Gadgets connected

Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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