INSTEON Interfaces

As of version 4.1, Indigo now supports 3 different INSTEON interfaces from SmartLabs: the PowerLinc PLM (2413U/2412U/2412S), the INSTEON Portable USB Adapter (2448A7), and the discontinued PowerLinc PLC (2414U). Which you choose depends on how you plan on using Indigo. Here we'll try to break it down in simple terms.

The PLM (2413U/2412U/2412S) has the newest hardware that supports these extended commands, so as more devices come to rely on extended commands, the PLM will be the only interface that can take full advantage of these devices. Anecdotal evidence has also shown that it can do a complete relink with all devices up to 3 times faster than the PLC (2414U). There are two versions of the PLM: the 2413 and 2412. The 2413 is dual-band, and has the ability to directly send and receive both RF and power line commands. This allows most users to eliminate 1 AccessPoint RF.

Unfortunately, the PLM doesn't contain the necessary hardware to enable it to work in standalone mode - this means that your Mac will need to remain on 24×7 to correctly operate the vast majority of triggers (devices linked directly together will continue to work when Indigo is turned off) and any scheduling. There also is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that it may be a bit more susceptible to line noise, so you'll need to be even more prepared to isolate noise makers and signal suckers in your house.

The INSTEON Portable USB Adapter (2448A7) is a nice compact USB dongle type device. Since it doesn't plug into the wall it'll need to be positioned near some dual-band device that will then bridge the INSTEON signal from RF to the power line. Also, since it's INSTEON RF only, this interface doesn't support X10. Other than those differences it's pretty much identical in functionality to the 2413U.

The PLC (2414U) is an older interface from SmartLabs that has the ability to operate standalone - that is, you can turn off your Mac (and therefore Indigo) and it will continue to offer SOME functionality. Indigo offers a significant amount of functionality in many areas: scheduling time/dates, triggering off many different events, and performing lots of actions. The PLC when in standalone mode can do some of these but not all. You can select Upload Settings… from the Interface menu and it will show you items which have good compatibility (it works completely), okay compatibility (some of it will work), and poor compatibility (none of it will work). So, if you can't or don't want to leave your Mac turned on 24×7, you can keep some of your functionality active by uploading it to the PLC. The PLC can accomplish this standalone capability because it has a real-time clock chip, internal memory, and the ability to execute an uploaded a program.

The PLC, however, being older technology from SmartLabs, has some downsides. In particular the PLC only supports standard, and not extended, INSTEON commands. Extended commands allow for extra functionality to be delivered (for instance, the ability to directly query and set the state of KeypadLinc button LEDs). These extended commands are not available in the PLC; they only work with the PLM. These extended commands also allow device linking to be performed MUCH more quickly than linking using the old method.

So, which one is for you? The answer isn't exactly straight forward, but our recommendation is this: if you need the interface to operate standalone, you must use the PLC. However, if there is any way you can leave your Mac on 24×7 (newer Macs use very little power when idle), we think the 2413 dual-band PLM is the long-term winner, particularly given that more and more devices are using extended commands to implement new functionality - the PLC doesn't support those commands.

insteon_interfaces.txt · Last modified: 2020/04/02 21:40 (external edit)

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