Recommendations, X10 vs. Insteon (really long!)
First let me thank everyone who has complimented me on my web sites and posts over the years. I promise I won't let them go to my head. :-) And no more posting when I'm tired it makes me sound like a troll (very unprofessional).
I've recently received about 4 or 5 requests for recommendations as to which Power Line Controller I would get if I were to get a new one. Remember my opinions are mostly Linux based as that is my OS of choice. As it stands I just made such a choice. I have 2 new Insteon V2 controllers (a serial and USB PLC) and I've dropped the CM11A from my Misterhouse (MH) setup. I still have it for my Heyu setup but that's for support reasons. BTW, I have the following controllers:
- LynX10 with TW523
- HCS II with TW523
- ADI's Ocelot with TW523
- ACT's TI103
- Serial PowerLinc
- USB PowerLinc
- Serial Insteon PowerLinc V2
- USB Insteon PowerLinc V2
Now I don't think I've missed any but I might have a few more. ;-) I chose the Insteon Serial PowerLinc V2 so I can migrate to Insteon. I wrote some software for MH so I can dump my CM11A. The Perl software should work under Windows also but I haven't tested it yet. I think in the long run Insteon is going to be a winner in the home automation market. I think UPB and ZigBee (not ZWave) may give it a run for it's money but I'm not up to date on those technologies right now. If you're not running MH then your choices are limited to the software you want to run. The CM11A is still popular but it's a bit long in the tooth and has a long list of unique problems. The CM15A is it's replacement but X10 has not been kind enough to share the interface info so we only have some hacked info that the community pulled together.
Anyway back to my choice for MH, the Insteon PowerLinc V2. Here's my thoughts on Insteon and why I think it will be a winner. Benefits of Insteon:
- X10 compatibility, the controller and the modules can send and receive X10 and Insteon. The only exception is the SignaLinc V2s which only repeat Insteon commands (these are great amplified phase bridges even with multiple phases).
- Insteon and X10 modules can coexist on the same power line network. The Insteon modules can be setup to respond and transmit X10 in addition to the Insteon commands.
- Better reliability, each Insteon module repeats an Insteon command thereby boosting the signal along the way. Also an Insteon command sent gets ACK'd, NAK'd or nothing (never reached its target).
- Faster, X10 is about 60 bps (about 1 command/sec), Insteon is between 1K bps to 2K (4800 bps?). Faster than 1 command/sec. :-)
- Better support! X10 I'm still waiting on the CM15A info.
- Better quality, the price has come down and is compatible with any of the good X10 compatible products.
Yes there are some problems with Insteon but it is my opinion that they're not enough to hold Insteon back in the long rung. Some of the problems:
- Insteon is new, expect some growing pains.
- Protocol has a few holes in it but it's a lot better than X10's protocol.
- Protocol documentation isn't Open Source friendly, I'm testing it's limits but I did speak with the Insteon folks and they are aware of what I'm doing and how far it will go. The good news is that anyone who purchases the Dev kit has license to the documentation. Besides the Dev Kit is a good deal, you get the PowerLinc V2 and a LampLinc V2.
- The new protocol makes things a lot more complicated. Actually this isn't too bad. You have to 'link' the module to the PowerLinc or ControLinc. After that the minimal work you need to do is send the correct Insteon command but then that's just as bad as X10. The new protocol is half the reason to switch to Insteon (additional reliability).
- No RF devices like X10, yet. For some folks this might be a problem. I haven't found X10's RF to work all that great so it hasn't been a problem for me. Besides you can still use the X10 RF. Insteon won't interfere with it.
- Limited software available for Insteon and Linux. I have created iplcd, the Perl sample code (USB & Serial) and the Misterhouse iplc modules (should work with Linux & Windows if you have the Serial Insteon PowerLinc V2 controller) but I haven't written anything else yet. More will follow as soon as I get done with the book.
Let me state clearly that I still have X10 and X10 compatible modules but because I've gotten better support from Insteon I'm spending my money on Insteon. I may buy X10 compatible equipment still but it won't be X10 brand or other X10 rebranded products.
On the issue of my work on the Misterhouse module, it's Alpha code, X10 On and Off works but I haven't touched the dim/bright code yet and won't for a couple of months (still writing my book). The Insteon support will be a while and the first iteration of it will be extremely simple until I get the assembler and downloader (needed for the core app) working. Until then you need to use Windows to handle the core app (the hello world code Insteon supports). Also I don't have the USB code written so you'll need the serial controller. I recommend getting the Dev Kit (see above). Also get the SignaLinc V2s if you have more than 1 'phase' or separate fuse/breaker boxes. I don't know the real world distance of the devices. but mine works great at 20 feet apart.
BTW, the Insteon PowerLinc is the only X10 interface I have on MH other than the CM17A & MR26A which I need for a few RF remotes. I can send and receive X10 properly. The Insteon codes (such as the Event info) are just ignored. Sorry but I was in a rush. I only had 3 days to write the whole thing. Not bad considering I haven't written a Perl module before or interfaced to MH at this level.