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Control, Home Automation

Following some of the other research into control systems I have looked at Insteon as a possible addition or alternative to the Creston systems that other team members are looking into.

The Insteon products would probably not be as elaborate as some other systems, but they look relatively inexpensive, easy to implement, and they do provide a fairly robust system for both control and monitoring.

The systems can be implemented both as wireless add-ons and as integrated wire-in components. They have products for dimming, timing, on/off, sprinklers, HVAC, internet control, and security.

Individual control modules for lighting and appiances range from about $29 for simple on/off control to about $46 for a programmable timer. These are plug-in wireless devices. Wire-in modules are available for outlets and light switches in a similar price range.

There are also a number of "starter kits" available that look like a good value. A wire-in kit is available that could control two different rooms' recessed lighting, and comes with a wireless control panel with provision for three other zones, for about $150.

A simple plug-in Ethernet server is available that would be capable of controlling any other X10 compatible devices without a computer and is programmable through a web-based interface accessible via the house's computer for about $210. While the server sounds like it has some easily programmable features, Insteon also provides software development kits for any desired custom control.

There are also some 3rd-party applications available for mobile internet devices that would allow the house's Insteon and other compatible systems to be interfaced, adjusted and controlled via an iPhone or the like. Either scenario would probably be vastly cheaper than dedicated LCD interfaces.

Most of these products are compatible with other common systems and, given their seeming flexibility, they could be ideal for covering any unforeseen gaps in the control system, if not relied upon as the primary control system.

Lastly, noting that it sounded like load monitoring was looking too expensive to be worthwhile, though I am still trying to confirm it, it does look like many of the modules provide load monitoring accessible via a PC through their servers or through 3rd-party applications for a mobile internet device or the home computer.

Alexander Albanese

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