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Venstar Insteon Thermostat and Other Newbie Questions
#1
I am new to CQC and testing different things on the trial version before biting the bullet for the license.

1. I recently installed a Venstar thermostat with insteon interface (http://www.smarthome.com/2491T1/Venstar-...le/p.aspx). From what I have seen so far, I can only do 0-100% for dimmers and on/off for non-dimming devices. Has anyone been able to set up the thermostat functionality using CQC? I tried this in MControl which supports it but I find CQC much more capable for other things so far.

2. I have a few Insteon devices and a PLC USB interface (now I hear PLM is the way to go). I was able to configure the driver in CQC and was partially successful in controlling some. The others I think have issues not related to CQC. So far I spent about $300-$400 on Insteon devices but then started reading all the horror stories about Insteon on various forums. I am now nervous about spending 2 or 3 more grand on this to cover the rest of my home. It appears to be the same case whether it is z-wave or UPB or Insteon. I can't seem to find a 'recent' comparison type review for these three options. I have read enough of arguments over which one is better so I don't want to start another thread for that. But could the experts here please validate my conclusion that none of these options are 100% robust and reliable and some things can be done to make any of them work may be 90% of the time (e.g. replace PLC with PLM)? I have read that Lutron RadioRA and Homeworks wireless are the only ones that are robust but they cost too much for my budget.

Sorry if the post is long. Being an industrial automation systems integrator and now just getting into HA, I am very pleased to see what CQC, Elk, etc. can do for home control. I have been spending many late nights on these toys now.
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#2
Ah, and now you have another option to consider Zigbee (Centralite JetStream).

I only have had experience with Insteon. I have had the PLC, now have the ISY controller which uses the PLM. I have also developed my own Insteon application for the PLC.

I can say that Insteon is never going to be 100% reliable, IMHO. Line noise can be an issue, especially with group communication. The whole linking complexity that is special to Insteon, is it's biggest drawback and that is where using a centralized controller like the ISY helps. This all on top of the various failure issues, etc.

Even with the ISY, which is a great product and almost a requirement if you are using Insteon, personally, I am planning on moving to another technology (probably UPB, maybe Jetstream) rather than investing any more $$$ in Insteon. I may buy a few switches of each and play before committing.
Wuench
My Home Theater/Automation Website

[THREAD=5957]BlueGlass CQC Config[/THREAD]
[THREAD=10624]Wuench's CQC Drivers[/THREAD]
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#3
wuench, Thanks for your insight. I have read about UPB and will read more about zigbee too.

Just got off the phone with SmartHome support. I was very pleased with the support person's willingness to help. He offered to swap my USB PLC with a PLM and issued an RMA for a failed LampLinc without any hassle. He also strongly suggested using the ISY.

I must admit, whatever little I did so far with CQC controlling some Insteon lights, it has been working very well even with the USB PLC. One problem I am having is that the CQC status graphics don't seem to update for ON/OFF devices when controlled from the wall switches but they update for dimmers instantaneously. I added a Refresh button (to PollModules) which seems to take care of the issue.

I guess the Venstar Insteon thermostat is not yet popular enough to be discussed in forums. One of these days I'll try to tackle the driver myself.

P.S. Just saw your website. Excellent setup and good job documenting it!
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#4
You might find discussions of the Venstar on the smarthome forum (techmall).

The ISY has built in support for thermostats and I implemented those features in the CQC ISY driver, but I am not sure if the ISY supports the Venstar specifically and the thermostat features of the driver have never been tested. I can't speak for the PLC or PLM drivers.
Wuench
My Home Theater/Automation Website

[THREAD=5957]BlueGlass CQC Config[/THREAD]
[THREAD=10624]Wuench's CQC Drivers[/THREAD]
Reply
#5
wuench Wrote:You might find discussions of the Venstar on the smarthome forum (techmall).
I was looking for Venstar info as it relates to CQC. It doesn't seem to be there on techmall.

wuench Wrote:The ISY has built in support for thermostats and I implemented those features in the CQC ISY driver, but I am not sure if the ISY supports the Venstar specifically and the thermostat features of the driver have never been tested. I can't speak for the PLC or PLM drivers.
I am considering getting the ISY. If I do, I will test the thermostat features on Venstar and post here.
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#6
Insteon is still the cheapest (barely, and if they keep raising prices it wont be for much longer...), and its fairly reliable (actually, for whatever reason, after adding the ISY, my reliability went from around 95% to extremely close to 99.9%, I do not know why or how the isy could effect that...)

wuench's ISY driver seems to work just fine, but I haven't got around to actually doing anything much with it... but it doesn't crash anything :-)

have fun with whatever you choose...
NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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#7
wuench Wrote:Even with the ISY, which is a great product and almost a requirement if you are using Insteon, personally, I am planning on moving to another technology (probably UPB, maybe Jetstream) rather than investing any more $$$ in Insteon. I may buy a few switches of each and play before committing.
Interesting. I also have decided that after a >40 switch investment in Insteon that I'm moving to UPB. I've had discussions w/ support and they've always happily swapped failed items BUT... I just can't get that last umph I need to be happy. My CQC events don't always change lights when they should. My field values don't always change as they should, even when linked. Even to the point where I've added events twice a day to poll modules. I have extra RF transceivers to supposedly give better coverage. I even bought a widget to cross phases but I haven't installed it yet. I have NO problems w/ hardware to hardware links but the links to the PLM just don't cut it. I'm really not interested in investing more money into an ISY when I still feel that Insteon is X10 on steroids. Some here will know I've been a diehard Insteon fan for a long time.

Russ...
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#8
SomeWhatLost Wrote:Insteon is still the cheapest (barely, and if they keep raising prices it wont be for much longer...), and its fairly reliable (actually, for whatever reason, after adding the ISY, my reliability went from around 95% to extremely close to 99.9%, I do not know why or how the isy could effect that...)

wuench's ISY driver seems to work just fine, but I haven't got around to actually doing anything much with it... but it doesn't crash anything :-)

have fun with whatever you choose...
The decision is getting difficult by the day. I feel encouraged by your experience and scared by zaccari's decision to switch after investing in 40+ devices. Since I also read some not so perfect things about UPB, I have decided to give Insteon a bit more of my dollars (especially after yesterday's good customer service experience with SmartHome) to see how it goes. I just ordered an ISY-99i PRO/IR. I am hoping that I will be able to control most of the stuff from Elk and ISY (reducing dependence on the server) and use CQC for UI and other things.

In general, the options appear to be to spend a fortune on something like Lutron HomeWorks wireless to get 100% reliability or live with reduced expectations (hopefully 95%+ reliability) at a reasonable cost (Insteon, UPB, Z-wave, zigbee)
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#9
zaccari Wrote:I still feel that Insteon is X10 on steroids.
funny, isn't it actually UPB that is basically the old X10 protocol, they just cranked up the volume a bit? wasn't insteon the one that was suppose to blend the old power line tech with the new RF tech for a perfect low cost solution? (admittedly, that turned out to be mostly just marketing hype... but still, it was a good idea...)


note the following is just random thoughts not directed at any one, or anything...
anyway, from my uneducated point of view, this switching from Brand A to Brand B because you had issues with Brand A (either real or imaginary, unfortunately, usually real...) just seems silly... kind of like someone switching from a Honda to a Yamaha because they really want a Harley (or a Duc for the sport bike minded people) they still wont be happy in the long run, of course for the short run, it will probably make them feel better...
(keeping this vague/brand neutral since I am not really a huge fan of any the 3 major 'cheap' players (UPB/Zwave/Insteon), and if you look hard enough you can find plenty of people with Brand X switching to Brand Y or Z all for similar reasons...)
maybe its just time to go hard wired, and give up with the low end?
ie the whole you tried cheap, now do it right concept?
NOTE: As one wise professional something once stated, I am ignorant & childish, with a mindset comparable to 9/11 troofers and wackjob conspiracy theorists. so don't take anything I say as advice...
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#10
I fought switching for a LONG time. The main reason I decided to switch was the tools w/ UPB. ToyMaster's extended support (since long before I picked Insteon) definitely helped too. The idea that I can use UpStart and monitor signal strength to individual modules to identify (and hopefully resolve) problems was the final nail in the coffin.

Yes, switching from Honda to Yamaha is silly if a Harley is your real desire is probably silly. I don't really want a wired system in this house. I do want reliability though. If I can't get that, then the Insteon and UPB prophets should stop telling me that Smile I originally picked Insteon (over UPB) for a reason that doesn't exist anymore. I did not like the front-end switch choices offered in those days or I may have gone the UPB route to start. Insteon was a new product in those days and that scared me big time. Heck, now I have ToyMaster to inflict injury and pain on as necessary Smile Funny thing is that I was talking to a person using an alternate technology on the phone the other day and they asked about the availability of some of the features they like about their product in UPB land.

Russ...
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