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Author Topic: X10 Business Success  (Read 29837 times)

X10 User

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X10 Business Success
« on: May 22, 2006, 09:35:26 AM »

Hi,

 I am thinking of offering X10 installations and was wondering how successful (or unsuccessful) this venture would be.  I am not expecting numbers or anything, but are X10 contractors making a good living?  Is it worth it?  I really appreciate any feedback and/or advice.

Thanks,
Bill
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steven r

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2006, 10:33:58 AM »

How comfortable are you with your own X10 setup?
How long have you had it? Long enough to of had to replace switches and other parts?
Have you ever needed filters? Know the different kinds?
Do you own a phase coupler? You can stick a capacitor in your breaker box if you like but don't even think of charging for doing it for someone else.

The good news is X10 installations lead to repeat business. Its easy to get addicted and want more.

The bad news is X10 installations lead to repeat business. Products do fail and things that did work stop working. It is extremely important to educate the customer as to the MTBF of the products. Also a customer may have a perfectly working system and then go and buy a new HD TV. The TV just happens to suck up just enough of the X10 signal to make your install quit working one month after all of your work. Guess who gets blamed. I'd recommend an up front discussion with your prospective customer as to possible additional costs. Maybe offer a free check up / service call a month or two down the road.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2006, 10:35:45 AM by steven r »
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X10 User

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2006, 04:06:29 PM »

I am very comfortable with everything you mentioned.  I think I have just about every module, filter, and switch in my home.  I have cameras a security system, etc.  I agree that stuff just stops working.  I just had a socket rocket fry last night.  I went to turn the light on and it kept pulsating and then I smelled burnt plastic.  I looked at it and the sticker on the outside was charred!

Anyway,  I was an electrician for 9 years so I understand this stuff probably more than others, but I was just wondering if it is worth it...  There aren't many home automation companies out there offering X10 hardware, and I guess that is by choice.
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Don N

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2006, 04:19:12 PM »

X10 User --
You ask "if X10 contractors are making a good living."  I don't know anything about X10 contractors and if they are making a good living, but the one thing I would be concerned about is the amount of problems that are brought to these forums.  It appears that some problems get solved, but for the most part (in my opinion) the problems don't really get solved they just get a band-aide put on them.  It would be interesting to know; of all the 4301 members that are register to this forum; how many have solid, error free working systems.  I don't ... and I think I have a pretty simple setup!!!  You can probably make a good living by installing X10 products, but trying to make them work (as Steven R suggests) will be difficult.  And if you think I'm wrong ... I invite you to Southern California to fix my not so solid and not so error free working system.  Another test for you might be -- as your read the problems that are discussed in the forums -- how many problems do you think you could solve?  I'm trying not to be too cynical, but for a good part of my career I managed Information Technology (IT) Help Desks and every (IT) problem was unique and took a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise from my staff to solve -- much like solving X10 problems.  Anyway, good luck I hope it works out for you.
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steven r

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2006, 08:36:32 PM »

...Anyway,  I was an electrician for 9 years so I understand this stuff probably more than others, but I was just wondering if it is worth it...
Sounds like you've got the background for it. Just don't quit the day job too soon.  ;)
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RockinDolphin

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2006, 09:41:38 PM »

    I was wanting to get into home automation/security using X-10 products. As an unemployed Tool & Die machinist, I was in need of somekind of career that would be both interesting and profitable...

    I put myself on the X-10 website as a professional installer. Every now and then, I would have someone contact me about installing some equipment that they had purchased from the site. Letting people buy their own stuff and then help them install it was givihg me expeience and putting most of the risk on the customer. However, there were seceral occassions where stuff was just bad right out of the box. When this happens it makes me feel bad because I am sympathetic with the customer, but it also makes me look bad and makes me doubt my talent and abilities, at times. (Although I am not a licensed electrician, I did take a six month community college course for electrical wiring.)

    X-10 has usually been good about returns. I have items that I have bought and installed in my house, but my own experience has given me pause at trying to get into this thing deeper because of issues that I have had in trying to make my own system work. If X-10 had somekind of honest repor with people who have a clue about this stuff and would implement suggestions instead of ignoring them, these products could become more dependable, I believe. Until then I feel I cannot, in good conscience, recommend these products to potential 'customers'. (Since I'm not actively doing installs, anymore, I have no customers.) 'sorry to rain on your parade.

~Kenny
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2006, 11:59:26 PM »

Quote
It would be interesting to know; of all the 4301 members that are register to this forum; how many have solid, error free working systems.  I don't ... and I think I have a pretty simple setup!!!

X10 can be virtually 100% reliable, but it takes some work.  We have used X10 for almost 30 years - since the brown BSR modules first came out.  Over the years we have certainly had failures, and fought problems.  When we built this house I planned an X10 installation from the start.  We use it for all automation: irrigation, ventilation, hot water circulation, and of course, lighting.  It is not a simple system.

Planning ahead, we had a special circuit run for known problem loads - computers, A/V equipment, and other electronics.  That circuit is fed through one of the big XPF filters to keep those loads isolated from X10.  Then I installed the small Leviton 6287 noise blocks in every lighting circuit that would have compact fluorescent bulbs.  Finally, I arranged our electrical panel so every circuit that could possibly need X10 access was on the same phase.

After that, we had almost 100% reliability from our Ocleot via a PSC05 located about 30 feet from the distribution panel.  One living room lamp with a CF bulb would ignore its OFF commad every few months, but everything else worked fine.

I did notice that our central circuit with several transmitters and a bunch of X10 lighting circuits had a relatively low signal level.  A Leviton 6201 repeater didn't help much, so I developed the XTB to drive some real signal onto the line.  Just plugging the PSC05 into the XTB increased the level on that low circuit about 300%.  With the PSC05 / XTB located near our distribution panel, that circuit came up from .1V to 1.0V, as measured by the ESM1.  Even that cranky living room light has behaved since I installed the prototype XTB.

The bottom line is that yes, there are those of us who are completely satisfied with automation via X10.  It offers a lot of bang for the buck for those of you willing to put the effort into it.  A signal measurement tool such as the ESM1 is perhaps the most valuable factor in creating a reliable system.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2006, 12:03:00 AM by JeffVolp »
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X-10 automation since the BSR days

TakeTheActive

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2006, 02:25:07 AM »

...We have used X10 for almost 30 years - since the brown BSR modules first came out...

WATCH OUT for dave_w:o  He's got the 'X-10 History' dates down EXACTLY!  :D

You probably should say something like 27½ years, or 28¼ years, just to be safe!  ;)
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dave w

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Re: X10 Business Success
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2006, 12:51:04 PM »

"Almost 30 years" works for me. "Over 30 years" is  blowin smoke...(unless you worked for PICO) :D
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