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Author Topic: Does any of this stuff actually work?  (Read 15925 times)

Dan Lawrence

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2008, 11:43:00 PM »

Thanks, Jeff.

I've bookmarked the main site and X10 Tutorial for my browser.
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I don't SELL this stuff... BUT I sure do ENJOY using it!!!

arf1410

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2008, 01:10:33 PM »


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That's a pretty fair statement. You might want to check into newer RF based technology, such as  Z-Wave, etc. However they are 3 to 4 times the cost.
Quote

I've looked a little at both insteon and z-wave, and best I can tell, while better than X-10, they're not ready for prime time yet either...
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2008, 04:01:47 PM »


I've looked a little at both insteon and z-wave, and best I can tell, while better than X-10, they're not ready for prime time yet either...


.... and there's the rub! Home Automation is not yet plug-N-play. Do we wait... and (for some of us) hope we live long enough to see (live in) an automated home? Or do we roll up our sleeves, dive in, and have the "Home of the future"... today.

I chose to have all it today! Like many others on the forum... when I need to justify the time and money... I call HA a hobby. But... for me.. it's really more of a lifestyle. X10 allows me to intergrate more automation for less money.... and really that's what it's all about.
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Boiler

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2008, 06:10:44 PM »

I've looked a little at both insteon and z-wave, and best I can tell, while better than X-10, they're not ready for prime time yet either...

Once again, a fair statement.  I use both Insteon and X10.  I chose to go this route because the Insteon switches were backward compatible with my Leviton X10 units. I use the Leviton units because my better half chose "almond" switchplates for the house (had X10 Brand units in my old home and still have PR511 floods in the new). I also loved the 8 button Insteon keypads that are two way compatible and allow me to track the "status" of devices throughout the house.

Both Insteon and Zwave are emerging technologies.  They've had some growing pains (which are being overcome) and are adding new devices (original offerings couldn't compare with those available from X10).  Both of these technologies are moving forward and adding 3rd party manufacturers.

Both Insteon and Zwave employ techniques for improving communication reliability (relaying communications/retrying communications with true fault checking).  They work well in "Most" installations (but then the same could be said for X10).  One real discriminator is that there really are no troubleshooting tools for these technologies.  There isn't a ELK ESM1 or testerlinc for analyzing Insteon transmissions.  If they don't work, you're back to the "old school" troubleshooting techniques from the early days of X10. 
For Zwave, I'm not sure what type of analyzer you could use for interpreting the multiple hop RF transmission. 

In general, my Insteon setup has worked well for me.  I'm blessed with a good power feed (Indiana) and, having used good X10 filtering techniques previously, have had few problems.  Others have different stories, many of the "bad" stories originate from CA where powerline problems are frequent (no offense to CA).

So, using my favorite car analogy - do you want to go with the old tried and true Chevy/Ford (high mileage - X10) that will do pretty much everything you want it to do (but requires tinkering).  Or do you want that new Jag/Porsche (Insteon/Zwave/UPB) that looks sexy but doesn't have an established track record and could have hidden maintenance costs.

I made my choice and went the Insteon route (I'm elated with the Universal Devices ISY-26).  I can't say that this choice will work for you.

Boiler
« Last Edit: August 07, 2008, 06:44:31 PM by Boiler »
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arf1410

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2008, 06:28:44 PM »

I've looked a little at both insteon and z-wave, and best I can tell, while better than X-10, they're not ready for prime time yet either...

One real discriminator is that there really are no troubleshooting tools for these technologies.  There isn't a ELK ESM1 or testerlinc for analyzing Insteon transmissions.  If they don't work, you're back to the "old school" troubleshooting techniques from the early days of X10. 
ForBoiler

If / when the technology changes from that geared for a hobbiest to that geared for the consumer, you won't need trouble shooting equipment...I don't need trouble shooting equipment for my A/V equipment...my TV talks to my reciever to my DVD player to my ...
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Boiler

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2008, 09:20:08 PM »

If / when the technology changes from that geared for a hobbiest to that geared for the consumer, you won't need trouble shooting equipment...I don't need trouble shooting equipment for my A/V equipment...my TV talks to my reciever to my DVD player to my ...

Ok, I'll admit that my reference to "troubleshooting equipment" was a pet peeve.  That's simply where I came from.  I'm an old DIY'r and a tool nut.  If I can justify a new tool (compressor, Mig, lathes, vertical mill, etc) by doing the job myself, I'm going for it.  This explains why the floorspace of my workshop and garage exceeds the footprint for my house (please don't tell my wife).

I respect your desire for plug and play HA devices, but would respectfully submit that your price point is a bit low.  I'm assuming that your A/V equipment is all hardwired and that the component costs were more than a bit above that of a normal HA switch.  There are hardwired HA solutions that are vitually 100% reliable (Lutron is one).  Using your A/V example (high volume devices), figure on expending an equivalent amount per switch location (100+).    These units are hardwired to a central controller - very invasive (not for retrofit) and not very flexible. 

Simply put. your A/V equipment enjoys the advantage of huge volume, standard circuits (well proven), and a price point that is significantly higher than the HA devices that you are comparing with.  While it's not out of the question that HA will achieve the volume enjoyed by A/V equipment, we're nowhere close to that point yet.  Until then, we all have to pick the price point we are willing to operate at.  X10 is arguably the lowest and also enjoys the most devices.  Insteon, Zwave, and UPB appear to be converging at the next level.  Lutron a a ways beyond that (far out of my tax bracket).

Once again, what works for me may not work for you.  Do your homework and take your best shot.

Boiler
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Walt2

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2008, 02:16:29 PM »

...I don't need trouble shooting equipment for my A/V equipment...my TV talks to my reciever to my DVD player to my ...

If one reads thru some of the more popular A/V forums, one would quickly find that isn't true for a large number of people.

While I didn't have any trouble yet, I know a lot of people with the same model (or series) of Toshiba HDTV that I own, that have a problem simply connecting up equipment thru its DVI input. Apparently, the "handshaking" that goes on between the two devices isn't "plug and play" (in other words "fool proof"), and if it goes wrong the first time, it is VERY difficult to force the two devices to try it again.

Player:  I would like to provide you with a 1080i video signal.
TV:  I accept/confirm that you will send me a 540p video signal.
User:  Gee, all I see if a punch of wiggly lines.   rofl
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* Sears Home Control System, Radio Shack Plug 'n Power, NuTone, Stanley LightMaker, BSR, HomeLink.
* Tecmar Device Master, CP290 (LightHouse), CM11A (AH), CM14A (AH2), CM15A (AHPro).

aslamma

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2008, 06:03:30 PM »

I like the X-10 stuff, but I admit...it is rather frustrating at times as well.  While I like to tinker, it is often not feasible with the amount of time I have and that is the problem with the X-10 stuff (very time consuming to get it right).

The guys on coccontech and at automatedoutlet seem to be pretty high on UPB (Universal Powerline Bus) right now.  Has anyone crossed over from X-10 to UPB?  I am thinking this is a very real possibility for me.  You can get a module that will convert X-10 RF to UPB...which for me is good since I want to continue to use the slimswitches and motion sensors.  UPB seems to be very good once in the powerline, but still need a way to get the signal there.
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2008, 06:45:11 PM »


I like the X-10 stuff, but I admit..........................(very time consuming to get it right).


The time required to setup X10 is no greater (or lesser) than any other Home Automation system. As you gain experience with X10 (and HA in general) the amount of time required will be minimized.
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aslamma

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2008, 07:43:51 PM »

Dave,

  How about on the hardware side?  X-10 modules require you to open up the switch to change the codes.  Insteon can be done by just tapping the rocker and I think UPB actually does it remotely via the computer.  I am now (as a workaround) thinking about changing the codes on my modules to help speed up X-10 response.  So just from the point of view of hardware, it seems to be more time consuming.

  Ahhhh...now the software, haha.  Well, there are a lot of little tricks to get AHP going...from hardware mods to software settings, to having to use very well thought out programming schemes.  It is my understanding (and may be terribly flawed) that other setups don't bog you down with these issues (at least not to the degree of X-10). 

  Now, of course IF you know what you are doing...like you do Dave, its not such a big deal.  And now that I am on my way to understanding a lot of this, I can make it work.  BUT, my fear is that as I grow in complexity, things will start to become unstable and continue to require more and more effort to work.  By noooo means am I anyone really to listen to about this!  But consideration from other sources like cocoontech should be given. 

  What I keep seeing over and over again is that X-10 is great for the hobbyist...and it truly is.  It is the most flexible, cost effective solution out there...but the very nature of a hobbyist is that you will have to tinker with it (and there is the rub).  However, my understanding is that UPB is solid and just works (and Insteon is somewhere in between but getting better).  The downside is that of course those costs a lot more...way more and do not really have X-10 equivalents (such as slim switches and motion sensors). 

  One may want to decide if they are a hobbyist or if they just want a solution.  Personally, I am on the fence.  While I like to have fun getting it to work, at times I am frustrated because I want to be 99% condifent in my solution.  Anyway, I just want to portray (as fairly and best that I know) the different systems.  Besides it does make sense that the more recent solutions out there have inherently better reliability...after all, X-10 is quite old considering the rate of change in electronics and technology.
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2008, 08:40:50 PM »

................... Besides it does make sense that the more recent solutions out there have inherently better reliability...after all, X-10 is quite old considering the rate of change in electronics and technology.

Yeah... that would make some sense... but I don't think it's quite true. You can flood your home with RF repeating signals... and it WILL resolve some problems. But it will ALSO create some new ones.

I am not saying this protocol... is better than that protocol. But my X10 setup is very reliable... as good as any system in my home. I don't think you'll do better... at several times the price.

I don't sell Home Automation... and am not disabled or dependent on my automated system. So if you want to call my HA a hobby... what can I say? I admire your ambition... but I think if you take your time with your setup no matter which brand you choose..... you'll be happier with the results.
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aslamma

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2008, 09:36:14 PM »

One thing I noticed about my Insteon dimmer is that is uses the neutral wire.  I believe it is less prone to false signals and other electronics this way.  Of course, this can be solved via X-10, but with filtering etc.....but again the point is that the other technologies may not require this additional effort.  As I mentioned before, either Insteon or UPB are still considerably easier to change codes on (versus opening up the switch).  I think the list goes on when it comes to software.

Dave, I don't doubt that you have a very reliable setup.  And I don't doubt that you can do amazing things with X-10.  All I am saying is that I ****think**** from what I have read and heard (and consistent with my personal experience), is that if you want to get things to work just right..that it will be easier with UPB.  I am not saying you can do any HA system with a flick of the wrist, but the alternatives might cut down on the learning curve, hardware setup, and debugging.  And that is really all I am trying to say. 
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JeffVolp

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2008, 11:04:41 PM »

One thing I noticed about my Insteon dimmer is that is uses the neutral wire.  I believe it is less prone to false signals and other electronics this way.  Of course, this can be solved via X-10, but with filtering etc.....but again the point is that the other technologies may not require this additional effort.  As I mentioned before, either Insteon or UPB are still considerably easier to change codes on (versus opening up the switch). 

The newer Leviton X10 compatible switches also use the neutral, and are electrically programmed (without opening the switch).  Personally, I prefer the older Leviton switches with the little code switches inside.  Then there is no question as to what the code is.  The Leviton switches are also very reliable with gated AGC to deal with powerline noise, and have true rocker action.

Some time ago I recall reading a discussion with UPB having a problem with a certain kind of powerline noise.  As manufacturers continue to develop new electronic equipment, there is no guarantee that what works well today will continue to work well in the coming decades.  Who knows what challenges we will face as the huge chargers needed for electric cars begin to proliferate...

Jeff
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X-10 automation since the BSR days

HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2008, 11:09:50 PM »

......... Who knows what challenges we will face as the huge chargers needed for electric cars begin to proliferate...

OMG I hadn't even thought about that! And been just waiting for a decent electric!

Wonder what sized filter that will require?
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