Replacing Insteon Recessed Door Sensor/SwitchLinc combo

Posted on
Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:05 pm
jay (support) offline
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Replacing Insteon Recessed Door Sensor/SwitchLinc combo

One of the biggest hits in my various homes was automatically turning on lights in a closet or pantry when the door opens and turning them back off when it closes. One of my rules is that it should always work, even if Indigo is for some reason down.

In all of my previous homes, I used Insteon Recessed Door Sensors in combination with SwitchLinc switches. For me, this was always a good reliable solution. One I also installed in some of my family's homes who didn't have a full blown automation system.

In my newest home however, I wanted to use Z-Wave if it was possible, while maintaining the requirement that it shouldn't require direct Indigo involvement. As an aside, one of the other reasons I desired the direct connection was to work around the round-trip delay that Insteon would introduce - the time it took for sensor open->Indigo trigger->Indigo action->Insteon switch was just too long of a delay to feel good about. Some of the delay was due to Insteon's relative low speed and I suspect collisions on my Insteon network which sometimes introduced delays. Direct links in Insteon solved this issue (mostly, sometimes traffic would cause a slight delay but not really noticeable). Z-Wave is generally faster and makes this less necessary from a speed perspective.

Anyway, as it turns out, it is possible to implement in Z-Wave using associations, but there are some gotcha's to look out for. First, here's the hardware in my solution:

In previous homes, I'd used HomeSeer switches. They were solid performers and had some really great features. In my new home, I decided to go with the Inovelli switches because I liked the LEDs on them better (and I could set the color to basically anything). After getting one black switch to test with, I ended up going with the red line instead because it featured the notification feature which I think is a killer feature. Basically, it allows you to set the color, brightness, effect (blink, chase, etc) of the LED plus an optional duration. These are going to be very handy in the future - I already have an emergency action group set up to set every red series switch in the house to fast blink red whenever there's something bad going on (currently hooked up to leak sensors, but others will be added).

I decided to go with the Monoprice sensors because honestly they were cheap. I didn't know if they would do the right thing when I tried creating an association to the switch, but luckily it worked (group 1, same as Indigo uses to get status reports):

grab21.png (114.16 KiB) Viewed 150 times

What I didn't know at the time is that I sorta lucked out in another respect: unlike Insteon links, it's not a foregone conclusion that the receiving device will report it's new status when it receives a command from an association. When my closet door opens/closes, this is what I see:

Code: Select all
   Z-Wave                          received "Office Closet Sensor" status update is on
   Z-Wave                          received "Office Closet" status update is on (from associate)
   Z-Wave                          received "Office Closet Sensor" status update is off
   Z-Wave                          received "Office Closet" status update is off (from associate)

So, I now have replicated what I had implemented in Insteon with Z-Wave. Now, for the thing to watch for: notice in the log the "Office Closet" Inovelli switch reports the status change (from associate helps you see where it came from). Not all devices will do this, as I found when trying to link an Inovelli dimmer to a Jasco Dimmer wallwart. When the Inovelli dims/brightens/on/off the associated Jasco devices, it works. However, the Jasco devices don't report the status change to Indigo. Now, this isn't a show-stopper for my usage because I can just create triggers in Indigo that watch for brightness changes in the Inovelli switches and (after a slight delay) sends a status request to the associated Jasco devices. It does mean extra logic which I would prefer not to have to deal with, but it's an acceptable tradeoff.

It's my suspicion that had I purchased a more expensive device rather than the Jasco ($20 each), they likely would have implemented reporting status reporting in a way which Indigo would have received updates. This is one of the disadvantages of Z-Wave - those types of implementation details are not strictly part of the Z-Wave spec, so you'll get a wide range of implementations. In this case, I suspect the "you get what you pay for" label might apply. In any event, I hope this helps others to implement this solution if you have the need.

Jay (Indigo Support)
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Posted on
Thu Mar 25, 2021 10:31 am
whmoorejr offline
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Location: Houston, TX

Re: Replacing Insteon Recessed Door Sensor/SwitchLinc combo

For the use case of a closet or a pantry, I think you could use a standard wall switch and a hard-wired door jam switch and use a zwave (or insteon) relay module so you can monitor the status without the concern of the up/down state of indigo or associations.

To operate the light from either the wall switch or the door switch, you need a 3-way (virtual or actual) I tried seeing if there were any 3-way doorjamb switches to use with a z-wave wall switch, and found none.. you would have to make your own by adding some sort of relay-in-a-box between the doorjamb switch and the zwave switch to create 3-way behavior.

With a double input zwave relay (Like a Mimo2 Plus) I think you would be able to use a standard wall switch as one input and a hardwired door jam switch as a second input both controlling one zwave relay so then either switch would be able to turn the light on/off, but I'm not sure about that and I don't have a spare to tinker with.

With the Monoprice door/window sensor (PID: 15270) it also has an auxiliary input which is kinda cool.... I'm not sure if that could be utilized in some way or not (like running it to a 2nd wired wall switch which would make the z-wave switch think the door is open and turn the light on.)

Note: All the above is alternatives for discussion purposes, I myself would probably go the Jay route.

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