The Insteon Hub Comes To The UK

This is an old article that had got lost on my PC, so rather than lose it, I thought I’d publish it just to get it out there..

With some subdued fanfare online, Insteon finally announced their arrival on the European stage by dipping their toe in here with a small set of ‘EU’ targeted HA products. Those familiar with the company will know that they’ve been around for a while in the US and have a loyal and growing following.

So with a new HA solution on the scene, I decided to take the plunge and jump aboard the American bandwagon so I could see what all the fuss was about. Plus considering the little exposure I’ve had to X10, the Insteon Hub looked a good way for me to experience that technology too. So with my order placed for a hub, a dimmer and a on/off plug I waited for its arrival with some real anticipation .

However, no sooner had the Hub arrived was i made aware of an even quiter fanfare about that new Hub having a number of issues, so much so that a free replacement/upgrade was being offered to it’s new continental customers. The announcement was posted on their European website, (since removed) and some of the more reputable HA resellers in the UK were proactively contacting their customers in order to process the swap outs.

For me personally, I hadn’t actually noticed anything specifically wrong with mine (the iOS app could have been a lot better) but then again I’d only had it a short while and had only installed the on/off Plug-in Module. But never one to turn down a free upgrade (even if UK Automation still charged me the return postage) I decided to send mine back.

After a quick turnaround, I had my new V2 hub in hand and I excitedly plugged it in and grabbed my iPhone, but unfortunately my enthusiasm was short lived as the Insteon app would not allow me to connect, no matter what i tried.

Unsure what it could be, after a quick bit of digging online I soon came across a posting that told me i should’ve deleted my account on the hub before having it replaced. (doh !) To fix this I can either register a new user account, or I will have to raise a call with Insteon to get my original account disassociated with the v1 box I’d just sent back. (Why oh why do Insteon not allow us to self manage our accounts online – I just do not know !!).

So keen to use the same email address I decided to contact Insteon and ask them to reset the account associated with my original hub, a process I assumed was going to be a quick, but unfortunately it wasn’t. All the analyst on the end of the line could do was to assign my request had to another team to do; so much for efficiencies! thank god I was not not away from home and needed access.

After a day had passed, my account was eventually dissociated and I was able to use it again; the staff at Insteon were very helpful but I felt the whole experience was totally unnecessary.

So with my previous email account now re associated, I took steps to install the plug and the dimmer module. The plug was easy to associate but the dimmer however was very different, because it needs 3 wires, where as in the UK our light switches normally only have two (live & switch live) a neutral feed is not standard. I eventually managed to work something out in the loft with the main lighting feed, but it was not something you would call low end DIY.

So with both modules installed I could finally see how Insteon are striving to make HA work, and I will admit (while it’s not a polished experience via the iOS app) I do like the look and feel of what they’re trying to achieve. I should stress it does have very ‘American look & feel’, which from the UK market (certain modules e.g. Thermostats are 24vdc, ) may not be to everyone’s taste, but for the two module I have, works well and I do like the feeling of quality they have.

Cost wise I think they are expensive and the dual approach to communication, wireless and wired (over your household wiring) for me is the ultimate model for HA, however while Insteon hit the mark in some areas, it’s focus on the UK market is in my opinion tentative, as both the product set and marketing highlights.

Will they survive? Well, if they can achieve a slight reduction in their pricing and provide more EU compatible products (e.g. 230v Thermostats ) then I think they have a chance. If not – then the variety and lower cost of z-wave devices are going to win most people over.


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