X10 Community Forum

🔌General Home Automation => Automating Your House => Topic started by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 03:15:36 AM

Title: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 03:15:36 AM
I'm interested in having remote access for the purpose of turning off devices when I'm not using them to conserve power. Unfortunately, it looks like X10's solution, AHP, involves a USB device hooked up to a PC, that needs to stay on for remote access. Keeping the PC on would negate any power savings I could ever achieve. At 40c/kWH (peak PG&E summer tier - now you can see why I want to save power) the cost of keeping the PC 24/7 would be prohibitive.
I'm also concerned about the fact that AHP uses a USB device that requires a driver, which may not work long-term on future versions of Windows. As well as the fact that it requires an x10 service.
I'm looking for a device with low power consumption and usable through a web browser, that I can open a port for on my firewall - something that doesn't require a PC to be on, and thus doesn't require a driver. Does x10 make such a device ? If not, what other suitable devices are you using ?
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 13, 2010, 04:51:25 AM
Smarthome sells a powerlinc that hooks up to your router
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 13, 2010, 08:28:44 AM
I'm interested in having remote access ............... to conserve power.
The best way to conserve power is to just turn things off. Automation has many advanages... including being able to conserve energy but with limits.
At 40c/kWH (peak PG&E summer tier - now you can see why I want to save power)
Most of that cost is TAX. Home Automation products do nothing to reduce taxes. Are you wanting to save power... or money?
the cost of keeping the PC 24/7 would be prohibitive.
Many low power PC's are available.
I'm looking for a device with low power consumption and usable through a web browser, that I can open a port for on my firewall - something that doesn't require a PC to be on, and thus doesn't require a driver. Does x10 make such a device ? If not, what other suitable devices are you using ?
You may want to research Elk [alarm and automation] products.

Please note: Energy costs to the consumer have very little to do with the actual cost of energy. The percentage of the cost as profit to energy suppliers is also very low (as a percentage of investment) as that is also regulated. The outrageous cost of energy today is caused by government regulation. The purpose of the regulation is to inflate energy costs out of reach of most users.

In a environment this hostile to the consumer... there is no actionable resolution.. as far as energy usage.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Oldtimer on November 13, 2010, 11:23:04 AM
Smarthome sells a powerlinc that hooks up to your router

Would you please give us a link.  All I foiund was for USB or RS-232.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: anthonylavado on November 13, 2010, 11:38:49 AM
I believe Brandt was talking about the SmartLinc as seen here: http://www.smarthome.com/2412N/SmartLinc-INSTEON-Central-Controller/p.aspx

It has it's advantages and disadvantages. It'll get the basic work done though. Make sure you read up extensively on the subject. During my month long investigation before I got started with home automation, I spent a good week looking at the SmartLinc, then decided it wasn't for me.

It still may do the trick for you.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 13, 2010, 02:28:06 PM
If your looking for basic "remote" control for turning lights off the TouchTone Controller (http://www.x10.com/products/x10_tr16a.htm) can handle that. Although it may take a bit of looking and searching to still find one.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 13, 2010, 03:17:09 PM
Good one Dave I didn't think of that because I don't have a land line  -:)

I saw one at Fry's the other day...
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 06:02:26 PM
Hi,

I'm interested in having remote access ............... to conserve power.
The best way to conserve power is to just turn things off. Automation has many advanages... including being able to conserve energy but with limits.

Yes, the goal is to turn things ofF. x10 allows turning things off conveniently with the use of appliance modules.
It's much easier to send an x10 command to turn on/off the 5-10 transformers in each room, than plug them/unplug them one at a time every time I want to use or stop using them. Timers can help, but I am not on a fixed schedule so I want the ability to remote control.

Quote
At 40c/kWH (peak PG&E summer tier - now you can see why I want to save power)
Most of that cost is TAX. Home Automation products do nothing to reduce taxes. Are you wanting to save power... or money?

Actually, that is the cost per kWH before taxes. Taxes are additional. And it doesn't matter since they are proportional to the power usage. If I save power, I save money. So the answer is, I want to save both.

Quote
the cost of keeping the PC 24/7 would be prohibitive.
Many low power PC's are available.

Link ? How many watts ? How much space does it need ? Keyboard, mouse, display, etc ?
Even so, I don't want to pay for a Windows license, and for a USB interface that may become obsolete over time when there are no drivers for Windows 8. I feel like a device with an Ethernet plug and web access has longer-term potential. I'm quite set on not using a general-purpose computer for this, I prefer an embedded system.

Quote
I'm looking for a device with low power consumption and usable through a web browser, that I can open a port for on my firewall - something that doesn't require a PC to be on, and thus doesn't require a driver. Does x10 make such a device ? If not, what other suitable devices are you using ?
You may want to research Elk [alarm and automation] products.

Thanks, I will.

Quote
Please note: Energy costs to the consumer have very little to do with the actual cost of energy. The percentage of the cost as profit to energy suppliers is also very low (as a percentage of investment) as that is also regulated. The outrageous cost of energy today is caused by government regulation. The purpose of the regulation is to inflate energy costs out of reach of most users.

In a environment this hostile to the consumer... there is no actionable resolution.. as far as energy usage.

I'm not looking for a political debate here. It's not in my power as an individual to control the cost of energy, but it is in my power to reduce usage - that is certainly actionable. And I'm looking to x10 to help with that.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 06:03:51 PM
I believe Brandt was talking about the SmartLinc as seen here: http://www.smarthome.com/2412N/SmartLinc-INSTEON-Central-Controller/p.aspx

It has it's advantages and disadvantages. It'll get the basic work done though. Make sure you read up extensively on the subject. During my month long investigation before I got started with home automation, I spent a good week looking at the SmartLinc, then decided it wasn't for me.

It still may do the trick for you.

Thanks. I saw that one. But the reviews on Amazon indicate x10 support on it is tricky and somewhat of an after-thought. Is there any network appliance designed mainly with x10 in mind ?
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 06:05:35 PM
If your looking for basic "remote" control for turning lights off the TouchTone Controller (http://www.x10.com/products/x10_tr16a.htm) can handle that. Although it may take a bit of looking and searching to still find one.

Thanks, but I'm looking for Internet access, not phone. I have a large house with 16.5 rooms. By the time I'm done with automation I will have lots of x10 codes. It would be very painful to enter through phone. I want web browser control.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: anthonylavado on November 13, 2010, 10:57:54 PM
Is there any network appliance designed mainly with x10 in mind ?
No unfortunately. Even the (expensive) ISY interfaces require a serial controller to interface with.
If you really wanted to get into using an "embedded" device, something to look into would be a Sheevaplug with a CM11A like Brandt has been using.

I'm actually in the process of getting HEYU to run with PlugBox Linux on my PogoPlug v2 that I picked up for $49. Only uses about 5w compared to my 300w Pentium 4 :)
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 13, 2010, 11:05:33 PM
Is there any network appliance designed mainly with x10 in mind ?
If you really wanted to get into using an "embedded" device, something to look into would be a Sheevaplug with a CM11A like Brandt has been using.

I'm actually in the process of getting HEYU to run with PlugBox Linux on my PogoPlug v2 that I picked up for $49. Only uses about 5w compared to my 300w Pentium 4 :)


Sounds interesting. I'm a software guy and I could probably do something like that too. But life is too short. And as I understand the CM11A is discontinued. I would rather buy something pre-built and made for x10. Even if it costs twice as much as the Smartlinc device. Too bad it doesn't seem to exist :-(

My google searches found the following : http://www.webio.us/ . This sounds like it might be suitable. Has anyone else tried it ?

I might have to give the Smartlinc a try and see just how bad it is.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 14, 2010, 12:19:35 AM
I might have to give the Smartlinc a try and see just how bad it is.

Your heading..... in the wrong direction.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 14, 2010, 12:26:44 AM
I might have to give the Smartlinc a try and see just how bad it is.

Your heading..... in the wrong direction.

Thanks for the helpful reply.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 14, 2010, 05:24:03 PM
I am using the $99 Sheevaplug which is a little bigger than a wal-wart and uses 2-7watts depending on how active it is. If you want, I could walk you through my setup.

Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 14, 2010, 05:34:26 PM
I am using the $99 Sheevaplug which is a little bigger than a wal-wart and uses 2-7watts depending on how active it is. If you want, I could walk you through my setup.



Yes, I'm interested !

Thanks.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: pconroy on November 14, 2010, 06:26:16 PM
There are several low power computers.
Personally that's the way I'd head.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 14, 2010, 06:30:56 PM
I am using the $99 Sheevaplug which is a little bigger than a wal-wart and uses 2-7watts depending on how active it is. If you want, I could walk you through my setup.



Yes, I'm interested !

Thanks.


My setup involves Linux command line...are you comfortable with that?
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 14, 2010, 07:56:45 PM
I am using the $99 Sheevaplug which is a little bigger than a wal-wart and uses 2-7watts depending on how active it is. If you want, I could walk you through my setup.



Yes, I'm interested ! But I hope your remote access doesn't involve typing commands each time you want to turn a module on/off.

Thanks.


My setup involves Linux command line...are you comfortable with that?

Yes. I'm a software engineer.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 14, 2010, 10:09:00 PM
Please check out the ISY99 first!
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: kevinwheeler on November 15, 2010, 01:09:04 PM
I just went through this whole process myself, as I have 10's of light/appliance/outlet X10 devices, as well as the DS7000 system with many motion sensors and Door switches, and 4 X10 cameras with Ninja (robotic pan/tilt) devices. I also looked at most of the devices (Smarthome stuff, the ISY-99i) and other solutions, and had been rather disappointed with the MyHouse add-on as well as the high "cost" (power, etc.) of a PC. But after they introduced their new "Mobile" apps and moved the web server to your local PC (Active Phone, iWatchMobile Pro, OnAlert Mobile), I decided to go with a PC based solution. I found this unit at Newegg - an Atom system for $129 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119025), added a hard drive, memory, DVD and USB hub all for under $300 and have a very nice low power system (normally runs under 20W per my UPS). I have an old keyboard/mouse/monitor attached, although I almost never use it - I use VNC for remote access and have the BIOS configured to ignore mouse/keyboard errors.

If you treat this system more like a hardware box (find an old copy of XP, add the free Microsoft Security Essentials, turn off automatic updates), then you won't need to worry about your stuff being obsoleted - if it works now it will keep working until you change something.

This was the only solution for my X10 cameras - nothing else works as well. If you don't have any cameras yet you can buy IP ready pan/tilt cameras for about $80 apiece that you can control directly, but I already had the X10 stuff and it all ties in together nicely. I also have the firecracker USB (CM19A) device and so I can support any of the X10 wireless devices as well. And sophisticated macros and "standalone" timers through the CM15A, as well as e-mails or phone calls via a USB voice modem.

Anyway, just my $.02.

Kevin
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 15, 2010, 03:19:06 PM
If your looking for basic "remote" control for turning lights off the TouchTone Controller (http://www.x10.com/products/x10_tr16a.htm) can handle that. Although it may take a bit of looking and searching to still find one.

Thanks, but I'm looking for Internet access, not phone. I have a large house with 16.5 rooms. By the time I'm done with automation I will have lots of x10 codes. It would be very painful to enter through phone. I want web browser control.



I dunno if x10 is a good idea with that many rooms....anybody??
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 15, 2010, 03:25:26 PM
Please check out the ISY99 first!

Thanks ! It appears that it would meet my needs. Why did you go the custom route ? Is it because of the price ? Or some missing functionality ?
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 15, 2010, 03:31:38 PM
Hi,

I just went through this whole process myself, as I have 10's of light/appliance/outlet X10 devices, as well as the DS7000 system with many motion sensors and Door switches, and 4 X10 cameras with Ninja (robotic pan/tilt) devices. I also looked at most of the devices (Smarthome stuff, the ISY-99i) and other solutions, and had been rather disappointed with the MyHouse add-on as well as the high "cost" (power, etc.) of a PC. But after they introduced their new "Mobile" apps and moved the web server to your local PC (Active Phone, iWatchMobile Pro, OnAlert Mobile), I decided to go with a PC based solution. I found this unit at Newegg - an Atom system for $129 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119025), added a hard drive, memory, DVD and USB hub all for under $300 and have a very nice low power system (normally runs under 20W per my UPS). I have an old keyboard/mouse/monitor attached, although I almost never use it - I use VNC for remote access and have the BIOS configured to ignore mouse/keyboard errors.

If you treat this system more like a hardware box (find an old copy of XP, add the free Microsoft Security Essentials, turn off automatic updates), then you won't need to worry about your stuff being obsoleted - if it works now it will keep working until you change something.

This was the only solution for my X10 cameras - nothing else works as well. If you don't have any cameras yet you can buy IP ready pan/tilt cameras for about $80 apiece that you can control directly, but I already had the X10 stuff and it all ties in together nicely. I also have the firecracker USB (CM19A) device and so I can support any of the X10 wireless devices as well. And sophisticated macros and "standalone" timers through the CM15A, as well as e-mails or phone calls via a USB voice modem.

Anyway, just my $.02.

Kevin

Thanks. I don't have X10 cameras at this time. And not sure that I would want them. 20W is a little bit higher than I'm looking for though it might be livable. How is the noise ? Some people on newegg complain it's not that quiet. Does it have a fan ? Having a hard drive is a major downside reliability wise and noise wise.
I'm still not crazy about using windows. My preference would go to some diskless embedded device with network interface.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 15, 2010, 03:36:22 PM
If your looking for basic "remote" control for turning lights off the TouchTone Controller (http://www.x10.com/products/x10_tr16a.htm) can handle that. Although it may take a bit of looking and searching to still find one.

Thanks, but I'm looking for Internet access, not phone. I have a large house with 16.5 rooms. By the time I'm done with automation I will have lots of x10 codes. It would be very painful to enter through phone. I want web browser control.



I dunno if x10 is a good idea with that many rooms....anybody??

It is a 5000 sq ft house. I'm going to check out how reliable x10 is in the place before I buy the remote server.
I just ordered a dryer type phase coupler/repeater from Smarthome so I can pass commands around. I will see if the X10 commands can get through or not between rooms, and how far. I have a few spare x10 appliance modules to test with. It's possible I will need more repeaters.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 15, 2010, 04:33:23 PM
ick...i used to have one of those dryer type couplers....it was terrible...with that size house i would recommend an XTB-IIR
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 15, 2010, 04:34:44 PM
I went the custom route because I'm not all about just throwing money at things to make them work, I'm more into DIY and flexibility to do what I want.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 15, 2010, 04:39:51 PM
................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.

More repeaters? If you have two repeaters... and one heard a signal from another... and repeated it. And then the first repeater heard that repeated signal and repeated that.... where would it all stop?

I think the best repeater on the market is made by Jeff Volp... and may very well be what you need. I would consider returning the one to Smarthome and contact Jeff (http://jvde.us/). His repeater... is famous!
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 15, 2010, 04:59:51 PM
..... I also looked at most of the devices (Smarthome stuff, the ISY-99i) and other solutions, and had been rather disappointed with the MyHouse add-on as well as the high "cost" (power, etc.) of a PC. But after they introduced their new "Mobile" apps and moved the web server to your local PC (Active Phone, iWatchMobile Pro, OnAlert Mobile), I decided to go with a PC based solution. I found this unit at Newegg - an Atom system for $129 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119025 Anyway, just my $.02.

Kevin Your solution is elegantly simple, you did a great job. I don't care what anybody says, IMHO: Nothing beats a computer for making a home smart. If someone doesn't think their convenience, safety, and security is worth burning a few watts... lets hope they live alone.

I use an old P3 to control and monitor my home. I rescued it from the trash and recycled it with a used (flea market find) RAM upgrade. I have a YouTube Video (http://www.youtube.com/suitmanIM) that shows just a small part of what I do using the Home Automation PC.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 15, 2010, 07:50:45 PM
ick...i used to have one of those dryer type couplers....it was terrible...with that size house i would recommend an XTB-IIR

Just coupler or coupler-repeater ?
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 15, 2010, 07:55:36 PM
Dave,

................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.

More repeaters? If you have two repeaters... and one heard a signal from another... and repeated it. And then the first repeater heard that repeated signal and repeated that.... where would it all stop?

I think the best repeater on the market is made by Jeff Volp... and may very well be what you need. I would consider returning the one to Smarthome and contact Jeff (http://jvde.us/). His repeater... is famous!

Looks nice, but requires work at the electrical panel. Also, the site says some parts are backordered until 7/11/2011 . I guess it's not really an option.

I should have said more amplifiers, not repeaters - you are right, only one repeater is needed.
I see that Smarthome has some plug-in amplifier models, but very pricey ...
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: kevinwheeler on November 15, 2010, 11:07:37 PM
I'm not a big Windows fan either, but I just consider this box a turnkey and don't worry about the OS. As for a hard drive, if you want to spend a little more you can get a nice 64GB solid state drive for around $100 - that should cut down power, heat and noise. As I recall this unit has a fan on the power supply, another on the side of the case, and a small CPU fan. But I really don't hear the machine at all because it is in the basement on a small shelf near the circuit breakers, phone and cable entrances and my cable modem and wireless router. But you might want to re-think about cameras. Even if you don't want to use them for security or have them pan/tilt, a couple around the house to spot-check on really important locations that your lights/appliances actually turned off or on or that the garage door is open or closed are a great addition. Remember that almost all of the X10 stuff is really only one-way communications - you can tell that you sent a command but you can't be sure that the device received it. The only practical way to do that is to use the Insteon stuff but at $35 or more per device that can get real expensive real soon. And the hardware devices can get obsolete even quicker than a computer. But if you want a little more time before your stuff is obsolete pay the man (Bill Gates) and put Windows 7 on the box (still keeping it turnkey). All the new X10 stuff has been upgraded and works fine with Windows 7. So it will be quite a while before your X10 gear will be obsolete.

Kevin
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 16, 2010, 11:14:58 AM
..... But you might want to re-think about cameras. Even if you don't want to use them for security or have them pan/tilt, a couple around the house to spot-check on really important locations

All the new X10 stuff has been upgraded and works fine with Windows 7. So it will be quite a while before your X10 gear will be obsolete.

Once again Kevin... I think your on top of this stuff!
 
There is a great deal of convenience in being able to see who pulled in the driveway, or what it was that triggered the floodlight on, or made that noise late at night. I also used a camera to check if my garage door was closed at night. That's a great feature... but now I use my garage door reminder macro (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?topic=14721.msg81860#msg81860).

Properly placed cameras can actually help deter an intruder. Of course... deterrents are sorta like elephant repellents. Living in a nice area in the midwest... it could be difficult to prove that ether the deterrent or repellent is working. But the convenience that the cameras bring is a great value by itself.

A lot of people automate around the edges of automation (and there is nothing wrong with that). They like the control of being able to turn on lights with a remote. And maybe they even setup a timer or two. But they get a little scared at the idea of turning control over to a computer, or a program. The excuses about OS's, hardware, wattage usage and such are meaningless.

Don't get me wrong, some do have true environmental concerns. I know the environmental movement has deep spiritual and religious roots (and I both except and respect that). To some people saving a little electric usage makes them feel good. I think it may be the same feeling I get when I donate to “toys for tots” (http://www.toysfortots.org/default.asp). For these/those people I think their sacrifice has a deeper meaning.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 16, 2010, 03:23:21 PM
Kevin,

I'm not a big Windows fan either, but I just consider this box a turnkey and don't worry about the OS. As for a hard drive, if you want to spend a little more you can get a nice 64GB solid state drive for around $100 - that should cut down power, heat and noise. As I recall this unit has a fan on the power supply, another on the side of the case, and a small CPU fan. But I really don't hear the machine at all because it is in the basement on a small shelf near the circuit breakers, phone and cable entrances and my cable modem and wireless router.

If I had to go with a PC I would definitely go with something driveless, SSD is a bit pricey but maybe a flash card if it's sufficiently fast. I still don't like the idea of having to maintain/back up the box. And possibly restore it if things fail. Anyway, I don't want a single point of failure, whether it's with an appliance or a PC, so I will have some manual remote switches first, and the automation server second.

Quote
But you might want to re-think about cameras. Even if you don't want to use them for security or have them pan/tilt, a couple around the house to spot-check on really important locations that your lights/appliances actually turned off or on or that the garage door is open or closed are a great addition.

I don't want to use x10 for lights, except in 2 rooms in the house. #1 is home theater, where the lights are already controller via IR543 from the couch, XPS3 from the wall, and an RF switch from the next room. #2 is my home office where there is an XPS3 wall switch behind a door, and an RF switch in a better location.
For most of my other lights (200+), I have put in vacancy switches. These are manual-on, auto-off. They turn off automatically after 30 minutes if one forgets to turn them off. The only switches I didn't convert to vacancy are for outside lights so they don't go off unless I press the switch, which is indoors. I rarely have the outdoor lights on except the porch, unless I have a party. For the porch I just put a photocell.

Quote
Remember that almost all of the X10 stuff is really only one-way communications - you can tell that you sent a command but you can't be sure that the device received it. The only practical way to do that is to use the Insteon stuff but at $35 or more per device that can get real expensive real soon. And the hardware devices can get obsolete even quicker than a computer. But if you want a little more time before your stuff is obsolete pay the man (Bill Gates) and put Windows 7 on the box (still keeping it turnkey). All the new X10 stuff has been upgraded and works fine with Windows 7. So it will be quite a while before your X10 gear will be obsolete.

Yes, I'm aware it is one-way. But I want to use x10 for controlling a large number of standby power loads, with a lot of transformers. The main way to check that they are really off would be to touch the transformers and see if they are hot or not. And then, only some amount of time after they are turned off, to make sure they have cooled down. Maybe an infrared camera would help for that. But I would still have to wait. And the power usage from the cameras might be more than what I am saving. Not to mention the camera cost, since there are so many rooms. So, I'm really not keen on having any indoor cameras.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 16, 2010, 03:43:41 PM
Dave,

..... But you might want to re-think about cameras. Even if you don't want to use them for security or have them pan/tilt, a couple around the house to spot-check on really important locations

All the new X10 stuff has been upgraded and works fine with Windows 7. So it will be quite a while before your X10 gear will be obsolete.

Once again Kevin... I think your on top of this stuff!
 
There is a great deal of convenience in being able to see who pulled in the driveway, or what it was that triggered the floodlight on, or made that noise late at night. I also used a camera to check if my garage door was closed at night. That's a great feature... but now I use my garage door reminder macro (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?topic=14721.msg81860#msg81860).

Properly placed cameras can actually help deter an intruder. Of course... deterrents are sorta like elephant repellents. Living in a nice area in the midwest... it could be difficult to prove that ether the deterrent or repellent is working. But the convenience that the cameras bring is a great value by itself.

Please note that I am not trying to solve any security problem at this time. I am purely trying to save money on electricity. These are 2 completely different problems.

Quote
A lot of people automate around the edges of automation (and there is nothing wrong with that). They like the control of being able to turn on lights with a remote. And maybe they even setup a timer or two. But they get a little scared at the idea of turning control over to a computer, or a program. The excuses about OS's, hardware, wattage usage and such are meaningless.

Don't get me wrong, some do have true environmental concerns. I know the environmental movement has deep spiritual and religious roots (and I both except and respect that). To some people saving a little electric usage makes them feel good. I think it may be the same feeling I get when I donate to “toys for tots” (http://www.toysfortots.org/default.asp). For these/those people I think their sacrifice has a deeper meaning.

There is nothing scary to me about computers whatsoever. I am just looking for the right kind of a computer, one that's low power and custom designed for a particular purpose. I think the reasons I am stating for not wanting to use a general-purpose computer are quite rational, and very far from meaningless. Not wanting fan noise, extra heat, extra power usage, maintenance of one more networked Windows PC with all that entails (anti-virus, etc) are reasons, not excuses. Don't be condescending just because they are not issues to you. They are to me.

And I'm not religious in any way. The "little electric usage" from standby power adds up. My house has 800 watts of standby power with no lights on according to the SmartMeter, and nothing turned on except the fridges/freezers, which don't even run all the time since they are Energy Star. That adds up to 19.2 kWh per day, which is 58% of my total daily electric usage at this time. With PG&E's insane summer electric rates, the electric bill has been $280 per month. And about half of that has been complete waste. A lot of which I intend to cut, hopefully with the help of x10. My motivation is to save money. Hopefully the sacrifice won't be too hard, it might be as simple as pressing one switch at the front door to turn everything back on when I come into the house, and again when I leave the house to turn them off. And additional timers/remote access if I forget. I might achieve more savings by doing this room-by-room, but it would be more inconvenience also. So I'm not quite sure yet which way I will go. Anyway, I need to make sure the x10 signals can reach throughout the house. The automation server is fairly secondary to my application.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: dave w on November 16, 2010, 05:23:01 PM
................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.
Looks nice, but requires work at the electrical panel. Also, the site says some parts are backordered until 7/11/2011 . I guess it's not really an option.

I should have said more amplifiers, not repeaters - you are right, only one repeater is needed.
Unless your house is very large (> 5000 or 6000 sq ft) or has distant outbuildings that you are trying to feed, one good repeater (like the XTB-IIR or ACT CR234) should be all you need.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Tuicemen on November 16, 2010, 05:25:43 PM
 madbrain:
I understand your reasoning, I too have limited power from which to draw from at my cottage (hope to be home in a few years)
I'm on solar/wind and sunny days are not an issue but as the nights get longer my power resever is harder to replenish.
The $99 Sheevaplug looks like the way to go to me.
Maybe put it on a timer so it isn't always on, only when you need it.

I've connected my router/modem combo to an x10 outlet and turn it off at night it made a big difference at the cottage.
Eliminating all thouse Phantom draws is a big plus for a off grid home.
 >!
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 16, 2010, 06:19:55 PM
Dave,

................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.

More repeaters? If you have two repeaters... and one heard a signal from another... and repeated it. And then the first repeater heard that repeated signal and repeated that.... where would it all stop?

I think the best repeater on the market is made by Jeff Volp... and may very well be what you need. I would consider returning the one to Smarthome and contact Jeff (http://jvde.us/). His repeater... is famous!

Looks nice, but requires work at the electrical panel. Also, the site says some parts are backordered until 7/11/2011 . I guess it's not really an option.

I should have said more amplifiers, not repeaters - you are right, only one repeater is needed.
I see that Smarthome has some plug-in amplifier models, but very pricey ...


The XTB-IIR does not necessarily require any work at the panel. You can connect a dryer plug to it and plug it in just like the other plugin ones you may see. That is what I'm doing. From there you plug in your computer powerline interface (cm15a/cm11a) directly into it, and it blasts ~8-9V of X10 signal throughout the house versus only 1-5V of X10 signal without it.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 16, 2010, 11:20:12 PM
................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.
Looks nice, but requires work at the electrical panel. Also, the site says some parts are backordered until 7/11/2011 . I guess it's not really an option.

I should have said more amplifiers, not repeaters - you are right, only one repeater is needed.
Unless your house is very large (> 5000 or 6000 sq ft) or has distant outbuildings that you are trying to feed, one good repeater (like the XTB-IIR or ACT CR234) should be all you need.

The house is 4700 sq ft. No distant outbuildings.
Looks like ACT CR234 is unavailable too. It doesn't seem to be plug-in either.

Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 16, 2010, 11:23:06 PM
Tuicemen,

madbrain:
I understand your reasoning, I too have limited power from which to draw from at my cottage (hope to be home in a few years)
I'm on solar/wind and sunny days are not an issue but as the nights get longer my power resever is harder to replenish.
The $99 Sheevaplug looks like the way to go to me.
Maybe put it on a timer so it isn't always on, only when you need it.

I've connected my router/modem combo to an x10 outlet and turn it off at night it made a big difference at the cottage.
Eliminating all thouse Phantom draws is a big plus for a off grid home.
 >!

I have solar as well for the last 3 weeks, but my house is grid tied. In the last few days I manually unplugged a bunch of things in my home theater with a power strip. The weather has been good and my meter showed 4131 today vs 4134 three days ago. Producing more power than I use is pretty good. I might be able to afford running the 8kWH sauna and 4 kWH spa heaters some day after all the phantom power is eliminated, without buying more solar panels.

Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 16, 2010, 11:34:18 PM
Dave,

................. It's possible I will need more repeaters.

More repeaters? If you have two repeaters... and one heard a signal from another... and repeated it. And then the first repeater heard that repeated signal and repeated that.... where would it all stop?

I think the best repeater on the market is made by Jeff Volp... and may very well be what you need. I would consider returning the one to Smarthome and contact Jeff (http://jvde.us/). His repeater... is famous!

Looks nice, but requires work at the electrical panel. Also, the site says some parts are backordered until 7/11/2011 . I guess it's not really an option.

I should have said more amplifiers, not repeaters - you are right, only one repeater is needed.
I see that Smarthome has some plug-in amplifier models, but very pricey ...


The XTB-IIR does not necessarily require any work at the panel. You can connect a dryer plug to it and plug it in just like the other plugin ones you may see. That is what I'm doing.

I guess I didn't see that in the instructions.

Quote
From there you plug in your computer powerline interface (cm15a/cm11a) directly into it, and it blasts ~8-9V of X10 signal throughout the house versus only 1-5V of X10 signal without it.

Well, I wouldn't want my computer anywhere near that dryer outlet. The laundry room is upstairs way in the back of the house. The home office is downstairs by the front door. These 2 rooms are as far as they can possibly be in the house. There is no network plug in the laundry room also, so I would have to add a wireless bridge. Another $100 and 3 watts standby. I would prefer to be able to send the signals over the powerline from downstairs and only have the coupler/repeater in the laundry room, but nothing else. Typically I will want to send the signals from downstairs through an RF wireless switch located by the front door, and sent to the power line via RF transceiver in the home office. If the signals can't get through from there, I may need to scrap the whole project. As I mentioned before, remote automation is secondary.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 17, 2010, 01:16:50 AM
Then I'd recommend the xtb-iir AND the Xtb.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: HA Dave on November 17, 2010, 09:13:28 AM
...... I would have to add a wireless bridge. Another $100 and 3 watts standby.

3 watts? You care about 3 watts? Do you realize that EVERY x10 module uses wattage... even when it just sits there and waits?

I had posted my thoughts about your thread. My post was deleted. Apparently.... environmentalism wins (too bad for X10). I guess there isn't much need for me to post here anymore.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brandt on November 17, 2010, 12:34:51 PM
...... I would have to add a wireless bridge. Another $100 and 3 watts standby.

3 watts? You care about 3 watts? Do you realize that EVERY x10 module uses wattage... even when it just sits there and waits?

I had posted my thoughts about your thread. My post was deleted. Apparently.... environmentalism wins (too bad for X10). I guess there isn't much need for me to post here anymore.

This is true, every home automation device uses wattage itself.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Tuicemen on November 17, 2010, 02:11:43 PM
Hey, I care about 3 watts it is those little 3 watt items that can leave me in the dark!
I had posted my thoughts about your thread. My post was deleted. Apparently.... environmentalism wins (too bad for X10). I guess there isn't much need for me to post here anymore.
Not sure why that happened Dave I'll see if I can find out what happened.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 17, 2010, 03:11:24 PM
...... I would have to add a wireless bridge. Another $100 and 3 watts standby.

3 watts? You care about 3 watts? Do you realize that EVERY x10 module uses wattage... even when it just sits there and waits?

I had posted my thoughts about your thread. My post was deleted. Apparently.... environmentalism wins (too bad for X10). I guess there isn't much need for me to post here anymore.

3 watts standby times 365 days times 24 hours is 26 kwH per year. I can run my 8kw sauna heater for 3.5 hours with those 3 watts. So yes, I care about every single watt.
And I do very well realize that x10 modules use power. I have measured the usage of the x10 appliance modules (AM466) to be about 0.4W using a kill-a-watt. Obviously I wouldn't connect anything to it that uses less than a few watts, or it wouldn't make sense to have the module inline to turn off the load.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 17, 2010, 04:35:08 PM
Hey, I care about 3 watts it is those little 3 watt items that can leave me in the dark!

Yup. And if you have lots of 3 watt items, it really adds up.
Here is an excerpt of the items I want to turn off when I'm not home and their standby wattage :

- 4 battery chargers that each use between 0.3 and 1.5 watts idle. I am thinking of putting them on a power strip, controlled by a module
- shredder uses 1watt when idle. Clearly doesn't need to be on when nobody is home !
- Brother MFC-9840CDW networked laser all-in-one uses 27.6 watts when idle . This has a clock, but it's not critical. Too bad it doesn't have built-in NTP client. The savings from having this turned on/off will be big.
- D-link wireless router uses 6.4 watts. But I'm not going to turn this off, I already have some internet monitoring for my solar system. And I plan to have remote x10 access.
- cable modem uses 5.9 watts. Again won't turn this off due to the solar monitoring. And I plan to have remote x10 access.
- HP LP3065 30" monitor still uses 5.8 watts idle.
- Ooma hub uses 7 watts idle. This provides my telephone connection. Right now it's hooked up between my modem and router. It could be hooked up after the router and turned off when I'm not home instead. Not sure.
- Panasonic cordless phone base. Uses 1.5 watt.
- 5 Panasonic handsets throughout the house. Use 2.5 watts each.

- Roland VS-3100 Pro mixer . Uses 10.6 watts idle. Already have this on an x10 wall switch.
- M-Audio BX5A speakers. Use 8.9w idle x2 . Already have this on an x10 wall switch.

In the home theater, tons of things have idle standby power.
Trendnet gigabit switch 2.1 watts.
Polk subwoofer 6.6watts
Yamaha receiver 2.2watts
Boston subwoofer 8.5watts
HTPC (Asleep) 5.5 watts. Can't turn this off or it won't record.
Dish 722 DVR . 50.7 watts !!! Can't turn this off or it won't record. The power usage from having this on standby is about $15/month, vs the $55/month satellite service bill.
Yamaha DVD changer 0.3 watts. I can still  turn this off if hooked up to a power strip with a bunch of thing in one x10 module.
Sony SACD changer. This has a front power switch and not remote controllable for power. 0W standby, but 16.4W if front switch is left on ...
Yamaha Cd changer. 7 watts standby. Clearly never needs to be on unless I'm home.
Channel master antenna amplifier. 2.9 watts. This needs to stay on or the DVR and HTPC can't record OTA signals.
Zektor audio switch. 3.5watts. Doesn't need to stay on.
Simple Tech Hard drive. The power supply uses 5.7 even if the drive is off!
HDMI switch 2.9watts. Doesn't do anything unless I'm watching.
x10 ir543 receiver . 0.9 watts. needs to stay on
20+ air wick warmers throughout the house. 2.5W each ! And I thought the oil cost for these was the main cost. But actually power is just as bad. And it still drinks power even if the oil is out.
washer and 110V gas dryer use 1.6watts each. No clock in those. It still makes sense to turn those off together via x10.
3 Roomba chargers that take 3 to 6watts standby each. I have to allow for enough time to recharge the roombas, so not sure how long I want to turn those off. These might be good candidates for timers.
toothbrush chargers use 1watt each whether the brushes are on it or not. Probably not worth controlling.
sharp microwave takes 1.6w idle just to keep the clock. I don't know why I need a clock on a microwave. Timer yes, but clock ?

And the list goes on. It took me a week to go over everything with a kill-a-watt. There are still a few things I haven't measured like the 2 garage openers on standby (which I may not want to turn off, anyway - but thinking about replacing because they have no built-in light when opening). I also couldn't measure several hardwired appliances either with the kill-a-watt. I may need to figure out the standby usage them using the smartmeter and turning off some breakers and seeing the difference.

All those things may look small by themselves (except the printer), but they actually add up to hundreds of watts. I have accounted for 642 of the roughly 800 watts of standby so far in my spreadsheet. I might end up turning things off selectively with 20 to 50 appliance modules throughout the house that use 0.4 to 0.5w each. It would still be a huge savings.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: dave w on November 17, 2010, 08:39:59 PM
I might end up turning things off selectively with 20 to 50 appliance modules throughout the house that use 0.4 to 0.5w each. It would still be a huge savings.
I can't explain this discrepancy with your Kill-A-Watt readings unless it has to do with the purely reactive power supply in the Lamp and Appliance Modules. But back in the mid 80s, the X10 VP of Technology Development told me no load current of the modules is 3 to 4 watts. Just the fact that they always feel a bit warm tells me they are sucking more than 5 tenths of a watt.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 17, 2010, 08:51:05 PM
Dave,

I might end up turning things off selectively with 20 to 50 appliance modules throughout the house that use 0.4 to 0.5w each. It would still be a huge savings.
I can't explain this discrepancy with your Kill-A-Watt readings unless it has to do with the purely reactive power supply in the Lamp and Appliance Modules. But back in the mid 80s, the X10 VP of Technology Development told me no load current of the modules is 3 to 4 watts. Just the fact that they always feel a bit warm tells me they are sucking more than 5 tenths of a watt.

I haven't noticed any of my x10 modules running hot. Is it possible that x10 has been improving their power efficiency over time ? My oldest modules are from maybe 1999 or 2000. I have some x10 brand and some RadioShack. The kill-a-watt (P4460) measurements where the same. Perhaps they are inaccurate. These are readings over a short period of time. I just plugged it in for about minute and looked at the watts display, and it fluctuated from 0.4 to 0.5. I will try to run it longer term against one module without anything plugged into it and see what the usage comes to.

FYI, it looks like somebody else did measurements on x10 modules :
http://davehouston.net/x10-power.htm
They list 0.4W for the AM486 . Mine are mostly AM466 .
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: troll334 on November 18, 2010, 02:06:35 PM
Madbrain,
Forgive me for budding in...couldn't help myself. Have you tried running X10 on your inverter yet (assuming you're running
true sinewave)? I've been thinking about it as I decommission TM751's and RR501's. I've got so many good dreams...
We'll see if Outback's really true sinewave or not :).
tnx,
mike
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: madbrain on November 18, 2010, 02:14:50 PM
Madbrain,
Forgive me for budding in...couldn't help myself. Have you tried running X10 on your inverter yet (assuming you're running
true sinewave)? I've been thinking about it as I decommission TM751's and RR501's. I've got so many good dreams...
We'll see if Outback's really true sinewave or not :).
tnx,
mike

I'm running Enphase microinverters. And my solar system is grid-tied. So, no true sinewave for me. I'm running x10 on the inverters - no need to ever turn them off.

EDIT: I meant I am NOT running x10 on the inverters ;)

Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: troll334 on November 18, 2010, 02:51:17 PM
Ah, very good. I'm off-grid for Fridge, freezer, some CF's and an entertainment center. A wonderful thing in S. Fla after
Wilma trashed us. Well, if I decide I can smoke a transceiver or two, I'll try it out and let you folks know. After all, what
better system to reduce energy usage than on a battery powered AC system... X10's a natural no-brainer there.
tnx,
mike
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Brian H on November 18, 2010, 02:58:40 PM
I fried an earlier version TM751 on an APC UPS. While running on battery. Yes it isn't a pure sine wave type.
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Tuicemen on November 20, 2010, 01:11:01 PM
Ah, very good. I'm off-grid for Fridge, freezer, some CF's and an entertainment center. A wonderful thing in S. Fla after
Wilma trashed us. Well, if I decide I can smoke a transceiver or two, I'll try it out and let you folks know. After all, what
better system to reduce energy usage than on a battery powered AC system... X10's a natural no-brainer there.
tnx,
mike

I run X10 on a true sine wave inverter (Magnum) You should have no problem with an Outback!
The only issues I have is if I max out the inverters out put.
This causes some phantom signals But I think I've got them pin pointed now.
 >!
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: jbmcc on April 14, 2014, 02:28:18 PM
I see this is an older post and you may have solved it already, but I had a thought:  I am using an Arduino Uno with a Sain-Smart ethernet shield.  I know others have been able to control X10 devices with an Arduino also.  Could you use the Adduino/ethernet setup to be an interface with the X10 system?  If anyone wants my Arduino code, please post and I'll be happy to post it.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Remote Internet access to x10 without leaving home PC on
Post by: Noam on April 18, 2014, 01:41:34 PM
I see this is an older post and you may have solved it already, but I had a thought:  I am using an Arduino Uno with a Sain-Smart ethernet shield.  I know others have been able to control X10 devices with an Arduino also.  Could you use the Adduino/ethernet setup to be an interface with the X10 system?  If anyone wants my Arduino code, please post and I'll be happy to post it.  Good luck!
I suppose it is possible to do it that way, and I found a few examples online - but none were quite there yet.
In my case, my Arduino is connected to the TW523 emulation port on my XTB-IIR.