Insteon Connected Kit review: Strong lighting controls; diseased app integration

January 28, 2015 - table lamp

For simple, nonetheless stretchable home lighting control, Insteon’s dual-band record is tough to beat. The association has been in a marketplace longer than usually about anyone else (more than 20 years), it has 200 connected-home products in a inventory, it offers good tech support, and it even operates a possess online store dedicated to a connected home.

As good as all that is, Insteon still has a ways to go when it comes to effectively integrating a manifold collection of inclination with a smartphone app and a web portal that are designed to conduct it all. That’s a finish we reached after reviewing Insteon’s 2582-242 Connected Kit and a integrate of connected LED light bulbs that a association recently submitted for review.

The Connected Kit consists of Insteon’s latest hub, that we hard-wire to your home router/Internet gateway; a standard-definition pan/tilt confidence camera; motion, door/window, and trickle sensors; and a connected thermostat. Insteon also sent a span of 60-watt-equivalent LED light bulbs (these arevery costly during $30 each—that’s twice a cost of a GE and Cree bulbs recently reviewed).

Michael Brown

If we buy an Insteon starter kit, make certain that it comes with a latest Insteon hub, as this pack does. 

I wasn’t means to exam a thermostat, nonetheless it represents another diseased mark in a Insteon ecosystem. On a one hand, it supports modernized facilities such as support for two-stage heating and cooling systems, channel dampers, and remote sensors. On a other hand, it’s aesthetically nauseous compared to usually about any complicated thermostat on a market, it lacks a touchscreen user interface, and it doesn’t support feverishness pumps or three-stage HVAC systems. Fortunately, you’re not singular to Insteon’s thermostat. The association usually announced that it has assimilated a Works with Nest program.

I commissioned all besides a thermostat and a IP camera in reduction than dual hours. That includes a time it took to download and implement a control app on my iPhone (there are Android and Windows Phone versions available, too) and to module bedrooms (groups of devices) and scenes (rules for determining those devices). So far, so good.

Michael Brown

Insteon’s thermostat is no good shakes, and a usually choice is Nest Learning Thermostat.

My vital room is illuminated by an beyond light and several lamps. we transposed one light tuber with a dimmable Insteon 60-watt-equivalent LED tuber and plugged dual other lamps into plug-in dimmer modules (these cost $50 any if we need some-more than a dual that come in a kit). Insteon also offers in-wall dimmers and switches (priced from $50 to $80, depending on their capabilities).

Using a Insteon app, we grouped these inclination into a room and combined a stage that incited all a lamps on during nightfall and off during 10pm. Sunset and morning are energetic by a Internet-connected heart formed your time section and a tide date. You can mention a spin of dimming for any device, with ramp-up times as prolonged as 8 minutes.

You can emanate opposite schedules for any day of a week, if desired, or we can settle scenes with opposite combinations of lighting for sold scenarios: Reading, examination movies, or even a time of day. While we didn’t exam any of them, Insteon also sells a accumulation of in-wall keypad dimmers that can control a internal bucket and other inclination or groups of inclination on a Insteon network. Insteon will even imitation tradition labels on a keypads for we (for an additional fee, of course).

Michael Brown

Insteon also offers in-wall switches, dimmers, and stage controllers. 

After we set adult a vital room, we commissioned an LED tuber and a suit detector in a bathroom. we automatic a suit detector to spin off a light after a integrate mins of inactivity, so we need never spin a lavatory light on and off. Finally, we combined an open/close sensor to a front doorway and automatic it to spin on a flare nearest a door.

Performing these steps felt like time-traveling to a early days of home automation. To couple a suit and door/window sensors to a inclination we wish them to trigger, for example, we contingency press buttons and afterwards listen for beeps and watch for flashing LEDs for acknowledgment that a pairing worked.

The old-school suit sensor, that runs on a 9-volt battery, even has jumpers and little dials that contingency be incited with a jeweler’s screwdriver (fortunately, these are benefaction usually for bequest installations—I didn’t need to fiddle with them). The door/window sensor, though, is obnoxiously large—it’s scarcely 3.5 inches long. If we wish something some-more discrete, Insteon’s hidden doorway sensor is accessible for a same cost (but it’s not enclosed in a package).

Michael Brown

Insteon’s surface-mount doorway and window sensors are obnoxiously large.

What accurately is ‘dual band?’

Insteon’s exclusive dual-band network record is singular in that many of a components implement both power-line and RF control to yield fail-safe operation (exceptions embody door/window sensors and suit sensors that work on batteries instead of plugging into a wall).

Becky Waring

You conduct your Insteon complement by a web portal or with this mobile app.

Like a RF-only Z-Wave technology, any Insteon device is both a conductor and a receiver, and a ensuing network forms a mesh. Unlike Z-Wave, however, Insteon doesn’t rest on a routing table. As a result, a Insteon suit and door/window sensors continued to control a lights, even after we unplugged a Insteon hub.

The vital room scene, on a other hand, ceased to operate, since it was handling according to a report that was tranquil by a hub. So if we build a connected-home complement with Insteon, don’t cruise a heart to be an discretionary component.

And now it’s behind to a 80s

Setting adult a Wi-Fi confidence camera, on a other hand, was a frustrating, four-hour knowledge that was not value a finish result. The camera is a Foscam clone—it’s formed on a same hardware pattern and uses a same browser interface as that entire model—and it’s singular to fortitude of 640×480 pixels.

On a upside, it has a built-in suit sensor, infrared LED enlightenment for night viewing, and it can vessel over a 300-degree operation and lean over a 120-degree arc. You can set it adult to record video clips to a folder on your computer’s tough expostulate when a suit sensor is triggered, and it will send email alerts with images trustworthy when it does.

Michael Brown

Insteon’s confidence camera pans, tilts, and has infrared LED enlightenment for night viewing, nonetheless it delivers usually customary definition. 

You’re ostensible to be means to use a app to set adult a camera, nonetheless it unsuccessful during several attempts. So we resorted to reading a primer and configured it regulating pier forwarding and energetic DNS so we could use a browser-based interface. You contingency bond a camera directly to your router around ethernet and afterwards pierce it to where we wish it to work regulating Wi-Fi.

If we had been environment adult a camera on a weekday, we could have availed myself of Insteon’s glorious toll-free support—a use a association actively encourages we to make use of. That’s a monument in a consumer-electronics market). Insteon’s tech-support folks will set adult pier forwarding and solve networking issues for we by holding control of your Mac or PC (just be certain we know your router cue before we call). Support is not accessible on weeknights or Sundays, though, that is when many DIYers will need it.

Becky Waring

It’s not adequate to yield usually a live video stream. Insteon should concede we to perspective available video clips, too. 

I set adult a pool cam to keep tabs on my cat while we was away, and a live feed worked good even over LTE. we could vessel and lean a camera to find him no matter where was in a room, and a infrared night prophesy supposing a transparent picture.

Insteon’s app lets we watch live video on your smartphone or tablet, nonetheless it has no sustenance for examination recorded video. As such, it’s no foe for newer IP cameras such as Dropcam or Simplicam. And a fact that we can’t trigger other Insteon devices, such as lights, though initial withdrawal a camera’s user interface renders it defective to a camera that comes with a recently reviewed Peq connected-home system or a camera that comes with a Lowes Iris system. In Insteon’s favor, there are no monthly subscription fees to compensate (both a Peq and a Iris systems cost $10 per month for full functionality).

Is Insteon a right choice for you?

I’d be a lot some-more eager about Insteon if a confidence camera and mobile app weren’t so weak, and if there was a some-more worldly means of configuring a sensors. The thermostat is flattering bad, too, nonetheless there’s a workaround—as prolonged as we like a Nest.

Insteon’s register of connected-home components is low and far-reaching in many areas, nonetheless it offers usually 3 forms of connected LED bulbs—and those are expensive. The bottom line: Insteon is a really good connected-home system, nonetheless a weaknesses I’ve described keep it from being one of a truly good ones.

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