Updated on Thursday, June 9 with the name of the buyer and an update from Insteon.
Insteon’s smart home hub is back online.
Users have contacted me about their hubs working again while the Insteon Reddit thread indicates that sometime Tuesday afternoon Insteon’s servers came back online and various cloud integrations such as Alexa have started to work. So what has happened to bring the once-popular smart home system back online?
In mid-April Insteon’s servers shut down with no notice to users after its owner Smartlabs apparently shut down. Insteon relies on a local and proprietary wireless radio protocol to control light switches, outlets, sensors and other smart home devices. All of those stayed operational, but users couldn’t remotely access their hub through the app or program the hub. Cloud integrations such as those with Google and Amazon Alexa also stopped working.
Smartlabs has struggled to sell the business since November of last year, but after a potential sale fell through the company said it had passed the Insteon IP over to a company to sell its assets. Smartlabs announced all of this several days after the servers shut down. Users were frustrated by the lack of communication and abrupt ending of a platform long touted for its reliability. They flooded forums seeking alternatives to run their smart homes and keep their existing Insteon gear operational.
The servers likely are back on because someone purchased the Insteon IP and started paying Amazon Web Services or is hosting the code on their own servers somewhere.
But who? It turns out that a group of Insteon users purchased the assets and that Ken Fairbanks will lead the newly funded operation. Fairbanks appears to have a history as an investor and business consultant. Universal Devices CEO Michael Kohanim said in June that his company, which makes a popular hub that works with the Insteon system, made a bid but was rebuffed.
It seems odd that a company that spent money buying the Insteon assets wouldn’t want to communicate its plans to users in advance, as opposed to randomly turning on gear that has been dormant for almost two months. Maybe this was a glitch or an error that sent test code to production early.
As of 8:30 ET on Tuesday night, the Insteon Web site still has a letter on the home page describing why the company shut down.
A note pasted on the Insteon web site Thursday says:
Most of you discovered that the Insteon Hubs began coming back online. Our first priority was getting the hubs online immediately before we had access to this site, the email service provider, social accounts, etc. Every day more customers were giving up hope so it was critical to get that restored as soon as possible. We are aware not all functions are back online but we are actively working on it. We hope you understand this urgency and appreciate your patience.
I’m trying to find out more, but in the meantime, rejoice in your newfound cloud access for your Insteon gear — if you haven’t already given it up.
Just noticed at 1015pm EST that the hub LED was green! Yes, it is strange that the system came back online as suddenly as it went off – and without a word from the company.
Is there any reason to be concerned that new firmware may be downloaded to our hubs that could change the functionality that we just restored with third party software?
JD Roberts says
Just a guess, but I would say yes, particularly since this wasn’t an announced restoration. As Stacey mentioned, they may be testing some stuff, perhaps just in preparation for transferring the intellectual property, and there’s no telling what it will do to an existing hub. 🤔
Folks that deleted the app are now looking!
Agree. I deleted my app and cant find another yet. I use my hub only for water leak detectors and we even began to throw some away.
Let me know if anyone finds an app.
And the Alexa skill.
Not sure how clean they are, but I found this source for Insteon for Hub version
1.9.8 (and earlier) for Android here: https://apkpure.com/insteon-for-hub/com.insteon.insteon3
Not totally up. Notifications, like for the sensors, I’m not being sent.
John Watro says
I Was just getting ready to post that the servers were mysteriously back on line as my hub status light turned green at some point this evening! Pleasantly surprised but not disconnecting my newly purchased HomeSeer system which I purchased to keep the my Insteon devices alive!
Steve W says
I purchased a Polisy and a PLM – they arrived today.
Started to poke around and discovered my old hub working perfectly. (I didn’t reset it.).
And working with Alexa just fine too.
Thanks for letting us know.
My app is now working again, but for how long?
Larry Howard says
Yes !!! I just saw the green light and thought I was DREAMING!
It’s too bad. This will leave a bad taste in the iot consumer.
First—can we ever trust cloud services again (especially important ones like home automation and control)?
Second, even if there is a saviour for Insteon proper and they begin charging users a modest hosting fee, who would bite? Would anybody trust a company unless it is a very large, well-backed firm?
Ndna Jnz says
I’ve been using Insteon since it became available, because after using X10 for years, I just couldn’t take the unreliability anymore. Insteon, if I had to guess, is close to 95% reliable in our house with 17 devices. I like the way the dimmers work and look. But, I would NOT pay a monthly hosting fee for the Hub. AT ~$100 for the Hub, and $50 a switch, the hosting fee was built-in and should remain that way.
I bought an ecobee thermostat last year with sensors for multiple rooms and it works great. And for the heck of it, I bought one door sensor to see how it works. The sensor works quite well (reliable.) But, to get notifications on your phone, they require a monthly hosting (although they don’t call it that) fee. There was no mention of that when I purchased the door sensor with the thermostat. No thanks. I’m not going to pay a hosting fee for every type of smart thing in my house.
Just a PSA announcement to everyone else who has their Insteon system working again with another platform, like HomeSeer for example…please read the following. Yes…it appears it is back up for the moment. Interestingly enough, the Insteon app at the time of this writing, is not even available in the Google Play store. But if you still have in installed, it will launch and reconnect with your hub. In my experience, that WILL cause your HomeSeer connection to your hub to glitch. As soon as the app syncs with the server, and the server connects to your hub, it will terminate your hub’s connection to your HomeSeer plugin. It will require that HomeSeer be restarted. Can’t vouch for other people using other platforms like Home Assistant or others.
I think this is incorrect. I have used Homeseer with the insteon hub for over 10 years and have used the Insteon app during that whole time but have never had to reboot Homeseer because of the app. In fact I’m using both Homeseer and the Insteon app right now with no problems.
Thx for the update- you were the first and only one covering this that I could find- I look forward to to continuing updates
JD Roberts says
The Reddit Insteon subforum had several hundred comments almost as soon as it happened. It’s a good place to follow for information on this situation, although of course Stacey does more background checks on verifying what’s going on.
Ndna Jnz says
And we’re counting on Stacey to track down what the heck IS going on. 😉
JD Roberts says
Anyone out there… Is there a way to connect AND MONITOR my existing Insteon hub and (8) moisture detectors via an Android cellphone please?
Tim Arnheim says
Crazy. I bailed and swapped out my switches and outlets to Tp-Link’s Kasa products. Which are considerably cheaper than the Insteon devices. I didn’t want to deal with the HomeSeer solution. I’m in a better place now
Let’s all get the message to Amazon to make the Insteon skill available again!
Same story as the above – had not deleted the app and was able to alter my schedules in terms of my exterior light switches going on and off to account for the later sunlight in my neck of the woods. I have zero confidence that this is permanent given the complete lack of information around the revival.
Kris Tibbitts says
I’m not sure how others have Alexa working. I don’t even see the skill.
Is it possible that Nokia turned it back on? They own the Insteon technology now. Why doesn’t anyone suspect them?
Stacey Higginbotham says
I know that Nokia licensed their lighting portfolio to Smartlabs, but I’m not sure they are the current owner. I mean, it might very well be since we don’t know the buyer yet, but the Nokia deal was a licensing for the lighting portfolio a couple of years back.
Ndna Jnz says
I doubt it’s Nokia.
One would think they would like to be called “the savior of Insteon” ASAP if they had in fact purchased and turned on the servers. By not saying anything, even though they are “helping” by turning the servers back on, the lack of transparency already puts them in a bad light. That is, if it were in fact, them.
Maybe the last Insteon admin as an ‘FU’ fired ’em back up in AWS on the way out the door…really is more bizarre than when it went off-line in the first place.
Insteon rises from the dead — see blog post.
Looks like insteon is coming back….at least the rise is not from some hacker, etc. See the blog post from today.
JD Roberts says
Excellent! Stacey, thanks for getting the verified backstory on this. Good work!
Chris A Hodge says
As a 10 year user of Insteon, i am very happy to see the servers back online. I understand its costs money to operate and maintain these servers. I, for one, would be happy to pay a fee for this maintenance to prevent any future shutdowns.
My hub is green, but I can’t connect to it. Yes, I’ve rebooted. Anyone else having this experience? Any advice?
Ndna Jnz says
Have you tried a Network Reset?
Sorry, I don’t have the info for doing that at the moment, but it takes only a minute or so.
Do a search for it.
When the servers came back to life, only the ability to turn devices on and off worked. A couple of days later, now the email notification system is working, and my PIR and Garage Door is working and notifying me when breached by email. The only thing that still does not work is poor app that is featured through the PC allowing the access of the hub. Looks like we are going the direction, keep us all posted!
Ndna Jnz says
“poor app that is featured through the PC allowing the access of the hub”
I am not clear what is mentioned here. There is an app for iOS and one for Android. Are you saying you have an app for your PC (e.g., Windows)?
The app for Windows 10 worked until about November 2021 when a Windows update broke it.
App back in the google Play store!