage links. That's what it's there for.

You are able to clear existing links with the isy should you choose to. However, I and most experienced users would say manually factory reset your devices. How you proceed is up to you. Whether it's insteon or zwave, putting the work in early on during setup will save you a lot of time, trouble, and frustrations later on.

In regards to Insteon IDs, you not only need to have the ID, the dev cat and sub cat also come into play. Even if all things were equal, the likelihood of 2 devices with the same address being in the same neighborhood is improbable.
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  11:19:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you both. Those are the kind of details I was looking for.

In term sof accessible, I mean easier to use and probably just use to create links configure devices, save the configuration and walk away and not use it again. I plan on leaving a lot of devices in the house when I sell it. But I am not going to hand over my account and ISY or any other such controller. That's all I mean by accessible. Quick and easy with simplicity.

So about factory defaulting everything: can that be done in the ISY once everything is linked to it or do I need to do this at every individual switch. I just did another count and I have 47 devices switches and in-line dimmers. Sounds painful if I have to factory reset them all physically. Any recommendations?
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  11:58:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You can only factory reset a device locally from the device itself. The isy can wipe links while importing a device. It's more of a soft reset than a hard reset. I prefer a hard reset as it ensures all links are erased whereas something could potentially remain with a soft reset. You can link devices with the isy and remove it from the equation. After linking, you would go to file>remove plm (something like that) which will take the plm links out of devices. The devices however remain linked.

Personally I'd leave everything and disable most programs for the buyer. An isy isn't that expensive so getting a new one isn't a big deal. The new homeowner is able to manage their stuff and can use some of the basic timer programs such as those for outside lights.

Edited by - lilyoyo1 on 09/17/2019 12:04:27 PM
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  1:08:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So factory reset of everything - ugh, sounds painful. But you're right, something has managed to linger and is messing with the basement lights. Its frustrating to say the least. I have a better game-plan for the new home - have Hue everywhere that I spend a lot of time in (I have over 60 bulbs - BR30 and standard lamp style bulbs) - and have the Insteon in places where I want more remote control and just want a remote dimmer.

In terms of leaving behind technical gear, I just cringe at the thought of that being tied to my account in any way. They can always link via the remotes and I'll leave them a printout with all the device locations and their addresses in case they want to take it over themselves or just install regular outlets.

You'd think everyone is in on Insteon and X-10, but the electrician who did my basement - a master electrician who's owned his own business for 30 years got all pissed off at the Insteon switch installation process and ran all 3 way switch wire runs to the dimers even after I told him that only one needs to go to load not both; the other just needs it's own power so it can communicate to the other switch/dimmer. He swore he'd never work on anything like that again and that he hates Insteon. I showed him how easy it is (I'm a EE with Grad Degrees in the field) and he was still scratching his head.

This "modern gadgetry is not for 99% of my clients and this is the first time I've ever had to mess with these things and I never will again!" - LOL . So you would think a new homeowner would want it, but my electrician nearly lost his marbles over it despite how easy it is to install. And the last thing I want is a call from a new homeowner asking me, "how do I do X" and then I'm forever stuck. I just want them working and to be able to walk away with the fact their smart outlets and switches and they can take it on to their hearts content with what I give them.
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BLH
Advanced Member

6071 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  3:26:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One thing that may not be evident. New modules have been known to ship with Test information in them. Many of us do a factory reset on all new modules. To definitely start with a blank Link Database in them.

I don't know if the Insteon Developers Guide would give you any help in understanding Insteon. The part about IBIOS, SALad Language and SDM was for the older PLC controller that used Smarthome Device Manager and could download programs into the PLC and run alone.
http://cache.insteon.com/pdf/INSTEON_Developers_Guide_20070816a.pdf

http://cache.insteon.com/pdf/INSTEON_Modem_Developer's_Guide_20071012a.pdf

http://cache.insteon.com/developer/i2CSdev-022012-en.pdf

As you have seen. Insteon does uncommon wiring for things like Three Way Switches. I an not too surprised an Electrician maybe confused at things.

Edited by - BLH on 09/18/2019 03:22:59 AM
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

317 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  5:08:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by [email protected]

So factory reset of everything - ugh, sounds painful. But you're right, something has managed to linger and is messing with the basement lights. Its frustrating to say the least. I have a better game-plan for the new home - have Hue everywhere that I spend a lot of time in (I have over 60 bulbs - BR30 and standard lamp style bulbs) - and have the Insteon in places where I want more remote control and just want a remote dimmer.

In terms of leaving behind technical gear, I just cringe at the thought of that being tied to my account in any way. They can always link via the remotes and I'll leave them a printout with all the device locations and their addresses in case they want to take it over themselves or just install regular outlets.

You'd think everyone is in on Insteon and X-10, but the electrician who did my basement - a master electrician who's owned his own business for 30 years got all pissed off at the Insteon switch installation process and ran all 3 way switch wire runs to the dimers even after I told him that only one needs to go to load not both; the other just needs it's own power so it can communicate to the other switch/dimmer. He swore he'd never work on anything like that again and that he hates Insteon. I showed him how easy it is (I'm a EE with Grad Degrees in the field) and he was still scratching his head.

This "modern gadgetry is not for 99% of my clients and this is the first time I've ever had to mess with these things and I never will again!" - LOL . So you would think a new homeowner would want it, but my electrician nearly lost his marbles over it despite how easy it is to install. And the last thing I want is a call from a new homeowner asking me, "how do I do X" and then I'm forever stuck. I just want them working and to be able to walk away with the fact their smart outlets and switches and they can take it on to their hearts content with what I give them.



Personally I wouldnt invest that much money with hue bulbs for a multitude of reasons. I use them with my isy for secondary devices such as lamps and strips lighting. It's more cost effective with a single switch vs a multitude of bulbs. For example, my kitchen has 8 br30 bulbs. I can spend 50 bucks on a single switch or 400 on 8 bulbs. Then I either have to worry about someone cutting off the switch to the lights (which defeats the purpose) or still spend more money on something else to make it work the way I want. To each their own though.

With the isy, there is no account associated with you. It's completely local in regards to user name/password. There are additional things such as their portal which can be swapped to another isy.

Insteon is just like any other automation system. If a person isn't familiar with it they will have that reaction. Your electrician actually did you a favor by running the wires the way he did. You never know how things will turn out in the future. Another technology may not work the way insteon does or you/someone else may want to go to a dummy house. It's better to have all that you need than try and rerun something for later
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10765 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2019 :  7:22:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I’ll second that, the ISY’s ability to coordinate with other brands and protocols gives you the best of all worlds. One SwitchLinc can do the job of a bunch of smart bulbs, and no one else makes anything as flexible and intuitive as Insteon’s KeypadLinc for multiple scene control.
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[email protected]
Starting Member

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2019 :  07:40:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
He had to run the wiring the traditional route - it's code and we would have never passed electrical inspection - but I get what you're saying.

I think my only point about my electrician that I was making is that even electricians don't know about Insteon and home automation. A lot of people don't.

As for Hue, the main draw for me is the ability to have colors and shades of white - from sunlight to fluorescent to sunset. It's a shame it doesn't have a better wall outlet solution. That's what Insteon has going for it and with standard bulbs it's a great solution. I have a ton of KeypadLincs in my home and love them. I just wish they'd last longer than 8-10 years. I've had some go out as soon as 5 as well. And they're not cheap either.

In terms of integration, there was one company that had a solution that was a fixed price of entry and they had a solution that would work for all kinds of protocols and systems, but they got bought by Nest unfortunately. At least I got reimbursed for my $299 investment in their hub.

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