Insteon vs Grafik Eye and Switch placement - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm getting ready to run the electric in my dedicated room and I wanted to know what the pros and cons were between using insteon or one of the grafik eyes in controlling the lights. I already have insteon dimmers and switches controlling other areas of my home, but for the theater I am planning on having the following all on dimmers:

Primary Lighting
> Stage Lights
> Soffit lights

Special effects
> Star ceiling
> Lights behind my AT screen (spots on the speakers)
> Tray/Ceiling rope light
> Stage lip/Riser lights

The two primary lighting circuits will be on 3 ways as I have a door in and out of the room. The special effect lighting I was planning on putting in a separate box hidden in a column or placed outside of the room (I have a projection/equipment room behind the theater). Any pros or cons for this that you can think of?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 07:49 AM
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I have Insteon switches in my HT. While they do allow lots of flexability, one draw back is that they STILL don't have a clean IR control solution...

-Steve
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post #3 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I think they are relatively new. I know they make an adapter for your computer to help program the switches. I dont have it but I thought that it would make it easier to program the scenes.

Does anyone know if you can program different ramp rates on the switches based on scenes with the Insteon or Grafix eye?

I'm probably looking to control all of this someday with one of the harmony type remotes. I dont know if other mfr's can control these via remote just yet, but with the recent Smarthome remote, Im hoping that we will start to see more options.
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post #4 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 10:01 AM
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A quote from Smarthome's site on the Insteon KeypadLinc:

"All member lights can ramp to your independently desired brightness levels at your chosen ramp rates, so one set of lights can dim slowly while another set turns off instantly, all controlled with one command from one button."

The only remote for Insteon at this time is the RemoteLinc and it's based on RF. Hopefully other manufactures will start supporting Insteon in the future.

Hardwired (i.e. Grafik Eye) is going to be more reliable than a powerline solution (i.e. Insteon).
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post #5 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I found that quote as well. I have the control pad with a set of different scenes already but I really havent tried to push the technology to its limits yet. I can see the need for different ramp rates depending on the scene you are trying to accomplish but it might be a little overkill for what I am looking to do. The option would be nice, but not a dealbreaker.

The main thing I dont like about the Insteon is the lack of vendor support. If they can get it integrated with other components they will likely have a winner. With that said, the GE is already is established... Whats a man to do =)
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post #6 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 01:27 PM
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I went with Insteon after pondering this for a long time. Haven't installed it yet, but it cost about the same for me and will be more powerful than the GE. If you want the lights to come on dimly when you hit pause and go off again when you hit play... good luck with the GE, since you can't control it from your PC without an expensive adapter.
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post #7 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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thats actually a pretty cool idea. I think I will try to incorporate that if I go the insteon route.
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post #8 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 01:56 PM
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Main reason I went with Insteon is its' modular nature. I'll end up with 6 dimmers in my HT, if one goes bad, the other 5 should still work, and it's $45-70 to replace. On the other hand, if GE goes bad its $350 and no lights until you get it replaced. Also, IR options should only get better.

I think of it like a RAID 5 array on a disk failure...not quite as good a performace, but you're still working.

Hey... Redundant Array of Insteon Dimmers! Cool I created a new acronym to confuse the tech world even more

A dumb man gets into trouble and doesn't know how to get out of it.
A smart man gets into trouble and knows how to get out of it.
A wise man never gets into trouble... Spastic Bat Theater Thread
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 03:40 PM
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Hehe... Insteon is vey flexible. To really get the advanced functionality and/or is you have lots of zones, consider getting the PLC so you can program the whole setup via your computer and some software.

I have 11 zones, multiple KeyadLincs, and several different scenes, and found Powerhome (seperate software) MUCH easier to use to setup the system.

It also comes in handy for reprogramming hte environemnt should you ahve to replace a failed unit.

-Steve
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-12-2007, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaTeDoGG View Post

I went with Insteon after pondering this for a long time. Haven't installed it yet, but it cost about the same for me and will be more powerful than the GE. If you want the lights to come on dimly when you hit pause and go off again when you hit play... good luck with the GE, since you can't control it from your PC without an expensive adapter.

I have a GE, but haven't installed it yet. Why could you not do this with the GE? I kind of imagined programming a macro into my remote that tells the DVD to pause and the GE to go to a scene where the lights are dim. Press the play button and the DVD plays and the GE goes to the "watch movie" scene. Not possible?

Gonzo

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post #11 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 04:14 AM - Thread Starter
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So does the software allow you to program ramp rates based on the scenes you setup? I know you can set it up so that each scene can control N dimmers/switches, but if you can tailor the dimmers so that the ramp rates differ between scenes (ie, the same dimmer that is part of different scenes will be able to ramp differently) then there is a lot of flexibility there.

Where is everyone putting their bank of switches? Inside columns or outside the room? I'm toying with the idea of moving the switches out of the room to the utility closet that holds the pj and rack. These are kinda set it and forget it type things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scaesare View Post

Hehe... Insteon is vey flexible. To really get the advanced functionality and/or is you have lots of zones, consider getting the PLC so you can program the whole setup via your computer and some software.

I have 11 zones, multiple KeyadLincs, and several different scenes, and found Powerhome (seperate software) MUCH easier to use to setup the system.

It also comes in handy for reprogramming hte environemnt should you ahve to replace a failed unit.

What version of Powerhome are you using?
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post #12 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misterkit View Post

So does the software allow you to program ramp rates based on the scenes you setup? I know you can set it up so that each scene can control N dimmers/switches, but if you can tailor the dimmers so that the ramp rates differ between scenes (i.e., the same dimmer that is part of different scenes will be able to ramp differently) then there is a lot of flexibility there.

Yes, you can set individual ramp rates per scene (or really per controller button, which is what a scene ends up being). This is far easier to do with software.

There are a couple of things you can do only with software, and not with the "manual" programming using the switches themselves.

One of them is to set a scene to force some responding dimmers to "Off". Using the manual method any linked responder can jump to a non-0% on level. If you want to jump to another scene, without first turning the first scene off, you have to link to all of the responders, and tell some of them to go to zero, otherwise they are "left on" form the previous scene.

I do this so I can go directly from "RoomOn" -> "MovieScene"

instead of:

"RoomOn" -> "RoomOff" -> "MovieScene"

Quote:
Originally Posted by misterkit View Post

Where is everyone putting their bank of switches? Inside columns or outside the room? I'm toying with the idea of moving the switches out of the room to the utility closet that holds the pj and rack. These are kinda set it and forget it type things.

That's exactly what I did. I have the majority of the controllers for my main seating area hidden in the utility closet, and have only KeypadLincs in the main area controlling them (My KL's have no local load, they only control the dimmers). I have 3 KL's: one by each entrance that trigger 5 overall scenes. The third KL has a button that controls each dimmer individually, so I can control individual zones without having to go to the utility room in case I need to have the lights up in some configuration other than that for which I have a scene programmed.

Here's a shot of the SwitchLinc's in the utility closet (before I added the 6th):



Here you can just make out one of the two KL's on the back wall on the right, and see two SL's (which control zones over the game area) on the left:



And here's a crummy closeup of the KL's. I've since replaced the letters with custom labels with scene names(right 6-button switch) and individual zone names(left 8-button switch):



More pics here if you are interested...


Quote:
Originally Posted by misterkit View Post

What version of Powerhome are you using?

I was using v1.03.4.9, which is from a few months back.. I haven't explored what more recent updates have enabled...

-Steve
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post #13 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
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So all I need is for someone to sell me the other direction (using a GE). It sounds like using the Insteons will give me everything I want and more. I like the idea of moving the switches out of the main room too.

Thanks for the great response Steve.
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post #14 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 08:56 AM
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Another vote for Insteon.....the flexibility is great. Only downside is the lack of the IR remote which is allegedly under development.

Cheers,
Mark

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post #15 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BritInVA View Post

Another vote for Insteon.....the flexibility is great. Only downside is the lack of the IR remote which is allegedly under development.

Cheers,
Mark

Well that and that you have to take care not to put too many dimmers into a single gang box. They run pretty warm and a bunch in a row can cause them to overheat. But besides that and the IR issue, I'm a fan of Insteon as well.

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post #16 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I know there are more GE owners/advocates lurking out there...
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post #17 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BritInVA View Post

Another vote for Insteon.....the flexibility is great. Only downside is the lack of the IR remote which is allegedly under development.

Cheers,
Mark

And has only been under deleopment for 18+ months now...

-Steve
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post #18 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 12:43 PM
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At least =P. But I hear you can use the x10 ir module to get the functionality, at least it's a short term fix.

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post #19 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 01:06 PM
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At least =P. But I hear you can use the x10 ir module to get the functionality, at least it's a short term fix.

Which seems to mean that all te Insteon devices need to get X10 addresses, and I believe there are some limitations with that?

If there's no inkling of IR coming soon, I may go with a UIRT and a PC connected to my PLC with software...

-Steve
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post #20 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaTeDoGG View Post

I went with Insteon after pondering this for a long time. Haven't installed it yet, but it cost about the same for me and will be more powerful than the GE. If you want the lights to come on dimly when you hit pause and go off again when you hit play... good luck with the GE, since you can't control it from your PC without an expensive adapter.

Are you guys ignoring me again (post #10) Why can't this be done with a GE?

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post #21 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 02:16 PM
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Gonzo,

You'll be able to this with the GE as long as you have line of sight for IR control or you'll need to attach an IR bug or use one of the IR switches that connect to the GE. I also believe the 3500 series of GE is PC controllable.
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post #22 of 24 Old 07-13-2007, 04:26 PM
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Cool. For a minute there I was a little nervous.

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post #23 of 24 Old 07-14-2007, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oman321 View Post

Gonzo,

You'll be able to this with the GE as long as you have line of sight for IR control or you'll need to attach an IR bug or use one of the IR switches that connect to the GE. I also believe the 3500 series of GE is PC controllable.

I just bounce my signal from my Harmony 890 remote off my screen to the GE.
No problemo. Who needs a bug?

My remote also gives my pretty good flexibility of raising and lower all my lamps.....
I don't have Insteon but I do see some serious possibilities with my GE.
Best,

Tom
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post #24 of 24 Old 07-14-2007, 09:36 AM
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I am planning, and have already purchased, an Insteon installation similar to scaesare's listed above. In my theater room I have 4 SwitchLink dimmers and 1 KeypadLink to control the scenes. Each SwitchLink will control one of the following: overhead can lights, wall sconces, screen spotlights, and rope lighting around riser. The KeypadLink has custom etched buttons they read: All Lights On (top large button), All Lights Off (bottom big button), Preview, Movie, Entry / Exit, and Game. Each button will have a pre-programmed scene with different levels for the 4 controllable light groups.

I went with Insteon because I already have numerous smarthome x10 switch (pre-insteon versions) in my house, and I have an HAI Omni II security/automation installation in the house (which controls X10 very nicely).

The main thing with X10 is that you install a phase coupler somewhere in your home, I chose the coupler that you plug into the 220 socket that your electric dryer plugs into. This will connect the two phases of your home and allow x10 to travel around as is should. Filters for things such as your refrigerator and any computer UPS systems are also advisable.

The only problem I've ever had with X10 is that you cannot install compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs anywhere in your house. X10 cannot control a CF bulb due to the ballast in them. Also, if you have a CF bulb turned on somewhere else in the house, X10 lights that are close to the same circuit will not function properly. CF injects A LOT of interference into the lines. Smarthome sells a line of CF bulbs that are said to work with X10, but I have not been able to test them yet.

That being said, fluorescent bulbs cannot be dimmed anyway, so most users will not be using CF in any applications that requires dimmers to begin with. So this may or may not be an issue to you. I have found Smarthome's X10 switches to be very reliable up to this point. I am still about a month away from installing the Insteon switches and programming them, and I will post my comments on them in my room build thread.
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