I Need to Be In Control (MiCasa and Insteon Fail Me) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 02-28-2013, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been reading about ZWave, Zigbee and Insteon. What I've found out so far makes me too nervous to pull the switch on any home control system. The MiaCasaVerde products and the Insteon product are linked to their websites. Should those company's go out of business, you're not controlling your house via the web any longer.

I'm looking for a controller (like the MiCasa), but I want my home computer to be the server. Does anyone know of a ZWave product where you are in complete control?

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #2 of 37 Old 02-28-2013, 11:39 AM
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That's not true, INSTEON is not a cloud-based product, nor is Z-Wave or ZigBee. Once you buy them, you own them and can use them, regardless of what happens in the market. If you want your computer to be the controller for these protocols, take a look at CastleOS or HomeSeer.

Also, INSTEON has actually been selling digital smart home equipment longer than any of the others you are looking at, and Z-Wave and ZigBee are standards (like WiFi, LTE, etc.), so they aren't going anywhere. While INSTEON isn't registered with an international standards organization, the protocol is an open standard that anyone can use in hardware or software.

Edit: the INSTEON hub is cloud based, but it's also designed to run without the cloud with software like CastleOS and HomeSeer. So, internal hub software = cloud, external hub software = no cloud. It effectively allows customers to upgrade to more advanced software when ready/needed. This is the only cloud product INSTEON sells, and again, it's an option, not a requirement.
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post #3 of 37 Old 02-28-2013, 01:37 PM
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I agree with Chris. Also don't rule out Universial Powerline Bus (UPB) if you are not strictly looking for a wireless solution. I have found UPB to be very easy to establish and configure. Another software based solution is MainLobby, Premise, or MrHouse (runs on Fedora and is free, requres PERL experience as the software would need to be modified for your own use).
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post #4 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

That's not true, INSTEON is not a cloud-based product, nor is Z-Wave or ZigBee. Once you buy them, you own them and can use them, regardless of what happens in the market. If you want your computer to be the controller for these protocols, take a look at CastleOS or HomeSeer.

Also, INSTEON has actually been selling digital smart home equipment longer than any of the others you are looking at, and Z-Wave and ZigBee are standards (like WiFi, LTE, etc.), so they aren't going anywhere. While INSTEON isn't registered with an international standards organization, the protocol is an open standard that anyone can use in hardware or software.

Edit: the INSTEON hub is cloud based, but it's also designed to run without the cloud with software like CastleOS and HomeSeer. So, internal hub software = cloud, external hub software = no cloud. It effectively allows customers to upgrade to more advanced software when ready/needed. This is the only cloud product INSTEON sells, and again, it's an option, not a requirement.
Before posting I called Insteon, and here is my chat transcript:
Chat Transcript
10:05:30 AM [ME] Can you check your IP cameras when not at home?
10:05:40 AM [Ryan C] Hello Chris. I’ll be with you in just one moment. Thank you for your patience.
10:07:12 AM [Ryan C] Yes you can, you just need to configure port forwarding during the set up processes.
10:07:17 AM [ME] With mia casa verde it requires you to use their website. My fear is they go out of business. Is Insteon using my computer IP to control my home via the web?
10:12:01 AM [Ryan C] No it uses a separate IP address for your Insteon controller, however our IP cameras can actually function as stand alone cameras without the need of an Insteon controller as well.
10:12:31 AM [ME] So, and I don't wish this, if Insteon goes out of business, I could still remotely control my home?
10:15:03 AM [Ryan C] For the cameras at least yes. Though if Mi Casa Verde or Insteon were to go out of business most likely you would not be able to control the lighting devices.
10:15:17 AM [ME] Thanks.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #5 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I looked into HomeSeer. It seems like it runs on your PC. Am I correct that if I expose a PC to the web, install the Android/iPhone app that I will be in complete control, regardless if they go out of business? It seems so and thanks, never heard of HomeSeer until I just posted.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #6 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

I looked into HomeSeer. It seems like it runs on your PC. Am I correct that if I expose a PC to the web, install the Android/iPhone app that I will be in complete control, regardless if they go out of business? It seems so and thanks, never heard of HomeSeer until I just posted.

Yes. I have played with HSTouch (their iPhone/android/ipad interface which is fully configurable). You basically forward a port on your router and you can get your touchscreen interface to HomeSeer anywhere you want.

It's pretty slick.

I chose HomeSeer for my home automation server due to the sheer number of interfaces to systems it has.
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post #7 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 08:31 AM
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I was looking for the opposite of you. I didn't want to have a PC on all the time. It seemed like there was a lot more PC options than stand alones smile.gif

I really like my Vera with the little bit of Z-wave stuff I have. I'm fairly sure if I unplugged my cable modem, everything would still work. I wouldn't be able to upgrade firmware or control from my phone from afar, obviously.
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post #8 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

10:15:03 AM [Ryan C] For the cameras at least yes. Though if Mi Casa Verde or Insteon were to go out of business most likely you would not be able to control the lighting devices.
10:15:17 AM [ME] Thanks.

This is 100% not factual! The only INSTEON device that will stop functioning if they go under is the Hub, and even then, the Hub can be used without a internet connection with software like CastleOS and HomeSeer. Light switches are absolutely unaffected!

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post #9 of 37 Old 03-01-2013, 10:56 PM
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Well, it is true that if either company goes out of business, and the web infrastructure is abandoned, the particular controllers (Vera, Hub) in question will no longer be able to control devices from outside the home via the internet in the way they do now.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the controllers in question will be useless, or be unable to control devices via the internet some other way. I'm pretty sure both devices have ways of using them with only a local ethernet network with no cloud contact required. If that's true, there will be a way to control them from the internet, too.

And even if they have hidden hooks to servers that they abandon sometime in the future, you're out $100-$300 for that one device. The network of lights etc. will still be controllable with some other device. For Insteon, you'll still ultimately depend on SmartLabs. There are lots of companies making interface devices for Z-wave.

For the record, I have lots of Insteon devices of all kinds and a few Z-wave outlets. I use an ISY and a Vera.

-Tom

-Tom
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post #10 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

This is 100% not factual! The only INSTEON device that will stop functioning if they go under is the Hub, and even then, the Hub can be used without a internet connection with software like CastleOS and HomeSeer. Light switches are absolutely unaffected!

OK, so for clarification, if they go out of business the HUB stops functioning via the Internet. What exactly does the HUB do?

To simplify my question, even with HomeSeer, if INSTEON goes out of business what would I NOT be able to do on the Internet?

Does HomeSeer have a HUB that can be used instead of Insteon's?

I'm amazed by every FAQ I've read, none seem to clearly explain what you can and can't do should they go out of business. I would think this would be the most common question. Even big company's, like Verizon, if they aren't making money can simply shut down that portion of their operations and then 'poof' you're out of luck.

To spend the time and energy to configure everything only to find out two years later you're screwed is not an option for me. I don't want to have to buy another hub from another company, figure out how to configure it. It's not about cost, its about time.

Thanks in advance.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #11 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow. I just called HomeSeer. 3pm on a Saturday and no one is available (only a machine) and you can't leave a message. I might just be waiting for Apple to come out with a home control product. If they can't afford to put a sales person on support on a Saturday afternoon, they may not be financially viable going forward.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #12 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

OK, so for clarification, if they go out of business the HUB stops functioning via the Internet. What exactly does the HUB do?

To simplify my question, even with HomeSeer, if INSTEON goes out of business what would I NOT be able to do on the Internet?

Does HomeSeer have a HUB that can be used instead of Insteon's?

I'm amazed by every FAQ I've read, none seem to clearly explain what you can and can't do should they go out of business. I would think this would be the most common question. Even big company's, like Verizon, if they aren't making money can simply shut down that portion of their operations and then 'poof' you're out of luck.

To spend the time and energy to configure everything only to find out two years later you're screwed is not an option for me. I don't want to have to buy another hub from another company, figure out how to configure it. It's not about cost, its about time.

Thanks in advance.

If INSTEON goes out of business and you own a hub, the internal cloud connected software would stop functioning. The Hub, however, would not. CastleOS, HomeSeer, HouseLinc, and others can connect to the Hub over your internal Ethernet network, bypass the internal cloud software, and use it instead as an INSTEON gateway. So you wouldn't need any new hardware, you'd just need new software. The internal Hub software is only intended to be entry-level anyways, most users will want to upgrade eventually.

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post #13 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

If INSTEON goes out of business and you own a hub, the internal cloud connected software would stop functioning. The Hub, however, would not. CastleOS, HomeSeer, HouseLinc, and others can connect to the Hub over your internal Ethernet network, bypass the internal cloud software, and use it instead as an INSTEON gateway. So you wouldn't need any new hardware, you'd just need new software. The internal Hub software is only intended to be entry-level anyways, most users will want to upgrade eventually.

Chris, I'm sorry to be so obtuse, but I don't understand what functionality would stop working. What exact function would I not be able to use? Why would different software make a difference, if the hub can no longer contact the home site, why would software change that?

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #14 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

Chris, I'm sorry to be so obtuse, but I don't understand what functionality would stop working. What exact function would I not be able to use? Why would different software make a difference, if the hub can no longer contact the home site, why would software change that?

No problem! Let me break it down some more...

The Hub can be thought of in three pieces: a PLM (PowerLinc Modem, the piece that talks to INSTEON gear), a TCP to Serial bridge (to network enable the serial PLM), and the cloud software. In normal usage, a user connects to the cloud from the app on their phone, the cloud connects to the internal Hub software, uses the network bridge, and sends out a command.

The cloud software is just the "app", take that out of the picture, and the PLM and network bridge still work. Software like CastleOS, HomeSeer, and HouseLinc connects to that network bridge and talks to the PLM directly over the internal network, not the cloud, completely bypassing the internal, and now redundant, app.

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post #15 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

No problem! Let me break it down some more...

The Hub can be thought of in three pieces: a PLM (PowerLinc Modem, the piece that talks to INSTEON gear), a TCP to Serial bridge (to network enable the serial PLM), and the cloud software. In normal usage, a user connects to the cloud from the app on their phone, the cloud connects to the internal Hub software, uses the network bridge, and sends out a command.

The cloud software is just the "app", take that out of the picture, and the PLM and network bridge still work. Software like CastleOS, HomeSeer, and HouseLinc connects to that network bridge and talks to the PLM directly over the internal network, not the cloud, completely bypassing the internal, and now redundant, app.
| think I've got it. So what I really want is software that does NOT require it to talk to the home network. I would need the software to bring down updates for new products, but assuming everything is working at a point in time, and the company went belly up, I would just have to be aware that I couldn't buy a new home control product.

So my question is simplified - What home control software does not need to be in contact with a company's servers to operate? I thought HomeSeer could operate independently, but from what you're saying that is not the case. Thanks!

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #16 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:29 PM
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| think I've got it. So what I really want is software that does NOT require it to talk to the home network. I would need the software to bring down updates for new products, but assuming everything is working at a point in time, and the company went belly up, I would just have to be aware that I couldn't buy a new home control product.

So my question is simplified - What home control software does not need to be in contact with a company's servers to operate? I thought HomeSeer could operate independently, but from what you're saying that is not the case. Thanks!

No HomeSeer does work independently. As does CastleOS, HouseLinc, and others. You buy them, you own them, they live in your home. If the companies go under, you may not get updates, but they still work. Only the Hub's software would stop working of INSTEON went under, but not the Hub's hardware. But another piece of software and you're right back up and running.

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post #17 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Only the Hub's software would stop working of INSTEON went under, but not the Hub's hardware. But another piece of software and you're right back up and running.
Now I'm back to confused. confused.gif

If the Hub is being operated by HomeSeer, why is the hub contacting Insteon? Why does it need Insteon?

Coming from the computer world of pc's this is confusing to me. You have hardware (the PC) and software OS (WIndows, Linux, MaxOS, etc.). Why isn't the hardware independent? Or are we just talking about Insteon hardware, and if I bought Schlage Locks, they would still work?

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post #18 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:47 PM
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Now I'm back to confused. confused.gif

If the Hub is being operated by HomeSeer, why is the hub contacting Insteon? Why does it need Insteon?

Coming from the computer world of pc's this is confusing to me. You have hardware (the PC) and software OS (WIndows, Linux, MaxOS, etc.). Why isn't the hardware independent? Or are we just talking about Insteon hardware, and if I bought Schlage Locks, they would still workd?

When the Hub is being operated by CastleOS or HomeSeer, it is NOT contacting INSTEON's cloud. The hardware is independent. That's why I said think of it as three separate things combined into one box. When you're not connecting it to the cloud, the Hub is just a glorified USB adapter.

Also, Schlage locks do not work with INSTEON or the Hub, they do however work with CastleOS and HomeSeer. You'd need to purchase a Z-Wave adapter in that case, however. So you'd have CastleOS installed on your Windows PC, the Hub connected to your network, and a Z-Wave adapter plugged in to the PC's USB. CastleOS and HomeSeer take care of the rest basically automatically...

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post #19 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

When the Hub is being operated by CastleOS or HomeSeer, it is NOT contacting INSTEON's cloud. The hardware is independent. That's why I said think of it as three separate things combined into one box. When you're not connecting it to the cloud, the Hub is just a glorified USB adapter.

Also, Schlage locks do not work with INSTEON or the Hub, they do however work with CastleOS and HomeSeer. You'd need to purchase a Z-Wave adapter in that case, however. So you'd have CastleOS installed on your Windows PC, the Hub connected to your network, and a Z-Wave adapter plugged in to the PC's USB. CastleOS and HomeSeer take care of the rest basically automatically...

Chris, let me say I really appreciate all that you're doing to help me out.

However, I still don't get EXACTLY what happens if INSTEON goes belly up and I'm using HomeSeer. What stops working?

I just got off the phone with someone at SmartHome and he said that since HomeSeer is independent, nothing stops working. But you seem to be saying that's not exactly correct. Could you elaborate? You said earlier, you would just need another software? But I thought I was using HomeSeer. So I gather that hardware does have build in software that is constantly contacting the home manufacturer, so how can that be upgraded? Thanks again.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #20 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 01:59 PM
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However, I still don't get EXACTLY what happens if INSTEON goes belly up and I'm using HomeSeer. What stops working?

Nothing.

You asked about the Hub earlier. The Hub stops working without HomeSeer or CastleOS, with it, nothing changes...

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post #21 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah!!!

So let me just clarify one last thing, to make sure I get it.

1) Get an Insteon or ZWave hub
2) Get software that can be run independently (like HomeSeer)
3) Get hardware that is compatible with the hub and the software (like Schlage)

Should everyone in that chain go bankrupt (Insteon, HomeSeer and Schlage), everything would still work.

If that's right, thank you very much.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #22 of 37 Old 03-02-2013, 05:55 PM
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The word hub is being used in this thread as a generic term and also to describe the specific product the "Insteon Hub 2242-222".

Instead of the word hub you should use the words standalone controller (hardware/software in one), software controller, and communication bridge.

Vera, ISY, HomeTroller are all standalone controllers and they can survive after a company. The only thing you might lose is the ability to have their internet gateway help you communicate with the standalone controller when you are outside your home network. This is just an addon service that they provide for convenience. You can work around this with port forwarding.

Software based controllers like HouseLinc, HomeSeer, CQC run on a PC and require a communication bridge to connect the PC with Z-Wave, Insteon, Zigbee networks. Communication bridges also survive after companies, as does software.

The "Insteon Hub 2242-222" is most like a communication bridge. However it comes with a software controller that runs in the cloud and/or as a smartphone app instead of on your PC. If the cloud goes down, you lose your software controller, but you still have a working communication bridge.
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post #23 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 07:31 AM
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Micasa goes out of business. I forward the port that my home controller uses, buy a domain name, e.g. "tonysautomation.com," and link it to my home network via a DNS, and I will have the same functionality(minus updates, of course) that I would have if I was on my home network anywhere I have an internet connection, right?
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post #24 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Micasa goes out of business. I forward the port that my home controller uses, buy a domain name, e.g. "tonysautomation.com," and link it to my home network via a DNS, and I will have the same functionality(minus updates, of course) that I would have if I was on my home network anywhere I have an internet connection, right?
From my understanding, you would also need controller software like CastleOS. However, if you had CastleOS, you would not need to buy a domain name, you could just use the IP Address of your home pc.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #25 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 08:49 AM
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Just a side note. If you plan on using just z-wave locks, you might have some difficulty doing so.

I tried to just use a z-wave lock and the range of z-wave is not that far. I found that to have 100% reliability, my z-wave serial transmitter had to be within 15 feet of the lock (line of sight). Otherwise It would miss signals, etc. z-wave is meant to be deployed throughout the house so your switches, etc act as signal repeaters to extend your network.

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post #26 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 04:32 PM
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From my understanding, you would also need controller software like CastleOS. However, if you had CastleOS, you would not need to buy a domain name, you could just use the IP Address of your home pc.
'

You must have skipped my post. Vera is a standalone controller meaning it has hardware and software in one running locally so no you don't need additional controller software. You could just use the IP address of the Vera box.

But you should acquire an understanding of routing, network address translation, static vs dynamic IP addresses, free dynamic dns services, and port forwarding to understand exactly how devices on your local network are accessed from the outside internet.
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post #27 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by az1324 View Post

'

You must have skipped my post. Vera is a standalone controller meaning it has hardware and software in one running locally so no you don't need additional controller software. You could just use the IP address of the Vera box.

But you should acquire an understanding of routing, network address translation, static vs dynamic IP addresses, free dynamic dns services, and port forwarding to understand exactly how devices on your local network are accessed from the outside internet.
I contacted MiCasa and they do not agree. The person on the chat stated multiple times, because I kept asking the same question, that the Verde3 must have access to their website for Internet usage. He said you could definitely use it locally in your home, but if you were across the country it would not work, nor could you make it work.

I'm not saying you're wrong, because the pre-sales information at these places is terrible, but he kept insisting that their software MUST hook into their web servers. A 3rd party software package, he admitted, could do it, but not the one that comes with the Verde3 or Verde Lite.

Why is there NO perfect equipment, only compromises?
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post #28 of 37 Old 03-03-2013, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SimpleTheater View Post

I contacted MiCasa and they do not agree. The person on the chat stated multiple times, because I kept asking the same question, that the Verde3 must have access to their website for Internet usage. He said you could definitely use it locally in your home, but if you were across the country it would not work, nor could you make it work.

I'm not saying you're wrong, because the pre-sales information at these places is terrible, but he kept insisting that their software MUST hook into their web servers. A 3rd party software package, he admitted, could do it, but not the one that comes with the Verde3 or Verde Lite.

Uninformed and powerless customer service departments are far too common.

If you use a VPN or port forwarding, there is no difference between being on the same network and across the internet and the device cannot discriminate between the two.
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post #29 of 37 Old 03-24-2013, 10:37 PM
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As others have stated, a company going out of business will not prevent you from using their equipment. All controllers and settings for your insteon devices would still function normally. Updates would obviously stop but your current timers, scenes, and programs would still run as they are saved in the controllers. With whatever hand the OEMS have on the software there are still other ways to access and control your devices. For example if smart home closed and your hub (2242-222) stopped working, you could still get an is or versa to control your lights. If UD closed, you could use homeseer or versa. There are multiple avenues to control your devices. A single business closing would be the least of my worries. X10 has pretty much been out of it for a while now, yet you can still find stuff out there for it with no problem.
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post #30 of 37 Old 03-25-2013, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tony Bologna View Post

Micasa goes out of business. I forward the port that my home controller uses, buy a domain name, e.g. "tonysautomation.com," and link it to my home network via a DNS, and I will have the same functionality(minus updates, of course) that I would have if I was on my home network anywhere I have an internet connection, right?
I have the Vera2 controller from Micasa Verde- I have setup simple port forwarding on my router in case their web portal goes down- which it has several times in the last two years. It works perfect 100% of the time as the Vera2 has no idea I'm connecting from the outside world and presents it's internal webserver page to me every time 100% perfect just as if I'm sitting at my desk at home 20' from the controller. I could care less at this point if Micasa goes out of business- my Vera2 will function perfectly fine without them- I just have to know the address of my cable modem and how to setup simple port forwarding.
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