So what is INSTEON anyway?

I'm glad you asked.

INSTEON is an advanced, dual-mesh home automation system that uses both electrical wiring (power lines) and wireless radio-frequency (RF) to communicate. Dual-mesh technology overcomes the shortfalls affecting many other automation technologies, providing a reliable, responsive, simple (yet powerful) home automation system.

Unlike all other mesh networks (including Z-Wave), INSTEON's approach has every device acting as a repeater - receiving and sending every INSTEON message to all other devices on the network. So instead of stressing the network by adding more INSTEON devices, you actually strengthen it. Other mesh networks use router tables, and only those products involved in routing the signal act as repeaters – creating a less reliable network.

That's what the marketing material tells us. But what does this really mean? What can INSTEON do for you in the real world - in your home or office?

In this blog post, I will give you some real world examples of how easy it is to turn your home into a smart home - as well as giving you a glimpse at the endless possibilities home automation has to offer. If you are new to home automation, I suggest starting small, keep it simple. Your new smart home can evolve over time. Once you experience the convenience, cost savings, security and comfort that home automation has to offer, you will never turn back.

It's no secret that INSTEON is my favourite home automation technology, it's what I choose to use at home. It's reliable, affordable and does everything I need - perfectly. At the risk of sounding a bit over-the-top, INSTEON can actually change how you live “with” (not in) your home. Transforming your living spaces into intelligent, comfortable, secure and connected environments – fine-tuned to suit your lifestyle perfectly.

Let's start simple

Creating our first INSTEON network - All we need is one INSTEON Controller and one INSTEON Responder. The controller makes the responder, well… respond.

In this example, we are going to control a lamp that is plugged into an INSTEON Plug-in Dimmer Module - this is our INSTEON Responder.

We also need something to tell the INSTEON Responder (our Plug-in Dimmer Module) what we want it to do. Here, we will use the very handy INSTEON Mini Remote - this will be our first INSTEON Controller.

This will only take a minute or two - it's really easy.

1. Plug a dimmable lamp into the INSTEON Plug-in Dimmer module - which in turn is plugged into a standard power socket.

2. Using the manual control toggle-button on the side of the Plug-in Dimmer module, set the lamp to the desired "on" lighting level.

3. Press the set button on the side of the INSTEON Plug-in Dimmer module. This will place the module into "paring mode".

4. Now press the top of the toggle button on the Mini Remote - we are now ready to pair the Mini Remote with the Plug-in module.

5. Press the set button located on the bottom of the Mini Remote. You will hear two beeps to let you know the pairing was successful.

6. Press the top of the toggle button on the Mini Remote and your lamp will light up to your pre-set level. Press the bottom toggle button and your lamp will turn off.

It's as easy as that.

Getting a little more adventurous

Great. Now we have easy on/off or dim/brighten control of our INSTEON enabled lamp using the Mini Remote. We are going to expand on this basic INSTEON network by adding motion sensing control to the Plug-in Dimmer module. For this, we will use the INSTEON Motion Sensor – our second INSTEON Controller.

Just like we did above, we simply need to pair the INSTEON Plug-in Dimmer module to the INSTEON Motion Sensor.

A few tweaks here and little adjustment there and we now have motion-sensing control of our lamp. So when someone walks into the room, the lamp will automatically turn on to your pre-desired level. All without lifting a finger – magic.

INSTEON Motion Sensor

That is only half the story though. We can do so much more – including saving some money and energy by having the Motion Sensor turn the lamp off when you leave a room. Not bad at all.

Ahhh… but what if we don’t want the lamp to turn on during the day when it’s not needed? After all, that would defeat the purpose of saving all of that energy.

No problem, all we need to do is adjust the Motion Sensor’s built-in photocell sensor so it will only activate the Plug-in Dimmer module at a certain lighting threshold. That’s just a fancy way of saying your lamp will not automatically turn on during the day.

Very smart.

Let’s keep going…

We now have two INSTEON Controllers (Mini Remote and Motion Sensor) controlling our plug-in lamp (connected to the Plug-in Dimmer module).

Time to add another Responder to our INSTEON network.

We are going to take control of an overhead lighting fixture using the INSTEON LED Bulb. This will literally be as easy as changing a light bulb.

Remove old bulb

1. Remove your old light bulb.

2. Insert the INSTEON Led Bulb.

Pair to an INSTEON Controller

3. Pair the LED Bulb to an INSTEON Controller.

I told you it was easy. The INSTEON LED Bulb is great, you’ll get around 50,000 hours of use and it only consumes 8 watts of power. It also has a really nice, warm-white glow to it - oh yeah, did I also mention it's dimmable?

There are other ways to control your overhead lighting, we could use an INSTEON Micro Module or DIN Rail Module – however these need to be installed by a licensed electrician. For this blog post, I want to keep things simple and do-it-yourself. It’s good to know you have options though.

Standby... there's more

Studies have found around 10% of your annual electricity usage is consumed by devices using standby power. The only way to avoid standby power usage is to turn your electrical devices off at the switch. In most cases, this is simply not practical (and certainly not convenient).

INSTEON offers solutions that will not only save you money, but will also make it easy to reduce standby power usage. Let's take your home entertainment system as an example. You probably have a few pieces of audio visual equipment connected to your TV (Blu-ray player, DVR, Foxtel, AV receiver, etc), all of these (including the TV) use standby power when they are not in use (which for most people is the majority of time).

By plugging these devices into a single INSTEON Plug-in Relay (On/Off) module (by way of a bower-board), you can easily turn all of your audio visual equipment off (or on) at the source. You could even schedule the power to turn off and on automatically between certain times of the day (such as when you are sleeping or at work) - saving you a significant amount of money and energy.

Standby power

Setting the perfect scene

Now this is where things get very interesting. Not only can you control individual INSTEON Responders, you can also "group" them together so that an INSTEON Controller can control many INSTEON Responders - at the same time. This is known as a "scene" and is actually really powerful. As an example - using everything we have covered so far in this blog post - we could have one button on the Mini Remote turn on our lounge room lamp to 30% brightness, whilst also turning off the overhead light (with a slow ramp-down rate for that genuine movie theatre effect) and finally, we could have all of our audio visual equipment come to life - creating the perfect movie time scene.

As another example, you could create a "bedtime" scene that turns off all the lights in your home (except the hallway light perhaps, which you could dim to around 20%) and turn off the power to all of your electrical devices that are no longer required (to save energy).

Hear a bump in the night? No problem - with one button press you could turn on all the lights (including exterior lighting) so you are not investigating in the dark - you will also more than likely scare off any potential confrontations. There is no limit to what you can do with INSTEON scenes - whether it be for comfort, convenience, energy saving or security (well technically there is a limit - up to 400 INSTEON devices included in a single scene!).

Bringing it all together

There is one INSTEON device I seriously urge you to consider if you are looking at getting into home automation.



This nondescript little white box extends the capabilities of your INSTEON smart home onto a whole new level. Once connected to your home's wireless router, you can control your INSTEON enabled home from the palm of your hand using any Android, Apple or Windows smartphone or tablet. You can easily create simple or complex scenes, schedule timers, control your heating and cooling system, check in on your home using IP cameras and a lot more - from anywhere in your home or even from halfway around the world.

We have a number of INSTEON Starter Kits available that include the INSTEON Hub (at a heavily reduced price - which is nice), these are a great place to start if you are looking at getting into home automation with INSTEON.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and that it has provided some inspiration for your new smart home. Home automation is perhaps not as "exclusive" or expensive as you may have thought, best of all, it doesn't have to be complicated.

All the best,

Brad Arthur

Related blogs

Control your home with your voice