I'm not asking for a spoon but I can't exactly figure out what X10 is still. I read it as a unit you plug into the wall and then plug any appliance into it. Or it comes in a light bulb type where you can put bulbs into it. But online I see them selling as light switches, keypads, plugs with wires on the side, what's the deal? What is it exactly?
I've never been known for brevity, but here goes. Basically, X-10 allows you to control household lighting and appliances through your existing home wiring. Modules consist of controllers, receivers, and transmitters. Controllers can be wired (i.e., replacing standard wall switches), wireless (where the receiver is plugged into an AC outlet), or computer controlled (where a serial or USB port is connected to a AC outlet interface). Receivers can be plug-in modules, replacement wall switches, replacement AC outlets, direct-wired into the house wiring or device, etc. Transmitters can be any of the above plus RF, IR, and other crossover methods.
Originally Posted by Maheriano
More advanced X-10 systems incorporate security systems, IR transmitters & receivers, and extensive computer automation to tie everything together. Anything you can imagine can be monitored or controlled via various combinations of the considerable available modules, like drapes, driveway sensors, mailbox sensors, garage door closers (several of us went back and forth years ago on what was the most efficient way to check if the garage door was open and if so close it when the system did its nightly bed check.) I've had mine maintain my pool pH, notify me via text msg if my basement flooded, automate my HVAC to turn the heat down after I go to bed and back up an hour before I wake, an away mode turns lights on and off thru the house to appear occupied when I'm away, my main computers speak to me when certain sensors are tripped while the others chime one tune for the front door and another for the back, the main automation computer runs programs whenever certain conditions are met with the automation system, scenes can be created for one button control(for instance a movie night scene shuts off certain lights, dims others, closes the drapes, engages the movie screen, starts the projector, etc.), my rain sensor disables the sprinkler system, and the list goes on and on and on.
Smart Home is a great resource to find out what the latest and greatest modules are, but I rarely buy from them (Too expensive). X10.Com is the cheapest online retailer of x-10 modules, but there are several other brands that are compatible (Sears, Radio Shack, HomeVision, Leviton, Insteon, etc). I use ActiveHome software cause its cheap and does most of what I need currently, although I also have several other software running to do other automation stuff. Many others I know like PowerHome.
Much like this (Carputers) hobby, lots of research, trial and error, money, time, and effort is required to get an X-10 home automation system to do everything you want it to. The X-10.com site has simple tutorials for the beginner. JohnWPB says CocoonTech is a one stop shop for info on home automation akin to MP3Car. I've also found HomeSeer.com a good resource.
Enough from me, have fun.
That's helpful but how does it work? It sits on the outlet or switch side and receives data from a controller and controls the appliance accordingly? Would I need a separate controller hardware piece to hook to my computer? Why not just use bluetooth? Can I just buy the receiver and make custom light switches and such?
OK, so I went through every link you posted, and I think I have it now.
The user has a remote and pushes a button to send a command code like A10 or C4 or whatever. This gets broadcast 100 feet in all directions and picked up by a transceiver plugged in somewhere in the home with that code assigned to it. That transceiver sends a signal with the code through all the wiring in the house and it's picked up only by a receiver with that code assigned to it and does the preprogrammed action on the appliance.
I like it but I have one last question. In all the links I didn't see anywhere about actually building it right into your home behind the walls. It's just gyprock, plaster and paint, cut it open and get in there. So what's the best way to do it if you don't mind doing a wall biopsy?
That's the whole point - no wall biopsy!!!! You replace your existing light switches, AC outlets, thermostat, etc. with the X-10 modules, plug in a transmitter and voila - Home Automation.
The best way to do it is buy a computer controller starter kit ~$50. They usually come with the computer interface, a wireless transceiver, a wireless remote, and 2-4 receiver modules. Plug it in and start playing. Then add some more, and add some more , and upgrade software, and add some more, and add some cameras, and add some more.......
X-10 has starter kits.
The kits are pretty ugly though with the big white transceivers and the dials and ugly buttons. There must be a better way to put it in the wall behind the switchboxes. Unless I wasn't looking at the right kits.
The kits are ugly. I prefer the switch replacements and AC outlet replacements. For my two transceivers, I have one hidden away in a closets nad the other is in the garage.
You asked the best (I assumed cheapest :yield:) way to do it. X-10 switch replacements usually run about 20 bucks but I also have some Levitons that run $60 just because their more stylish and have two way dimmers. To start off playing with a couple things to see if its really what you want to get into, an ugly starter kit is an easy entry.
You've undoubtedly seen how this hobby can grow on you, well home automation is worse. And the $$$ get bigger faster. Imagine replacing every light switch in your home for $60 each, half your AC outlets for $20 each, $200 for a thermostat, $400 for security cameras, $600 for computer interface and software, $1200 for video distribution, , etc. Then you've got upgrades cause the cheap stuff doesn't talk back to the computer. Then you've got replacement issues cause a 60 Watt switch burns up running a 100Watt bulb or you've put an on/off switch on a bulb you want a dimmer on. Then you want to expand the system to the garage, sprinklers, pool, driveway, mailbox, and on and on and on.... I know some guys with $20-30 grand into their systems and the keep expanding. So throwing $50 into the ring to try it out and see if it can do what you want it to accomplish is a small cover charge. If you like the results and possibilities - expand and keep the "uglies" for backup. If you don't, throw everything in the trash and write it off as a learning experience (actually you can send it to me :tape:).
While you're playing with the starter kit, start reading the forums. I know you said they not big on computer automation but as you learn more about the systems capabilities and all the different computer software that works with X-10 you'll see its not really much different than here. Their emphasis is making the hardware interface with the house, so once that's done getting the computer to control it is a no-brainer.
Many subscribe to my philosophy that "Laziness is the mother of invention," so they want to sit on the couch with a remote and control everything. As soon as you start talking touchscreens, LCDs, and computers they immediately think high-end systems. Take it one step at a time. Read up on the functions that you want to include. Read up on the vast array of computer software out there (akin to the numerous front-ends here - there are many different kinds with different interfaces, and some are better than others at particular tasks). Download demos, shareware, freeware and play around with your "ugly" starter kit. And then begin to formulate what are your system needs and how to achieve them. I personally go to smartHome to see what's the best, check X-10 for the cheapest and then decide where in-between my budget will allow (I got my $800 video distribution system for under $300 on eBay).
I'm sure you didn't build your Carputer without research, this is no different. Actually this is easier cause you can go in stages, room by room. And with your carputer experience you're ahead of the game. Yes, there are several brands above X-10 that are reasonable (Sears, RCA, Leviton). And there are better looking, more reliable, more efficient hardware available, but you'll learn about those as you go along. And yes with any hobby, there are going to be setbacks like signals not reaching from one end of the house to the other, interference from certain appliances, noise on the power lines and such. Headaches, but not insurmountable.
Careful what you ask for?
Nice, that's a great writeup, thanks. My plan is to build a house within 2 years and I want to do all the research before then so I've got it figured out and I'm not scrambling for answers before they seal the walls up. Also my dad's got a cabin which has been a project of his for 30 years so the wiring is easily accessible if I want to test things out.
If you're building a home, you might want to spend more time on the LAN and video distribution. Most folks I know put in an extra junction box in every room, but instead of electrical wiring use it for the phone, LAN and video hookup.[media]http://cache.smarthome.com/images/85513w.jpg[/media]
The last house I had built had Cat5, rj58, and rj11, but with these you can mix and match anything you want.
[media]http://cache.smarthome.com/images/86812a.jpg[/media] or the cheapest.
Unlike X-10, video and LAN do need to be run through the walls prior to plaster. Personally, 54G wireless works well for me so I don't have much LAN wiring and I have access to the cable coming into the house (in my basement) which is right next to the main breakerbox so that's where my video distribution system is located. Some folks put theirs in a closet with a VCR, DVD, DVR, and computer to make inputs and changing media easier; others have I/O ports in some rooms to send signals to the distribution system from non-dedicated components (i.e., the family room DVD is directly connected to the home entertainment system but also feeds Channel 56 on the cable to every other TV in the house). A completely centralized system makes IR wiring easier and less obnoxious looking, but there are other remote options available. All things to be considered/planned prior to putting up walls.