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Confused About Dual Band Devices


jmed999

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If the ISY triggers the PLM to send an RF signal to activate a dual band insteon device, do the dual band devices within range of the PLM receive the RF communication signal from the PLM then retransmit the RF communication signal to all dual band devices in range until it gets to the device that is to be controlled?

 

In other words, do all dual band devices receive the RF communication signal and retransmit the RF communication signal?

 

If so, then how can powerline noise keep a dual band device from getting the communication from the ISY? Seems like the communication errors would be nonexistent as long as the dual band devices are in range of the next dual band device.

 

Am I missing something?

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jmed999-

 

I believe (LeeG may have to correct me) that the PLM (assuming 2413S Dualband) sends both Powerline and RF. Any non-battery powered Insteon device receiving this transmission that isn't the Addressee, will decrement the hop count by one and retransmit on both the powerline and RF (If dualband). So the powerline can very well still be involved even if the PLM is addressing an RF only device since the bridging devices in between can be communicating via powerline.

 

-Xathros

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Ok. I knew the dual band PLM sends both powerline and RF but I wasn't sure if all dual band devices receive and retransmit both powerline and RF signals. Seems like retransmitting the RF signal would make comm issues almost nonexistent but if they reduce the hop by 1 I could understand how comm issues could still exist.

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My understanding of wired Dual Band operation is exactly what Xathros described. If Dual Band devices all but eliminate Insteon Mesh network issues, the KPLs would be working. Certainly if the RF power levels allowed each Dual Band device to talk to all other Dual Band devices it might be but the RF power is low. There are too many network issues posted on various forums to think Dual Band technology is the solution to Insteon communication issues.

 

Even the Access Point which has the best RF range says 200’ clear line of sight. Stick the RF inside a box (I won’t even talk about inside a metal box) with lots of wires, blocked by walls, floors, metal things, etc and that range drops off significantly.

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For what it's worth, I have several dozen dual-band devices in my home and they're very reliable. I'm quite happy with them.

 

The RF range does seem to be poor. I have a dual-band dimmer in my basement that occasionally wouldn't respond despite being located directly underneath two identical dimmers on the floor above (and on the open side of the daylight basement, no less, so there's no concrete to go through). This was the only device in the basement, though, so I plugged an access point in at the bottom of the stairs and the communication issues with that dimmer went away.

 

The two powerline only devices I have are spotty at best and I've quit using them. The compact fluorescent lights in my kitchen absolutely destroy the powerline signal. I'm of the opinion that HA equipment ought to be robust enough to not just stop working because I screwed the "wrong" light bulb into a fixture (dimmable vs. non-dimmable notwithstanding) or plugged in the "wrong" appliance, and this is why I abandoned X-10 many years ago. That kind of unreliability makes the product a joke IMHO and Insteon doesn't seem any better than X-10 in the powerline department, at least in my home.

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Only a couple dual band in the house, but 5 or so access points. Even with an access point on two plugs in a bedroom, 7 feet apart and a keypad linc into the same outlet as one of them. I can still have "issues" programming that keypad when I add scenes etc.

 

Maybe UPB is perfect, but insteon is probably 96% or so in most of the house. It's good enough to keep going with it. I've got a few filters, and the microwave just burned out a filter, not sure that that was about as I have not taken it apart as a post mortem. But at $29.00 it's a little obnoxious.

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arw01-

 

What is the rating on the Microwave? You may have exceeded the rating of the filterlinc. Tha AF-120 is a good filter up to 15A but is better than twice the size of a filterlinc. It also has a user replaceable fuse unlike the filterlinc.

 

-Xathros

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arw01,

 

I agree with Xathros suggestion and would not use a filterlinc on a microwave. You could also consider an XPF ( needs a rather large box though :(

Must likely the microwave is at least 1000watt and the Insteon filters are pretty shabby to be heavily loaded.

 

We have had a few discussions in other threads about the reliability of Insteon the mesh network not being all that it is cracked up to be. There does seem to be some conflict with its ability preferentially use RF only if power line signals are weak.

 

The two theories discussed were:

1) that Insteon actually had a preference to use Power line over RF when both are present.

2) Or what I lean towards from my testing experience is that very weak power line signals are acted on erroneously and that upsets the device momentarily such that it is unable to utilize the RF that may be a valid signal level.

 

This all seems to be consistent with some peoples better luck by isolating the PLM with a filterlinc, such that is is using RF only. In some cased this may prevent the weak power line from getting to some devices ( thus forcing it to use RF).

 

It is so interesting that some people just seem to get lucky and never seem to report having any issues while others struggle. For the most part my system has been quite reliable once I invested way too many hours testing and reconfiguring it. Yet I still have some weirdness every once and and a while.

 

Just yesterday an Appliancelinc that had worked fine started acting up. Refusing to turn off ( would turn on fine). I removed it from the home network and tested it thoroughly on an isolated network. It tested fine.

( yes I tested and did exclude: a load that is a signal sucker/noise generator as the culprit).

When I then put it back into the home network now all was fine again? Maybe it was just tired and needed a rest:)

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ELA, that is some great info and helps some of us that aren't experts understand how the RF/powerline works!

 

I had never thought about plugging the PLM into a filter! That's a good idea for a test if you are having comm problems and all your devices are dual band or RF only.

 

Thanks for the insight!

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I am one of those who place the PLM along with the ISY and PC on a UPS, then the UPS is plugged into a FilterLinc. The PLM now communicates via RF only to an Access Point I have close by. My house is fairly small at around 1500 sqft. I have been configured this way for a few months without any issues. I hope to avoid the possibility of power line induced PLM failures in this configuration.

~Mike

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The PLM communicates with the Access Point via RF. The Access Point then rebroadcasts on both RF and powerline to the rest of the Insteon network. Insteon network traffic returns to the Access Point, then back to the PLM via RF.

~Mike

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I believe you lose the ability to use any X10 devices if you filter the PLM because it's my understanding access points do not repeat X10.

Yes, that is the only drawback. The only X10 device I still use is a chime module which is also behind the UPS so it still receives the X10 signal from the PLM. :)

~Mike

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So why filter the PLM if you are still going to get powerline signals?

As I stated in my earlier post, I hope to avoid the possibility of power line induced PLM failures in this configuration.

~Mike

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I believe some others have filtered the PLM for a ( at least perceived) increase in communications reliability. I have not done this myself so I cannot attest to a measurable increase in reliability.

 

With the intent being to eliminate the PLM's initial send via power line(PL), the initial send is only RF. It is true in that configuration that you will still have PL comms via the other dual band devices, including the access points, during subsequent hops.

 

I can see where this configuration may help comms issues with certain devices within marginal PL range of the PLM. May clear up issues where a device "tries too hard" to dig a PL signal out of the background noise floor. Situations where it then either gets confused by an erroneous marginal PL receipt and/or it gives precedence to the PL over RF, for some reason, when both are present.

 

Of course there could still be issues with other devices subsequent PL hop retransmissions being marginal to some other device. Everybody's network configuration is most likely different in some way and what helps in one may hinder in another. If you think about it the PLMs initial send is not aided by any other devices. If you filter it such that RF is the only initial send, and there are several dual band devices within RF range of the PLM, then the 1st hop retransmit with be a simulcast of several devices together. This could make for a much stronger PL signal than the PLMs initial send would have been, assuming simulcasting works ( which I do not believe it always does as advertized).

 

I am still investigating the issue that just cropped up for me with an APL. It is a very intermittent issue. Spent several hours testing with no failures.

I have discovered a very interesting condition involving the circuits involved. During testing with my test device I am seeing a very high reliability number when using only 1 hop. When I use 3 hops the reliability drops off!!!

After several worry free months I Once again can feel the Insteon black hole drawing me in.

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