X10 Home Automation X10 home automation networking has been around for about 20 years. Pico Electronics of Scotland developed X10 as a home automation system and the first products were produced in 1978. Since then, the original patent has expired and prices for X10-compatible devices are now more affordable.
X10 is the ‘Standard Protocol’ For controlling electrical devices through the electrical wires in your home and X10 compatible products are manufactured and marketed by several companies, (including X10 Limited). So you don’t have to buy devices from X10 companies only, as all compatible devices display an X10 logo, which shows that the product works with other X10 products, regardless of manufacturer.
X10 Technology Is relatively simple and very interesting. It communicates between transmitters and receivers, by sending and receiving signals over your home electrical power wiring. These signals involve short RF bursts, which represent digital information. Each bit transmitted consists of two bursts – a binary one is represented by a burst followed by a no burst, while a zero is a no burst followed by a burst.
X10 Power Line Communication In the past, if you wished to be able to control certain lights and appliances from one location, you had to install hundreds of feet of wire to route the power switches for each device to that location. This work and the consequent disruption is no longer necessary, since by using X10 modules – the X10 codes and commands are efficiently transmitted over your existing house wiring.
X10 Home Automation UK Control Modules Enable control of the various systems in your home, providing comfort, convenience, security and energy saving benefits,including – Lighting and appliances, Security systems, Sprinkler systems, Hardwire I/O control, Whole-house audio/video systems, HVAC single and multi-zone systems etc.
The X10 Module is a small device with a standard electric plug on the back plus one on the front, where you plug in the light or appliance you wish to control. You can then control the device manually or via your X10 control unit.Each module is programmed to its unique code – usually with a screwdriver to turn a small wheel on the device, so that the module will only respond to signals with that code.
House And Unit Codes In order to control individual devices, all X10 modules are assigned an ‘address’, which consists of a ‘House’ plus a ‘Unit’ code.
There are 16 ‘House codes’ (A to P) and 16 ‘Unit codes’ (1 to 16).
Each House code has 16 Unit codes, which provides for 256 possible addresses.
Examples of House/Unit codes are as follows:-
A5 ; C7 ; M13 ; P4, etc.
Thus, when you wish to turn on an X10-controlled lamp, you send a signal to the lamp module controlling it to switch on.Since the lamp module is continuously monitoring the power line for a command specifically addressed to it, any command sent must carry an address matching that of the Lamp Module.
So, if the lamp module’s address is set to A5, the module will only respond when it receives the ‘A5 ON’ command via the power line.
There are exceptions to this rule – Most X10 modules will respond to special commands that are addressed to a group of modules. For instance – the ‘All Lights On’ command, switches on all lamp modules set to a particular ‘House code’ e.g. House code “A”.
As we have said above, an X10 home automation network can control a maximum of 256 modules, however it is possible to operate a greater number of end devices. For example you can plug two lamps into a module with several outlets, so that both respond to the commands sent to it, or alternatively programme two separate modules to the same address.
Here is a simple X10 home automation configuration – consisting of a palm pad (remote controller), a transceiver, and a lamp module. The functions of the components are as follows:-
- Palm Pad Is a battery-operated, radio frequency (RF) transmitter, which is used for turning devices on and off, or to dim and brighten the lamp modules and wall switch modules. It can control all of the 256 possible House/Unit codes, however it can only address one House code at a time.
- Transceiver Which is short for transmitter/receiver, is an AC-powered device with an integrated antenna. The Transceiver has three functions – to receive X10 RF commands, transmit X10 power line commands and function as an ‘appliance module’.
The Transceiver works by receiving the RF command signals from the palm pad then transmits the command signals via the house wiring to an X10 module, such as a lamp module.
- Lamp Module Is only a receiver and cannot transmit. Its function is to act as a switch and adds the capability of dimming or brightening the light. The Lamp Module can only be used to control incandescent lamps. It cannot control fluorescent lights, low-voltage lights, or fans, which require an ‘appliance module.
Various manufacturers supply a wide range of X10 modules to automate different devices. Anything from basic lamp units to more specialised types to control appliances.
The simple device just turn things on and off, while the specialist units operate additional functions such as dimming lamps, dealing with noise on the power line, (which can interfere with the signal), or have a two way capability, which enables them to confirm the command action back to the controller.