December 12, 2017

INSTEON Water Shutoff Valve Questions

"My valve starts to open then immediately closes again!"

November 01, 2017

Insteon Leak Sensor Information

We often receive questions concerning Insteon Leak Sensor operation like "My leak sensor isn't working" or "My leak sensor working once but now it isn't working". Very often, the problem can be resolved by simply tapping the leak sensor's Set button.  This is because the the leak sensor has already been triggered. This may have occurred while testing or it may have occurred by coming in contact with a damp hand or other electrically conductive surface.  When the sensor is triggered it sends out a single WET command to linked Responder(s) or Insteon controller and will stay in that condition until it is reset by tapping the Set button.  No additional commands will be sent until the Leak Sensor has been reset.

If you are using the Leak Sensor with an Insteon Hub, the Insteon app will indicate the following:

Red - Wet

White - Dry

Amber - No Communication Received

The amber indication will display if the Leak Sensor's heartbeat signal has not received by the Hub for over the previous 24 hours.

Finally, if you are using your Leak Sensor to automatically shut off the water using one of our Insteon water shutoff valves, linking can be accomplished in a couple ways:

1. Create a Scene in the Insteon Hub using the Leak Sensor(s) as Controllers and the I/OLinc associated with the valve as a Responder.

2. Link the Leak Sensor(s) directly to the I/OLinc associated with the valve.

We generally recommend the later.  You can still link the Leak Sensor(s) to the Hub for monitoring and notification, but also linking them directly to the I/OLinc is more reliable.  The Leak Sensors will still turn the water off even if the Hub fails or it's Internet connection is lost.

By the way, unlike other valves on the market, our water shutoff valves provide feedback to your automation controller to let you know when the valve has reached the fully closed position.  No more wondering if the valve is really closed!



April 25, 2015

My #%&@!$ INSTEON stuff doesn't work!

I received a call the other day from an INSTEON user who had made a sizable investment in INSTEON automation devices and had started the installation process.  He had installed a KeypadLinc in a central location to control lighting circuits throughout his home.  He then installed a ToggleLinc switch in a remote location and was attempting to link it to one of the KeypadLinc buttons.  He had repeated the process numerous times, following the manufacturer's instructions "to the letter" with no success.  Why wasn't anything working?

Linking problems and unreliable operation can most often be traced to a defective plug-in battery charger/power supply somewhere in the home.  These devices, used to charge cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, and rechargeable batteries as well as power small electronic devices like cable TV boxes, modems, and routers have been known to generate high levels of power line noise that can prevent communication between INSTEON power line devices.  The offending battery charger/power supply may be working perfectly for its intended purpose, but a defective component or poor design may still be causing a previously unknown high noise levels on the power line.

He unplugged his cell phone charger and everything started working.  Problem solved! 

To permanently resolve the issue (and continue to use his cell phone) we recommend replacing the defective charger.  If the charger cannot be easily replaced, a filter can be added to isolate the noise from the power line.

See my News blog post titled "What makes INSTEON more reliable than other automation technologies".

April 03, 2015

Finding power line noise or attenuation

We occasionally receive a call or email from an INSTEON user who is having problems with their installation.  When problems occur with power line communication devices, the source is typically one of two conditions: signal attenuation or power line noise.  These problems are often discovered during initial installation, but can also occur spontaneously after many years of trouble free service.  If you have a problem, don't panic, call or email us even if you didn't buy it from us.  We'll help!

Here are some helpful hints to help you find and resolve most INSTEON problems.  See my other INSTEON Troubleshooting blog posts for more information.

Isolating the source of the problem:

  1. Power line communications problems with plug-in modules can often be easily resolved by simply moving the INSTEON Module to a different outlet.  Alternately, you can identify the offending appliance and relocate it to a different outlet. See "Hints for locating the sources of signal attenuation and power line noise" (below).
  2. If neither moving the INSTEON Module or offending appliance is practical, the problem can be resolved by adding a noise filter or INSTEON Range Extenders.  Contact support for additional information.

Hints for locating sources of signal attenuation and power line noise:

The following represents a partial list of appliances which, under certain circumstances, have been known to generate power line noise or cause signal attenuation: 
  • Small battery and cell phone chargers
  • Certain brands of television receivers
  • Computer printers
  • Defective fluorescent lighting fixtures
  • Dimmer switches
  • Ionizing air cleaners
  • Laptop computer power supplies
  • Defective florescent lighting
  • Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS)

Often, the offending device will appear to be functioning normally, however, a component failure or poor design will create interference that will overpower the INSTEON signals and prevent your automation network from functioning as it should.

Power line noise problems can usually be isolated by turning off circuit breakers one at a time until the
INSTEON FilterLinc
problem is isolated to a particular circuit. After restoring power, portable appliance problems can be identified by unplugging them, one at a time, until the problem is resolved. Be sure to unplug each appliance; simply turning them off may not identify the problem. When the offending appliance has been located, the problem can usually be easily remedied with the use of a filter.

Signal attenuation can be more difficult to locate, but can be easily remedied through the use of INSTEON Range Extenders.  If your INSTEON devices work fine in some locations in your home, but not in other locations, you may have an attenuation problem.  This type of problem is typically caused by one of two things.

  1. Lack of signal coupling between phase legs used in US residential wiring
  2. "Signal Suckers" (i.e. Appliances that draw down INSTEON signal levels causing weak signals to INSTEON devices in their proximity)

If you have an electric oven in your kitchen, you can easily test for lack of signal coupling between phase legs.  Turn on your oven, if the INSTEON devices start working correctly, you have a phase coupling issue.  (When turned on, the 240 volt oven heating element connects between the two phase legs and couples the INSTEON signals.)

If you don't want to leave your oven on all the time, phase coupling and signal attenuation issues can usually be easily resolved by adding INSTEON Range Extenders or other INSTEON Dual Band devices.

Tip: Dual Band devices like SwitchLinc or LampLinc Dimmers and INSTEON LED Bulbs are only a few dollars more that Range Extenders.  When installed on different phase legs, they provide the same coupling function as Range Extenders with the added bonus of receiving an INSTEON enable dimmer.

Finally, unlike some other automation technologies, the more INSTEON devices you add to your network, the more reliable it becomes.  This is because all INSTEON devices repeat every INSTEON signal making the entire network more immune to noise and attenuation.  For more information about how INSTEON works, see my blog post titled "What makes INSTEON more reliable than other automation technologies (and what can make it fail)".

Contact us if you have any questions concerning any INSTEON application.  We're here to help!

Also, please let us know if you found this helpful or if you have any favorite hints or tricks others could use.

September 22, 2014

INSTEON Problems

INSTEON is arguably the most reliable home automation technology ever created.  However, problems can sometimes still occur and can be a challenge to isolate due in part to the self-healing nature of the technology itself.  Let us know if you have experienced a problem with your INSTEON network and what was done to resolve the issue.  If you are currently experiencing a problem, you're not alone.  Please describe the problem to the best of your ability and there is probably someone out there with a suggestion on how to deal with it.

September 19, 2014

INSTEON Leak Sensor 2852-222 Problem

We recently discovered a problem with the INSTEON Water Leak Sensor 2852-222.  Water Leak Sensors with Firmware Version 41 can report a "Dry" condition instead of "Wet" when exposed to water.   The problem has been reported to INSTEON and has been resolved with a new firmware load, however, the new firmware is not user upgradeable. We recommend that all 2852 Leak Sensors be tested immediately to assure proper operation. 

To test for proper operation, place the Leak Sensor on a wet sponge, or towel.  Your automation controller should report a wet condition.  Remove the Leak Sensor from the wet surface and tap the SET Buttons to reset the sensor.  If your 2852 Leak Sensor fails to perform as indicated, contact INSTEON Support at 1-800-762-7846 or your INSTEON Dealer for further instructions.

For additional information concerning INSTEON Leak Sensor operation, check out INSTEON Leak Sensor Troubleshooting.

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