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  • FanLinc: Controlling Fan and Light w/ Alexa

    I am so confused and frustrated. I am hoping that this is just me not understanding how to do something so very simple.

    I have my FanLinc properly installed and it is working with the Insteon App on my iPhone X. I can bring the app up, go to devices, and tap the Device and use my iPhone to control the lighting on/off and dimmer and the fan speed (high, medium, low, and off). Works just as would expect.

    Here comes the but...

    I linked my insteon account with Alexa. When I initially set up my FanLinc, I was able to tell Alexa: "Living Room Fan High" or "Living Room Light On" and it seemed to be working, but found that the light and fan speed were "combined" and if I told Alexa "Living Room Fan Low", the fan and the lights were set to low. Not what I wanted.

    At first I thought I maybe did not "connect" the fan part of the FanLinc with the app separate from the light part of the FanLinc (two different buttons and LEDs), so I tried to mess with that, but it kept finding the same device, regardless of which button I held down to make it blink and be ready to add to the app.

    So I found Scenes - and I tried to create 7 different scenes: Fan High, Medium, Low and Off, Light On, Off, and Half (50%). Unfortunately I kept running into the dreaded "A few things share that name" message from Alexa. I tried to shorten the names, and change the order of the words and many other permutations and I have not figured it out. I did some research on this site and many others, but no solutions have presented themselves.

    How can I control the fan speed and light separately with Alexa?


  • #2
    I have come up with a solution, not the most ideal or preferred solution - but it works.

    After reading the following limitations of the Insteon Hub and Fan Controller combination:
    http://www.insteon.com/support-knowl...h-amazon-alexa

    I had to set up my Scenes in this fashion:

    Living Room Light On
    Living Room Light Off
    Living Room Fan 3
    Living Room Fan 2
    Living Room Fan 1
    Living Room Fan 0

    Then I would have to tell Alexa (this is the key), "Alexa, Living Room Fan 3 ON". The use of on and off with the scene name - cumbersome - allowed things to work.

    So if I want the light on and the Fan on medium, I have to ask Alexa twice: "Alexa, Living Room Light ON", and "Alexa, Living Room Fan 2 ON"
    ..and if I want the fan off: ""Alexa, Living Room Fan 0 ON" (this is the one that is an oxymoron).


    Oh well, if anyone can find something better.. I would love it.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm not sure that there are better solutions, only different ones. But, you show only what you say, not fan scenes. But, it's easy to create to rename the last scene only, "Living Room Fan."
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      • #4
        That is true. I just wish the software / HUB would allow you to have "verbs" or "adjectives" to commands, to describe the speed of the fan, instead of this on/off silliness. The software shows a "remote control" that offers speed changes, which you could just say "Living Room Fan <adjective>"

        Oh well. I will keep hacking. Please anyone, let me know if they have any other ideas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jewettg View Post
          That is true. I just wish the software / HUB would allow you to have "verbs" or "adjectives" to commands, to describe the speed of the fan, instead of this on/off silliness. The software shows a "remote control" that offers speed changes, which you could just say "Living Room Fan <adjective>"

          Oh well. I will keep hacking. Please anyone, let me know if they have any other ideas.
          You would need to write to Amazon to inquire about using verbs and adjectives as the voice command structure is controlled by them.

          Comment


          • #6
            Check out Stringify that could possibly sort out the on/off issues. If I understand correctly, your getting phantom links between fanlinc and the light?
            Home seer plugin is an excellent diagnostic tool for unwanted lincs.
            Set your devices to chatter and watch for red leds, if present, there's rogue lincs or "bad lincs"
            Insteon should offer some diagnostic solution for situations like this just sayin.

            Comment


            • #7
              I apologize if I confusing anyone. I am learning more and more about these devices and the technology behind it all. I have a expert programming background, intermediate background in components and integration and expertise in human integration with technology (GUI work) and a love for gadgets, so to see shortcomings is really frustrating for something that should be obvious when developing something.

              My question was simply to ask if anyone else has seen any better solutions than what I came up with, and to offer up suggestions to Insteon (if they listen or participate in the forums) when simple tasks turn in cumbersome and difficult challenges. I am not having any issues with the hardware, just software.

              In response to some recent comments:

              Lilyoyo1 - I am actually fooling around with some Amazon Alexa app development. When writing your own app, you are correct, you get to control everything -- how commands are interpreted, parsed, etc.. However, when dealing with hardware and third-party tools (aka Insteon), they wrote the app, not Amazon, and they alone are the ones who could make it more "intelligent" and parse the commands better than scenes that must be controlled with on/off, and instead allow you to have "verbs" or "adjectives" to commands, to describe the speed of the fan.

              ttantalo - NO conflicts or phantom links that I am aware (not sure what those are yet, doing some research). I am simply having some issues with controlling the Insteon smart-home devices with Alexa. I have downloaded Stringify and I will play with this. I will also play with IFTTT and maybe write my own Insteon integration app. There is also an Insteon+ app I have yet to play with and see if that one helps. My issue simply is bad code or bad design of human to digital interface.

              SO MY PLEA still stands:
              If Insteon is listening.. need the software to be less literal and written to be more human. No one speaks like "Living Room Fan 3 On" or "Living Room Fan High On", instead the speak like "Living Room Fan High".

              I will also respond with any solutions that I come up with!


              Comment


              • #8
                The challenge is with the current limitations on voice assistants. The voice assistants have a limited vocabulary and sentence structure, they just aren’t capable of natural language processing—yet. That’s why, to give multiple, discreet commands, I have to say “Hey Alexa, turn on a. [pause] Hey Alexa, turn on b. [pause] Hey, Alexa, set c to 80%” instead of the more natural, “Hey, turn on a and b and brighten c to 80!”

                The alternative to using the Alexa smart home skills is worse—do you really want to have to add, “Hey Alexa, Ask Insteon to...”?

                That said, the Alexa Smart Home Skills are still powerful, and they include support for rooms and scenes and routines to make voice control easier. My favorite approach is to create one Insteon scene that includes all room devices at their “normal” on position—multiple lights at their respective dimmer settings, plus the fan at its normal setting. Then I can move easily between everything being off and everything being at “normal” settings using a single scene/voice command. I can follow up by using one or more device commands or additional scenes to fine-tune individual devices or subsets of gear.

                I use this same philosophy with wall controls. If I have a two-gang box at the entrance to a room, I’ll put a SwitchLinc in the position nearest the door and set it to be one of the controllers of that “primary/normal” scene. Next to it, I’ll put a keypad that allows individual controls of sub-groups of devices I might want to fine-tune to the occasion.

                Note also: if you have multiple Alexa-capable controls, and you assign each to the room it occupies, you can now get Alexa commands to default to gear in that single room/zone.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jewettg View Post
                  I apologize if I confusing anyone. I am learning more and more about these devices and the technology behind it all. I have a expert programming background, intermediate background in components and integration and expertise in human integration with technology (GUI work) and a love for gadgets, so to see shortcomings is really frustrating for something that should be obvious when developing something.

                  My question was simply to ask if anyone else has seen any better solutions than what I came up with, and to offer up suggestions to Insteon (if they listen or participate in the forums) when simple tasks turn in cumbersome and difficult challenges. I am not having any issues with the hardware, just software.

                  In response to some recent comments:

                  Lilyoyo1 - I am actually fooling around with some Amazon Alexa app development. When writing your own app, you are correct, you get to control everything -- how commands are interpreted, parsed, etc.. However, when dealing with hardware and third-party tools (aka Insteon), they wrote the app, not Amazon, and they alone are the ones who could make it more "intelligent" and parse the commands better than scenes that must be controlled with on/off, and instead allow you to have "verbs" or "adjectives" to commands, to describe the speed of the fan.

                  ttantalo - NO conflicts or phantom links that I am aware (not sure what those are yet, doing some research). I am simply having some issues with controlling the Insteon smart-home devices with Alexa. I have downloaded Stringify and I will play with this. I will also play with IFTTT and maybe write my own Insteon integration app. There is also an Insteon+ app I have yet to play with and see if that one helps. My issue simply is bad code or bad design of human to digital interface.

                  SO MY PLEA still stands:
                  If Insteon is listening.. need the software to be less literal and written to be more human. No one speaks like "Living Room Fan 3 On" or "Living Room Fan High On", instead the speak like "Living Room Fan High".

                  I will also respond with any solutions that I come up with!

                  Its not that simple and believe me I wish it was. We need to understand that this is in its infancy. Patience and understanding that surely somebody is working on this as I type.
                  The struggle is we are human and always innovative, so wheres IBM Watson in all of this, lol

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have two Fanlincs in my living room. I've set up a scene to control the light (on/off) for each and to control the fan (on/off - medium speed). I haven't set up different speeds for the fan as medium is my preferred speed all the time. I also set up a scene for both lights (on/off) and both fans (on/off - medium speed).

                    With this setup, I can say "Alexa, turn on/off the North Living Room Light" and it turns on or off. I can also say, "Alexa, turn on/off the North Living Room Fan" and it turns on or off. The same works with "Living Room Lights" or "Living Room Fans" (which control both).

                    I've found that I have the least amount of confusion from Alexa if the first word of the scene/device name is unique. So North/South Fan instead of Fan 1/2.

                    I admit my setup is simpler but it's working great for me.
                    Proud tinkerer with Insteon Hub, Switches, Dimmers, Fanlincs, etc. Plus some Amazon Echos to make things more fun!
                    I blog about smart home stuff too!

                    Comment

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