Insteon sucks

January 5, 2010.

I have a bit of X10 hardware scattered about my house. It is unreliable garbage. Sometimes the devices turn on and off on their own, and sometimes they do not respond to signals from the controller. In addition, the devices are of a low quality and seem to be prone to electrical failure. X10 is sensitive to interference from other devices which are plugged in and changes in the humidity.

But I need to control fans from my PC, and I like to control lights from my PC, so I am still searching for something like "X10 but works." I read several online reviews indicating that Insteon products fit this category.

So I bought an Insteon setup. I installed it, and found that it does not work any better than X10 in my house. In particular, it works until I plug in my laptop charger, then it doesn't work. Now, my laptop charger is probably pretty awful. But the fact of the matter is that X10 puts me in the game of running around the house unplugging devices until I figure out which one causes interference, and Insteon leaves me playing the same game.

Insteon may be better than X10 (I don't know), but "just works" it does not.

Oh and another quality marker. The Insteon devices all became perceptively warm to the touch when they are simply plugged in (whether they are on or off). The Insteon devices are simply monitoring the power line, they should be high-impedance devices which do not draw any current to speak of. But they are obviously low impedance power sinks. This has two downsides. One is that the device wastes electricity just sitting there. A house with fifty of these devices would probably see several dollars per electric bill from this overhead. But that's nothing compared to the other thing it tells us: these devices were engineered by morons. Either the engineers who implemented the hardware were morons, or the engineers who designed the protocol were morons. One way or the other, this product has earned my "designed by incompetent nincompoops" sticker of crapulence.

I guess the good news is that they appear to be processing my return without argument.