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PLM failing..hmmm, got me thinking


glacier991

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Well, I have so far avoided the dreaded plm failure, though somewhere pre move I do have the needed capacitors to try an upgrade/repair...but what alerted me was my very few X-10 and Insteon devices not working right..Hmmm, making me wonder the wisdom longer term of populating my new system with those power line systems (yes, I know Insteon is also rf, but it suffered performance wise today as the plm was dying..)

And $100 for a new plm? Hmmmmm.

 

Thoughts, comments?

 

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It is a tough one. I've not had a lot of problems with PLM or Insteon, other than a few manufacturing problems around 2011 that were replaced under warranty.

  • Lines of defense for Insteon. To your point, the powerline environment is hostile and flaky for signaling:
    • I put in the signalinc bridge on my panel. It demonstrably dropped the number of hops between devices significantly/drastically
    • It was initially annoying to hunt down noisemakers an signal suckers, but that was pretty much a one time activity many years ago.
    • I've had a simple intermatic surge protector on my panel since x10 days.  I don't have any quantitative proof, but I believe it explains my relatively few insteon failures
    • I found a PLM on sale for ~$30 a few years back. Its my insurance policy.
       
  • Everybody has an opinion here, but what really matters to you?
    • Both Insteon and zwave have one time "infrastructure" type setup tasks.. you won't be avoiding that either way
    • zwave has a much richer set of sensor products and thermostats
    • zwave does avoid the powerline signal problems
    • Insteon devices all look and behave similarly and have the keypad which is very functional
    • zwave devices' look, feel and quality vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Does that matter to you?
    • I believe insteon performs faster at the switch when controlling virtual circuits 
    • Virtual circuit activity can be programmed into the insteon network and virtual circuits will function even when the ISY and PLM die. I've simulated this by pulling the PLM out of its plug.. virtual circuits work perfectly... as a traveler this a big relief for me.
    • There is conversation about the longevity of insteon, but the same could be said for some zwave manufacturers. Nobody here has a time machine, so I wouldn't lock myself in on idle speculation. FWIW, I'm going to Menards later today, and if I needed them, I could put Insteon switchlincs, motion sensors, iolincs, smoke bridges and cameras in my cart while shopping and take them home today, as I've been able to for over 3 years.
       
  • Suggestion: The ISY is a great sandbox. Install both Insteon and zwave. Get an 994zw, hook up your PLM, slgnallinc bridge, and surge protector and add aeon sirens and try zwave out. Neither one is best... there are pluses and minuses for each... what can you live with and afford? 
    • Start slow at your new place. Put in both and do some experiments.
    • If I was in your place, starting fresh, I would set up both and step into slowly. Why limit yourself?

Paul

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I had early PLM failures but my current one has been going strong for about six years now. But would I install Insteon again? No.

The PLM dependence, price of switches, dependence on one supplier, and limitations re: user-friendly interface would rule it out. I would go z-wave where a neutral is available, and Lutron Caseta where not. In fact, just did this in a small office building we own, with a non-ISY controller (sadly, but I needed a simple, easy user interface and UDI has made other decisions there).

It works perfectly.

 

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On 3/17/2018 at 5:42 AM, madcodger said:

I had early PLM failures but my current one has been going strong for about six years now. But would I install Insteon again? No.

The PLM dependence, price of switches, dependence on one supplier, and limitations re: user-friendly interface would rule it out. I would go z-wave where a neutral is available, and Lutron Caseta where not. In fact, just did this in a small office building we own, with a non-ISY controller (sadly, but I needed a simple, easy user interface and UDI has made other decisions there).

It works perfectly.

 

I'm on the other side of the fence. Needing the plm isn't as big of a deal to me. I haven't needed to replace mine but I have a backup if/when I do. With that said, I actually prefer power line. Issues with Powerline signaling can be easily fixed. RF not so much, outside of simply throwing devices at it. 

Any interface is user preference and controller based. I prefer home automation vs home control so unless I'm using the ISY to program something, I never see it's interface. While it did seem hard at first, now i find it easier to program than the Insteon hub. 

The price of Insteon and the price of zwave switches are equal unless you use no name switches which generally feel as cheap as their price and featureless compared to name brand switches that are comparable (or exceed) Insteon in features. Comparable switches are generally in the same price range or more. 

Zwave MFGs. have come out with some Interesting features. Some I like but some I dont. All are lacking in the main useable features that truly make a house shine such as  changing the ramp rate on lights. I'm still waiting on one that will easily let me change the ramp rate

I've never understood the knock on depending on 1 supplier. The fact is all people generally use 1 supplier for switches as they would end up with different looking switches which looks downright tacky. 

I agree with Paulbates. Whether the ISY (my preference) or something else, any system has to be capable of both. I like options that give me the best of both worlds. 

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You can still get switches that don't match from the same manufacturer.

Smarthome changed the White Paddles from a nice White to a Snow White. Put two next to each other in a location and the differences are very noticeable.

 

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15 hours ago, Brian H said:

You can still get switches that don't match from the same manufacturer.

Smarthome changed the White Paddles from a nice White to a Snow White. Put two next to each other in a location and the differences are very noticeable.

 

That has nothing to do with what I'm referring to. Everyone on here is smart enough to know I'm talking about switch design not a color variation. I'm not here to write a book to spell out something thats obviously inferred. 

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Yeah, I hear the 1 source argument occasionally in other forums tooting all the other brands but then these same people will go out and buy rotten apple products where "Total control....end to end"  is part of their creed. A single source of control makes uniformity and sometimes better quality (n the core? :) ).

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Just to add fuel to the fire because that's what I do best! :D The frosted white paddles Brian H refers to had to be one of the most WTF moments in Insteon history. This is only eclipsed by the change in the KPL buttons which by my estimation ranged from white, yellow, greyish something, to green.

When back lit from the hardware LEDS . . .

Liliyoyo1 does make a solid point though about the whole *Single Vendor* use / threat.

I've been in several new homes over the last 36 months and I have to say the phrase tacky doesn't even come close when seeing five different brands / style of hardware on the wall. Seeing those goofy Wemo, GE, and some X brand on the same wall just made my head hurt. Then again, when I looked over the furniture and home decor wall switches was the least of their worries!!! :rolleyes:

When one mix's tacky, wacky, and retro disco with what best could be described as being on a acid trip. I suppose having different switches is not much of a concern when compared to a ugly filled home full of zebras!   

 

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