Getting Good Quality Electrical Connections with the Insteon 2477S Switchlinc On/Off Relay and Keypads

Now that Smarthome has upgraded the rating of its Switchlinc Relays and Keypads to 15A current capacity, the size of the leads have increased to 12Ga. This has caused a bit of difficulting with installing these new devices - the leads are thicker and less flexible, and take more space in the electrical box reducing the space for marettes. The devices themselves, now dual band (wireless and powerline) are now larger also, so the box becomes a tight fit. This makes good quality mechanical connections even more important.

Here's a tip on how to get a good connection with those larger 12ga leads and standard 14ga house wiring:

Note the piece of paper protecting the paint on the drywall when installing these Insteon Switches
Wrap the 14ga copper house wiring around the 12ga Insteon lead - which has almost no flexibility / ductility. This will allow you to get a good mechanical connection before installing the Marette to hold and insulate the connection.


Using DIN Rail Mount Terminal Blocks for Low Voltage and Line Voltage Wiring Projects

A colleague of mine with experience in automation put me on to the Phoenix contacts screw terminal blocks. These are modular, and clip onto DIN rails, in any configuration or sequence you would like. They come in differnent colors, come with different dividers and end caps, and let you clean up junction boxes and panels with a very professional, organized look.

Lighting Relay Panel - Upgraded to Insteon Devices - All Interconnection Wiring Done with Phoenix Contacts Terminal Blocks. Note the plastic cable channels for routing wiring.
Check out my page on updating a 1980's relay panel with Insteon devices to learn more about this project.
Completed Panel, with Covers installed on the Plastic cable channels. All wiring now hidden, Connections very neat using the terminal blocks.
DIN Rail Mount Hesila Fuseholder - Light illuminutes when fuse is blown. Very useful when using sub-guage wiring below the guage required for standard house breakers. 
DIN Rail Mount Hesila Fuseholder - Opened to replace fuse. Uses 5 x 20mm standard tubular fuses. Note the junpers on the standard terminal blocks - used for cross connecting the circuits on the standard terminal blocks.
If you have access to electrical / automation wholesalers - you should be able to purchase these fuseholders / terminal blocks there if you require them. Another alternative are your local electronics suppliers / electronics parts suppliers - they will normally carry some brand of modular DIN rail mounting terminal blocks.

Using the Brother PTouch Labeller - Label the date on your new Smoke Detector Batteries

This will be a pretty short post - over the past few years I've gotten into the habit of putting the date on any batteries that I replace in battery operated devices. This helps with troubleshooting down the line, and can also help you verify when you actually need to change a battery.

One particularly important battery operated device are your smoke detectors, obviously. My house has nine smoke detectors installed, changing the batteries takes about 15 or 20 minutes. Labelling the batteries adds about 5 minutes to that task, so I just do it with my PTouch labeller, as the following images demonstrate:

Add the labels to your batteries at the start of the job - this makes things go quicker when you're carrying your ladder around the house. Check yoiur smoke detectors before hand for the installation orientation of the battery, so your installing your labels on the side of the battery that faces out when the battery door is opened.

Opening the cover quickly shows when the battery was installed. 

When Upgrading the ISY-99i to the ISY-994i, Should I Purchase the "Pro" Version?

Besides the number of additional links / programs that the Pro version of the ISY-994i supports, there is one particular feature that helps you save time when programming and setting up an Insteon system. That is the "delayed write" feature, that allows you to save and queue up Insteon device configuration changes between writes to the devices.

To illustrate - every time you make a system configuration change - adding a device to a scene, removing it, adding a device, and so on - the link tables on those devices need to be updated over the Insteon network. The PLM attached to your ISY-994i sends commands, over your powerline / wireless Insteon mesh net - communicate with the device in question, and sends the information required for that device to update its links tables.

Even a relatively minor change normally takes 10 or 15 seconds for this updating to take place. During that time, you can't interact with the administration console of your ISY-994i. So, you're waiting for it to finish. If you are modifying a scene with many Insteon devices - say - your 'All Indoor Lights" scene - this process can take a couple of minutes, up to 5 minutes if you have a large number of devices.

With the delayed write feature on the ISY-994i enabled - you can make all your changes to your scenes, rearrange your assignments.  Once you've finished making your configuration changes - you then toggle the delayed write button on the ISY-994i - and then it will make all the writes, to all the affected devices - all at once. This ends up being a significant time saver once you end up with a significant number of devices. If you're starting out, and only have a dozen switches and keypads, it may not be worth the extra cost. If you have 50 to 100 devices, there is no question, this will save you a lot of time.

Labelling Insteon Keypad Buttons Using a Brother PTouch Labeller and Clear TZ Tape

Now that I've organized my Insteon Keypads at the front and side doors, and have some sensors installed that are providing useful information, the next step in my project has been to label the keypads, so that my other family members have a better chance of understanding what I've done and operating the system.

Smarthome will sell you packages of pre-labelled buttons with a variety of phrases, and also will sell you custom etched buttons, where you provide the phrases you would like labelled. I haven't tried either of these options yet. I thought that I would start with some simple, self adhesive labels until I'm comfortable with the entire system architecture and organization, then once I'm content with all the button labels, I may consider an upgrade to custom etched buttons.

Smarthome also sells blank button kits - which I've used for my two main entrance doors. This is a simple option for self labelling. I've also tried cleaning off the printing on the standard printed buttons. A little research on the interweb lead me to acetone free nail polish remover. Handily, there was some available in the bathroom, so I tried it out on a test button. A drop on a facial tissue, then a 10 or 15 second scrub with the button upside down on the tissue, and the lettering is very neatly removed, with absolutely no damage to the plastic of the button. Magic!

Use Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover to remove the labelling from stock standard Insteon Keypad Buttons
 The next step in the process was to experiment with TZ Tape sizes and printing options. I settled on 3/8" / 9mm tape, and tested out some labels on white standard label tape. I found that Medium size text, bold, gives very good readability and a good size for button labels.

TZ Tape Trials - Top Left Label - Large Text Bolt, Middle and Bottom Label - Medium Text Bold

Here's the Medium Text Bold Label, 2 lines, 3/8" / 9mm tape below a standard Insteon Keypad Button

I found using a knife blade point to hold a corner of the label, made centering and levelling the label easier when applying to the button. 

Here's the label installed. Note the small defects - everything has to be kept clean during the labelling process to avoid defects.

Brother PTouch TZ Clear Tape - 3/8" / 9mm

Labelled Button installed on standard 6 button Keypad frame - When all are labelled, this simply screws back onto the Keypad. 
The following image shows the completed Keypad Keys. The two exterior door keypads are on the left, labelled identically. The right keypad is for the Master Bedroom, with a simpler set of options.

Three Keypad Button Frames with PTouch TZ Tape Labelled Buttons.
Use a small magnet attached to your screwdriver tip to help with holding the small phillips screws that attach the button frames to the Insteon Keypad
This is how the labels look when illuminated - quite good, very legible.

Well, that's all there is to that. I'll keep this up to date with experience labelling other Keypads. So far, so good. Post a comment if you have any questions.