32 Years of X-10


I've been successfully using X-10 for 32 years now. Like many of you, I have had my share of issues but always managed to use filters and phase couplers to solve them. Again, like many of you, the last five years have seen the level of intermittent operation increase. Every new piece of electronics brought into the house usually requires another day of troubleshooting. I managed to swap circuits around in the breaker box such that all X-10 equipment is on one side of the box thereby eliminating the need for a phase coupler, but problems still occur. Of the 16 modules in use (all on one house code), 14 work all the time while the other 2 work most of the time. It's that "most of time" that drives me nuts. (By the way, our house is a little over

1300 sq ft in size plus a basement so I don't think my issues are caused by excessively long runs).

The question:

Is it time to upgrade to a new technology? Insteon, Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc all sound promising, but I have no real experience with them. What, in your opinion, is the right choice if I were to decide to start over? Which, if any, of the above has a chance to be around decades from now such that spare parts will still be available?

Secondary question:

Why is the new stuff so expensive? I have typically paid $10 - $15 for X-10 modules. (Although I have to admit that has been true all these years in spite of inflation). The new stuff seems to cost $50 to $70 per module. I just retired so I'm watching my spending... $69 is a lot of money for a wall switch. Multiply that by 16 or so modules and add a few controllers (manual controllers and a computer interface) and we are talking a lot of money. Maybe I should just buy a few more X-10 filters ;-)

Final question:

If I stay with X-10, do the signal boosters I see discussed here really work? Many of the devices are designed to solve the cross-phase issue which I don't have (as stated above, all my X-10 equipment is on one phase). While I do believe my problems are caused by low signal levels rather than noise, I believe the low signals are caused by each new electronic appliance cutting the signal just a little more. There isn't any one thing I can unplug which solves all the issues. Filters have solved the big issues (eg, Sony TV's), but I'm guessing that many minor issues are now adding up to an overall marginal situation.

What would you do? Thanks in advance for your opinions! Pat

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32 years? You must live in Scotland. X10 (BSR) hasn't been in US that long :-) Setting that aside, if you have been using X10 for 28 years, you must have (as I) box loads of modules. Why change now? A really good repeater amp such as an ACT CR 234 or Jeff Volps XTBII will keep you going for another 5 to 10 years, and my bet is none of the new stuff you mentioned (Insteon, Z-Wave, Zigbee) will be around in 10 years. BTW don't bother with the X10, Leviton, or Smarthome repeaters. They will not play nice with 2-way modules. Also get you an ELK signal meter which is a great trouble shooting tool.
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Hmmm. I remember the year as being 1976 but maybe my memory is faulty. My first modules were from Sears. They sold it as the Sears Home Control System. Then Radio Shack started offering modules as "Plug n Power" or something similar. The X-10 name came along later when BSR spun it off.

Again, my memory might be faulty as to the actual year.


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You were pretty close. X10 was first released in the US in 1978. The idea for X10 was first formulated in 1975 (over drinks in a bar one night, as legend has it). The X10 project actually took place in NY -- not Scotland where Pico was located. Radio Shack was the first customer. Sears followed. In 1980 Leviton joined in.

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Robert L Bass

greenpjs I normally can't remember my middle name, but do remember when I bought my first X10 "starter set " at Sears. A plug-in controller with an ultrasonic remote control and two lamp modules and one appliance module...very cool at the time. I lived in one of the "launch" areas. Because of events happening in my life, I remember 1976 being a bit too early.

Anywho, even though X10 signaling now has many "natural" enemies making it challenging to get and keep working, it CAN work well with a good coupler/amp and some filters on the worst offending switching power supplies. I don't see Insteon, Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc, killing X10 for some time. Although Radio Shack dropping X10 had to hurt the company and losing the "pop-up ad suit dented them pretty hard also, I still think they will be around for a while longer.... . Back to your original query, if you have a lot of old X10 stuff you might reconsider your thoughts "moving on" to a new kid on the block. If you have my luck you will pick a "Betamax" over a "VHS" (or an "HD" over a "BlueRay").

From a price stand po>

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