New Insteon Motion Sensor II

Insteon has launched a new motion sensor, called the ‘Insteon Motion Sensor II’.  After several requests we’ve put it up on on our site in order to start booking pre-orders but please note ETA is mid to end of February.  Of course this may change.  The new motion sensor is much smaller and has a great new design.  It can be corner mounted or wall mounted with a flexible mount to help aim it.  Or it can be placed on a desk, shelf or table top.

2844-222 Insteon Motion Sensor II
2844-222 Insteon Motion Sensor II

Insteon is working on adding support to their Hub app, which is expected shortly.  Universal Devices has basic support in current versions of the ISY994 but they are tweaking a few things during pre-launch.  Knowing their great team, it will be supported on or near ship date.

Orders placed during this pre-order phase will be shipped ASAP (from Canada of course), once product starts flowing.

August Announces 6 Months Free Cloud Recording Promo

Effective Nov 15th August has announced that existing and new users that activate their Doorbell Cam by Dec 31 2016 will receive 6 months of Cloud recording service for free.  Other enhancements announced earlier this year include the ability to watch live video any time from the iOs or Android apps.  The Cloud recording service saves video clips for up to 30 days to view past events.  After the 6 month free trial, the Cloud recording service is USD$4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

iDevices WiFi and HomeKit Devices

Let iDevices make your home smarter with its WiFi thermostat, plug-in modules and screw-in bulb socket.  iDevices connects to your WiFi network and uses your iOs device and their free app to set up and control everything.  No Internet hub or gateway is required!  The line is HomeKit enabled so you can talk to Siri to control your home, and they also work with Alexa for those of you who have Alexa at home.

They look great, and they store scheduling in the device itself so you can set up scenes and on/off schedules without any Internet Hub, and they’ll run even if the net is down.

Built in LED multi coloured night lights in many of the modules can be used to set a mood, provide some visibility or just look cool.

You can access them locally or via an Internet connection and some of them even report back energy usage so you can watch for energy hogs.

Check out iDevices:

Stock is expected by Nov 10th.

Security of Routers, IP Cameras, NVRs and IoT Devices

When it comes to setting up a home network or automation system, we often talk more about features and functions, than security.  But security should be at the top of everyone’s list as more and more devices are being made available to the Internet.  The ‘edge’ of your home’s network and therefore your home’s network security is your router.   If you’re using the free router from your ISP with default passwords and remote access enabled, you may be surprised how open your network can be to outside hackers.  You may want to consider getting an entry level business class router or security device.  Not only will it provide better security but with a little homework you’ll get a device with much better Internet throughput as well!

When it comes to routers, automation controllers, IP cameras, recorders and other potentially Internet connected devices, the first thing you should do as part of the installation process is to change the default username and password to something complex and unique.  Stop using the default password or same password everywhere.  You know, the one that has your kid’s name in it?  Or your cat?  Use something strong or you’re asking for trouble.

The next step in securing your network and iOT (Internet of Things) devices, is to make sure you’re running the most current firmware.  Firmware is the on board code that makes these things tick and if it’s running old, buggy code, it’s a security problem.  You should check your firmware versions at installation time and on an ongoing basis, especially if these devices are Internet connected in any way.   Most manufacturers make firmware updates available to their customers directly and some make it an automatic process, but most don’t so it’s up to you to maintain them.

One more consideration is to disable or turn off any features or services you don’t need.   By turning off features, you tend to lower the number of ‘doors’ these devices leave open, which lowers your overall footprint and makes you less of a target.  You should also turn off remote management of your router because in most cases you’ll only need to access the management interface from inside your home, and that shuts a major door that has been used to compromise router security and even turn the router in to a ‘bad bot’ that attacks others, or looks to steal your information.

With some extra care, research and knowledge you can enjoy the benefits of a great home network, home automation system and security cameras while staying safe.  These devices really can enhance our lives but just like it’s important to change your locks when you buy a house and keep the oil in your vehicle changed regularly, security needs to be a consideration in our Internet connected lives.

Zipato Zipatile Security and Automation System with Zwave and Zigbee

We just received our shipment of the new Zipato Zipatile all-in-one touch screen home automation and security system.  Features include a built in high-definition security camera, plus a motion sensor, light sensor, humidity sensor, shock sensor and temperature sensor. The motion sensor and camera provide out of the box security system functionality that can be armed, disarmed and self monitored remotely over an Internet connection.   Users can check in on the built-in camera any time to make sure everything is okay.

Zipatile is so much more than a basic system however, with on board interfaces for Zwave and Zwave Plus, Zigbee HA and Bluetooth devices.  Plus it supports WIFI and IP devices like Sonos and NEST thermostats.  Users can add Zwave or Zigbee door, window and motion sensors to add additional security zones to the system and these sensors can also double as automation triggers to turn on lights or run programs when a sensor is tripped.

Sensors can also be used to set up a Eldercare monitoring system that looks for motion or lack of motion or sensor activity.  Family can be alerted by email or SMS in case of a problem.

The on board temperature sensor and support for Zwave or NEST thermostats allow for heating and cooling integration.  Add a Zwave door lock and you’ll be able to remotely check the lock status, lock and unlock the door from anywhere and get an alert when family comes home or if someone tries to tamper with the lock.

Zipatile runs Android under the hood and can be wall mounted or used on a desktop.  Multiple Zipatile units can be used to add room to room intercom functionality and support for DoorBird is underway for a front door Intercom solution.  Note that using multiple units is called clustering and requires each Zipatile to be upgraded to Pro for USD$99 one time via the Zipatile user portal.

Zipatile is available in BLACK and WHITE versions and promises to be a great solution for home security and automation in one sleek looking display!

Remote Reboot, Remote Power Control, Automatic Reboot

Routers can hang, computers can crash, servers can blue screen and digital signage can glitch.  At home this is a pain but in business these problems are critical and if no-one is close by, how long does it take to get a tech on site?  Dataprobe’s iBoot Internet web remote power switch takes care of this problem by allowing the user or tech to remotely control power or initiate a hard power cycle to reboot equipment from anywhere using a network or Internet connection.  Whether it’s one or a hundred power switches, the cloud service can be used to remotely manage and control these power switches 24/7 using a simple single sign-on.  The iBoot series also supports automatic power cycling to perform a hard reboot automatically.

We thought this was a fabulous idea and a great product and what truly sets iBoot apart from the competition is that they are one of the only ones to take the time and expense to get the product electrically certified for both USA and Canada.  Most other similar products have no certification and yet they are being used to control power in homes and businesses?

The iBoot G2 plugs in to a wall outlet and your network for control by web browser or API calls, on the network or over the Internet.   Their cloud service can be used to eliminate IP tracking and port forwarding.  The iBoot G2 can be set to regularly ‘ping’ the connected device over the network to ensure it’s running.  If it stops responding it can cycle power to reset the equipment.  In addition, power cycling can be set up to run on a schedule.

The iBoot G2+ takes it a step further by offering Windows software that runs on the computer or server that’s plugged in to the G2+ to keep a heartbeat for monitoring.  If the heartbeat stops, the system can be gracefully restarted.  In addition the iBoot G2+ supports adding a lower cost additional outlet that can be individually controlled.  Or just add another G2+ and include it in the cloud account for easy access.

The iBoot WIFI is similar to the iBoot G2 except that instead of a wired network connection, it uses WIFI so no Ethernet cables need to be run.  Just plug it in and connect to WIFI for remote network or Internet power switching.

These products are reasonably priced and have been sold for  years to protect digital signage networks, keep servers, routers and network equipment online, and even keep planes in the air!

Insteon Hub Upgrade Canada

If you have an older Insteon Hub and are looking for the Insteon Hub Upgrade in Canada, we have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that Insteon only runs this program directly.  Their upgrade ispriced in $USD with potential shipping, duties and customs issues, with warranty returns being the buyer’s responsibility.

The good news is that you have options!

Firstly if you wish to purchase simply the new Hub, we sell it alone for a very attractive price, particularly once you compare it with the $USD exchange rate and extra border issues:

For those looking for a Canadian option who may also be looking to expand their Insteon installation, we suggest considering:


1 x 2245-222 Insteon Hub v2
2 x 2477D Insteon Dimmers

With the value of the 2477D Insteon dimmers, the value of the Hub V2 could be considered around CDN$40 or less so it is a more attractive option if the dimmers are of any value at all.  Since we ship from Canada there would be no duties or customs issues and Aartech offers local Insteon support in case of defective issues.

As another option, the ISY994 series of Insteon automation controllers offer more advanced logic and programming including if/then/else conditional logic that is not currently possible with any of the Insteon branded Hubs, so many of our clients choose the ISY994i instead.


Canada Post Shipping Resumed

While our main courier has traditionally been UPS, some clients require Canada Post delivery for convenience, due to a PO box address, etc.  With the Canada Post strike looming we had suspended the Canada Post shipping option.  Today, Canada Post and the union have announced a 30 day cooling off period so we can confidently ship via Canada Post as an option once more.  Thank you for your patience during this disruption.

Do Home Automation Hubs Require Internet?

There are a number of automaton controllers supporting technologies including Insteon, Zwave and Zigbee, and a number of different popular home automation controllers.   While it makes sense that an Internet connection can be used for remote control, email or SMS alerts, many automation controllers require Internet access for much more.  We can break this down into two groups.  Group A use the Internet for remote access, alerts and firmware updates.  Group B REQUIRE the Internet to function in one way or another.   In some cases the automation controller won’t even run scheduled events without the Internet.  So let’s look at some of the most common automation hubs and how they use the Internet.


Automation Hub Internet Required? Internet Details
Vera Required Cloud based login, requires Internet but schedules and triggers processed locally and will run if Internet connection goes down.
Hometroller Optional Can run without any Internet connection. Optional cloud remote access. Schedules and triggers processed locally without Internet involvement. In-house phone/tablet apps can work without Internet.
ISY994 Optional Can run without any Internet connection. Optional cloud remote access. Schedules and programs/triggers processed locally without Internet involvment. In-house phone/tablet apps can work without Internet
Insteon Hub Required Cloud based login, requires Internet.
Wink Required Cloud based login, requires Internet. Schedules and triggers (Robots) function via remote calls to a cloud server and do not work without Internet. Basically stops working without Internet. Some lag during Internet handshaking.
Smartthings V1 Required Cloud based login, requires Internet. Schedules and triggers function via remote calls to a cloud server and do not work without Internet.
Smartthings V2 Required Cloud based login, requires Internet. However some schedules and triggers can be processed locally so they are faster and work if Internet connection goes down. However many functions still require Internet cloud.