Showing posts with label Insteon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Insteon. Show all posts

Insteon On/Off Module Application - Preheating Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

The PID temperature controller operating instructions recommend a 45 minute warmup period prior to pulling the first coffee shot. This allows the temperature of the group head below the boiler to stabilize, which reduces water heating during the shot, and allows for quicker intervals between shots for the water temperature to restabalize.

I run an Insteon based home automation network, so I decided to install an Insteon plug in on/off module that I had available.

Insteon On/Off Module

The completed installation

These timer modules look quite contemporary
You could also install a mechanical or standalone digital timer. In my case, I wrote a very simple program in my Universal Devices ISY-994i home automation controller to switch on the pre-heat function at 5am, and shut it off at 9am. This will also help prevent the machine from being left on all day, and potentially triggering the 165C overheat trip sensor.

In use - works great - I make sure the machine is filled with water and the front panel power switch left in the on position at night, with a couple of coffee cups left on the warming tray. In the morning, I come downstairs, and the boiler temperature has stabalized and the group head is hot and ready for making coffee.

Insteon Control Panel for Patio Awning Somfy Motor and LED Lighting

I just added a new awning over my back yard patio. The awning is made by Palmiye, with a high quality aluminum post and rail system that opens and closes using a Somfy motor. The awning has integrated LED lighting. I'll write up a separate post on the awning itself, the purpose of this post is to describe the control panel that I fabricated so that the awning and lighting would be integrated with my whole house Insteon system.
Completed Weatherproof Remote Insteon Control Panel for Patio Awning and Lights

The completed Palmiye Awning with Control Panel (upper left corner). LED Lights are the white globes.
Insteon makes a small awning control module with an open close two pole switch which could have worked in my installation, however the Insteon Remote Control Micro Open/Close Module is rated for up to 2.5 amps (motor) and this awning is right at the limit with 2.5 amps on the nameplate. So I decided to use two separate Insteon On/Off DIN Rail Modules to control the awning open/close function. When I purchased the awning, I specified the electrical control option instead of the Somfy remote option - so I could simply control the awning by switching the 120V leads using the Insteon modules, instead of having to perform a Somfy automation to Insteon network interface.

Laying out the Insteon DIN Rail Modules on the panel base plate
I also needed to control the LED lights integrated in the awning structure. This awning had an array of 12 LED lights, each drawing approximately 3W. Total 12V power draw of 36W. The awning was supplied with a control panel constructed to european specifications - and the LED controller was designed to be Somfy radio remote controlled. I wanted my panel to be constructed with completely CSA / UL certified components, so I didn't use the LED controller supplied with the awning. I decided to go with an Armacost LED driver with voltage dimming capability, and then drive the LED driver with an Insteon DIN Rail Dimmer module. The fourth DIN rail module in the panel photo shown above is for the control of the soffit lighting - which is the 120V line feeder that I used to power the entire panel - so I wouldn't have to run a new feeder from my electrical panels inside the house.

Insteon DIN Rail Modules next to Phoenix Contact terminal blocks
I like using Phoenix Contact terminal blocks, so I arranged the panel so the 120V neutral and line connections were ganged together with a separator block. I arranged the DIN rail modules next to the terminal block to simplify the wiring and minimize the length of the runs - inputs on the bottom, output on the top of the modules.

Problem with the Insteon Modules - they will not clip onto a rail mounted directly to a flat surface!!
I quickly noted the first design problem with the Insteon DIN Rail Modules - they will not clip onto a rail mounted directly to a flat surface!! One the rail is mounted - you have to slide them onto the rail from the end - the geometry of the module prevents the bottom clip from engaging on the rail! I've never seen this before on a DIN rail module for other automation components. Solution - I had to space the DIN rail above the bottom panel.

Using washers to lift the DIN rail from the back panel to allow the Insteon modules to clip on / off the rail
With the DIN rail shimmed off the back panel with washers, the Insteon Modules will now clip on and off the rail
Why is this important? Insteon modules don't have particularly high reliability - I've had to replace about 10 insteon modules of various types in my installation over the past 10 years. Not being able to clip these on and off the rail would have meant having to remove the back panel from the fibreglass enclosure, disconnecting and removing all the modules to get at a module near the center of the panel. This is a design aspect that should be corrected by the Insteon team.

I then arranged the wiring channel around the Insteon modules and Armacost LED driver as shown below for a neat installation. 

Wiring the Insteon On/Off and Dimmer DIN Rail Modules
This is where I found out how poor the screw terminals are on the Insteon DIN rail modules - they consist of flat headed pins that "drill" into the wire inserted in the connection slot - and only work well with solid core wire. The pins will split multistrand wire and give you a poor connection. There is no comparison with the Phoenix Contacts terminal blocks - which use a flat clamping mechanism instead of a pin - and work quite well with multistrand wire. In addition - the Insteon flat head slots are quite wide - so they don't work well with a terminal block screwdriver. The terminal block screwdriver fits loosely in the slot - and doesn't take tightening torque very well. The feel of these screw terminals on the Insteon modules is very "consumer grade" - it is not confidence inspiring and not very nice to work with - you don't get the feeling that you are working with a well designed product.

One other comment on the Insteon DIN rail modules - they are HUGE. If these modules could go on a diet and lose 3/4" in width at least - then you would be able to pack a decent number of modules in an enclosure. As it worked out in my case - I needed 4 DIN rail modules and I needed a fairly large enclosure to accomodate them. 

The completed and installed control panel.


Well - how does it work? Quite well. I wrote a few simple programs to ensure that if one of the modules controlling the Somfy motor is turned on - the other would be switched off by the program to ensure I'm not feeding both leads of the motor at the same time. I have to tune up the ISY 994i controls a bit to ensure that the retry commands don't interfere with the program just mentioned. The DIN rail dimmer and Armacost drive work GREAT - no LED flickering, just a real nice and smooth full range dimming adjustment.

Does anyone else have comments about these DIN rail modules? Write a comment below - I would love to hear about your experiences. Insteon - if you're listening - these DIN Rail modules are good - but they could be great by making them narrower, by improving the clip interface on the bottom, and by improving the quality of the screw terminals so that they work better with terminal block screwdrivers, and work with stranded wire. 

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to in the United States. My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is I purchased the Armacost driver from Lee Valley Tools. The waterproof enclosure was purchased from Westburne - my electrical wholesaler.


Workbench Task Lighting using Armacost LED Strip Lighting

It's been a busy summer - I haven't had much time for posting - so I figured I would get back into the game with a pretty simple one. I wrote earlier about my garage organization project using Ikea kitchen cabinets - full height wall cabinets, combined with upper wall cabinets above my table saw, mini fridge and mini freezer. You can check out that post here. 

Completed Installation - LED Strip Lights underneath wall cabinets, lighting work surface / freezer
The table saw and freezer make a pretty handy worktable when I'm not using the table saw. I thought I would add some task lighting over the table saw, and decided to try out Lee Valley Tools new LED strip lighting kits. They have all kinds of options - white or mulicoloured LEDs with various LED spacing for different intensities, and transformers of various capacities to match the current requirements of the installed LEDs. They also have some dimmers, switches to round out the installation. I made my lighting plan, decided to go with white LEDs with a one LED every 1/2 inch spacing (high intensity) and the appropriate transformer.

Power Supply Mounted in the Wall Cabinet - with all my tool chargers
The LED light strips are high quality - you can select between two different white colors - warm or natural white - and the light strips come with a 3M adhesive backing to apply directly to the application surface. I decided to go with the natural white in the garage, and the light is bright and clear - perfect for task lighting. Prior to application of the light strips, I used a bit of brake cleaner on a rag to clean off the melamine lower surface of the Ikea cabinets - just to ensure I would get good adhesion. This worked fine - 18 months following installation the LED strips haven't moved or delaminated.

The Lee Valley Kit comes with connectors to allow you to cut the strips to custom length
I decided to control the light strip 30W transformer with an Insteon switch for automation control, and installed the switch and a two plug outlet in a 4" junction box using a twin outlet cover plate. This way, I got 2 electrical outlets above the table saw. I mounted the transformer inside the Ikea cabinet on the plywood board I installed for all my cordless tool chargers.

Surface Mount Junction Box with Switch Adapter Cover Plate, Insteon Control Switch, and Power Outlet


The Lee Valley LED light kits are top quality, very versatile with many options. I have above average confidence that if I need to repair or modify this installation, I'll be able to get parts or components from Lee Valley in the future. The finished installation is neat and professional looking, the light quality is very good and suited for the application. All in all - very satisfied with this product.

Light thrown from completed installation.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. The Armacost lighting components were sources from Lee Valley Tools.


Battery Life of Insteon Battery Powered Sensors - Door Open / Close Sensor, Water Leak Sensor, Hidden Door Sensor

I have a good number of sensors that have been running in my house for almost a year - 7 of the 2852-222 Water Leak Sensors, 5 of the 2845-222 Hidden Door Sensors, and 6 of the 2843-222 Wireless Open Close Sensors.

In my other posts I've detailed my difficulties with the failures and replacement of the 2412S / 2413S Insteon Power Line Modem which allows my ISY994i to communicate with my Insteon system. Last week I had to replace a defective PLM for the second time - and - in order to reinstall the new PLM in the system, you have to systematically relink all your battery powered Insteon sensors one at a time to the new PLM. So - I spent an evening doing so.

While doing the rounds relinking these sensors to the new PLM, I had to replace batteries in a a few cases. I have some Hidden Door Sensors whose original supplied AAA alkaline battery failed in about 8 months, I have some Wireless Open Close Sensors whose original supplied AA alkaline batteries failed in about 8 months, and I even have one of the Water Leak Sensor batteries fail in less than one year - and these are rated to last 5 years or more.

Battery from the Insteon Wireless Water Leak Detector - a 2700mAh 1.5V Lithium Battery
The batteries in the Wireless Water Leak Sensors are an "LFS" unbranded 1.5V 2700mAh battery. A little research on the interweb indicates that the LFS probably refers to Lithium/Iron Disulfide  (Li-FeS2) batteries. This is the same battery as the Energizer branded Ultimate Lithium batteries - link to the datasheet here. To get this sensor running again, I just installed a regular alkaline AA battery - I'll report how long that battery lasts. But - I also got onto eBay this morning and ordered up several packages of both the AA and AAA sizes of the Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery for future hidden door sensor and open close sensor battery replacements. There are also vendors selling unbranded versions of the Li-FeS2 battery - although I'm not sure how you can be assured you're getting a quality product.

Brother P-Touch Labelling - Installation Date on Batteries
Just because of the time it takes to replace a battery in one of these sensor - I'm going to do some tests on battery life using the Lithium batteries. My aim with this is to try to reduce and minimize the time it takes to maintain my Insteon system. Replacing batteries, relinking and restoring failed devices, replacing PLMs, are all "overhead" to owning and maintaining an Insteon installation. I'd rather be doing other things than tinkering with the system - so hopefully the lithium batteries will perform better - particularly on my deadbolt sensors which are subject to cold temperatures based on where they are installed.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. . My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is


Leak Sensor and Open / Close Sensor Heartbeat Monitoring, Low Battery Monitoring

In the last week I finally got the programming done for heartbeat monitoring and low battery monitoring. I based my programming on an excellent post on the Universal Devices forum by Belias here. I won't reproduce the programming here - it is very well discussed on the forum, but I will add some information about how I integrated it into my system.

Once I had the heartbeat programs operating, with the system variables programmed for each leak sensor and door sensor, I added a line to the notification program that notifies the user of a system fault or leak. This line controls an "Alert Notfication" keypad key scene, a "Water Leak" detected keypad key scene, or a "System Fault" keypad key scene, as appropriate.

For example, when a low battery status is received, or a missed heartbeat is received, an email notification is sent to my email address. In addition, I have an visual indication on my 8 button keypads at my entrance doors and bedroom keypad of the fault.

System Fault Indicator activated - Signals a Missed Heartbeat, Low Battery Indication on a Battery Powered Wireless Insteon Sensor. By pressing the system fault key, you can cancel the fault indication on all keypads where this signal is activated.
Check out my post on custom labelling Insteon Keypad buttons here.

I have set up these keys as controllers for the Alert scene - so that I can cancel the fault or alert on all keypads by toggling any keypad key. With the way the programs are written, they will update the notification every 12 hours - so you would have to cancel the fault indication on the keypad every 12 hours (or allow it to stay lit) until you correct the issue with the wireless device causing the fault.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions.. My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is


Insteon Powerline Modem (PLM) Issues - Appeal to Smarthome to Improve Upon the 2413S.

For about 2 months now I've been noticing some Insteon system / network issues - sometimes, the exterior lights won't come on in the evening. Sometimes, they won't go off. Sometimes, certain lighting scenes wouldn't function when commanded with a double tap (Fast On or Fast Off). I upgraded my EZIO6I to a pair of EZIO2x4 input output devices - but when I installed them, they wouldn't give real time status updates in my PLM. An hour with Smartenit tech support, two factory resets of the EZIO2x4 units - and then I had my real time updates in my PLM.

A few clear warning signals appeared at this time when I was trying to get the EZIO2x4 units linked up properly to my PLM. The first occurred about 3 weeks ago - when the PLM completely lost its link table. For Insteon novices - it's important to understand that most of your automation logic occurs directly device to device when using scenes - even when you set those scenes up using your ISY 994i. All the ISY does is set up the link tables in each device to communicate directly with eachother. E.g. - I have installed some Micro open/close modules in all my bifold closet doors to automatically turn on the closet lights. I've set up the controls using scenes - with the open / close modules as the controller. In this case - when the micro open / close module changes state - it communicates directly with the linked Insteon light switch - and doesn't rely on the PLM to do anything.

However, anytime you write a program in your ISY-994i to run what/if scenarios, or timers, the proper functioning and execution of the results of your program rely on your PLM to send those commands out to your Insteon network for the desired action to take place. This turns out to be a significant weak link. I installed an insteon controlled water shut off valve - whose off control is commanded by an ISY program based on the results of the inputs of eight Insteon wireless leak detectors. So - when my PLM lost its link table 3 weeks ago - it also lost it's capability to communicate with the IOLinc which controls the water shutoff valve. Needless to say - the protection of the system was defeated by a single point of failure in the system.

When my PLM lost its link table a second time - I knew that something was going wrong with it. It was a 6 year old Smartlabs 2412S manufactured in the 23rd week of 2008. I did a bunch of research on the Universal Devices ISY forums (an excellent source of information) and found that the current generation PLM - 2413S - had some known power supply issues - the power supply would fail fairly predictably after about 2 years of use. I was interested in upgrading to the 2413S - apparently it runs a bit faster than the 2412S. However, I did not want to purchase a PLM that would predictably fail in a short period of time. Replacing a PLM takes about one to two hours - you have to backup your ISY, install the new PLM and reboot, and then restore the new PLM. Depending on the extent of your system, this can take a significant amount of time. Then - one by one - you have to put all of your battery powered devices into linking mode manually - and write updates to them so that they have the new PLM network address. In my case - that means rounding up all my leak sensors - and going to the closets and doors one by one to put the open / close sensors into linking mode. 2 hours to reset a PLM - and I've done this three times in the past three weeks. I decided to look for an NOS (new old stock) 2412S on eBay, and found a vendor selling 10 of them for a reasonable price. It was at my house in three days, installed the next day - and all my Insteon network flakiness seems to have been fixed. No issues so far with scenes not completing themselves, or fast on  / fast off triggers not executing. My old 2412S lasted 6 years - if I can get 4 years out of this new one, I'll be happy.

So - some constructive criticism on the 2413S PLM. We're using this device and increasingly relying on it for home security, loss prevention, garage door operation, energy management in addition to straight convenience. The first criticism is that the gradual, progressive failure mode of the PLM associated with failing power supply components inside the PLM has no definitive failure warning. Your system simply starts losing reliability, until you eventually have a link table loss which then manifests itself by loss of functionality in your system. First, you have to notice something isn't working correctly. Then, you have to troubleshoot it, realize you MIGHT have a PLM issue, then troubleshoot some more until you decide to replace the PLM. Time lost in my case - maybe 10 hours. So - the PLM should have some form of self-diagnostic routine and be able to signal a performance problem - blinking red light, message to your ISY - when it detects that it is failing. Ideally, the PLM should have internal redundancy - so that if it detects that it's main circuit is failing, it fails over to a backup circuit that can continue running your network reliably.

I really appreciate my Insteon network - and the conveniences it brings with lighting control, security, and so on. However, I have absolutely lost my patience for the amount of time I lose trying to troubleshoot and keep the sytem working. I have two kids - I'd really rather be doing something else on a Saturday than troubleshooting sporadic communications issues that may be related to a failing PLM. So - consider this a call on Smarthome to do something about the single point of failure in all our home automation networks - the PLM.

The second conclusion to take from this? Be very aware of the limitation of the PLM with regards to any mission critical applications you have it controlling in your home. For example - shutting off the water supply in the event of a leak detection. Or - relying on it to relay smoke detector alarms to your alarm monitoring company. When you are adding a function to your Insteon network - take into consideration the reliability of your network and the possibility of a single point of failure event. There are some good program examples on the Universal Devices forums that monitor the heartbeats of your leak sensors in order to give you a warning of a missed heartbeat, a low battery, etc. Put these programs in place in your network. If your PLM link table goes down - such a program would then be inundated with missed heartbeats, and within 36 hours you would have indication of a widespread network problem, helping to link it to a PLM issue.

There's my Sunday morning essay, a month in the making with my trials figuring out some seemingly random communcations issues. I don't mind spending $80 to replace the PLM, however I very much do mind losing 10 hours researching and troubleshooting whether my existing PLM actually has gone bad. This is a perfect opportunity for Smarthome to improve their products, the reliability of their systems, the happiness and confidence of their customers. Let's hope they take the opportunity.


The 2412S that I was hoping to get a few years of life from, just failed after 6 months in service. Now that I know what to look for - it's easy to see the signs of a PLM that is failing. My double tap commands on my switches start becoming unreliable - sometime they work, sometimes they done. The automatic water shutoff valve stops working on a water leak detection command. The monitoring programs for the leak sensors and the closet door sensors start reporting missed heartbeat messages. As soon as everything starts operating "flaky" - there's a problem with the ISY PLM. I thought back to the amount of time I lost trying to reload the link table in the PLM, restore the PLM, try to eke a bit more time out of it - and I couldn't bring myself to try to reset it even once. Interweb order to - new 2413S PLM with the request they confirm delivery of a hardware version 2.0 or greater. 2 days later - the 2413S arrives, hardware version 2.1. And a full evening of swapping the PLM, and getting all the battery powered devices to relink up.

People are reporting on the forums better reliability with the new 2413S, hardware version 2.0 - but it will really take 2 years before we really see if these are made more reliably. Cross your fingers.

On another note - in the course of reprogramming the PLM - I couldn't relink the IOLinc connected to my water shutoff valve. Factory reset 3 times - can't communicate with the IOLinc. I've had this unit for 320 days - RMA to Smarthome to replace the unit.

I'll say it again - I love the things my home automation system does for me - but I can't afford the waste of time troubleshooting and replacing a faulty PLM and relinking battery powered sensors one by one. Here's hoping that these devices start being made more reliably so we spend more time playing with our kids, and less time with our significant others laughing at our obsession.


I installed the new 2413S - and less than 6 months later it's lost its link table - and nothing is working in my network. So tonight - I'm off to lose an hour of my time resetting it, reloading the link table, and relinking all my battery powered insteon devices one by one. Seriously - how about a redundant link table and a device somewhat more suitable as the heart of a home automation system?


House Freeze Alarm / Furnace Failure Alarm / Pipe Freeze Alert

This is another feature that can be added to an Insteon / Universal Devices ISY994i system - a freeze alert to warn of a furnace failure, to prevent pipes freezing or other damage in cold weather. I negotiated an insurance rebate with this capability added to my system, so it's worth considering and looking into.

I had some unused inputs on an EZIO2x4 Input Output module, and was looking for a simple way to add a freeze alarm. I also had an unused Honeywell CT3500 digital thermostat, with single stage heating and cooling functions. This was very quick and simple to set up, starting with the installation of the thermostat next to my automation panel in my mechanical room in the basement. The Honeywell CT3500 runs off battery power - and the internal relays are switched on battery power as well - so you don't need to provide the thermostat with 24VAC to provide the dry contact capability.

Install the digital thermostat at a convenient location. Note the wiring connections - R and W connections give you a dry contact output for the heating activation of the Thermostat.
With the thermostat installed, and a dry contact wire pair connected to the R and W (Heat) terminals - it was time to install the thermostat face, and program the thermostat. I programmed the thermostat so that it would always return to the programmed temperature setting if anyone (kids) play with the setpoint keys on the face of the thermostat. The CT3500 can be set as low as 4.5 degrees C - but in my case I decided to give myself a bit more warning and programmed the heat setting on the thermostat to 7 degrees C. 

CT3500 thermostat programmed to provide heat at 7 degreex C - Label added to face of thermostat indicating function of the thermostat and a reminder to replace the batteries once a year. 
On the automation side, you have to have an input contact interface to your Insteon network. You could use a Smarthome IOLink, an EZIO module from Smartenit with input capability - the EZIO2x4, the EZIO6I, or the EZIO8SA. In my case, I had free inputs on an EZIO2x4 2 Relay 4 Input Insteon module.

The EZIO2x4 has four inputs per device - 2 inputs are dry contacts, and 2 inputs are digital / analog inputs that need to be configured for your application. Since my dry contact inputs were already being used for smoke detector and alarm interfaces - I had to use one of the digital inputs for this function.

The instructions for the EZIO2x4 advise you to use a pull up resister in order to convert a digital input to a dry contact input. Some research on the Smartenit forums provided some additional detail - you should use a 6000 to 10000 ohm resistor - connected between the 5V and the I3 or I4 terminals - in order to avoid drawing too much current from the 5V terminal. Then - your dry contact connects between the common terminal and the I3 or I4 terminal. Here's what the connection looks like with the pull up resistor:

Using a pullup resistor to protect the 5V terminal on the EZIO2x4 from overcurrent, when using inputs 3 or 4 as dry contact inputs.
On other thing I learned on the forums - that if you are not using the digital inputs on these EZIO modules - you should ground the input to keep them from floating, and initiating unneeded Insteon traffic on your network. If you look at the photo above, that's what the green wire is used for - shorting the I4 input to the common terminal. 

Once the thermostat has been programmed, it's time to program your ISY-994i. I set up a new notification message - House Freeze Alert - and created a new program to check the status of the I3 input on this EZIO2x4. Whenever the input changes to "On" that indicates that the thermostat has called for heat - indicating a temperature inside the house of less than 7 degrees Celcius. In that case - I have the ISY-994i send me an email to my email address, and a text message to my phone with the Freeze alert message. 

You could also tie this functionality to a monitored home alarm system - simply by using one of the output contacts on the EZIO2x4 to trigger a zone on your home alarm. Your alarm company could configure this zone to warn of the house freezing - and initiate a call out.


Controlling an Electric Hot Water Heater with an Insteon EZIO4O Four Output Relay and Contactors

The electrical system in our present house is somewhat out of the ordinary - 400 Amp services, three separate 200A breaker panels, a whole house disconnect switch, a generator transfer switch, and one of the 200A panels is the generator emergency panel. In addition to the three 200A panels, there are two relay panels - one associated with the generator emergency panel which has 26 light circuits and has since been converted to Insteon with Insteon switchlinc switches and relays, and one panel with six 60A contactors, and about 8 light circuits, associated with one of the other 200A panels.

Contactors / Lighting relay panel associated with 200A breaker panel - circuit feeds enter through the nipple on the bottom right corner of the panel. Control wires enter in the top left.
The project for today was to add Insteon controls for four of the 60A contactors. I decided to use the Smartenit EZIO4O four output relay interface. The EZIO4O can switch up to 120VAC or 24VDC at 0.5A on four output relays, and can be controlled by the ISY994i Insteon controller. The contactors in this panel all have 120VAC coils - so I decided to use 120VAC as the control voltage and switch 120VAC directly with the EZIO4O.

Cabling was quite simple - I installed a standard electrical outlet in the device frame, to accept the plug in EZIO4O. I daisy chained a 120VAC control voltage to all the output positive connections, and then cabled the contactor coils with the EZIO4O negative connections. The EZIO4O lets you connect to both normally open and normally closed contacts. I decided to use the normally closed contacts - so that activating a relay on the EZIO4O would turn the circuit, and the contactor off. I wanted this system to fail closed - so that in the event of a control problem with the Insteon controller - I would still have hot water. 

Black wires are 120VAC Line feeds to the relays. Orange wires are the 120VAC load lines to the contactor coils. 
Once it was all wired up - I did some quick tests with the Mobilinc app on my phone - all the contactors switched virtually instantly when commanded by Mobilinc, and now I can work these devices into energy management programming. One of the circuits is my 60 gallon hot water heater. Another circuit is a steam generator for the master bathroom shower. The third circuit switches two circuits of 230VAC supplemental electric baseboard heating in the basement. The fourth circuit is unused for now.

My plan now that everthing has been connected and tested is to work these controls into the house vacation mode - when in vacation mode - turn off the hot water heater, the steam generator and the supplemental auxiliary heating in the basement. Quite often the kids will turn on the supplemental heat in the playroom - I'll be able to add a program to ensure it's turned off at night to help conserve energy. If you live with a service that charges peak electricity charges - then you could force the heating of your hot water heater in off peak times to save on your electricity rates. 

Steam generator circuit - top contactor - 50 gallon hot water heater - bottom contactor.
I have a "before" photo of this panel - what it looked like before I did the Insteon conversion two years ago. The contactors were always there, but instead of the Insteon switches, the panel had GE lighting control relays, which were controlled by an Industrial programmable logic controller (PLC).

6 Lighting relays, 5 Contactors - Original Setup for this Panel. Wires in the left hand compartment were the control wires coming from the PLC outputs. 


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.

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.

Interconnecting your Household Smoke Detectors with your Alarm System and Home Automation System

In the last two houses I've purchased, there has been two separate smoke detection systems - the bare minimum 120V wired smoke detectors - one per floor of the house, and a single low voltage smoke detector wired to the home alarm system. The 120V wired smoke detectors, when wired with 3 conductor (14/3) house wiring - use the red wire as an "interconnect" communication wire. When one detector detects smoke, all the interconnected alarms will sound.

These limitations:

  1. It doesn't make sense to have a wired smoke detector situated 15 feet away from an alarm system smoke detector - wall acne - when only one detector is required for that space;
  2. The smoke detectors on the 120V circuit, when detecting smoke - are not connected to your home alarm system, and therefore cannot send the signal to your alarm monitoring problem that there is a fire;
  3. For additional precaution, there should be a smoke detector in every sleeping room (and especially if there is decentralized heating in those sleeping rooms, like baseboard electric heat). 
Made me consider an upgrade:
  1. Eliminate the duplication between the alarm connected smoke detector, and the 120V wired interconnected system. Use only the 120V wired interconnected system for smoke detection, and connect the interconnect signal to the home alarm panel;
  2. Add interconnected 120V smoke detectors in every sleeping room, in addition to the standard smoke detectors in the hallways on every floor of the house. 
Since you should replace your smoke detectors regularly (usually every 10 years), the last two renovations that I carried out required the replacement of all the smoke detectors in the house. I decided to go with Kidde smoke detectors, they are commonly available at your local home improvement centers, and, Kidde sells as an option a relay module that permits the interconnection of the Kidde wired interconnected detectors with your home alarm system (2 wire contact interface). 

The Kidde smoke detector interface is the SM120X. 
The Kidde SM120X Alarm Interface Module
Installation of the SM120X is quite simple. Two wires connect to 120V line circuit (hot and neutral), one wire connects to the smoke detector "interconnect" wire - usually the red wire in a 14/3 cable interconnecting all your wired smoke detectors, and 2 wires connect to your home alarm system as a dry contact interface. Here are some photos of an installation in a 4" junction box:

Kidde SM120X Alarm Inteconnect Relay Installed in 4" Junction Box. Note 14/3 (wire to alarm daisy chain), 14/2 (line feed wire), and 4 conductor alarm wire entering the box). 

Kidde SM120X Alarm Interconnect Relay Installation - Cover Installed and Labelled using a PTouch Labeller
 In the most previous renovation, I also wanted smoke detector indication to be relayed to my ISY-99i / 994i. To do so, I used small automation relays with multipole contacts, driven by the Kiddes SM120X Alarm Interconnect Relay Module. In this installation, all connections are made on the phoenix contacts terminal blocks (eliminates the marettes used for wire connections). The automation relays drive the EZIO61 - to transfer the smoke detector status to Insteon signals for my ISY-99i, 994i, and also to my standard DCS alarm system panel. In this way, the signals are independent between the alarm dry contacts and the EZIO dry contacts, eliminating any issues with the alarm panel independence.
Kidde SM120X Alarm Inteconnect Relay - driving coil on double pole relay - one set of relay outputs go to alarm panel, one set of relay outputs go to Smartenit EZIO6I Insteon Dry Contact Interface

Kidde also sells a carbon monoxide detector interface - the CO120X. I have purchased one of these for installation in my current panel, I just haven't had the time to install it yet. I'll provide a short update to this page when I do. 

Kidde CO120X Carbon Monoxide Detector Relay Module (Color coded blue to differentiate from SM120X)

As always - if you have any questions just post them in the comments and I'll try to respond fairly quickly.