With Insteon down, perhaps for good, what options do you have for your devices? – Stacey on IoT
It hasn’t been a good week for the smart home as another connected device service seems to have disappeared. It seems anyone using Insteon products has faced a stalemate as the company’s cloud service has gone silent. The same goes for the company so far. What should Insteon device owners and service users do?
The first thing is this: if you have an Insteon hub, make sure you don’t factory reset it! This can render your Insteon hub useless as it will not be able to connect to Insteon servers. There are currently only a way to restore your current hub and that requires one of our specific recommendations below. Even so, I would be cautious and think twice before resetting an Insteon hub.
Image courtesy of InsteonThen consider one of two options: either plan to replace your hardware or try to integrate your current devices with another platform. I will focus on the latter here because if you are going to trade in your Insteon system, it will definitely solve your problem. Well, this will effectively remove your problem since you are not relying on Insteon for anything.
It is worth noting that Universal Devices sells an Insteon hub that relies primarily on local control. The only use of the cloud is for integrations such as voice assistants. It’s a $259 purchase but would allow you to reuse your current Insteon gear. I used one in 2010 and it was rock solid for me with my Insteon devices.
So what integration options do you have with your current equipment?
This will of course vary depending on your specific devices, sensors and other hardware, but there are reasonably good choices.
You can upgrade to Home Assistant, which I just introduced following the latest software update. It’s really good. You will need a Raspberry Pi and the free Home Assistant software, which will become the new “brain” of your smart home. Once you are ready, you can follow these instructions from Reddit to integrate your supported Insteon gear. It’s a relatively simple process. In fact, that’s one of the things I highlighted with the latest software: setting up Home Assistant is finally a user-friendly and quick process. Even the Setting up the Insteon integration seems to be straightforward.
A similar solution would be to buy a HOOBS box, which stands for HomeBridge Out Of the Box. This is another self-managed hub system I’ve reviewed in the past, though it’s geared more towards Apple HomeKit integration. However, the company does have an Insteon integration which he is currently touting due to the current situation.
Integration is a plugin, the details of which you can see here, and is similar to how Home Assistant connects to Insteon. A HOOBS hub costs $229.99, but if you have compatible hardware, such as a Raspberry Pi, you can get the software for a suggested $10 donation. HOOBS currently has over 2,000 plugins, so in addition to your Insteon gear, you’ll have a wide range of support for other devices.
Those who have one of the three specific Insteon products can also opt for OpenHAB software. You will need an Insteon PowerLinc modem (PLM), an older Insteon 2242-222 hub, or the current Insteon 2245-222 hub.
If you have one, you can download the OpenHAB software for free. Like the other options, it can run on a Raspberry Pi. However, you can also choose to run it on a Windows PC, macOS, Linux, or a Docker container.
The folks at HomeSeer recently touted their Insteon compatibility and provide full details of the onboarding process. The company offers a HomeSeer smart hub with Z-Wave support, various digital assistants and hundreds of smart home products. The best of all, the price is only $139.99.
Finally, the Hubitat hub at $109.95, which I took for a spin back. I noticed the hub has been upgraded and updated over time with more features since the last time I looked. And it’s more local control oriented than some of its peers. Although there is no native Insteon support, a community plugin is available for Insteon devices. Hubitat also works with Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and WiFi devices.
Obviously, there are a range of options to handle this bad situation. And your decision will likely depend on how much you’ve already invested in the Insteon product line.
If it was me and I only had a few Insteon devices, I would go for a completely different platform. I’m all for HomeKit, mainly because we use iOS and because the connected devices we use are solid in terms of stability. I also appreciate Apple’s built-in security aspects, especially with their tethered camera options.
If we were Android users, I would lean towards Google Home followed by Amazon Alexa as a platform, although SmartThings is still a viable and good option. Samsung no longer manufactures its own hub hardware, but Aeotec has filled that gap if you want a new hub for $124.99.
On the other hand, if I had invested hundreds and hundreds in Insteon gear, I would probably try one of the self-managed hub options mentioned above. It’s a cheaper way to continue using old devices and since most of the solutions are open source software, I expect them to be around for years to come.
Updated at 10:20 a.m. to add information about restoring an Insteon hub.