The Arguments for Standalone 2414 or Similar Controllers

Posted on
Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:00 am
KRV offline
Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 12, 2011

The Arguments for Standalone 2414 or Similar Controllers

After using X-10 technology for over 25 years, it was time to upgrade my 20 year-old computer interface. As I was going to use Indigo, I found, after much research, that I had two choices: the 2414U or the 2413U. The 2414 would work in standalone mode without leaving the computer running. The 2413 had more capability, but needed the computer to be running.

I read many articles and posts on both of these devices. The consensus seemed to be that the 2414 was old-school and the 2413 was the way of the future. I bought the 2414. And I love it.

Some of the articles I read said that the 2414U is aged, outdated, and will soon go away. According to Indigo, the 2414 is the "only INSTEON controller that Indigo supports that will work in standalone mode for simple schedules and triggers that have been uploaded by Indigo ." So, if the 2414 is deprecated and not replaced, there will be no options left for standalone operation.

I feel strongly that a standalone controller is a necessary option for home automation, and wanted to point out the reasons. They can be summarized as follows:

1 - Computer wear and tear.
I have owned a computer (actually, several) since the late 1980's. Almost all of them needed their power supply replaced, and several needed replacement hard drives. According to the tech, all of this was due to leaving the computer running all the time. I don't want the expense of doing this anymore.

2 - Energy consumption
I have read several posts and articles that said that it only costs 1 or 2 watts to leave a Mac running. So I put a meter on mine, and it showed that, with the screen off and hard drive shut down, it still drew 60 watts. This is an unacceptable expense - my electric bill doesn't need to be any higher than it already is.

3 - Security
If my Mac goes into Sleep Mode, Indigo stops communicating with the controller. If the Mac automatically logs off a user after a set amount of time, Indigo is forced to quit, thereby also no longer communicating with the interface. We log out as a security measure, and I don't want to lose that level of security. Leaving the computer running but unattended with a user logged on is not an acceptable security risk.

4 - Marketing, Increased Sales, and the Ron Popeil Effect
In the world of automation, as everywhere else, there are all kinds of people. And they will desire all kinds of systems: from basic simple ones all the way up to super complicated and involved. Although I am a geek, my wants for my Indigo system are fairly simple; I want timers and some motion detector responses. I am not disparaging the guy who needs the capabilities of the 2413 or any other advanced controller; they should be able to buy what they need, too. But I do not need the advanced logic that the Mac can provide though the 2413 like "If it's dark outside and it's Tuesday and the moon is blue and the light in the bedroom is on, then turn on the neon sign with a delay of 30 minutes before turning it off again." I only need "If it's 8:00pm, turn on the neon sign. Then turn it off at 10:00pm." A 2414 can do this just fine, and without a computer running. Nor do I have any complicated installations or devices - just lights and a couple of simple appliances like the coffee pot. We can not, and should not, expect every user of home automation to be a computer specialist or logician. It needs to be remembered that there are plenty of people who would be perfectly happy with nothing more than simple timers - just look at how many mechanical light timers are sold in hardware and home stores. There are many people who want automation technology that is, as Ron Popeil so succinctly said about his oven, "just set it and forget it!". However, the industry's propensity for emphasizing the advanced capabilities of a device or system, for telling us all that it can do, ignores the simple, possibly technophobic potential customer. I believe that this represents a customer segment that has not been tapped effectively in recent years. We know that X-10 was the most successful home automation product line in history. But why? Because it was simple (push a button and the light comes on) and it was sold simply (Radio Shack et al). I have read a few articles that said that home automation is not growing as expected as an industry; could our tendency to ignore the "simple segment" be the reason for this? A simple user will never need to leave his computer running in order to provide simple timers and events (a circa 1990 CP-290 can do it quite well). And there are many more potential simple users than complicated ones. All they need is simple products and the correct marketing. Set it and forget it. And increase sales.

For these reasons, the 2414 or similar device should always be available. None of the articles I read said whether or not Smarthome was replacing the 2414, only that it was being retired. I hope that the powers that be in this field will find it good for business to provide the customer the option of a standalone controller.

As for myself, I will never use a controller which requires a running computer. If the 2414 is retired and mine craps out and I can't find another, I will just fire up my old CP-290.

So why write this post? Certainly not to rant or to complain - I am extremely happy with my Indigo/Insteon/X-10 system. But maybe somebody, somewhere will read this and see that there is more money to be made by expanding the home automation market by continuing to provide multiple options for a broad range of customers. Oh, and so that, the next time I need to purchase a controller, I can buy one that is standalone.

Posted on
Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:08 pm
timrowledge offline
Posts: 24
Joined: May 14, 2011

Re: The Arguments for Standalone 2414 or Similar Controllers

A possible plausible response to your point would be to have a port of Indigo (at least, of the serverish stuff, no need for the UI) to one of the 'plug computers typified by the GuruPlug of SheevaPlug (See for info).

By plugging one of these and a PLM into a single outlet in a closet somewhere you could have a standalone system using minimal power yet capable of running some pretty serious software along with Indigo; these are good enough to run real server systems. Best of all, they're remarkably cheap, ranging from $99 to $199. In a lot of respects this would be far better than a specialised controller unit since the either part would be cheaply replaceable in the case of failures. One model even advertises itself as having ZWave/ZigBee interfaces, which might have some value.

Porting ought to be practical for the PA guys since it is a real unix system with a lot in common with OSX once the UI can be forgotten.

Posted on
Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:14 pm
matt (support) offline
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Re: The Arguments for Standalone 2414 or Similar Controllers

I have no official comment on this, other than to say we intentionally designed Indigo Server to be very portable.


Posted on
Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:35 pm
timrowledge offline
Posts: 24
Joined: May 14, 2011

Re: The Arguments for Standalone 2414 or Similar Controllers

I rather thought that might be the case.

A plug-comp that can run Indigo, talk to a PLM, act as a printer server and TimeMachine server would be A Very Nice Thing Indeed. I shall (unofficially, of course) await developments.

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