Insteon smart home: Everything you need to know

Insteon's home automation solutions promise more reliability than any other smart home technology on the market.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!


What is Insteon?

Insteon is a network protocol that enables smart home devices to communicate with each other, both wirelessly via radio waves and through electrical wires. Any two devices that implement the Insteon protocol can interact directly with each other thanks to Insteon's dual-mesh technology, and each device in turn can be controlled via your smartphone or PC both locally and over the Internet. This allows you to remotely turn lights on and off, adjust temperature settings on your home's climate control system, lock and unlock doors and control myriad other smart devices from a single interface.

Like most smart home technologies, Insteon also supports more complex home automation through the creation of scenes, with the ability to group multiple actions together and trigger them with a single command. For instance, you could add all your lights and electrical appliances to a "Going out" scene. When leaving the house, triggering that scene would turn everything off, saving you the hassle of forgetting to turn off the heater in your bedroom when you head out for dinner.

For even finer control, Insteon devices can trigger actions and scenes automatically. You could program your motion sensor to start your security camera recording when it detects movement, or you could have your stereo kick in when you unlock the front door after a long day at work.

How does Insteon work?

Where most home automation technologies are purely wireless, Insteon leverages both radio waves and a house's existing electrical wiring for linking multiple smart home devices. By combining the range of radio frequency transmissions with the reliability of physical wires, Insteon is less prone to communication failures and delayed responses than typical home automation technologies.

Insteon takes a different approach in how it handles communication on the software side, too. Many competing system's like Telstra's Smart Home platform require you to purchase a central hub device to control communication between devices, and any time you add a new device to the network, you need to pair it with the hub before it'll work. The more devices you add to one of these traditional home automation networks, the more complicated the hub's task becomes, and the potential for error increases.

Insteon does not have a central hub. Instead, each device uses simulcasting to communicate, which essentially means every device transmits every message it receives to every other device within range. This blanket approach ensures every device on the network receives the message, and the intended recipient can process it as necessary.

In practice, simulcasting saves you the hassle of purchasing a central hub and pairing new devices. Better yet, each new device added to the network increases the reliability of the network as a whole, without introducing the complexity that would occur with a standard smart home solution.

Insteon's smart home range

Insteon splits its smart devices into two categories: controllers and responders. Controllers are the devices that trigger other devices, such as remote controls, motion sensors and programmable hubs for setting up automations. Responders, on the other hand, are traditional smart home devices that perform actions. These include lights, thermostats and remote-controlled power switches.

Insteon controllers

insteon-hubInsteon hub

Allows you to control your Insteon network from your phone or web browser, whether you're at home or out and about. Also lets you create and schedule actions and scenes, as well as receive alerts when a device such as a motion sensor is triggered.

Insteon motion sensorinsteon-motion-sensor

Can be programmed to turn on lights, crank up your thermostat or activate your alarm system when it detects movement.

Insteon open/close sensorinsteon-open-close-sensor

Uses a magnetic sensor to detect when a door or window is opened or closed. Can be set to activate lights, adjust your thermostat or trigger any other custom action or scene.

Insteon mini remoteinsteon-mini-remote

A standard remote for triggering individual devices or custom scenes. Comes in two variants: one with a single on/off switch and one with four on/off switches.

Insteon thermostatinsteon-thermostat

Lets you adjust the temperature of your house through your smartphone or via triggers from other Insteon devices. Also features an illuminated display showing the current temperature and humidity levels, and can be controlled using physical buttons on the device if you wish.

Insteon wireless IP camerainsteon-ip-camera

Captures video and images at 640x480 resolution. Can be viewed and controlled remotely via a smartphone or a web browser, with 300-degree pan and 120-degree tilt functionality. An array of 11 infra-red LEDs provides visibility of up to 10 metres at night.


Insteon LED bulbinsteon-led-bulb

Supports remote control and dimming functionality without the need to install a dedicated switch. Can plug into any existing light socket for immediate connection to your Insteon network.

Insteon plug-in relayinsteon-switch

Remotely-controllable on/off switch for activating any standard appliance. Comes in three variants: a simple plug-and-play unit that connects to standard power outlets, a micro relay that can be installed inside your walls, and a DIN-rail relay for controlling your home's power lines at their source.

Insteon plug-in dimmerinsteon-dimmer

Enables remote adjustment of any dimmable light source. Available as a plug-in unit for easy installation on standard outlets, as well as a micro relay for mounting inside your walls, and a DIN-rail relay for controlling multiple dimmable devices.

More technology news

Picture: Shutterstock

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site