Newbie questions on starting home automation...

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We just bought a new house and are upgrading the electrical. As part
of this project, I am considering some simple home automation.

First step would be to control lights in some of the key rooms (both
chandeliers and plug-in lamps). Over time, I would imagine adding more
lights and potentially moving on to thermostats and some appliances or
security features.

However, I am a bit confused by the broad range of technologies, so
here are my questions:

1. Is it best to go with the tried-and-true (and relatively cheap) X10
   technology or should I be looking at newer stuff like Z-wave?

2. How useful are two-way vs. one-way switches? Is there really much
   practical use for the "other" way?

3. What brand switches offer the best quality/value tradeoff?
   Levitons seem high priced but are a "name" brand. The X10-brand
   switches are much cheaper but how is the quality (both physical
   look-and-feel and electrical reliability) Should I spend the extra
   $$$ for Leviton?

4. The X10 ActiveHome Professional system with CM15a controler is
   cheap and received top rating from PC Magazine.
   - Is that a good starter system or would you recommend starting
     with something else?
   - Is it compatible with Leviton extended commands?
   - How expandable and flexible is the system?

5. Assuming I connect this to my PC, how hard is it to program? (i.e. will
   my "wife" or "mother-in-law" be able to use it) How many
   controllers does one need to have for the benefits of X10 outweigh
   the complexities relative to using discrete Intermatic-like light

6. Which vendors would you recommend?

If these questions have been asked and answered elsewhere, please give
me a pointer (NB, I had trouble accessing the site with the supposed


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