Lots of companies are scrambling to enter the smart home IoT race giving us plenty of options to choose from. While most companies choose to integrate with either the Z-Wave or ZigBee wireless protocols, Insteon takes a unique approach. Instead of relying solely on wireless, Insteon is backwards compatible with the wired x10 smart devices. This is great for homes that were wired with smart features before wireless IoT gained so much popularity.
Insteon offers a really great starter kit for home automation and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Keep in mind however, that this is more of an “alternative” home automation protocol so there might not be as many supported devices to choose from.
Insteon Compatibility and Control
Insteon is mostly a proprietary brand, but there are a few third party devices that are compatible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though; Insteon products are usually well priced and high quality. There is also a great insteon starter kit with everything you need to get started. If you do choose to go with their brand, at the very least you know everything will work well together without having to do a bunch of research.
It does work well with Amazon Alexa, but it does take a little setting up. It also works with the Nest thermostats, but that’s a whole different topic. Also note that the Insteon is only compatible with the mobile app versions of Nest and won’t work on Windows or Apple OSX.
One thing about Insteon that convinces a lot of people to use their products for smart home control is how easy it is to set up non-local access to your IoT network. Believe it or not, connecting to your smart devices from outside of your wireless network is generally a really difficult process. Insteon makes it a lot easier and actually has a dedicated support number with professionals ready to walk your through the process.
Connecting Insteon with Amazon Echo
Amazon has made connectivity with its voice assistant software pretty straightforward. They use a platform called Alexa Skills where you can find little apps that connect your accounts and appliances to specific voice commands.
First thing you’re going to need to do is head over to your Amazon Alexa app on your phone. From the menu in the top left select “Smart Home” and then scroll down to “Get More Smart Home Skills” and click it. Search for Instreon and go in and enable it.
Once you have that enable the skill you should be able to go over to the smart home page and discover your Insteon modules. If you can’t find your device in the Alexa discovery, you may have to create a scene to add support for that device or devices.
From your Insteon app tap the “Scenes” option on the bottom toolbar and then click the plus sign at the top right to add a new one. Keep in mind that whatever you name the scene is what you will have to say out loud for Alexa to activate it. So it would probably not be a good idea to name your scene something like “Gary’s front office light in the corner”, instead name it something like “main office light.” Once you create your scene, that’s it, it should now be available in the Alexa smart home discovery page.
You can also chain events with your scene function. An example of this might be linking all of your living room devices in one living room scene. Then you can just say “Alexa, turn on living room” and everything you need will turn on all at once. Alexa also has a new feature called follow up mode. When activated, Alexa will listen for an additional five seconds after your first command for another command. That way you don’t have to say the wake word over and over. So if you don’t want to bunch everything up into the same scene, you could always just chain the commands.
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