The Good: Works with Amazon Echo. Works well with LED, CFL and incandescent bulbs. Dual band communication via powerline and RF. The dimmer gives you many customization options such as on level, ramp rate and the ability to adjust the brightness of the LED on the switch.
The Bad: Requires a neutral wire. LED level indicator light on the switch can be hard to read. Requires Insteon Hub.
Overall: This delivers all of the functionality of a high end dimmer with the added awesomeness of home automation. The Insteon app gives you a ton of customization options for the switch, and even more options with scenes. Insteon has a huge ecosystem of products, and I would expect that anyone buying these dimmer’s would be committed to using Insteon products throughout their home. The dimmer has a very wide range of settings, and after six months of use I have never seen it fail to receive a command. Right now, I’m convinced you can’t get a better dimmer for the money.
Note: Although this review is about the Insteon 2477D dual band dimmer, many of the topics covered also apply to the 2477DH for high wattage, 2474DWH for installations with no neutral wire, and 2476D which uses single band communication.
As I mentioned in Part 2 of my getting started guide, for most applications I prefer automating lights at the switch rather than individual bulbs. In this case, I am controlling five recessed PAR 38 LED’s in my kitchen with this one switch. The single Insteon dimmer cost about $45 and allowed me to use my existing LED bulbs, whereas five smart bulbs of that size would have cost me well over $150 and left me with very limited options for bulbs.
There is no fancy packaging to worry about. You get a small, white cardboard box with the switch, four wire nuts and the instructions. Clearly Insteon isn’t as interested in presentation as Belkin is with the Wemo switch, but packaging is just fluff and if it keeps costs down, who cares?
As mentioned above, the 2477D requires a neutral wire, which means this is a four wire switch, counting the ground. I highly recommend checking your wiring before purchasing this. If you only have two wires plus the ground, there are other Insteon options available. Other than that, is switch installs just like any other switch. I had it installed so fast I forgot to take pictures.
Once installed, it paired to my Insteon Hub without any issues. From within the app I named it and added it to some existing scenes (for more on the app see my Insteon Starter Kit Review). One thing that I really liked is that you can set the default on level, so that when you flip the physical switch on, the lights will turn on at that preset brightness. I set mine to 25% because the five recessed lights are very bright and 100% is like walking on the sun. Another setting that I liked, although didn’t use, was the ramp rate setting. This allows you to set how quickly the lights get to the on level so they don’t blind you when you turn them on.
You can also adjust the brightness of the LED indicator on the switch, although the default level seems more than adequate. One minor gripe I have with this switch is that the LED indicator on the switch is hard to judge because there are no dividers between the lenses of the little LED’s. So if you have the light set to 25%, the second from the bottom LED will be lit, but light also shines through the lenses for the bottom and third from bottom lenses. It’s certainly not make or break, but it’s a minor design flaw and makes it hard to tell where the light is set if you are more than a few feet away.
After the switch was paired to my hub and set up in the Insteon app, I was able to discover it in the Alexa app, where I added it to its own group as well as a group controlling all of the downstairs lights, and a group controlling the whole house. This lets me control just the kitchen, the downstairs lights, or the whole house, depending on my needs at the time. One thing to note if you create groups that allow Alexa to control multiple lights, is that by default “Turn on the ___ lights” will bring all of the lights up to 100%. So when I ask her to turn on the downstairs lights, most of the rooms are at a tolerable level, but there will be a supernova in my kitchen. More often than not, I just use a second command to set the kitchen lights to 50% or less. In contrast, when the Insteon scene that automatically turns on the downstairs lights at dusk is triggered, it sets them to the on level that I specified. This is not really an Insteon issue or an Alexa issue. Both are performing as they are supposed to. Just something to keep in mind.
This Insteon Dimmer currently costs slightly more than its non-smart cousins. Installation is about a 20 minute process from unboxing to controlling it via app or voice. Whether you are new to Insteon or expanding your Insteon installation, this is a fantastic device.