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Author Topic: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?  (Read 16707 times)

watson524

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Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« on: November 24, 2010, 09:02:30 PM »

Hi all,

I have some x10 going in my house in the way of plugin lamp units, outlets, a switch, a box to join the two legs of the power box and a timer/clock to control it all.

In my mom's house, she lives alone since my dad passed away and when she goes out at nite, we are running up there to turn her outside lights on before she gets home so it's not dark there. What I'd like to do is install a system whereby she can hit a remote when she's coming down the road to turn the lights on. 3 sets of lights... an inside light in the kitchen controlled by a single switch; 2 driveway lights controlled by another single switch and a set of garage lights controlled by a 3rd single switch. Basically, I'm thinking I'd just install 3 switches in place of the existing, all set to the same code, and then possibly a coupler for the power box to join the two legs but my question is how to control things.

Ideally, I'd like her to be able to turn things on remotely further out than the bottom of the driveway (which is about 225 feet long) but I'm open to options.

Can anyone help me with what my options are and range, etc.

thanks in advance!
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Brandt

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2010, 09:19:03 PM »

3G/wifi mobile device would give you the best range
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watson524

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2010, 09:38:10 PM »

3G/wifi mobile device would give you the best range

Could you give me more info? Unfortunately, where we live there's no 3G (kinda out in the boonies a bit). She has a phone but no wifi on it, though that might change in the future.... she has a wifi network setup in her house but doesn't generally leave her laptop running. The other thing I was thinking was if there was something that could go in the phone line where she could call to turn lights on.
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HA Dave

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2010, 09:49:15 PM »

Since you use X10 in your own home... you know 225 feet is past the normal distance for RF control. I guess you MIGHT be able to mount a TM751 in one of your driveway lights [outside] to increase the range a tad. It might even be possible [I would guess] to attach the TM751 to a buried coax cable... and then place an antenna at the end of your driveway. Of course... if Mom missed the RF window of opportunity and then realized halfway up the driveway... she'd have to back out to turn the lights on. Not good home automation.

Why not mix things up a bit with both X10 and local big box building supply stuff.

Put the driveway lights on a motion sensor. I'd use X10's (PR511) and set the sensor to also turn on a normally unused light near a window inside the house. So not only will the driveway lights light for Mom.......  anyone nosing around might think someone is watching.

Put the lights in the garage on one of the off-the-shelf [inside] motion sensor switches. They replace the switch that normally controls the lights. Those are great in the laundry room as well.

Put the kitchen light on an X10 switch or use a SocketRocket. Then control it with timer controller (or even a motion sensor in the garage). You may or may not need a phase coupler of some sort. Mom could come home... and without even thinking about it... never be in the dark.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 09:52:01 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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watson524

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2010, 09:57:14 PM »

Put the driveway lights on a motion sensor. I'd use X10's (PR511) and set the sensor to also turn on a normally unused light near a window inside the house. So not only will the driveways lights light for Mom.......  anyone nosing around might think someone is watching.
That sounds like a good idea, though the one concern is that the one driveway light is only a few feet off the road so I'm thinking it'd be coming on anytime someone drove by. We live on a back road but not as "back road" as it used to be and we get traffic.

Put the lights in the garage on on one of the off the shelf [inside] motion sensor. They replace the switch that normally controls the lights. Those are great in the laundry room as well.
The garage lights I want to control are actually outside the garage mounted on the garage wall. The inside garage light already comes on with the garage door opener.

Put the kitchen light on an X10 switch or use a SocketRocket. Then control it with timer controller (or even a motion sensor in the garage). You may or may not need a phase coupler of some sort. Mom could come home... and without even thinking about it... never be in the dark.

That's the same timer controller I have in my house though, I don't know if she'd want it coming on at the same time every day since she comes home at different times depending on where she is. Personally, I don't think I'd mind a set on/off time each day but.... She actually has a timer switch in a circuit that controls window candles that comes on at the same time each day and off at the same time. The little turn timer thing is built right into the wall switch.
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HA Dave

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 10:16:42 PM »

.... the one concern is that the one driveway light is only a few feet off the road so I'm thinking it'd be coming on anytime someone drove by. We live on a back road but not as "back road" as it used to be and we get traffic.

Don't point the sensor towards the road. Point the sensor towards the house. Driving past the motion sensor will turn the lights on. That same sensor (PR511) can then also turn on the lights mounted on the outside of the garage as well (even an inside light or two). The PR511 can control 4 different H/U's for motion and 4 more for dusk/dawn.

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watson524

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2010, 10:23:41 PM »

Shoot, I just took a look at the PR511... no way I could mount that in her outside lights. These are decorative lamp post lights.... I might be able to look into a box mounted somewhere but I was hoping not to have to go through a whole lot of drilling, mounting, rewiring, etc....
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dave w

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2010, 10:54:52 AM »

FWIW
If WiFi smartphone talking to CM15A and AHP through Moms router won't work, then I would at least try Dave X10 suggestion of mounting a TM751 at the most remote post light.

An easy test would be to temporary plug a TM751 into the post light socket using an adaptor, to see if the TM751 can get the PLC command all the way back to the house. If so, you would have to leave that light switch on all the time and control the bulbs in that fixture with Socket Rockets. Mom would have to use a X10 RF remote like Key Chain Remote as she approached the first light. Smarthome has a single phase PLC plug-in amplifier which could be co-mounted at the post lamp. You would likely need a second TM751 ( better yet a RR501) back at the house and you may need amplification/coupling at the house to get the remote post light to turn OFF once Mom got in the house (or just cycle the house light switch , if Socket Rocket loses power it won't come back on when power is restored).

http://www.smarthome.com/4827/BoosterLinc-Plug-In-Signal-Booster-X10-X-10-Amplifier/p.aspx

Your restrictions pretty much limit an X10 application because of both RF and PLC range limitations of X10.

An alternative might be looking for an old X10 Telephone Responder (eBay?) and Mom could call the house, but the Telephone Responder was combersome to use - call home phone, wait for Responder to pickup, input password, input unit code of unit, input ON or OFF code, etc.
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HA Dave

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2010, 03:15:49 PM »

Shoot, I just took a look at the PR511... no way I could mount that in her outside lights. These are decorative lamp post lights.... I might be able to look into a box mounted somewhere but I was hoping not to have to go through a whole lot of drilling, mounting, rewiring, etc....

There is a wireless solution. Although I prefer wired when possible I have a wireless Driveway Patrol myself. (I even mounted the sensor in an old lawn lamp).



You can purchase a unit (there are a few) that will have both the range required... from the edge of your driveway to the house. This one says it has connections [on the receiver] that will allow you to connect an X10 PowerFlash Module. The PowerFlash module will generate the on/off PLC's.

I modified my Driveway Patrol so it will trigger a PowerFlash Module. Traffic is heavy on my street... and my driveway is short... I also used duct tape to narrow the area that the sensor can see.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 03:21:42 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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JMac

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2010, 06:38:13 PM »

For what it's worth, the Driveway Patrol appears to be the same as the unit sold by Harbor Freight (for about the same price).  (This just in case you decide on this and there is a HF near your location.)
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mike

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2010, 08:40:06 PM »

those are on sale for $11.99 this weekend at our HF.
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HA Dave

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2010, 09:27:52 PM »

For what it's worth, the Driveway Patrol appears to be the same as the unit sold by Harbor Freight (for about the same price).  (This just in case you decide on this and there is a HF near your location.)

They do look nearly the same... I actually have BOTH. The Driveway Alert (sold at Harbor Freight) is a nice unit. However I do prefer the Driveway Patrol.

The Driveway Patrol claims a 400 foot range while the alert says 200 feet. Some of the pricier units claim ranges as much as half a mile. The OP said his requirements were 225 feet. Some times... this stuff is a bit of a crap shoot with trial and error being the only testing method available. My perimeter detection setup took me some time to get working correctly.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 09:37:46 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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watson524

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2010, 11:05:57 PM »

FWIW If WiFi smartphone talking to CM15A and AHP through Moms router won't work,

Hi all,

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I've been reading the posts you all made and the more I think about it, I'm wondering if I'd be better off just using something I can control with an internet connected phone/WiFi right off the bat knowing my husband and I are already set up cell phone-wise with that and at some point, my mom will upgrade from her old Palm phone to something that'll have it so.... As long as I know she's out (which I generally do), I can just flip the lights on from wherever.

So now that leads me to a few questions.... The CM15A and AHP.... not sure what the AHP is? To use that setup, does a computer have to stay on? I wouldn't want to do that. I also saw something called a "SmartLinc" but it looks like it's for Insteon and I wasn't sure if they were always compatible.

Since I don't use switches in my setup, can you let me know how this would work.... so the physical light switches (now X10 controlled), would be in the off position.... mom's out, we send a signal, turn the switches on. Ok, what about when she comes home? Do we have to send a signal to shut things off since the position of the switches are already off? Or do I need to get a mini timer thing and hit the all off? What about if she wants to control the lights using the switches (i.e. she's already home, company is coming over, wants to turn the lights on/off?) I'm just not sure how that all works.

thanks!
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Brian H

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2010, 09:37:04 AM »

AHP Active Home Pro Software. Used with the CM15A and low end CM19A Interfaces.

You can download timers and macros to the CM15A and turn off the computer.

X10 switches and modules do not have an On and Off Position. So is the switch  in the On or Off position is not a factor.
You just push the top of the paddle if it is a WS12A or WS13A decorator style or the button on it if it is the WS467.
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HA Dave

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Re: Remote control to turn lights on/off and what range?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2010, 09:51:18 AM »

.... The CM15A and AHP.... not sure what the AHP is? To use that setup, does a computer have to stay on? I wouldn't want to do that.

AHP means Active Home Pro, and consists of an interface CM15A (that plugs into an outlet and connects to a computer via a USB cord) and software that installs on the computer. The CM15A has memory and can do things without a PC running (like macros) but NOT WiFi things [like the phone app] that requires a computer connection.

I also saw something called a "SmartLinc" but it looks like it's for Insteon and I wasn't sure if they were always compatible.

I know nothing about the smartlink.

Since I don't use switches in my setup, can you let me know how this would work.... so the physical light switches (now X10 controlled), would be in the off position.... mom's out, we send a signal, turn the switches on. Ok, what about when she comes home? Do we have to send a signal to shut things off since the position of the switches are already off? Or do I need to get a mini timer thing and hit the all off? What about if she wants to control the lights using the switches (i.e. she's already home, company is coming over, wants to turn the lights on/off?) I'm just not sure how that all works.

X10 switches can be turned on with the remote and off manually... that isn't a problem. The switches don't "toggle" like you normal [looking] switches. The switches may require a neutral [wire] which you mothers switches... may or maynot have. Inspect your mothers switches and then read carefully when selecting switches
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