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Q: Home automation using X10 or other ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Home automation using X10 or other
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: jim2003-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 05 Jan 2006 00:36 PST
Expires: 04 Feb 2006 00:36 PST
Question ID: 429347
What is the best home lighting control technology to use? X10, Z-Wave,
Inteon, or other? Without a computer interface, X10 looks pretty
straight forward. But there might be software interfaces that cause
other products to desirable. My project is a simple retrofit of a
vacation home in a freezing climate.

Request for Question Clarification by easterangel-ga on 05 Jan 2006 00:55 PST
Hi Jim!

Would a list of websites providing reviews of Home Automation hardware
and software be good as an answer?


Clarification of Question by jim2003-ga on 05 Jan 2006 06:31 PST
No. I was hoping to get an anwer from someone with direct experience.

Request for Question Clarification by siliconsamurai-ga on 05 Jan 2006 06:59 PST
I have direct experience with X-10 but not the others, would you be
interested in a detailed report on my experience with X-10 if no one
with experience using all three isn't available?  I have remote
cameras, remote lights, remote sensors, range extenders, computer
controls, and even remote pan and tilt cameras using X-10 - there are
positives and negatives.

Request for Question Clarification by easterangel-ga on 05 Jan 2006 08:42 PST
Hi again Jim! I would just like to clarify my suggestion.

The reviews I will cite come from web publications that monitor these
types of gadgets so we can presume that they test and have experience
with different types of home automation tools. Usually these reviewers
are always on the look-out on what technology is out there.

Again would reviews from the writers of these sites be ok since we can
presume that they have extensive knowledge on a wide array of


Clarification of Question by jim2003-ga on 05 Jan 2006 09:02 PST
Siliconsamurai - Yes. That would be excellent. I'm leaning toward X10

Easterangel - Again, no thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by siliconsamurai-ga on 05 Jan 2006 15:19 PST
Hi, someone had this locked for quite a while so I thought it would
already be answered, I'll provide an answer tomorrow based on your OK
on X-10 experience if it is still open.

For now,
Regarding X-10, the main positive points are
>low cost
>ease of installation

Most of the problems I have experienced with X-10 have been easy to
deal with, I have cameras operating as far as 300 feet away in animal
pens in my barns and the cheap X-10 cameras with wireless links work

For critical or problem locations remember that there are different
grades of X-10 hardware, start with the cheapest and when you hit a
problem move up to one of the Levitron switches for better reliability
in a few locations.

I'll answer tomorrow if the question remains open till then, I don't
want to tie  it up overnight when I won't be working on it.

Clarification of Question by jim2003-ga on 05 Jan 2006 16:13 PST
Siliconsamurai - I don't know why the question is locked. Perhaps
easterangel has it tied up. Since I'm not a researcher, I don't know
what is going on. I put an email into Google Answer support on it
because it seemed like a bug to me everytime I post a clarification.

Anyway, I am awaiting your answer. Seems like you know what you are talking about.


Request for Question Clarification by easterangel-ga on 05 Jan 2006 17:55 PST
Hi again joe!

I apologize for not being able to free the answer immediately. Sorry
about that. I am confident my fellow researcher siliconsamurai will be
able to provide really great insights.

Again apologies for my error.

Best Regards,
Subject: Re: Home automation using X10 or other
Answered By: siliconsamurai-ga on 09 Jan 2006 05:12 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi, I think that there is little question that X-10 is your best bet
and you are already leaning that way so I will concentrate on that

There is much more to home automation systems than light control, for
example, if you have a telephone line to the vacation home you can
also add sensors to report temperature, water leaks, break-ins, fire,
and other features.

Alternative systems, Zigbee and Zwave are both radio frequency (RF)
based and are similar single-band wireless networks which require a
network controller. Neither is compatible with any inexpensive X-10

Zwave controls each have a repeater to improve range and increase
reliability but don?t use the power lines.

I recommend against both for this application.

X-10 operates via powerline control, that is, it runs through the property wiring.

But you can also add RF X-10 controls and components which operate
through the electrical wiring and wirelessly.

X-10 has a vast number of options available including the ability to
connect to phone lines and even computers if you desire, but for a
remote property you don?t need to use either and the system can rely
entirely on hardware programming so extended power outages are no
problem except that when the power returns it may turn on some

X-10 offers two basic kinds of controls ? lights and appliances. The
major benefit of this is that you can have all-on/all-off commands
which only affect the lights.

In addition to controllers which can be operated and polled (checked
for condition) remotely by telephone, there are inexpensive
wall-switch replacements which can manage multiple devices with
different buttons. There are also combination remotes which can
control TV, stereos, VCRs, etc. as well as X-10. These universal
remotes can even turn X-10 remotes on or off based on time periods ?
e.g. you can have a light turn off in 15 minutes.

Many fixed controls also let you program lights and appliance modules.

You can even use remote sensors to turn lights on and off based on
daylight, and others on for timed periods if triggered by motion.

If you add a single RF controller you can also add small programmable
battery powered sensors anyplace. I use them to turn on fountains and
some lights just for specific areas.

I use Smarthome Pro for the more sophisticated components and I
strongly suggest you check out their online catalog to see just what
is available.

This is a good source of the commercial-grade X-10 components from Levitron.

Especially for cameras, but also to get started with some really
amazing sale prices at times, you should check out and
even sign up for their weekly sale bulletins.

You can sometimes save up to 80 percent on package deals, although
these seldom if ever include wall switches, just the plug-in modules.

This is a perfect time to install a system because of the
recently-introduced Insteon which is more reliable than X-10 but is
backward compatible with X-10.

The major problem with X-10 is that there is usually no way for the
system itself to confirm that a command was received and acted upon.
Where this is important you need a system which verifies that the
action took place and resends a command if it doesn?t.

Insteon will do that for other Insteon components ? since this is
usually not a problem for most X-10 components you can use a
combination of the two.

There are many benefits to Insteon and it is only a bit more expensive
than X-10 so you could go with an all Insteon system if you don?t need
any of the special equipment only available for X-10 at this time (new
Insteon applications are being developed).

If reliability is a concern in this vacation home, I would recommend
buying a basic Insteon system for critical control points and adding
less-expensive but compatible X-10 components for other applications
in the same location.

A basic Insteon network consisting of a controller, two switches and
two combination switches/relays, lists for about $100.

If you have as big and complex a home automation system as I do, then
the fact that Insteon controllers can be programmed to have different
buttons control different X-10 channels (A,B,C, etc.) as well as
different number codes within each channel.

Just so you know the basis for my comments, I have fixed remote
wireless cameras in barns to monitor animals at birthing time ? the
range is about 300 ft.; remote X-10 signal smoke sensors; an X-10
compatible alarm system for intrusion, water leak, and other sensors;
internal and floodlight X-10 controls, many with dimmer features;
external and internal sensors which turn lights on for timed periods;
and four remote-control (X-10) pan and tilt color video cameras.

Just so you know, I am not in a high crime area, these are for
convenience, power savings, and to help monitor the activities of more
than 100 animals. The same sensor which detects a burglar moving
through the front yard or gate will also react to a horse or flock of
sheep so I have the sensor turn on a light in the office to alert me
and also turn on a cheap portable TV which picks up a camera view from
that location.

Although there is a vast additional amount of information on home
automation, I think this covers the basics and it would be much easier
to answer any additional specific questions as a clarification since I
don?t know much about your specific situation and needs.

I will be happy to provide more information but suggest you check out
the site first ? that will answer most questions and
may provoke other questions which I have direct experience with.

If you have a specific problem to address I can probably give you the
names of specific components to solve the problem.

Clarification of Answer by siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Jan 2006 04:58 PST
Thank you very much for the nice comment and even more for the very
nice tip - please feel free to post a note as a request for
clarification in this question if you have a specific question about
your situation and I will be happy to clarify that also - there are a
lot of options and neat tricks with X-10, far too many to cover

For example, if you happen to buy from smarthomepro and are buying
enough at one time to make a reasonable case for it and be worth the
trouble, especially if you have some sort of business already, you can
probably get dealer status and a nice discount.

You should also be sure to check the specials and close-out items at smarthomepro.

There are also easy and inexpensive ways to overcome problems of
limited range or bridging signals across different power line phases
but the best solution would depend on circumstances and probably don't
apply to a vacation home.

If you have special questions about remote monitoring or even remote
control for a property I can probably make specific suggestions as to
what equipment would be most suitable for that also.
jim2003-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $50.00
One of the best, most comprehensive answers to a question I have recieved.

Subject: Re: Home automation using X10 or other
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 09 Jan 2006 04:00 PST
Hi, I wasn't criticizing anyone, any researcher is welcome to answer
questions, I was just concerned that we might be having system trouble
Subject: Re: Home automation using X10 or other
From: easterangel-ga on 09 Jan 2006 20:17 PST
No siliconsamurai. It never crossed my mind  that you were criticizing
me or any researcher for that matter. I truly made a mistake on
holding the question so I apologize to both you and Jim.

Great answer by the way!

Subject: Re: Home automation using X10 or other
From: siliconsamurai-ga on 10 Jan 2006 04:45 PST
absolutely no reason to apologize, it happens to all of us, sometimes
just because of a local system crash or the press of other matters.
Subject: Re: Home automation using X10 or other
From: jim2003-ga on 29 May 2006 17:45 PDT
Siliconsamurai - Just curious, is still the preferred
X10 device source? I don't see much new there, but that may simply
mean there isn't much new.

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