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HouseLinc lesson learned

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  • HouseLinc lesson learned

    Over the past years, I've been struggling with my needs for more complex automation routines beyond what the newer 2245-222 Hub (f.k.a. "hub 2") can support. I want things to go off after being on for a while, I want lights to go on when a door opens, but not off when it closes. These are things that I consider basic automation. Actually, this is automation—not just scene control and schedules.

    I've tried HomeSeer—in fact, I used it for nearly a decade before abandoning it, frustrated that as Insteon improved, HomeSeer's support of Insteon did not, despite numerous paid upgrade cycles. I'd looked at the ISY and Vera, but I was intimidated by those systems. I tried Stringify. Stringify is really powerful, but I always experienced latency and reliability issues.

    So I gave up and made the decision to try adding HouseLinc to my system, using my old 2242-222 Hub as a PLM. It worked, and it let me build the routines that I needed. I only added the Insteon devices that were involved in these routines—not everything in my home. However, I did want to see if I could "bridge" hubs, and I noticed that HouseLinc allowed me to add the Hub2 that provided primary control of my home system. So I did. It didn't seem to let me actually do anything, though. I could inspect an enormous list of scenes, but I couldn't initiate them or use anything from that hub as a trigger in my routines. So I left it alone from there.

    Then, this weekend, I started testing an ISY review unit. The ISY has issues of its own, but that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to share my lessons with you about what happened when I disconnected everything from HouseLinc.

    As I added devices to the ISY and wrote programs for them to recreate my automation routines, I removed those devices from HouseLinc. I know from past experience that orphaned device links can add a lot of noise to your system, and I didn't want removing HouseLinc and the PLM from the equation to gum up my Insteon network. This is particularly problematic with battery operated devices, which will expend a lot of energy trying to reach an absent responder.

    The bad news: When I removed my devices from HouseLinc, it wiped them clean, removing all links. It didn't just remove the links between the PLM and the device—it wiped all of them from each device I removed. And that Hub2 that runs my house? HouseLinc appears to have wiped a ton of links from it, too. Not all, mind you, but most of the scenes I defined to control multiple devices don't work anymore. Ironically, it didn't clean up after itself with the battery-operated sensors. Granted, you have to manually initiate communication on those to update links, but it seemingly made no effort there.

    Now I'm trying to recover. I'm having to reset and reprovision all of the sensors that used to be linked via HouseLinc. I'm also going through and re-adding the keypads and switches I had used in HouseLinc to their respective scenes back on the Hub2—this requires removing them via the Insteon app, then adding them again, since their memories were wiped, but the app and hub are still aware of their existence. It's almost as if I'd done a factory reset on each without removing them first with the app. Oh, and I need to do this with all those same devices on the ISY, too.

    My advice: Don't introduce HouseLinc into an existing Insteon network unless you're absolutely sure you're going to stick with it. Hopefully, someday, we'll see a day when Insteon either enables or supports automation routines. Until then, we're stuck using overly-complex, developer-centric control systems or latency-laden cloud services.

  • #2
    Appreciate your sharing experiences and advice. A good example of the surprises that could come up when we don't fully control or even understand what the software will do.

    I've been using HouseLinc for years, and have all my Insteon devices at least entered into it, even if I don't use HouseLinc to control them. It serves as a kind of inventory, and record of the ID codes. I also have a Hub II (which died yesterday by the way, waiting for a replacement now). I use the Hub for most of the straightforward things like alerts for moisture sensors. For more complex settings, I use HouseLinc. These devices and software share the work fairly well, but it is frustrating that HouseLinc is not up to the latest devices, and also frustrating that the Hub can't do time-sequential actions. I added a motion sensor recently that was not recognized by HouseLinc, and could not achieve the result I needed using the Hub. So a wasted sensor in my opinion.