Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Greg0
Insteon Connected Kit: An Automated Home In A Box
If gadgets haven’t embedded themselves deeply enough in your life, then maybe you need a home automation system. The term has come to encompass a huge range of gear, as we discussed yesterday- everything from smart locks to garage door controls have jumped on the bandwagon. But today we’re looking at a separate ecosystem of products, one from a company that’s been working in the field for more than two decades. It might not include support for any kitchen appliances but does feature thermostats and IP surveillance cameras, and is available in individual parts or as a complete set.
Out of the box, the Insteon Connected Kit (model 2582-242, ours labeled Revision 1.1) includes just about everything you could want. Let’s break it down: you’ll get the core hub, a fairly normal pan/tilt security camera, a thermostat, a pair of dimmer modules, as well as a set of sensors for motion, some that fit onto your doors or windows, and even one for leaks. Insteon offers a whole lot of other accessories, including power meters and smoke sensors, plus a whole lot of other things that will come in handy like a huge variety of switches and remotes and outlets. Of course, most people will simply want to use an app to control most things, but we did miss having physical controls and it was the most unusual absence of the package.
We didn’t fully test out the thermostat, which wasn’t compatible with our office building system, but Insteon does work with Nest. It doesn’t have a fancy touchscreen and can’t work with three-stage HVAC systems, but can support most others and looks pretty traditional. The IP camera, as well, had some important limitations- it offers only 640×480 resolution and the software can feel a bit laggy- but it does offer infrared night vision and excellent tilt/pan capabilities. We didn’t flood our basement but did try testing the water/flood sensor, and loved that it was included, and setup was easy for most of the package. Download the app on your iOS or Android device and your smartphone or tablet can immediately take command of your home or apartment. Dimmer controls are super-simple, but the 9-volt battery-powered motion sensor takes a little time and work to setup, and the door/window sensor is bulky and requires some consultation of the manual (though it’s surprisingly easy to install and hidden versions are available separately).
One important fact about the Insteon suite- unlike many other competitors, like the Lowes IRIS that we checked out previously, there are no monthly fees. Creating basic profiles (scenes or rooms) is easy and the app is good-looking, but setting up rules can be complicated. Each device in your system serves as both a transmitter and receiver, forming a sort of mesh network that utilizes not only wireless RF but also, uniquely, power-line connectivity. Even if the hub is disconnected, the rest of the system will work, and everything is super-reliable and pretty responsive.
If you just need specific functions, you can opt for specialists like, say, Lutron’s lighting or Yale’s locks. But if you want a more fully-featured setup, with tons of expandable items, then a system-in-a-box can be an easy path to catapulting your living environs into the future, and Insteon’s Connected Kit is one of the most wide-ranging that we’ve seen. Other kits are available as well, though weren’t obvious on Insteon’s site, and this one runs around $379.99 online and in stores.