Which Home Automation to take X10
As I stated in my previous post, I have narrowed down the home automation protocols I wanted to look at to the big three: X10, Z-Wave and LightwaveRF. In the comments Bernard has suggested I look into Universal Remote (URC). I have had a very quick look at it but not as in-depth a look as I would like to have, before writing about it. So this post will not feature URC, instead it may get its own post at a future time.
This post is not an impartial look at all three options, I have tried to make it one but I have not rigidly stuck to that. I did investigate all three options before making my final selection and in the next three posts I am hoping to take you through my thought processes and explain how I have come to my final decision. If you are in a similar position to me I would suggest you use this article as just one-more-peace in your own research. My final selection might not be the right one for you, I just hope to explain why it is the right one for me.
First developed by Pico Electronics of Glenrothes back in 1975. It has been the first protocol I payed attention to. Primarily communication is performed over the power lines, however a radio transport protocol has been defined as well. X10 is also the cheapest and therefore most accessible of my three options.
X10 seems to be one of the most popular home automation options available with a vast number of modules controlling lamps, wall switches and standard plug appliances. There are also sensor modules available to report on motion, infra-red, light level, temperature and door or window contacts.
The controller’s available range from simple on-off remotes to computer plugs running some local software. Remote control and scheduled tasks seem to rely on the host PC being on to receive the inbound command, in my case from my phone, and relaying that out to the X10 network. For me this does not feel like the ideal solution because I would rather not have to keep a PC running to control my setup, but in a push I could use a Raspberry Pi for the job.
From what I have read there also appears to be come compatibility problems. X10 switches seem to leak a very small amount of current which can cause problems with lamps or fluorescent bulbs. The network is also prone to interference in the power lines, high load devices such as ovens or showers turning on or off can block or mask out the command signal. There are also problems with high load devices like computers, televisions and satellite receivers cause constant interference making and X10 socket useless in their local areas.
By this point I have already decided X10 is not the solution for me. The protocol does not acknowledge any commands, more UDP than TCP, so if there is any interference in a setup you expect to work-first-time no further attempts are made by the controllers to insure your commands are carried out. So I move on.