Insteon + LEDs: flicker, etc.

Posted on
Tue Mar 02, 2021 5:06 pm
dduff617 offline
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Joined: Jul 05, 2006
Location: Massachusetts, USA

Insteon + LEDs: flicker, etc.

Recent exerpiences have caused me to clarify my thinking about Insteon devices and their relative ability to control LED lights, so I'm sharing my thoughts:

In a recently remodeled bathroom, I tried moving a light that had previously been controlled and working fine on a SwitchLinc to a KeypadLInc. The light was from a brand (Cree) I thought I trusted. When moved from SwitchLinc to the KeypadLInc, it flickered a lot. In this case, I ended up having to replace the Cree light fixture with a different brand.

In a bedroom, I had been using for a very long time (>5 yrs) a KeypadLInc to control some LED tracklight fixtures. They were well-behaved. The KeypadLinc (2486D) showed signs it was failing. It would look like it had totally lost power for about half a second - the connected lamps would shut off briefly and the they keypad backlighting would switch off. I replaced the unit with a new KeypadLinc (2334-222). This unit could not control the exactly same load without extreme flickering.

To light a closet as part of a remodel project, I purchased a "dimmable" LED ceiling fixture on Amazon and planned to connect it to an Insteon micro-dimmer (2442-222). The fixture was an unknown Chinese brand, but I figured "hey it's 2021 - I'm sure all LED's marked 'dimmable' work with all common dimmer switches these days". Boy was I wrong - this combination of module and fixture produced horrible flicker.

So my general findings when it comes to selecting and connecting LED lights:
  • Switchlinc 2477D is best I've seen in terms of smooth LED control.
  • Newer KeypadLincs (2334-222) somehow seem inferior to both older KeypadLIncs and SwitchLincs in ability to drive LEDs.
  • Micro module dimmers seem horrible (admittedly based on limited data).
  • After a good track record over a long time with Cree products on Insteon dimmers, I hit on a bad combination: Cree 4" Downlight Trim (TRDL4-0782700FH50-12DE26-1-11 from Home Depot) and Insteon Keypad Diimmer (2334-222).

Selecting and buying dimmable LED lights can be quite frustrating. I had perceived a few years ago things were getting better, but maybe I just had a string of good luck. More recently in the cases noted above, it seems like things are sliding back to being a hit-or-miss prospect.

  • Save your receipts in case you need to return incompatible products.
  • When replacing hardware, you sadly can't assume something will work just because it worked before.
  • Whenever possible, test fixtures and bulbs on the controls you plan to use them with.
  • Buying an light fixture with integral LED's is a crapshoot - when possible, instead choose a fixture that takes a regular bulb so you can pick an LED you already know to work with the controls you're using (you also have more control over wattage and color-temperature this way).
  • During installs, do live-power tests of fixtures/controls before you close all the boxes/panels.

Posted on
Tue Apr 27, 2021 10:12 pm
whmoorejr offline
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Location: Houston, TX

Re: Insteon + LEDs: flicker, etc.

Thanks for the write-up.

To add a little from my experience.... I try (if possible) to throw an incandescent bulb in the mix when I have a fixture that flickers. From my (limited) research, there are frequency issues. Number of bulbs is one variable. The brand and wattage of the bulbs is another variable. You have all these changing variables (3 bulbs on a bathroom fixture, 4 on another, different brands/wattages, etc) and that changes the frequency profile. If you hit the right frequency profile, the bulbs will flicker from insteon traffic on the power line. A lot of the flickering I was experiencing was insteon traffic. I have a busy house (5 kids), so as they were running around the house turning stuff off/on, my bedroom light would flicker. Once all the kids were in bed and the insteon traffic died down.... no more flicker. Later I added an incandescent bulb to my bedroom fixture (3 LEDs, 1 Incandescent). I think the added resistance of the one incandescent bulb absorbs the frequency stuff that was causing flicker.

I had a similar issue with my back patio fixture. I changed to different bulbs (same insteon switch), and the flicker went away. (In that case, I changed bulbs because it was too bright so I went with dimmer bulbs... the stopping of the flickering was an added bonus.)

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Posted on
Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:23 pm
freshwuzhere offline
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Joined: Apr 05, 2012

Re: Insteon + LEDs: flicker, etc.

I have a big house with lots of Insteon 2477D’s (about 80+) and many Cree LED cans. Everything works pretty well apart from the keypadlincs that are great when they work (they take a month off every year roughly).

The one thing that Insteon switches seem generally challenged by is the lights flickering off for a fraction of a second when there is traffic on the Insteon coms. I assumed it was a bad switch or light but owning to the complexity and scale I can’t be bothered debugging it.

Fast forward - refurbed another place and put in all Insteon switches again, Tech Lighting LED cans. Same problem. Random lights out for a fraction of a second every minute or two. Another “feature” is some of the switches when there is traffic “scream” a high pitched modem sound. Not loudly but clearly discernible and a little irritating. I guess they are screaming “we only work in houses of less than 6 devices what did you think would happen”.

There aren’t a lot of great switches out there - but with Insteon you’ve got to be prepared to compromise on things like having the lights stay on all the time.

Posted on
Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:18 pm
jay (support) offline
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Location: Austin, Texas

Re: Insteon + LEDs: flicker, etc.

Personally, I've stopped using Insteon entirely. Too many problems, too few options, single vendor proprietary technology, uncertain future.

Jay (Indigo Support)
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