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Author Topic: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?  (Read 14784 times)

Tuicemen

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Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« on: February 21, 2012, 12:08:42 PM »

It has been stated many times in this forum and others that with X10 unable to find a producer for its CM15A that x10 is doomed.
X10 has tried to satisfy users with an inferior cm15K. ::) :' :(  B:(
Many new users are going with the CM19a and TM751 combo being lead to believe this is a better setup ::) :'
I don't feel the X10 Protocol is dead however I don't wish to move backwards.

If you feel the X10 protocol is dead, or dieing where do you feel Home Automation is headed?
Are we a dieing breed?
Is there something else we should be looking at?
Are IR and Wifi possible alternatives?
Things which had looked promising in the past like Zwave just haven't panned out.
Insteon? Maybe, though some say PLC is a poor way to communicate.
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dhouston

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 02:08:46 PM »

I suspect the X10 PLC protocol has outlived its usefulness. There are more and more devices that either interfere with it or that cause signal attenuation. You need to understand the issues and tinker almost constantly to keep things working smoothly.

The Insteon approach looks good technically but it has been a constantly moving target that's now on the third or fourth iteration for many of their switches and modules. Nearly everything they originally introduced is now obsolete. The cost is much higher than X10. However, their newest approach (dual-band) where each device both sends/receives PLC and RF (but only for the Insteon protocol) may avoid PLC interference issues. Also, even their inexpensive X10-only devices appear to be immune to the smart meter issues affecting X10-made devices. A couple of Duke Energy customers tried Smarthome plug-in modules set to the same address as affected X10 devices and saw no random events on the Smarthome modules while continuing to see random events on the X10 devices. This is a very small sample but does imply that the problem is an X10 design flaw similar to an existing problem with spikes on the powerline.

Zwave was flawed from the getgo - the short range and limited number of hops mean you will run out of hops before you run out of real estate.

I've been surprised that the HomePlug Command and Control system hasn't gained any traction. It uses a subset of the protocol they use for BPL which deals well with noise. It may be too costly as it's been around for a few years now with no products that use it as far as I can see.

Europe uses a lot of direct RF control of switches and modules. While that skirts the powerline interference issues, all of Europe uses 433.92MHz (for all consumer RF like this) so there are RF interference issues that can only get worse as more people try to use it.

And, I doubt that X10 is having troubles finding someone to make the CM15A. There are a number of Chinese companies making both RF controlled and 230V X10 devices for Europe. One or more are almost certain to jump in here should X10 abandon this market. For example...
« Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 08:33:24 AM by dhouston »
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JeffVolp

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 05:57:45 PM »

I suspect the X10 PLC protocol has outlived its usefulness. There are more and more devices that either interfere with it or that cause signal attenuation. You need to understand the issues and tinker almost constantly to keep things working smoothly.

What you say is true.  The typical home electrical environment has become much more complex than it was back when the X10 protocol was developed.  While it was pretty much plug and play years ago, that is certainly not the case anymore.

The issues are pretty well understood, and there are solutions that can provide virtually 100% reliability.  I can honestly say that I only have had a significant problem on one circuit, and that was tracked to a Lumoform 120V 4W LED light that produces over 1Vpp of noise almost right in the middle of the X10 bandpass.  Even before boosting signal levels with the XTB, everything worked fine.  However, I did install Leviton switches that incorporate AGC to deal with background noise.

As you know the most recent threat to X10 systems has come from the new smart electric meters.  We now have a solution that has virtually eliminated the smart meter signal inside the home.  And I think the active noise eliminator that we discussed some time ago may be the panacea for most X10 systems.  Simulations show it can drive the noise level at the distribution panel to virtually zero, while repeating valid X10 commands at over 20Vpp.

I think X10 can still be a viable automation system into the foreseeable future.

Jeff
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kenrad

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 07:19:00 PM »

It has been stated many times in this forum and others that with X10 unable to find a producer for its CM15A that x10 is doomed.
X10 has tried to satisfy users with an inferior cm15K. ::) :' :(  B:(
Many new users are going with the CM19a and TM751 combo being lead to believe this is a better setup ::) :'
I don't feel the X10 Protocol is dead however I don't wish to move backwards.

If you feel the X10 protocol is dead, or dieing where do you feel Home Automation is headed?
Are we a dieing breed?
Is there something else we should be looking at?
Are IR and Wifi possible alternatives?
Things which had looked promising in the past like Zwave just haven't panned out.
Insteon? Maybe, though some say PLC is a poor way to communicate.

I don't think we are a dying breed although with only 3 years in it I am still new to it compared to most.  I think that the integration of IR and WIFI add some awesome features to automation.  As I look at the reasearch and what seems to be booming as well as still working with x10 protocols is Insteon.  I think that it might be the big thing in automation.  I have already started incorporating Insteon x10 compatible modules in my setup and I find that they are superior to the x10 versions.  They work better with line noise as well as reception for PLC.  With x10 I had a few intermittent switches due to distance from the controller and after switching them to Insteon the problem was solved.  As for PLC transmission I think that if you take the time to build a strong system,  Phase coupler, amplifier and filters PLC is the way to go.  I think that those that have issues with PLC don't fully understand the issues surrounding line noise and phase coupling.  When it comes to PLC stability and reliability I have found none better then Jeff Vlops Products I currently use the XTBR, a passive phase coupler from x10 and the XTB-ANR to attenuate line noise.  This alone has eliminated many filters for me. 

The only down fall that I see with moving to include Insteon in my home automation set up is that I use third party software for my entire application.  My main control is Ihouse  that was Developed by TJ Trolliger with Tuicemens assistance and the second half of my system runs on Tuicemens software.  I had the discussion with TUicemen about programming to include Insteon to his programs and he informed me that the SDK to program for these programs might be out side of the abilities for the smaller developers to add this to their programs.  I would hate to lose the capabilities of this software and result back to the stagnant programming that the manufacturers put out. 



 
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Noam

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 08:26:29 PM »

I've been using X10 for about 13 years (which isn't very long, compared to others here). However, in the last few years I've worked through a number of issues and learned a lot in the process.
I really hope that the X10 PLC protocol hangs around for a really long time. However, I think that all the potential sources for problems will scare away some new X10 users, and make it hard for the pros to build reliable systems for their customers.

It seems the best automation systems use devices that are hard-wired to the controllers, which virtually eliminates the signal transmission issues that affect X10 (and the others), but that makes installation more difficult (and expensive).
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Tuicemen

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 10:06:59 AM »

I'm surprised that some I figured would jump in here haven't.
They have expressed to me that we are a dieing breed or at least the do it yourself-er is.
I see a lot of monitored security companies now jumping on the HA band wagon.
I think that will help the Do it yourself market not hurt it.
I can get a very good reliable system that I can put together myself, for what their asking a month.
And it would be paid for in a year or less.
True it wouldn't be monitored by someone else but most of these do it yourself security systems dial more then one number if you wish.
What some of these companies are charging is nuts!

Sorry I don't see anything these companies offer as a benefit to me except to make my wallet lighter. rofl
 >!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 02:11:05 PM by Tuicemen »
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Brian H

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 12:28:32 PM »

I don't think Home Automators are a dieing breed, but are moving on from the X10 protocol.
Just look at all the activity on more generic Automation sites like CocoonTech. Automation is still alive.

On the other hand. The way X10 Inc seems to be going. They may kill the protocol themselves.
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dave w

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 03:56:49 PM »

On the other hand. The way X10 Inc seems to be going. They may kill the protocol themselves.
You are right. They certainly seem to be trying.
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HA Dave

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 07:52:14 PM »

It all has changed. It isn't just that the old X10 protocol is outdated... although it might be. It isn't just that X10 as a company may not be with us with us forever... no company or corporation lasts forever. It isn't that the DIYer's are a dieing bred... I don't think they are. But... Home Automation was never anything greater than a niche market.

There was a time, when Dad took Mom's toaster into the shop to be repaired, when it stopped heating (it was cheaper to repair than replace). Back then... women also made clothing... because it was cheaper. A long distance phone call was a big deal. TV was received via an antenna... and receiving it didn't cost even a penny. If you were old enough to remember your phone number you carried a dime so you could call home (pay phones were everywhere).

Things have changed... technology has changed.

Back when it was cheaper to make clothing at home (it isn't anymore) it was also cheaper to install your own home alarm. Now a days... it might actually be cheaper to have a professionally installed and monitored alarm... because of the insurance discount.

Home automation used to be mostly about turning lights on and off. Or... maybe turn the coffee pot on via a timer or from the bedroom by pushing a remotes button. Now... that coffee pot would have to be a Mr Coffee el-cheapie as every other coffee maker has a timer built-in.

Now a days.... Home Automation is really more about media control and security add-ons than lighting. I mean... how big a deal is it to put up motion sensor floodlights? Who doesn't have those? If you want to turn a light on or off from another room... can't you just buy a single device that does that (Clap-Clap)? But switching your MP3 selection from ether the living room or the bedroom... that's good automation.

Sure you can still buy bunches of hardware and install and maintain all this stuff as a hobby. But if you seriously want to see the kids arrive home on your mobile phone... you might be better off calling your alarm company for the add on. It will be faster... and maybe even cheaper in the long run.

Or maybe you want to dim the lights in your Home Theater when the movie starts. Calling your theater installer could get that add-on... or he might suggest you call your cable company. The cable TV/Phone/Internet provider does Home Automation installations now too. Home Automation has evolved into a service.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 09:25:53 PM by HA Dave »
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BierJaeger

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 06:12:21 AM »

Home automation enthusiasts as well as all other DIY types are alive and well and have never had more to look forward to.



I'm liking  6LoWPAN. IPv6 over wireless networking to communicate with small devices.
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dhouston

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 08:09:57 AM »

I think DASH7 may prove more interesting for the types of HA usually discussed here. Technically, it would not be difficult to design switches and modules using it. And, there could be a worldwide market. While N. America limits on transmit power differ from the rest of the world, differences in plug styles and voltage are probably bigger issues.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DASH7

For example, http://buyhomeeasy.co.uk/catalog/index.php?currency=USD&cPath=1 is a 433MHz, relatively inexpensive system available for most areas outside N. America. It would be relatively simple for a manufacturer to modify it to use DASH7 protocol and offer switches and modules for N. American voltages, bulb styles, etc. Even making it two-way would not add that much expense. Nor would bridging from WiFi, ZigBee/XBee, etc.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 10:36:31 AM by dhouston »
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HA Dave

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 12:14:30 PM »

Home automation enthusiasts as well as all other DIY types are alive and well and have never had more to look forward to.

I agree that DIY types are very much alive and well. I am a DIY'er myself! And I certainly think the best days of Home Automation may be ahead of us! But I don't think the best of future Home Automation will be accomplished by the Do It Yourself-ers.

Traditionally... Home Automation was NOT plug and play. Being an old wire-twister [myself] was very helpful with my [DIY] Home Automation setup. But we've reached a point where the service providers like alarm company's, phone service providers, and even the Cable [service] providers can do more. Cloud computing options are only going to be compounding their capabilities.

Now home owner DIY'ers, or even a apartment dweller, can pick up a single use RF light switch, a couple motion sensor light switches, and maybe a timer or two and have a decent little setup. All pretty quick, cheap, and easy.

Or... if someone wants a more advanced setup...  calling the alarm service provider, Cable company, or even phone service (depending on area) can get them darn cool stuff at a small monthly fee. Things like: Answering your door bell (via a camera and intercom) using your mobile phone... from work or nearly anywhere else. Not that this can't be done by a proficient DIYer... it can be. But at what price? By the time we recoup any saving by not paying a monthly fee.... will advancing technology have made our equipment obsolete?

I mean... how far into the future do we really think it will be before home security cameras will be HD... or offer built-in face tracking and auto-zoom? My Web Cam has those features!

I really do understand the satisfaction of getting my hands dirty and doing my own stuff. I am big lifelong DIY'er and a believer that: If I can't fix it... I really don't own it. I was a network administrator and I am fine with using computers. And.... I still think we can do things ourselves that enhance our Home Automation. But I think the service providers have the upper hand here. I think they will be providing the best of what I want from home automation.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 12:25:39 PM by HA Dave »
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IPS

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 02:44:30 PM »

I agree with you all but then I also believe that the DIYer have been at HA for a long time whereas the companies have just jumped into it and may be becaused they have discovered what the DIYer have almost perfected. So it is natural for them to get in and make money.

And that means it Is time for DIYers to make new discoveries. After all that's how things get invented/discovered.

IPS
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BierJaeger

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 04:16:08 PM »

The biggest reason I believe the X10 protocol is pretty much dead is because those with the most investment in it will be the last to let it go, and it appears to me that X10 is letting go.
 
Although some of the posters here have done very impressive things with their set-ups and obviously have a big investment in the technology, the company still has the biggest investment. They saw their stocks of CM15A diminish and didn't order more. They are selling the CM15K kits and modules - I have no way to know their plans for maintaining stock, but I don't have reason for much optimism.

I see them getting wireless Airlink security and wireless IP cams and wireless Android pads, while emphasizing their X10 equipment less and less. I have recently started playing with the IP cams and I am impressed.

Powerline networking technologies were nice due to the fact that they used the existing wiring of the building instead of unsightly wires. Wireless also does away with the wires and IP allows robust 2-way communication. Consumer electronics will include wireless controls. I believe TVs will go to wireless control and do away with RF remotes.

I'm betting on wireless IP.
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dave w

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Re: Are Home Automators a dieing breed?
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 05:26:31 PM »

The biggest reason I believe the X10 protocol is pretty much dead is because those with the most investment in it will be the last to let it go, and it appears to me that X10 is letting go.
 
Although some of the posters here have done very impressive things with their set-ups and obviously have a big investment in the technology, the company still has the biggest investment. They saw their stocks of CM15A diminish and didn't order more. They are selling the CM15K kits and modules - I have no way to know their plans for maintaining stock, but I don't have reason for much optimism.

You have summerized it well.
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