X-10 - Uses

The USA has a cheaper and richer source of modules than the UK has.  A mix of USA and UK modules that are used in our installation are explained and the specific uses are described:

  • Transceiver Units
  • Computer Interfaces
  • The Maxi-Controller
  • Storage Heater Control
  • Convector Heater
  • Lighting
  • Misc Uses

X-10 protocol has been compared to to more modern home automation systems like those controlled by Amazon Alexa and Google Play devices; we have had two failures on over 30 devices in 20 years; I'll be surprised if the expensive modern devices last as long.  We also use IoT devices on a separate virtual LAN, but they have the habit of randomly going on and off by themselves; the X-10 devices are more reliable.

The UK mains supply is 230 volts 50 Hz. The bungalow is fitted with X-10 modules and the CM12U and CM15 computer interfaces, which are controlled by the HomeSeer and X-10 Activehome software.

This system enables central and automated control over all heaters, towel rails, lighting, appliances, the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, and the irrigation system.

The system has been extended to interface to standard PIR motion-activated floodlights and provide an additional spoken audio warning.

Different programs have been set up for each season, though each may be easily changed. The installation consists of the following units:

Transceiver Units

Installed are a mixture of UK and USA RF transceiver units that can override the CM12U and CM15. The USA RF transceiver units are significantly cheaper than the UK units, but they operate at a different RF frequency. The USA units have been modified to operate at 230 volts. UK transmitters will only work with UK receivers. USA transmitters will only work with US receivers.

CM12U Computer Interface

This is currently connected to a Lenovo ThinkPad that is left switched on 24 hours a day and running HomeSeer which has very sophisticated macro, speech and e-mail capabilities. One of the benefits of computer control is that the water and space heating may be programmed to go off when the property is vacant and to come back on again the evening before return from holiday.

CM15 Computer Interface

This is an additional computer interface that is controlled by Activehome software. This unit was acquired from the USA and transformer modifications designed and performed by myself enable this to operate at 230V in the UK.

Cristian from Chile has advised that the clock on his CM15 is linked to the mains frequency; mine is not. If anyone is using a CM15/CM15A at 50Hz mains voltage, please let me know if it keeps good time or not.

The Maxi Controller

The appliances within Redoak are primarily programmed within the laptop and downloaded into the CM12U.  Installed are the UK and USA RF transceiver units, and to supplement these are four USA X-10 Maxi Controllers that I have successfully modified for 230-volt operation.  This unit can turn on and off or dim all appliances on the 16 unit codes for each of the 16 allowable house codes.  These are useful supplementary controllers and as they are mains operated, four are placed in convenient rooms.

Storage Heaters

The ten storage heaters are in two groups, with each group of five heaters separately controlled by X-10 DIN appliance modules. The storage heaters all have individual electronic thermostats and receive a seven-hour boost between 23:30 and 7:30.  Please note that the storage heaters have now been removed; we use two heat pumps for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

Convector Heaters

All storage heaters in rooms have combined convector heaters and each of these heaters is controlled by a separate X-10 Appliance Module. A macro in the CM12U is set to switch "All Convector Heaters Off" periodically during the day and night to avoid inadvertent use.  Please note that the storage heaters have now been removed; we use two heat pumps for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

Towel Rails

Electrically heated towel rails are installed in both the en-suite and main bathroom. These towel rails are controlled by X-10 Appliance Modules to maximize comfort while minimizing cost. They are automatically switched on before we get up, and off shortly later.

External Lights

Outside are three external fluorescent lights, which are controlled using the "On at dusk" and "Off at dawn" feature of the CM12U. The CM12U allows a time offset to the dawn and dusk settings, which of course self adjust during the year.

Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery

This system extracts warm moist air from the bathrooms, kitchen, and utility rooms which is used to heat fresh air drawn in from the outside that is then blown into all the other rooms of the bungalow. On-off times are controlled by an X-10 DIN Appliance Module at the optimum times to minimize cost and maximize comfort. This unit eliminates condensation and allows all the windows to be kept sealed from autumn through to the late spring. Since the unit is situated in the attic, it is inaudible.  We now leave the MVHR system running 24/7.

Lighting Circuits

Two X-10 DIN Appliance Modules are used to switch on and off two separate lighting ring mains. At the moment the LED lights are not individually controlled, though this may change with them driven by X-10 motion detectors in the future. The X-10 Appliance Modules supplement the burglar alarm system by giving the bungalow a lived-in appearance while the property is vacant by using the security mode feature of the CM12U.

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