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Is z-wave the 21st Century version of X10?


JimMc

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Like many here I started using X10 devices in the ‘90s and put up with the often frustrating issues that were part and parcel of the protocol and hardware. Many of these issues were addressed and solved by the introduction of Insteon and gradually I converted to their scheme for HA and added the ISY in the mix. Insteon is certainly not perfect (i.e. hardware reliability) but it was overall an improvement.

 

Recently I've dabbled with z-wave thinking the latest revisions were finally ready for prime time. As Yogi Berra said, it's deja vu all over again -- my z-wave devices sort-of work, but there are often latencies, failures to update variables, and just a general wonkiness that reminds me of those long ago days of X10. Right now I do not see an advantage over Insteon at the systems level -- am I missing something?

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The bulk of these protocols are geared toward the consumer and thus offer little in ways of a commercial product for serious folks. Neither X-10, Insteon, Z-Wave, ZigBee, UPB, have ever offered the serious consumer a product that just works. Serious folks use dedicated hardwired low / high voltage systems in Enterprise.

 

One would think in 2017 the technology would have advanced further in terms of reliability.

 

Sadly, consumers must accept it takes lots of time, effort, and investment of dollars to obtain a rock solid home automation system. Whether it be bridging the single split phase electrical system, endless filters, to heavily dispersed hardware to obtain the best coverage.

 

Having said all of that ~ The Home Automation space in my eyes has finally taken off and expect to see a slow progression toward higher reliability and Plug & Play. The problem I see is the fact no one is willing to invest the right amount of money for robust hardware.

 

Meaning every protocol in existence still offers the least amount of signal output well below FCC allowable limits. In my mind the first company to offer a piece of hardware that offers the maximum allowed RF / Power Line signal will offer higher reliability which translates to a better Plug & Play experience. 

 

Those who are capable of integrating the proper filtering along with max RF output will more than likely reap the shower of gold streaming down from the skies.

 

As a realist I don't expect to see anything like that in the next 5~10 years.

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Your comment "Serious folks use dedicated hardwired low / high voltage systems in Enterprise." is spot on and I think the reason for this is the NEC and building codes. Unlike our hobby schemes, commercial construction has to go by the book.

 

We are doing some remodel work in the house that requires a permit and sign-off by the local building inspector. At the electrical rough-in he noted that I had some HA switches elsewhere and warned me that RF controlled devices are not allowed as the primary light switch at entry doors. All primary light switches have to be hard wired. After thinking about it (and saying nada -- the inspector is always right) it makes perfect sense to require a 100% reliable, hard-wired connection, and HA gadgets do not fit the bill.

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I should clarify the phrase *Serious Folks* a little more so those reading this reply fully understand my views. In a general sense when something costs lots of money it normally translates to better performance, features, reliability. Fast forward to 2017 the open market is saturated with the lowest to the highest costing products a person could ever imagine.

 

People have spent tens of thousands of dollars in hardware / services which on the surface was supposed to offer that *Rock Solid Enterprise* feel and operations.

 

It didn't . . .

 

All they got was pyramid scheme of closed vendors who tell you for the privilege of owning tens of thousands of dollars of hardware. Should you ever need some basic programming or additions you need to bend over and also open your wallet. This is why the DIY market came to be as mere mortals didn't have the cash to spend on systems costing more than Juniors first used car.

 

The downside is all of the install, trouble shooting, and technical challenges are born on you.

 

The only advantage is knowing you had a hand in the process, saved some cash, and know intimately how the system works in your home. The down side to this is a consumer grade product that simply isn't capable of offering business class reliability and performance.

 

As an aside the biggest problem in the Home Automation space is the lack of common sense. There are too many idiots in this space that have resulted in a black eye to the industry as a whole. Think: automating a table saw, fire suppression, to voice control of primary door locks and garage doors.

 

Couple this with the incredible stupidity of removing wiring from the home and home running it all to a central location or a remote fixture... I've been in four multi million dollar homes where the home owner had spec'd remote switches linked to the fixtures 25 feet in the ceiling.

 

Watching a person go up and down a ladder hundreds of times to press a idiot button to enroll / exclude is not only comical but epic-ally stupid. Sadly, this is why there are so many Nanny States / Provinces because there are too many *Humans* that lack the rarest element known to the multi-verse.

 

COMMON SENSE . . . 

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Maybe HA should go the way of all the other money making boards that have been created throughout history?

- First you create a control board of friends and create "grandfathered in" certificated installers, just for asking. This will help ensure quality of the "sport"

- Next you put out an appeal that this costs money and ask for a measly annual fee for membership.

- Now you bring in education  requirements and basic experience quotas.

- Raise the annual fees.

- Petition the governments to make membership mandatory

- Petition the trades commissions to create and/or recognise a new trade = HA installer

- Use the propaganda machines to grandstand the title "Use only certified HA installers"

- Open formal schools and publish minimum specs for HA education

- Petition law makers to pass regulations against home owners / lay people from installing user designed HA systems in commercial / industrial site.

- Petition law makers to tighten  regulations against home owners / lay people from installing user designed HA systems in their homes.

- Raise membership fees and demand they only use YOUR OFFICIAL and recognised schools.

- Lay "set example" charges against home a few owners installing their own systems.

- Raise HA expertise / certification annual  fees.

- Announce HA Control Board elections to meet government regulations

- Raise annual dues

- Petition law makers to outlaw forums discussing techniques without paying fees to the HACB.

- Hire retained legal team to defend against litigation

- Raise membership annual dues.

 

 

Are you HACB  certified, yet? :)

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I should clarify the phrase *Serious Folks* a little more so those reading this reply fully understand my views. In a general sense when something costs lots of money it normally translates to better performance, features, reliability. Fast forward to 2017 the open market is saturated with the lowest to the highest costing products a person could ever imagine.

 

People have spent tens of thousands of dollars in hardware / services which on the surface was supposed to offer that *Rock Solid Enterprise* feel and operations.

 

It didn't . . .

 

All they got was pyramid scheme of closed vendors who tell you for the privilege of owning tens of thousands of dollars of hardware. Should you ever need some basic programming or additions you need to bend over and also open your wallet. This is why the DIY market came to be as mere mortals didn't have the cash to spend on systems costing more than Juniors first used car.

 

The downside is all of the install, trouble shooting, and technical challenges are born on you.

 

The only advantage is knowing you had a hand in the process, saved some cash, and know intimately how the system works in your home. The down side to this is a consumer grade product that simply isn't capable of offering business class reliability and performance.

 

As an aside the biggest problem in the Home Automation space is the lack of common sense. There are too many idiots in this space that have resulted in a black eye to the industry as a whole. Think: automating a table saw, fire suppression, to voice control of primary door locks and garage doors.

 

Couple this with the incredible stupidity of removing wiring from the home and home running it all to a central location or a remote fixture... I've been in four multi million dollar homes where the home owner had spec'd remote switches linked to the fixtures 25 feet in the ceiling.

 

Watching a person go up and down a ladder hundreds of times to press a idiot button to enroll / exclude is not only comical but epic-ally stupid. Sadly, this is why there are so many Nanny States / Provinces because there are too many *Humans* that lack the rarest element known to the multi-verse.

 

COMMON SENSE . . .

Whenever I work with someone who wants a homerun system with a single lol I laugh and walk away. I try to tell people set up the house like you would a non automated home as it makes it easier to sell and/or redo later on. Embedded devices can be used for things that don't matter such as flood lights or landscape lights.

 

The problem with trying to offer serious hardware is that people don't want to pay for it and it becomes cost prohibitive. If it costs to much people won't buy it. And if they charge a to little, they don't recoup costs. Let'seal, regardless of income, how many of us would want to spend 200 bucks on a switch?

 

Let's just look at Insteon. Let's just say they came out with a line with much higher quality devices. They keep their normal 50 dollar switch but add a commercial switch that costs 90 bucks. How many people would still choose the lesser of the 2? I've seen many of people forego using keypads and it's extra capabilities simply because it costs 30 dollars more.

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I think each technology has 'kinks' to work out from facility infrastructure perspective. I spent time getting x10 to work, to the extent it did, and also a lot of time early on with Insteon.

 

I've not ventured into zwave, and partially its because its yet one more technology to get to work and installing things I don't other wise need, like an aeotec siren to make the mesh work. For reasons I fully don't understand, rf has been a problem where I've lived for a long time... from orginal cordless phones, walkie talkies (6 miles in the tetons, can't go 6 blocks). Even Insteon rf only devices took a lot of trial and error to get working.  Now that I'm there with insteon, its easy to change and expand... but I don't want yet another learning curve.

Zwave is a viable technology, especially if you're starting new, but I've never seen it as a "silver bullet" and intrinsically superior.

 

Paul

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Whenever I work with someone who wants a homerun system with a single lol I laugh and walk away. I try to tell people set up the house like you would a non automated home as it makes it easier to sell and/or redo later on. Embedded devices can be used for things that don't matter such as flood lights or landscape lights.

 

The problem with trying to offer serious hardware is that people don't want to pay for it and it becomes cost prohibitive. If it costs to much people won't buy it. And if they charge a to little, they don't recoup costs. Let'seal, regardless of income, how many of us would want to spend 200 bucks on a switch?

 

Let's just look at Insteon. Let's just say they came out with a line with much higher quality devices. They keep their normal 50 dollar switch but add a commercial switch that costs 90 bucks. How many people would still choose the lesser of the 2? I've seen many of people forego using keypads and it's extra capabilities simply because it costs 30 dollars more.

 

Agreed. They are at a value price point from both ends, IMO. How long did ICON, the insteon "entry level line" last :D

 

Paul

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Recently I've dabbled with z-wave thinking the latest revisions were finally ready for prime time. As Yogi Berra said, it's deja vu all over again -- my z-wave devices sort-of work, but there are often latencies, failures to update variables, and just a general wonkiness that reminds me of those long ago days of X10. Right now I do not see an advantage over Insteon at the systems level -- am I missing something?

One major difference with Z-Wave is that there is no vendor lock-in.    With X10 and Insteon, you were always stuck with a single vendor, and maybe a handful of licensees.   Today the Z-Wave Alliance controls use of the trademark,  but the majority of the interoperability layer is open source, and Z-Wave core definitions are free of patent license fees.

 

Z-Wave + has some advantages over Insteon -- for example, Z-Wave+ multi-sensors are relatively cheap, and daughterboards for low-voltage integration run $15-$70 when ordered as single quantity, cheaper in bulk.

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Whenever I work with someone who wants a homerun system with a single lol I laugh and walk away. I try to tell people set up the house like you would a non automated home as it makes it easier to sell and/or redo later on. Embedded devices can be used for things that don't matter such as flood lights or landscape lights.

 

The problem with trying to offer serious hardware is that people don't want to pay for it and it becomes cost prohibitive. If it costs to much people won't buy it. And if they charge a to little, they don't recoup costs. Let'seal, regardless of income, how many of us would want to spend 200 bucks on a switch?

 

Let's just look at Insteon. Let's just say they came out with a line with much higher quality devices. They keep their normal 50 dollar switch but add a commercial switch that costs 90 bucks. How many people would still choose the lesser of the 2? I've seen many of people forego using keypads and it's extra capabilities simply because it costs 30 dollars more.

 

I believe lots of this comes down to personal experiences and (IF) and when you get your head straight. Speaking for myself I know it took me a long time to realize and accept if I wanted 100% bullet proof reliability in all the systems in my home.

 

It had to be hardwired and (accept) paying a little more for said reliability.

 

In a general sense lots of people have gone through this *natural* progression of investing into their wares. I am at a point in my life where patience and doing the proper amount of research has saved me tons of wasted money, time, and resources. I don't regret taking the plunge into home automation via Insteon.

 

More to your point about *spending more* if Smartlabs offered a (proven) higher quality component for the 2413S PLM, KPL, TSTAT's, etc. I would easily pay another 30% on top just to have that privilege. The reality is mass production of hardware enables anyone to purchase and use the highest quality parts and components. Smartlabs is simply too cheap to make that investment which has been validated by the hundreds / thousands of failed products ranging from the 2413S PLM, KPL, Switch Lincs, Load Controller, 2412N, etc. 

 

It has been the *Profit Before People* ideology . . .

 

On a related tangent I am happy to learn Smartlabs was purchased by another 3rd party. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they intend to make a real go at the Home Automation space. Joe Dadda and his minions did absolutely nothing to push the Insteon protocol further into the market, none!!!

 

How Insteon has been able to stave off the new onslaught of endless Z-Wave, ZigBee, competition is truly amazing to me. If new guy who owns Smartlabs finally gets around to adding true encryption, expanded 3rd party hardware support, and actually talking to their customers like they did when they first entered this space.

 

Insteon will be market leader to be feared . . .

 

If someone who happens to know the new guy forward this to him:

 

1. Design, use, and sell the highest quality products because it will sell.

2. Really engage the community for feedback. Hire someone to engage the forums

3. Offer true development support for all 3rd parties while making the API clear and concise.

4. Stop the bull sh^t nickle and diming of accessories: Custom Etched KPL.

 

5. Hire some competent Dev's who know what the hell they are doing. The one's you have suck!!

6. Get rid of the off shore support ~ If they can't speak English properly get lost.

7. Engage the business sector again and offer the PLM chips for free or at a highly discounted rate.

 

8. Expand the hardware that is available to Europe, Asia, Middle East.

 

9. SELL THE FREAKING PLM CHIP TO UNIVERSAL DEVICES INCORPORATED FOR GODS SAKES!!! JOE DADDA WAS TOO STUPID TO DO SO AND MILLIONS OF FUTURE SALES AROUND THE WORLD LITERALLY WENT ~ POOF!!!!

 

UDI CAN MAKE A BETTER 2413S PLM THEN YOU - STOP BLOCKING THEM!!!!

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Teken,

 

I feel you about being willing to pay more. However most aren't. Even on these forums, how many people are buying up these off brand low cost devices simply because they are cheaper?

 

I agree with the list that you have. The PLM itself isn't as big of an issue to me having never had an issue with mine (along with how I look at replacing it if I did). Custom etched button pricing could be lower but it in itself isn't an issue as that's generally a 1 time charge. Personally I'd rather purchase it separately and save money rather than pay more and be forced to have something I may not want.

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Teken,

 

I feel you about being willing to pay more. However most aren't. Even on these forums, how many people are buying up these off brand low cost devices simply because they are cheaper?

 

I agree with the list that you have. The PLM itself isn't as big of an issue to me having never had an issue with mine (along with how I look at replacing it if I did). Custom etched button pricing could be lower but it in itself isn't an issue as that's generally a 1 time charge. Personally I'd rather purchase it separately and save money rather than pay more and be forced to have something I may not want.

 

I agree there are people all over the spectrum in terms of what they believe has value. I can't throw stones as I was there many years ago because *I thought* going cheap would be OK.

 

It wasn't and in the long run I wasn't satisfied and payed more when all was said and done.

 

Regardless, we have a wonderful free market that caters to everyone from both extremes and in the middle. I just feel the market could be better served with a company that had an eye toward offering true value to the consumer. The hub bub in the electrical industry says Leviton, Eaton, Cooper, and P&S may unify together to offer a next generation hardware at reasonable prices. 

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I agree there are people all over the spectrum in terms of what they believe has value. I can't throw stones as I was there many years ago because *I thought* going cheap would be OK.

 

It wasn't and in the long run I wasn't satisfied and payed more when all was said and done.

 

Regardless, we have a wonderful free market that caters to everyone from both extremes and in the middle. I just feel the market could be better served with a company that had an eye toward offering true value to the consumer. The hub bub in the electrical industry says Leviton, Eaton, Cooper, and P&S may unify together to offer a next generation hardware at reasonable prices.

The great thing of a free market is also it's weakness. In the rush for market share and profit it becomes a rush to the bottom. In that rush quality suffers. Remember the old saying. You can have things fast, cheap, and good. You can have 2 of the 3 but never all 3

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Is z-wave the 21st Century version of X10?

 

Considering that X10 has been around for more than four decades, all HA products are the 21st Century version of X10 B)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have to say, this thread has been VERY informative. Like most of the readers here and I have boxes of X-10 stuff in the garage holding the floor down. I moved to Insteon looking for reliability and yes it's much better than X-10. However, not perfect. I found writing smarter code, sensing errors and performing timed retries has gone a long way to improve the reliability. Dealing with the Insteon protocol where you really don't how much time a control or status will take requires some creative coding but it can be done.

 

Now that's off my chest, I am considering some Z wave devices because some of Insteon products are lacking in functionality or cosmetic value.  I will never sell my wife on a thermostat that looks like a toy (cheap white plastic) no matter how functional. I'm considering  a Z wave controlled Honeywell Thermostat and maybe a door lock or two. Besides having to mess round with a new set of signal problems and maybe extra hardware get the reliability I want, what are the issues with compatibility between X-10, Insteon and Z wave? Will the protocols interfere with each other? (Sorry to say I still use some X-10 during Xmas season) As long the different protocols commands are spaced out to allow time for the system to stabilize will the system play nice? Do Z-wave commands have automatic retry requiring variable amounts of time?

 

 

es1400

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...what are the issues with compatibility between X-10, Insteon and Z wave? Will the protocols interfere with each other? (Sorry to say I still use some X-10 during Xmas season) As long the different protocols commands are spaced out to allow time for the system to stabilize will the system play nice? Do Z-wave commands have automatic retry requiring variable amounts of time?

In the USA, Z-wave is at 908.42 MHz while Dual-band Insteon devices operate at 915 MHz. They're both in the ISM band, but sufficiently offset so as not to interfere, even when communicating simultaneously

 

Generally there is no requirement for extra "Wait" delays between Z-wave commands in your programs.

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