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ISY-994i-Home Automation at its Best

One of the biggest inhibitors to going to a VM environment (more in a later post) are USB devices.  The worst of these devices are the Insteon Controllers.  Whether using Hyper-V  with a USB to IP adapter, or ESXi, I was unable to “reliably” get the these USB devices to work correctly or consistently.  Add to that the issue that unless you already have a PC always running, you will be forced to have a computer on 24/7 to control your home automation.


Enter the ISY-994i which is a stand alone controller that does not require a PC to be on.  The base unit supports 300 programs and 256 devices.  The premise of the device as you can see in the chart, is that it becomes the all in one controller with direct access to the internet, your network, and of course to your devices via the the serial PLM Dual Band Controller which is included in the kit.  Considering the kit price of $269.99 which includes the controller, it costs more that the $99.99 price for software and USB controller, however the feature difference is quite large and flexibility and performance are also significant.


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Initial Setup

Setup of the actual device is extremely simple.  Everything can be done from the web interface and you do not need to install any software which allows you the flexibility to make changes from any computer.  All you have to do is plug it in to your network, power it up and go to your browser.  You point your browser to http://www.universal-devices.com/99i and follow the on screen prompts.  Assuming you have Java installed, you will in the main screen where you can load the “Admin Console” where you will do most of your setup.



Device Setup

Setting up Insteon device is also pretty simple.  With the exception of wireless/IR devices such as motion sensors, and remotes, all you have to do is go into link mode and go around the house pressing the pairing button on all your devices.  To add or modify a wireless device, you go to the device and manually put it into a pair mode so that it will communicate properly, then click on add “Insteon Device” and manually type the address that is labeled on the device.  When you are done, it should look something like this.  Sounds tougher than it is so after you do one it will only take a bit of time to add the balance of you devices.

SNAG-0494  SNAG-0489  SNAG-0480  SNAG-0485


Custom Programs

At first this screen is a bit confusing but if you look at closely, they have guided the creation of simple programs for you and gave you an environment where sophisticated custom programs can also be created.  If you look at the program  I did for a simple timed feature, you will see that it is actually pretty straightforward for basic items.  Obviously, you can take it to whatever level you want to.

SNAG-0481  SNAG-0495  SNAG-0487


Mobil Apps (MobiLinc HD with IP Camera Plug In)

Carrying this power with you is critical and that is where the ISY shines.  It works directly with powerful apps like MobiLinc HD.  For the cost of $1, you can add a software add-in to the ISY-994i that syncs all your settings to your mobile devices (except IP camera settings).  Make a change in one place and it is reflected everywhere.  There are mobile apps for Android and IOS.

iPad App

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Host Type shows the MobiLInc Connect which is what syncs your mobile devices to the controller.


In addition to the synching over the internet, things like IP camera setups can be quickly sent to other mobile devices so you do not have re-invent the wheel.



Phone App

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Other Features

Email Notifications are built into the ISY-994i without any setup other than the recipient.  You can setup notifications or triggers in your programs to let you know when an event took place such as a motion sensor being tripped, garage door opening, or a light turning on.



Summary and Results

In short, this is an awesome way to get into home automation.  It is faster, more responsive, more reliable, and more flexible than the PC based solutions I have used.  The device can be tucked away almost anywhere and draws only a few watts of power.  I have been running a PC based solution for more than 3 years and after using the ISY-994i, there is no going back.  Although I actually did this so I could unplug a PC to port to VM’s, I got a great surprise by gaining more a more robust approach with better features and better performance than I had before.  Looking back there is no question that if I had to do it over again, I would never go the PC route.  If you are thinking about home automation, consider going the route of ISY-994i in lieu of the PC based solutions as I think you will be much happier.


To purchase click here:  ISY with Controller at Smarthome

By | 2013-07-09T20:17:41+00:00 December 10th, 2012|Hardware, Home Automation, IOS Apps, Software, Systems|10 Comments

About the Author:

I am an enthusiast with more than 25 years of experience and passion in computer technology. For the past 10 years I have been drawn to home theater, media distribution, portable devices, and home storage solutions. I strive to stay current in consumer technology and I am constantly experimenting with different products and philosophies to achieve the best results. I spend most of my free time trying, testing, and experimenting with various hardware and software products and endeavor to pass on whatever I learn to others.


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  7. scottbaker 06/29/2013 at 2:02 AM

    Anyway you could post some screenshots of using the web interface to control everything?
    Or is the website for setup only?
    Is it possible to get into the web server folder and modify the html code?

    • scottbaker 06/29/2013 at 2:17 AM

      Also you mention installing java – Can I control everything via the web interface without installing java?

      I’m asking all these questions as I’m trying to find an insteon controlling solution that has a local web server. We have all types of devices including windows phone so I pretty much have to stick with a web interface.

  8. James Peterson 11/15/2016 at 3:30 PM

    Love using the ISY. I have moved off of mobilinc due to lack of android support and updates. I am now using Agave. It is actively developed and has a smoother interface and brings features that have been lacking on android and only given to iOS users for a while. You can find the Agave ISY android app on the market at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.linuxjet.apps.agave or get more information on the http://www.agaveha.com website.

    • pcdoc 11/18/2016 at 8:52 PM

      Thanks for your comment. I will look into Agave and compare it.

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