Recovering Insteon User New to HA

Hi all. I’ve been an Insteon user for many years. I used the UD ISY-994 as my hub and was never a power user. Last year, we sold our home and moved to another state. We recently moved into our home, so I am starting fresh. I purchased an HA Blue while they were available and have it sitting in a box waiting for me to get started.

I’ve never been a power user, but I do like to tinker and am fairly tech savvy after a learning curve. I had originally intended to incorporate a new ISY and Insteon into my new home. While the UD staff and forum volunteers are great, I have become disenfranchised with the quality and availability of Insteon devices. I am leaning heavily toward building out from scratch with Z-wave. I’ve never used Z-wave before, but I did have three Schlage locks installed during the build.

To be honest, I’m a little intimidated by the power and learning curve needed for HA, but I’m willing to jump in and I know how to follow directions.

Enough preamble. Here are a couple questions to help me get started. I’m sure I’ll have many more as I get started.

  1. I like the form factor of the Aeotec Z-Stick 7 Plus because of it’s compact size, but form factor certainly comes behind function. Any advice on using this Z-wave stick or suggestions for a stick popular with the community for it’s reliability and function?

  2. I know the HA Blue will be the Z-wave hub once the stick is properly installed. Is it desirable to have a separate standalone hub and if so, which should be primary. I am a big fan of not overcomplicating things.

  3. Any opinions on the Zooz line of Z-wave switches/dimmers. I have quite a few 3-way switches in my home, and I like how their products claim to work with conventional 3-way switches on the other end. But maybe other brands do something similar?

That’s enough for now. Thanks in advance, and feel free to go beyond the scope of what I’m asking for because I’m very open to receiving help and hearing your advice.

I’ve made the transition that you are making and may be able to provide some insights. Originally ran a ISY994/Insteon home. Then added HA to that. Then got a seasonal home where I went purely HA/Zwave. Then sold the original home and bought a new primary residence and left the ISY behind and have only HA/Zwave there. Along the way I developed a bedside/table top control console based on Pi/Touchscreen that started as a controller for the ISY and then morphed into one for HA and still use it today and have a few other users from the ISY world that use it as well (open source and available to anyone who wants it). So I am very techy (spent my career in it). With that some comments to your questions:

I run an Aeotec 5 version stick at the seasonal home and now a Zooz 7 version stick at main home. Both have worked fine for me. Completely reliable with no issues. I run HA in a VM on a Synology NAS at both homes so that is different from you but shouldn’t change much. In each case I have been running the zwavejs integration for quite a while after moving away from the older now deprecated ones. All pretty solid. There are a very few cases where running the zwavejs2mqtt version of that server can be helpful because it has some additional human interface controls but I have seldom switched to that version to use them so you should be fine with the standard.

I have never used a secondary controller. No need for that. The one caveat is that there are a few devices (Schlage locks e.g.) that seem to want to be fairly close to the hub during their initial inclusion (presumably for security purposes but I don’t actually think that helps in reality). In any case, I have been able to get them fully interviews at inclusion by doing it a few times until they get it right. Worst case, you unplug your hub and move it physically near the device during initial inclusion. Once included securely they seem to operate fine at a distance.

As to actual switches. My first choice after using a bunch of brands in Inovelli. Really nice physical design and feature laden. Unfortunately they have had serious inventory issues and you can’t get them in a timely fashion. Given this, my next choice has evolved to the Zooz line. Very similar appearance and function. So I think you’re on solid ground with them. One thing the Inovelli ones have is a very flexible LED indicator which is very nice to have one of in each room to display abnormal conditions. I use them to flash red if I leave the garage door open, for example. But since I don’t need multiple such indicators in view I have found that a mix of the Inovelli and Zooz models work well and look good. The other nice thing I value on the Inovelli switch is that they have a separate little configuration button that when not in use for doing configuration can trigger a zwave central scene event. This provides a nice extra “toggle switch” that I use in some places to control table lamps in a room via HA where the lamp is plugged into some standard outlet switch (e.g., TPLink or similar). FWIW, I started with Homeseer switches and found that they have a very high failure rate after a year or two. Wouldn’t buy another at this point. Have a few older switches (Jasco/GE/etc.) that a builder put in during some remodel. Work ok but much weaker function so wouldn’t go with them myself.

By the way - in moving from the ISY to HA you should find the programming model easier to get your head around. The ISY model is pretty purely a state machine model that most folks who learned any sort of conventional programming language will find surprising and awkward (you can get used to it but it is different and frequently unexpected in its operation). The HA model has some equivalence to that in its automations (all trigger based etc.) but also has a pure scripting ability. So you can operate much more conventionally when you want.

Happy to comment more if my experiences are of use to you. Just ask.

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Great input. Thanks!