SMARTHOME, LONG KNOWN AS A LEADING supplier of home automation products, is betting that its new Insteon line will offer builders what they've been looking for in home technology: affordable networked lighting products that can run on both powerline and radio frequency (RF) systems.

Joe Dada, president and CEO of Smarthome, says Insteon replaces X10, the long-standing standard for networked lighting since the 1970s and an alternative to the Zigbee Alliance's RF-based solution and the Universal Powerline Bus (UPB) technology from Powerline Control Systems.

“Insteon is unique because it's dual band and backward compatible to X10,” says Dada. “Another major benefit is its redundancy—since both signals are traveling on the powerline and RF system at the same time, if the RF signal is interrupted, Insteon automatically defaults to the powerline, and vice versa,” he says.

Dada says builders will have a great opportunity to upsell Insteon in-wall dimmers and switches, keypads, plug-in dimmers, and temperature sensors. He says the hard-wired lighting systems that set customized scenes throughout the house were cost prohibitive in the past. The base-level devices run about $19, and the dimmer switches will start at $45.

Smarthome expects to start shipping Insteon products in the first quarter of 2005. The Zigbee Alliance also expects to ship the product early next year. UPB products started shipping this year.