Insteon

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Usage Information

Insteon is the product name for a series of devices which communicate using either powerline signaling, RF signaling, or a combination of both. LinuxMCE support for Insteon devices is currently under development. More information on the Insteon devices can be found at Insteon. Products are available at SmartHome

Insteon development is currently underway.

There are currently 3 types of Insteon controllers:

1. PowerLinc Controller USB (PLC)
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2. PowerLinc Controller Serial (PLC)
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3. PowerLinc Modem (PLM)
2414s.jpg

Please Note: The PowerLinc Controller Serial and PowerLinc Modem are using the same picture, however they are NOT the same device. They have different part numbers. The PLM is 2412s, the PLC is 2414s.

Among these controllers, there is another device called the EZBridge that uses a PLM to interface ethernet to insteon. Communication to the EZBridge is accomplished via an XML commandset over an established IP Port. I have implemented the EZBridge via GSD/Ruby. Source is currently located in the developers forum. (search for EZBridge) 31272.jpg

The EZBridge is IDEAL for remote locations, summer houses, etc. All communication is via a TCP Socket in xml form.

It is feasable to actually have MORE THAN ONE location set up in your linuxmce system. With the use of an EZBridge, it's just like being there. Lights/Appliances can be turned on/off as if they were local.


1. What is an INSTEON network? The INSTEON network protocol is a new cost-effective dual-mesh (radio frequency - RF and powerline) home management network technology, that provides a secure, highly-available, affordable, robust home management network for home innovations. INSTEON technology is simple to integrate and will be widely available in a broad set of products offered by SmarthomeTM, Inc. and many other product innovators.

2. Is INSTEON a secure network? Yes. Every INSTEON device has a unique 24 bit address, all transmissions are encoded onto the network. Additionally, INSTEON is designed to support additional device based encryption technologies.

3. What is a mesh network and how does it work? The INSTEON network is an integrated (RF, Powerline) redundant, non-supervised, peer-to-peer network. There is no need for routing tables, each device in the network receives messages simultaneously, independent of whether the message originated via a wireless or powerline device. Network devices will "repeat" the signal based on message settings.

4. When will products with INSTEON technology be available? The first INSTEON products launched the second quarter of 2005. Currently, INSTEON-compatible devices are available from over 15 manufacturers with approximately 50 products available to date.

5. How much will INSTEON-compatible devices cost? Devices will start at $19.99 retail. INSTEON is a very cost-effective technology to integrate into a wide range of products.

6. How many partners are developing INSTEON products? SmartLabs is in the process of working with a wide variety of business partners. INSTEON technology is easy to integrate and is priced to be able to include in a broad base of products, from simple inexpensive wireless sensors to large home appliances. To find out more regarding Smarthome's Smart partner program call 866-243-8022. Many of the partners are listed in the partner section of this website.

7. How does INSTEON compare with ZigBeeTM, BluetoothTM, HomePlugTM, X-10TM?

  • Bluetooth - Bluetooth is designed as an ad-hoc network technology and as such is not designed to be a home control networking technology.
  • ZigBee/Z-Wave - INSTEON is not limited to a single physical network technology and does not require a network controller. It supports both RF and Powerline, enabling a broader set of applications. INSTEON technology is also a more cost-effective and reliable technology allowing it to be integrated into a broader range of products.
  • HomePlug - INSTEON is compatible with HomePlug but focused on different applications. HomePlug is tuned to broadband applications while INSTEON is focused on home control. INSTEON is a more cost-effective technology for home management.
  • X-10 - INSTEON is a more robust and reliable network yet, it is priced similarly and is compatible with industry standard X-10 devices.

8. If a home has a broadband network, why do I need INSTEON? Homes will have two networks (Multimedia and Management). The broadband network is focused on a home's multimedia needs and is ideal for sending voice, video and internet throughout the home. The management network (INSTEON) is focused on sending control and simple data between devices within the home (i.e. a light switch turning on multiple lights/devices within the home). While the broadband network could also serve the management needs, on a device basis it is too expensive. Additionally, customers are not willing to plug their washer, microwave or garage door into an Ethernet cable.

9. Does INSTEON work with other home network technologies? Yes, INSTEON will be introduced with an Ethernet, USB and serial bridge to allow communications with the Internet, computers and wide variety of security and wiring panels. Additionally, INSTEON supports communications with existing X-10 based devices. Smarthome expects development of additional bridges to other network technologies based on market demand.

10. Should I continue to purchase X-10 based products or wait for INSTEON? One of the significant advantages of the new INSTEON technology is it's backwards compatibility with existing X-10 products. As an example, an INSTEON switch can turn on an X-10 lamp module and an X-10 switch can turn on an INSTEON lamp module. Homeowners can continue to purchase X-10 devices today and then migrate over time to INSTEON.

11. Can the INSTEON technology handle high-bandwidth for application such as A/V distribution? The protocol is designed to handle simple data, up to 16 bytes per message @ up to 10 messages a second. INSTEON will not support higher-bandwidth application. These applications are best suited for standard Ethernet. Higher band-width support results in higher overall cost. INSTEON is optimized for affordable, reliable, and secure control.

12. What applications are a good fit for the INSTEON technology?

  • Scene and remote control lighting
  • Security alarm interfaces and sensors
  • Home sensors (e.g. water, humidity, temperature)
  • Access control (e.g. door locks)
  • Heating and cooling (HVAC) control and management
  • Audio-video control
  • Appliance management
  • Energy savings

13. Does INSTEON support other voltages, such as 50Hz/220VAC? Although Smarthome has not yet designed devices for voltages other than 110VAC/60Hz, the INSTEON technology could be adjusted for 50Hz timing. We do not have a schedule as yet for doing this effort.

14. What platforms (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux) are supported by the INSTEON protocol? Supported platforms depend on the interface used to communicate with the INSTEON network. Smarthome's PowerLinc (USB and Serial) and Powerline Modem (Serial) support any platform that can communicate with either a serial or USB port. Additionally, we have partners that have developed and are selling IP interfaces.

15. What devices do not repeat INSTEON signals? To conserve power, message repeating can be disabled in devices, such as battery operated devices.

16. How is INSTEON support implemented into products? Smarthome offer's Developer Kits which interface with products to allow communications between the product and the INSTEON network. The interface can be an internal INSTEON chip, a small PC board or an external plug-in adapter with I/O ports connecting to the host product(s).

17. How likely is RF interference? Very unlikely. In the few situations we've encountered interference with other wireless devices, simply changing the frequency (commonly referred to as "Channels") on the offending device will solve any issues. INSTEON messages are very brief, leaving only a small amount of time for interference to occur.

18. Is every INSTEON compatible device required to be X10 compatible? X10 compatibility is determined by the product manufacture/vendor. The INSTEON protocol does not mandate X10 compatibility. SmartLab's INSTEON compatible devices are made to support X10.

19. Will I be able to sell the product(s) I develop with the developer's kit? Yes, you will be able to sell your software product(s) developed from the INSTEON developers kit. Prior to offering for sale, you must submit the product to Smarthome for INSTEON compatibility testing and INSTEON certification. This is a free service that Smarthome provides to insure the software complies with proper INSTEON protocols. Once you are at a stage where the product can be tested, contact us.

20. How do I sell my software or hardware I created using the developer's kits? Once the product passes compatibility testing, you sell the software and/or hardware through any distribution channels. Additionally, the product may also be submitted to Smarthome category managers for consideration to distribute through Smarthome web and catalog channels.

Setting Up PLM Template

Images used are Copyright 1995-2008 SMARTHOME