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    Insteon Devices Dying

    Ok not expecting any magical pixy dust. Slowly many of my Insteon devices are starting to act up. I am confident that this is not a driver issue but posting here as I am sure others have run into this. Many of my Insteon devices are generation 2 or 3 and essentially the lightbar will flicker up and then go off. The load usually may ramp up as well, but many times after a while the load doesn't even turn on anymore. Hardware reset and other methods including disconnecting the load doesn't change anything.

    I am guessing that it is the power supply circuitry inside of the switchlinc and keypadlinc.


    Anyone (I am sure) have had these experiences? Any resolution?

    I really don't want to buy new Insteon equipment. If there is a way to fix it then I may consider it.

    Thanks!
    HomeSeer 2, HomeSeer 3, Allonis myServer, Amazon Alexa Dots, ELK M1G, ISY 994i, HomeKit, BlueIris, and 6 "4k" Cameras using NVR, and integration between all of these systems. Home Automation since 1980.

    #2
    Hmm, have you had any nearby lightning strikes around when this all started happening? Having "many" act up seems unusual to me. I don't want to jinx myself, but so far I've only had old Icon dimmers die on me (knock on wood). They were the budget Insteon switch many, many years ago. I still have many in use.

    If you can somehow link this to lightning nearby, insurance should cover replacement of any failed electronics. Happened to me with some electronics earlier this year. I lost 1 IOLinc in that storm, and some other non-Insteon equipment. Oddly my insurance didn't ask many questions. Perhaps they have a way of looking up lightning strike locations and knew I was telling the truth. Even still they didn't ask for proof of my failed devices, except for the dishwasher.

    If it wasn't lightning, did you buy all of these at around the same time? Perhaps there was a bad batch and the bulk of yours are from that batch? If so, Smarthome may work with you on replacements. Version and revision numbers on the switch will tell them if yours are from a bad batch.

    If none of those, I wonder if your power is dirty or has high spikes. Your experience just doesn't coincide with mine in terms of device longevity.

    That's all I got.
    HomeSeer 3, Insteon, Z-wave, USB-UIRT, Google Hub/Chromecasts/Smart Speakers, Foscam cameras, Amcrest camera, RCA HSDB2a doorbell
    Plugins: BLLAN, BLOccupied, BLUSBUIRT, Chromecast, Insteon, Jon00 Homeseer/Echo Skill Helper, Jon00 DB Charting, MediaController, NetCAM, PHLocation2, Pushover 3P, weatherXML, Z-wave

    Comment


      #3
      I have to second what mrceolla said above. I have more than 200 insteon devices in two different locations and have never experienced the type of failure you described. In fact they have all been very reliable. I've had very few failures, and most of those were self-inflicted such as a bad cfl bulb blowing the power triac in a lamp dimmer module (which I replaced and put back in service).

      In addition to the lightning thought above, I would ask:

      1) do you have high or low ac voltage?
      2) what specific type of devices are failing?
      3) what loads are on the failed devices (incandescent, CFL, LED, or motor)?
      4) do the devices ever come back to life or do they fail once and stay that way?
      5) once failed, do the devices still respond to the Insteon plugin - ie do they answer a comm test?

      Comment


        #4
        Failure has not been in mass quantity. Usually one here and one there. I originally had like 90 insteon devices. Maybe about 5-10 switchlinc's have died, and a few keypadlincs.

        Keep in mind these are old from around late 2008. One of my switchlincs that failed are v3.3 ... I did buy a bunch ($3500 worth) together. I'll check version numbers. They are close to 12 years old. Which usually seems old, but we can't replace all of our smart switches every 5-10 years. That is crazy expensive... I have original X10 switches at my parents house that are close to 40 years old.

        I don't think that it is due to lightning strikes. But a few could be. Would discount it. Good idea on the insurance. But with deductible, not sure if it is worth it.

        AC voltage is 119v. But there could be noise. I may try to take one of the failed units to a different house and see how it behaves. I bet the same.

        Loads are incandescent and some LED's.

        They usually don't come back.

        Don't answer to communication.

        Thanks!
        HomeSeer 2, HomeSeer 3, Allonis myServer, Amazon Alexa Dots, ELK M1G, ISY 994i, HomeKit, BlueIris, and 6 "4k" Cameras using NVR, and integration between all of these systems. Home Automation since 1980.

        Comment


          #5
          If you're handy with a soldering iron, you could open them up and test and/or replace all the electrolytic capacitors. If they are spec'd with a voltage rating close to the actual operating voltage, they are prone to failure. This can happen in any electronic equipment. In my experience, that usually happens after about 10 years. Usually when they fail, they don't take anything else out with them, so just replacing the bad electrolytic will bring the device back to life. I have fixed all sorts of electronic devices this way.

          Comment


            #6
            I am in a very similar situation with 117 installed Insteon switches plus another 16 "movable" Insteon devices for holiday lights. When I built my current house in 2007, I used Insteon for all switches. Over the years the switches have slowly died in a way similar to what Krumpy has pointed out. Each switch typically has a slow death where communication becomes less reliable, the link registers become more difficult to write to or inaccessible, and the light begins to flicker on/off when other switches are operated, then eventually the switch becomes totally inoperable. Occasionally switches die immediately or the paddles/toggles stop working.

            Over the past 13 years I have replaced 85 Insteon switches, 2 PLMs, and 7 "movable" devices, removed 8 SignaLinc RF & Access Point devices, and there is more. I have a master spreadsheet to track everything and it has gotten complicated. Every so often I reconsider the platform, but am so invested and it works well when it works. So, despite the ongoing maintenance cost, I've stuck with Insteon. Unfortunately, I have not been able to or taken the time to figure out a way to troubleshoot and repair the failed devices. I have, though, spoken to many at Insteon, including their CEO, but this hasn't fixed the problems.

            If you figure out any good solutions, please post. In the meantime, once it's light out in the morning, I'm going to replace three more Insteon switches bringing me to 88 in the grave.

            Good luck!

            Comment


              #7
              If you know anyone who is adept at electronic soldering, take them a couple devices and ask them to change all the electrolytic capacitors and see if that brings it back to life. It is easily done and will only be a couple dollars worth of parts, certainly cheaper than replacing the device completely. Once out of circuit, the capacitors can be tested with a multimeter that has a capacitance setting. Typically they short out when they fail. In some cases the capacitor will bulge on the end, or even blow itself apart.

              When I do this in electronic equipment, I just replace them all and be done with it, rather than wait for the next one to go. If there is physical room, replace it with the exact same capacitance value (uF), but the next higher voltage rating. It will last longer. Also note that electrolytic capacitors are polarity sensitive. There is usually a long white line on the case to denote the negative side. Make sure you note where the white line is before removing the old one, and replace the new one facing the same way. I always take some photos.

              You can buy replacements at places like Digi-key or Mouser.

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you for sharing the potential fix Burrington. Although I'm not an EE or electrician, I do a lot of soldering and may try see if I can fix some myself. Unfortunately I won't be able to do this anytime soon, but if and when I do, I'll report back.

                Comment


                  #9
                  My experience is similar. For me, about half the failures are electrolytic capacitors that are well below their rated capacitance. The other half are something else, and I am generally unable to figure it out and fix it. I think that some (or maybe most?) of those are corruptions on the flash memory. I say this because they fail when the power blips, and in failure, they do very odd things sometimes. I lost two switches when the power blinked a few times before in failed during this last hurricane. I also lost one of the eight LEDs on a keypadlinc. Robust, these Insteon devices are not.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I bought all new Insteon modules and wall switches about year ago as I made the switch from 50 years of X-10. Since then I’ve had 4 switchlink wall switches lock up (tiny LED light goes off). I contacted Smartlab and they replaced them all no charge. I guess they were in warranty but not sure. Like another said I had X-10 modules still in service that were 25 years old or older. Not sure I ever had one fail, so in comparison it is disappointing to have failures so soon.

                    I am certain inductive load switching in nearby circuits made the switches lock up. Ceiling fan for sure knocks them out. The switches can be brought back in service by pulling the air gap switch. But if I am in Europe for a month and a switch locks up it is as good as dead until I return home so it is a serious problem.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks guys, I figured as much. No sure that I will replace them. I may just switch to z-wave. But they may fail as well.

                      One year warranty is not enough. Five is pushing it. Ten years is what I would expect a product that you need to install in the wall to last at least. It’s not like a bulb which you can switch easily. I don’t have a problem doing it myself. It would be a crazy expense to keep hiring a electrician each time.

                      So, I am guessing that root cause is spikes and noise on the line.

                      I guess the only reason I like Insteon is because of the little led on the side which is always on. It is kind of a night light. Too bad that HomeSeer refuses to support the same functionality with the z-wave wall dimmers.
                      HomeSeer 2, HomeSeer 3, Allonis myServer, Amazon Alexa Dots, ELK M1G, ISY 994i, HomeKit, BlueIris, and 6 "4k" Cameras using NVR, and integration between all of these systems. Home Automation since 1980.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        If your problem is powerline spikes, it won't matter which brand or technology you use, they will get zapped. Your better solution would be to install a whole-house surge suppressor.

                        As I said, I have more than 200 Insteon devices and have had very few failures over many years. But, I am on underground power lines in a residential area so probably have very few power spikes. In spite of that, I made the investment of installing a whole-house surge suppressor. Maybe that explains why I've had so few Insteon device failures...

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Krumpy View Post
                          Thanks guys, I figured as much. No sure that I will replace them. I may just switch to z-wave. But they may fail as well.

                          One year warranty is not enough. Five is pushing it. Ten years is what I would expect a product that you need to install in the wall to last at least. It’s not like a bulb which you can switch easily. I don’t have a problem doing it myself. It would be a crazy expense to keep hiring a electrician each time.

                          So, I am guessing that root cause is spikes and noise on the line.

                          I guess the only reason I like Insteon is because of the little led on the side which is always on. It is kind of a night light. Too bad that HomeSeer refuses to support the same functionality with the z-wave wall dimmers.
                          I like my Insteon too, but, dude....buy a nightlight at the dollar store!


                          Jim Speiser
                          35-year veteran of Home Automation
                          Still don't know squat

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I upgraded to more modern technology from X10 finally going with Insteon and I can say, it has been flawless. No issues at all. They are very consistent and working great.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Todd Register View Post
                              I upgraded to more modern technology from X10 finally going with Insteon and I can say, it has been flawless. No issues at all. They are very consistent and working great.
                              How long ago? I agree that the technology is fairly solid, but it does have a lifespan, and I've had to replace several of my units, maybe a dozen, over the 12 years I've been using it.

                              X-10 was more durable, but much less reliable.


                              Jim Speiser
                              35-year veteran of Home Automation
                              Still don't know squat

                              Comment

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