What is X10? - smart home on a budget
'Home automation made easy'
by Adrian Biffen
AeroHOST Web Systems
Bulletin: RollerTrol™ Automation Systems is Launched!
X10 is a communications 'language' protocol that allows compatible products to talk to each other via the existing 110V electrical wiring in the home. Costly rewiring of your home is unnecessary - a major benefit, saving time and money. Up to 256 different addresses are available and each device you use usually requires a unique address. However, if you want more than one device to respond to the same signal, simply set them to the same address. (for complementary home automation products such as lighting control and motorized blinds and shades, see our home automation DIY kit article)
Any product displaying this symbol transmits x10 signals. These transmitting units send a coded low voltage data signal that is super-imposed over the 120 volt A/C lines in your house. A transmitter is usually capable of sending up to 256 different addresses on the AC line, and multiple transmitters can send signals to the same module.
Any product displaying this symbol transmits and receives x10 signals. Like regular receivers and transmitters, they can communicate on all 256 addresses. When used with some computer controllers, a 2-way module can report its status.
Any product displaying this symbol receives x10 signals. Devices with this symbol catch the special signals sent by the transmitters. Once a matching signal comes in, the device responds and turns ON or OFF. Receivers generally have "code dials" that are set by the user to set the address. Multiple devices with the same code can exist in the same house.
Any product displaying this symbol only works with RF receiver modules. Use these modules to transmit and receive radio frequency signals. Includes devices such as wireless motion sensors and remote controls.
A plug-in transceiver unit with an antenna receives the radio signal from the wireless units (eg. motion detectors) and puts the X10 signal onto the line (Like a garage door remote activates the opener). These units are not able to directly control an X10 receiver, a plug-in transceiver module must be used. The signals can then be read directly by X10 modules, OR the Activehome Pro central computer module can receive the signals and take action according to a pre-defined program script that you design on your PC.
Activehome Pro's scheduling capability is flexible, so you can vary the times that lights and appliances turn on or off to make your home look lived-in. Scheduling light and appliance activity with Activehome Pro can even help you manage your energy consumption.
What is a smart home?
We believe it is what you want it to be. For some, it could be as simple as automatic timed control of a few lights and appliances. For others, intelligent security features may be the most important. Whole house audio/video is another feature that can make your house smarter.
Making your house smarter is like decorating your home:
You can go all out and put in all the bells and whistles at once or you can build it up a little at a time as your needs and budget allow.
Making your house smarter does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Many of the products we carry are not available anywhere else. Most of the products can be easily installed by the average do-it-yourselfe (for complementary home automation products such as lighting control and motorized blinds and shades, see our home automation DIY kit article). Our tech support department is specially trained to help you with your selections and with your installation.
A smarter house has many benefits:
A smarter house saves energy and helps the environment through intelligent control of lighting, heating and cooling. A smarter house can protect your family and possessions from an increasingly violent and crime ridden society through sophisticated security and surveillance systems. Home Theater systems allow you to enjoy music and video from anywhere in your house. The elderly and disabled can have full control of the home from their fingertips.
X10 has been around since the 1970's:
So it is a tried and tested technology. There are hundreds of compatible devices available and many more are in development. Manual remote control was about all you could do when x10 first came out ... so, what's changed?
The big news is that you can now have a 'standalone' mini-computer, combined with wireless motion detectors, that greatly enhances the level of automation you can accomplish, with user-friendly, 'point and click' control routines designed on a regular Windows™ PC.
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