home automation - home theater - pc integration 

SmartLabs Insteon OutletLinc

Posted 11/21/2007

I've had the opportunity to beta test an Insteon OutletLinc for the past several months.  The OutletLinc is a decora-style outlet with a single receptacle controllable via Insteon commands.  The other, bottom plug, is always-on.

An Insteon-controllable outlet has been heavily requested for quite some time.  Rumored to be released earlier this year, the OutletLinc is finally here.  Many don't like the look of the LampLinc and ApplianceLinc modules they've had to use in the past to control lamps and other devices via Insteon.  The OutletLinc solves that problem.

One obvious disadvantage of the OutletLinc vs. a LampLinc is that the OutletLinc is NOT dimmable - it is a relay, simply on and off.  If you need Insteon dimming capabilities, the LampLinc is still your only choice.  Another disadvantage is portability.  One of the things I like about LampLincs and ApplianceLincs is that if I decide to move a lamp, rearrange a room, etc - it's simple to unplug the module and move it to another outlet.  If you want to move a lamp controlled by an OutletLinc to another wall, you'll either need to purchase and install an additional OutletLinc and re-link, or move the existing OutletLinc.

That being said, however, the OutletLinc definitely has it's pluses.  It's much less obtrusive than a LampLinc or ApplianceLinc - at first glance, it looks like a standard outlet.  The only cosmetic differences are a single button used for linking on the front (making it similar in appearance to a GFI outlet), and the 'controlled' label on the top outlet.  The front button can also be used to manually turn the outlet on or off (very convenient).

The OutletLinc programs easily enough - very similar to an ApplianceLinc.  I was able to create and remove links via PowerHome and the ISY-26 with no issues.  The OutletLinc can also be programmed to respond to X10 commands.  Load sensing is supported, but can be disabled.  Load sensing, if enabled, will automatically turn the controlled outlet on if an attached load is sensed (a lamp is manually turned on, etc).

I tested the OutletLinc indoors, but eventually moved it to an outdoor location inside of a weatherproof box.  It has been working reliably to control some outdoor landscape and holiday lighting for 2+ months - no issues so far.  This is a key advantage of the OutletLinc - most weatherproof outlet enclosures do not have room for a LampLinc or ApplianceLinc module.  The OutletLinc is a perfect solution.

One thing to note about the OutletLinc is the depth of the unit - unless the shipping versions change from the beta, it is a bit deeper than an Insteon SwitchLinc.  Most outlet locations tend to be less crowded than switch locations, however - especially in 2 or 3 gang scenarios.  The added depth wasn't an issue for me, and shouldn't be for most people.

Installation was a snap, similar to other Insteon devices.  The back of the unit has 3 wires - neutral, power, and ground.  Remove your old outlet, connect the OutletLinc's wires with the included caps to your home wiring, and you're done.

The OutletLinc is exactly what you'd expect - an Insteon controllable outlet.  Think an in-wall ApplianceLinc.  Same functionality, but much easier on the eyes.



Insteon OutletLinc