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.

Jim B said:

I’ve used Insteon very successfully in 3 homes. Current home has about 120 devices. Recently I’ve been experiencing some false triggers where I find various lights turned-on, often when there is absolutely nothing being executed by a human. I’m really stumped and haven’t been able to tie it to anything new. I have 3 HVAC’s with variable speed blower motors. I’m suspicious about those, since they’re about the only thing going on and off at night, other than refrigerators I suppose. What filter should I put on those or what other suggestions are out there?


Bill said:

Back when X10 was the only home automation available, false triggers were very common, This was because an X10 receiver module used a very simple address that included it’s Home Code (four binary bits) followed by a five binary bit Unit or Command Code. A single House Code can be followed by multiple Unit Codes before a Command Code is sent. In this case the command will apply to all Unit Codes previously sent. In addition, the very basic X10 protocol does not allow for any error detection or correction. Simply stated, one missing or garbled bit caused by power line noise or signal attenuation could cause the wrong response or the wrong X10 receiver to respond. An X10 receiver module will also respond to it’s House and Unit Code regardless of the source of the message. This creates the possibility of a neighbor interfering with another X10 installation by inadvertently using the same House Code.

Insteon was specifically developed to address all these and many other potential communication impairments. For example, Insteon Responders must be linked to one or more Insteon Controllers. While an Insteon Responder will repeat and retransmit all Insteon commands it receives, it will only act on commands sent from an Insteon Controller that it has previously been linked with. Every Insteon device is hard coded with one of almost 17 million available six digit (hexadecimal) addresses at the factory. The Insteon address cannot be changed. A standard Insteon command message contains the 24 bit address of the Controller, the 24 bit address of the Responder, 8 Message Flag bits, 16 Command bits, and 8 Error Detection bits (80 binary bits total). The 8 Error Detection bits are used to detect any errors that might have occurred in transmission. If and error is detected, the message is not acted upon and is retransmitted by the controller.

As previously mentioned, Insteon Responders will repeat and retransmit all Insteon commands they receives. This creates what is known as a mesh network that allows Insteon messages to be propagated over much greater distances. Many Insteon devices use both RF and power line communications simultaneously creating “Dual Band” communication. If a communication impairment prevents successful delivery of a message over one communication method, the message can still be received through the other method. The end result of Insteon’s Dual Band Mesh Network is high reliability. Although Insteon communications can be blocked by extreme noise or attenuation, false triggers due to communication errors from random power line noise are nearly impossible.

Assuming the Insteon Responder(s) are not defective, any unexpected changes to the device state is almost certainly being sent by a linked Insteon Controller. You didn’t mention the type of Insteon Controller(s) you are using. If you are using an Insteon Hub, make sure you don’t have conflicting schedules set up at both the Device level and in Scenes. If you are using a more sophisticated controller, double check your schedule, review the log (if available) to see if the command was sent at a time corresponding to the event or try resetting the controller & PLM and reloading the program. Check with the controller manufacturer for more information.

Good luck and please let us know what you find.

Innovative Home Systems

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