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.
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.
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 sensor
Can be programmed to turn on lights, crank up your thermostat or activate your alarm system when it detects movement.
Insteon 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 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.
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 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 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 relay
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 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.
Read more on this topic
Ring Stick Up Cam Review: Simple security anywhere you want it The Ring Stick Up Cam provides a simple way to expand your coverage either indoors or outdoors – as long as you're happy with Ring's cloud storage prices.
Anki Vector Review: A robot with personality and potential Anki's Vector robot is cute and nicely interactive, but it's the promise of future features that is the most exciting part of this digital companion.
Nest Cam IQ Review: A smarter security camera with a data downside The Nest Cam IQ has a host of smart features, but you'll need a hefty broadband data pipe to make the most of them.
Swann Smart Security Camera review: Too basic to be worthwhile Swann's Smart Security Camera hits the basics, but slow detection makes it less than smart.
Arlo Go Review: A fully mobile robust security camera Netgear sets its security cameras free with the 4G LTE-enabled Arlo Go, but that mobility comes with a very definite cost.
Reolink Argus 2 Review: A low-cost security solution Reolink's Argus 2 isn't the fanciest home security solution, but it offers simple security features at a highly appealing price point.
Arlo Pro 2 review: Full HD and simple install is a winning combination Netgear's latest wireless security camera adds 1080p video and exclusive wired modes, making it better than ever... at a price.
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery review: A bright and wide security solution If you don't have the desire for a permanently installed spotlight camera, Ring's Spotlight Cam Battery can keep you secure with minimal installation hassles.
Amazon Alexa Skills available in Australia A list of of things you can do with your new Amazon Echo smart speaker here in Australia.
Philips goes for the party crowd with Hue Entertainment at CES 2018 A free update to the Philips Hue app will create immersive lightscapes for gaming, music and movies.
Ask an Expert