Can Insteon dethrone X10?

by Gordon Meyer

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The home automation world has a love-hate relationship with X10 technology. It has been around for 30 years, and has some obvious problems, but it's the de-facto standard. With millions of units sold, dozens of manufacturers supporting it over the years, and a huge collective knowledge base of how to work around its quirks, its going to be tough for a competing technology to knock it off its throne.

But that hasn't stopped lots of upstarts from trying. Currently, the most promising is Zensys' Z-Wave. It's wireless, has support from several industry players, and everyone is pretty much hoping that it will gain enough momentum to be worth investing in.

Recently, Smarthome Inc has entered the fray too. They're introducing Insteon ("instee-on") and it looks very interesting. According to their website, Insteon combines traditional power line control with wireless networking. That is, it's backwards compatible with existing X10 equipment, and it uses mesh-networking to communicate with Insteon-capable devices.

That's a sweet combination, and a very smart move. In order for any new home automation technology to get enough traction to really take off it has to appeal to those who are already automating their homes. And today, that means you have to work with X10. Requiring customers to adopt a new approach that abandons their current investment, as so many others have tried, is asking too much. It just might be that Insteon has found the approach.

What's your reaction to Insteon? Yawn, or Yahoo?


2006-04-11 06:17:36
My reaction is YAHOOOOOOOO

I've installed about 40 Insteon devices and have integrated them using Power Home software

The Insteon product is stable and reliable; devices respond to commands almost instantly; setting up scenes is a piece of cake.  It is backward compatible with X10 so I can make due with old motion detectors for now.  I can't wait for them to fill out the product line with IR and wireless motion sensors.  I highly recommend the product.

2006-05-13 21:12:09
I just installed an Insteon SwitchLink starter kit. The kit includes two 600W paddle dimmers, two rf repeaters and one 6-key (expands to 8 keys)Controller/Dimmer. I have been an X10 enthusiast since its inception. I still have the (working) X-10 controller I bought 30 years ago. I decided I would give Insteon a try because it works with X-10. I am now a die-hard Insteon fan! Setup was a no brainer. X-10 integration works great. I hope to soon see an Insteon direct wired dimmer and relay ( like the X-10 dimmers that fit in a junction box) I hope this stuff catches on, I am sold!
2006-05-23 15:47:59
I was so frustrated with X10 that I was in the process of removing it from my home control. I could not trust it. I lucked on finding Insteon, started using it where my X10 repeatedly failed, and had immediate success. A few more bux for a system that is stable and works everytime is worth it.
I am using InHomeFre software to program the controller. ( )
Give it a try!
2006-08-02 21:56:04
After installing 30+ Insteon switches and using a PC based control software called Homeseer, I'm hooked in Insteon! The switches are high quality, feel like high end switches and install easy due to their shallow footprint. I've got almost 100 left to install and am looking forward to seeing the positive results I've received so far with every switch I install.

In my 4000 sq. ft. house, they all talk together and I do not have any filters or repeaters like I did when I used X-10. No noise problems, no need for couplers, repeaters or anything else.

As of today, I wish there was better support in the software side but I can not say anything bad about the switches at all! They seem to have the flickering problem resolved with the 2.5 (on the 600 watt) and 2.3 (on the 1000 watt) firmware versions so I see a very promising future to Insteon!

Being a long time X-10 user, I see the advantages of Insteon and will continue to install it in my new house!