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How INSTEON® works

INSTEON award winning dual-mesh technology sends signals wirelessly and over existing electrical wires

What makes INSTEON the most reliable home automation technology available is its dual-mesh network. The “dual” part of the network refers to INSTEON devices using both radio frequency (wireless) signals and the home’s existing electrical wiring to talk to each other. Every message is confirmed as it is received, and if any errors are detected, the message is automatically resent.

Unlike all other mesh networks, INSTEON’s “mesh” network has EVERY INSTEON DEVICE acting as a repeater — receiving and sending every 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.


How INSTEON works – Visualisation


INSTEON uses both powerline and radio communication (dual-mesh)

Radio communication is far from 100% reliable, as mobile and WiFi users are frequently reminded from firsthand experience. Other home automation technologies (such as Z-Wave® or ZigBee®), use narrowband FSK (frequency shift keying) wireless signalling and are considerably less sophisticated than mobile phones or WiFi. Furthermore, due to Government restrictions, they are required to transmit at low power. Metal, walls or large objects in the home can block or reflect radio waves — installing radio wall switches in metal junction boxes can cause particular difficulties.

That is why INSTEON is dual-mesh — if wireless fails, existing powerlines within a property provide a communication backup – and vice-versa. In combination, two independently simple, low-cost signalling methods are far more reliable than overly sophisticated, high-cost methods employed on single media (wireless) with no backup (powerline).


INSTEON uses simulcasting broadcasting instead of complicated routing

Simulcasting is much simpler than routing and more robust because multiple devices simulcasting the same message add to the signal power.

Other home automation technologies use complicated routing techniques to communicate. Devices that initiate communication using a source routing algorithm (such as Z-Wave® and ZigBee®), must know the topology (layout) of the network. Maintaining and distributing a network topology database is not trivial, especially with devices that may move around. Interestingly, the more devices you add to a home automation network that relies on routing to communicate, the more complex the signal routing becomes, making it less efficient and of course, more complex in its reliability.

INSTEON is different, since it uses simulcasting broadcasting instead of complicated routing techniques to communicate, the more INSTEON devices you add, the stronger the network becomes.


INSTEON is a peer-to-peer network

INSTEON devices are two-way simulcasting repeaters, which means they all handle INSTEON messages in exactly the same way, with no need for network controllers, routers or complicated routing routines. As an example, a Z-Wave® network must contain a Static Update Controller (SUC) along with other kinds of devices, including slaves or routing slaves.

In contrast, INSTEON lets you add or remove INSTEON devices of any kind at any time, because no matter how a device appears to the user, to the INSTEON network all devices are peers (equals).


INSTEON doesn’t require network enrolment

Most home automation technologies require that new devices be “enrolled” into its network before controller buttons can be associated with device functions. In other words, varying degrees of complexity are involved in the setup and installation procedures.

With INSTEON this problem doesn’t arise because there is simply no need for network enrolment. There is no routing and there is no network controller (all devices are peers). During manufacturing, INSTEON devices are each given a unique I.D. number (one of over 16 million) that serves as a permanent network address. All INSTEON devices automatically become part of an INSTEON network and start simulcasting repeated messages as soon as they are powered on.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)