is dead?

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Seems to be alive and well and guess what!? They're having a mammoth sale! :o))

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Heh. There's a first time for everything, eh? :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Only the good die young.

Reply to

I'd like to see every company still selling X10 modules die. I really tire of the home automation industry sticking with that crappy 60 baud protocol. It was cool back in the mid 70's, but then again, so were home video games that played four versions of pong.

Reply to
AZ Nomad

Easy: just come up with an open hardware/source, inexpensive, more reliable, frugal, east to retrofit, low investment, out of the box, sold in dollar stores, works with existing modules-- family of devices. Did I mention it should be cheap? ;)

X10 has many faults, but for the folks that don't experience or are willing to put up with those faults, it works a treat.

I have no real problem with the technology.

But for *their marketing* crap, I would agree with you, they all should die. ;)

Reply to
Philip Lewis

Our Leviton light switches take several seconds to ramp up or down. Irrigation valves, pumps, and fans don't need high speed control. Why do you need high speed for the things we control with X10?

Have you ever really looked at what is inside one of these X10 modules? Aside from the mediocre construction, it is a tremendous value. That's why they have achieved such good market penetration.

Yes, there will always be a market for the expensive high-end stuff. Just like there is still a market for vinyl records and tube amplifiers. Some people want a $10,000 HA system so they can brag about its capabilities. We just want things to work.


Reply to
Jeff Volp

Because it's at the edge of tolerance, if 2 commands need to be use (to trigger a macro) then 2 seconds is way too long to tolerate between action and reaction.

Not sure I really agree, but the appliance modules are not a bad deal once you snip the current sense circuit. Overall I'm not happy with the X10 product while there are good products from the X10 family (not made by X10).

How about those of us in the middle who want better quality without the extra cost? I'm hoping that the Insteon and other competitors will fill that niche.

Just a note, I do not agree with the OP on the death of all things X10.But neither do I agree with X10 products (made by X10) and good value. More like there was nothing else available (until now) in the same or near price range.

Reply to
Neil Cherry

Considering you can buy appliance modules on sale or through E-bay new for less than $5 there's nothing that comes within miles of the price. X-10 has annual sales of many millions of dollars. There's a lot of X-10 equipment out there and it's not going to go away any time soon.

Agreed. A Lutron RA system is nice but when I consider the price per load it's not *so* much better than I feel compelled to switch. Insteon is much closer to the price point I prefer but if you buy a meter, a box of X-10 filters and some sort of coupler or repeater, you're probably going to be able to maintain a good X-10 installation. Lots of people here in CHA do.

There are few technical things that have lasted as long as X-10. The appliance modules from the 1980's work as well as the ones made this year. I may be old-fashioned, but I like to get a bang for my buck and X-10's given me that. And now that people are flocking to other protocols, the X-10 Ebay deals are only getting better and better!

No, it's not perfect, but it's good enough and it's impossible to beat, pricewise.

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
Robert Green

I totally disagree. Since switching over to RadioRA last spring we've had absolutely NO control issues whatsoever. They work, every time without fail. From local wall switch controls to RS-232 computer interface and the RF remote visor controls. Rock solid. X-10 was PLAGUED with trouble here (and in other, past residences). With RadioRA I just wired 'em up and they worked. I would certainly like them to be less expensive and to offer a wall outlet and/or appliance module. I think if they dropped the price per wall swtich to an under $50 price point they'd see a dramatic increase in unit sales. Ah well, at least they work!

This has as much to do with the hobbyist nature of the HA market more than anything else.

More like fail just as randomly now as they did when new. That's not the same as being "good".

Crappy stuff that drives me and my wife crazy is not my idea of a bargain.

I hear what you're saying, it's just not worth the aggravation.

-Bill Kearney

Reply to
Bill Kearney

I agree. I stopped using X10 years ago because I don't have patience with hardware that works *most* of the time, fails regularly, can't handle interference from much of my other hardware, etc.

Then again, I'm not willing to spend the price per load that Lutron demands for Radio RA. That and a past bad experience with Lutron kept me from considering it.

I feel that Zwave is an acceptable alternative. Like Radio RA, it is still missing a few desirable features. Unlike X10, it works reliably and failure rates are quite low. It's significantly less than the cost of RA though more than twice the cost of X10.

I understand the need to economize and the willingness of many hobbyists to tolerate frequent hassles with X10. That is just as valid as the desire for 100% reliability and the willingness to pay for it. It's the reason companies like mine sell DSC and Napco, Sanyo and Aiphone or *X10 and Elk. In short, there's a legitimate market for X10 and higher quality systems.

  • I rarely sell any X10 stuff though I do sell X10 control components with several of my security and HA systems.
Reply to
Robert L Bass

Hi Bob,

We had a few discussions years ago while you were still in Connecticut.

The main problem is that many people don't understand how to put together a reliable X10 system. Yes, there are problem loads that exist now that were never thought of back when the X10 protocol was designed. So it takes more planning now than just plugging in a few modules and expect everything to work.

When this house was built, we had our electrician route one circuit for all problem loads. There are outlets in each room on this circuit, which is fed through one of those big 20A filters adjacent to the breaker panel. Our computer and all A/V equipment run off that circuit, which can also be fed by a big UPS. As a result, we have yet to need any plug-in filters in this house.

I installed the older Leviton "red-line" switches in all lighting circuits. These still have the code wheels, so we don't have to worry about lost housecodes from power glitches. These have worked 100% since their installation a couple of years ago.

Planning ahead, I installed the small in-line Leviton filters in all ceiling lighting circuits that could possibly use compact fluorescent bulbs. So we don't have to worry about compatibility issues.

The last thing I did was put all circuits that could possibly need X10 control on the same phase. So no phase coupler is required. The TW523 is a little marginal for our square footage, but it does the job.

With this planning, our X10 system is virtually 100% reliable. We use X10 for lighting, ventilation, and irrigation, and hot water recirculation. There are 100's of commands sent daily. As mentioned here in the past, we have one living room light with a CF bulb that misses the off command once in a blue moon. Since it has only occurred a few times, I never bothered to pursue it.

Not bad for a cost effective system.


Reply to
Jeff Volp

Jeff, always a pleasure.

The key here is that you planned this installation before starting construction. Done properly, X10 is functional. Using Leviton, you avoided most of the QC issues for which X10 is infamous. The problem, as I see it, is that most homeowners don't have the luxury of planning and designing their electrical wiring for optimal PLC performance.

Most jobs are still retrofits and for that IMO you can do better using Z-wave or Radio RA. I'm a little leery of the "Linc" stuff due to low quality gear they've put out in the past. I also don't like their use of competition-bashing as a marketing tool.

I don't really market either of these lines. That's just my opinion, which is worth at least as much as I charge for it. :^)

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Part of the great disparity between opinions on X-10 probably has a lot to do with what people do with it. There's no system anywhere near the price that allows me to control so much of my house with a single handheld device. It's just a great bonus that it's cheap and nearly indestructible, too. I control AV, CCTV and X-10 all through a single remote and there's one or more in every room of the house, too.

There was a very high SAF for blowing away a table-top full of remotes for a single one that not only controlled the house lights, but the stereo and CCTV system. If my next project is successful, it will also control the door intercoms and allow us to use the remote to dial the speakerphone and answer phone calls with it. One remote. One CHEAP remote. Lutron can't do that and it costs what, 10 times as much? Clearly, there's more to the equation than 100.00% reliability, at least for me.

Lacking appliance modules and wall outlets is a pretty serious deficiency in my book. And, unless Lutron is using high powered transmitters that can blast through any interference, they are susceptible to RF interference. Every few months you read about some poor group of car owners that can't use their RF remotes because of interference from nearby military bases. Who knew plasma TV were going to cause so much trouble for high-end Xantech IR receivers that they designed a new line to resolve the problems? Who knows what interference might lie ahead for Lutron or any RF-based solution?

Disagree. They had a protocol and managed to stick to it without too many different flavors arising. Think of all the standards that have come and gone since X-10 arrived on the scene - 8 tracks, cassettes, vinyl LPs, 5.25" floppies, 35mm film, BetaMax, carbon paper, typewriters, etc. Yet I can still go down to the RatShack and buy a minitimer for $15 on sale that controls all the modules I own.

Not only can it control the old and new modules, it comes with a battery-backed little microcomputer capable of maintaining two sets of ON/OFF times for 8 X-10 addresses and even randomizing the ON/OFF times. Plus it offers manual control of 8 units locally and is an alarm clock to top it all off. There's nothing like that in the Lutron RA world, at least not for $30 list, $15 sale.

I put together a "travel kit" in 5 minutes that let me wire up a friend's house to give it a "lived in look" in only 10 minutes. Who else lets you control 8 loads like that for a list cost of less than > as the ones made this year.

Again, I think it's a usage pattern issue. We don't do much dimming and I think that's a real failure vector in X-10, both from the "endless dim" problems and the failure from heat buildup. So it's likely if you are a "dimmer" you've got a different view of X-10's reliability than a "non-dimmer" like me. I also don't use the keychain remotes for anything but really short range, in house work. That may change after I install Dave's new transceiver with a much greater range. I perhaps have one appliance module fail every two or three years, now. That's a rate I can live with.

I know that X-10 has weak points and I've tried to work around them as best I can because the strong points (one remote for everything, cheap spares and huge user base for support) are important to me and aren't really offered by X-10 competitors.

Again, if you expect more than it can give, you're going to be disappointed. It can't give long RF range without modification. It can't handle long macros without the possibility of someone stepping on the transmission. Too many Hawkeyes can create collisions when used with TM-751s. X-10 often has serious problems with dimming lights. If you need the above features from X-10, you're going to have to do some serious work or work-arounds. You're going to need an X-10 meter and a box of X-10 filters, too. With proper care, X-10 *is* workable enough to have plenty of satisfied customers.

That's clearly a personal choice. It's interesting that the divide breaks down so neatly along two categories: price and performance.

FWIW, my spell checker keeps wanting to replace "Lutron" with "Latrine" so if you ever see it, I am not trying to be derogatory, I probably just hit "change" without thinking!

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
Robert Green

What happens if Zwave dies? There are a lot of competing protocols suddenly appearing on the market. History says they won't all live. One thing we know for sure about HA is that it's an ever-expanding "hobby." Heavily invest in Zwave or UPB or Control4 Insteon or Lutron RA and there's always the non-zero and perhaps substantial risk that you'll be orphaned.

All of those false starts from IBM and Stanley and Sears were actually

*good* for X-10 users because they added to the widening world of X-10 as a universal HA protocol. What will happen next in HA is just what happened with video tape formats. In a world of cheap VHS and better but shorter and more expensive Beta the forces of competition inexorably grind *someone* down.

That's going to happen in the HA arena the same as it does for airlines and PC companies. I'll bet there are at least a few managers of these product lines that expected far greater initial sales than they've seen. When the honchos in accounting decide that the venture isn't likely to be profitable - and that seems to take less and less time for big companies to decide in recent years - down the tubes will go Protocol X. That's when its adherents will begin shopping for a new HA system.

I'd say we're in the "MacCharlie" stage of home automation as compared to PCs revolution - still a few more years to go to see which of the many protocols floating around now becomes the standard. I'm betting on Insteon because they are following the very successful model MS used to gain dominance in word processing from Wordstar: They are creating the easiest migration path possible for the owners of competing equipment with their built-in X-10 translation. All that's often needed to leapfrog the competition is a very small edge and from what I can see, Insteon's got it.

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
Robert Green

The same thing that will happen if Lutron dies or if they decide to drop the Radio RA line. The difference is that there is one company making Radio Ra -- Lutron. There are scores of major players backing Z-Wave.

Odds are X10 will be around for a long time. Even if X10 company dies, there are numerous other firms making X10 compatible hardware. Lutron could simply decide to drop the line and that would be the end of that.

For me it's a hobby that turned into a business. :^)

Given the list of players backing Z-Wave, I'd give it a better chance of long-term success than anything other than X10.

True indeed. The following is taken from ZenSys' website.

"The Z-Wave? Alliance Group consists of committed Zensys partners with products in the market or in development. This group of companies has come together to ensure interoperability for Z-Wave? enabled products, and to promote joint marketing opportunities."

"The Z-Wave Alliance has over 70 members, all of whom are working on bringing Z-Wave based products to market. This Alliance includes a number of former and current ZigBee members who have chosen to base their residential control systems on Z-Wave."

I think it's significant that several former ZigBee supporters have switched to Z-Wave.

Yes, that is true. It's the same reason that some retailers in the trade have lasted whereas many others have not. You market your products best or someone else will. However, there are a lot more companies behind Z-Wave even at this early stage than there were backing VHS when it dealt the death blow to Beta.

That's a major point in their favor from a marketing standpoint. What they lack is widespread support, both financial and technical, from significant players.

I have somewhat less confidence in the manufacturer than you. They've not built the kind of QC record I'd want to see before I invest my own HA controls in their products.

In truth, though I believe that Z-Wave is going to be the best horse I haven't actually placed my bet yet. I'm not carrying Z-Wave or Insteon at this point. When the line is more complete and distribution more robust, I'll probably offer Z-Wave. For the time being I've been referring Z-Wave sales to an online competitor who posts here. The gentleman seems honest and his business could use a hand now and then.

Reply to
Robert L Bass

Speaking of Control4, anyone using it? Or actually seen it installed in the field?

Oh gawd, you remember those abominations? Eeeeeww.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Provided it actually worked reliably, sure. It just doesn't.

I have no patience for devices that only sporadically function. I'm willing to pay to avoid that nonsense. I held out for years, too many years, but the bliss of devices that WORK, *every* time, has been well worth the added cost.

Sure, it'd be nice to see the RadioRA stuff cheaper. But not if it means sinking to X-10 levels of unreliability.

Yep, but save for the holiday lighting I've found I don't need those. I still use X-10 for those but that's only because the RF receiver that controls them is IN the same wall socket.

Add an RF repeater and you're done. I've only got one for the whole house. This being a structure known for wrecking 802.11 and dropping cell service from 5 to 1 bar. Works great.

Yeah? Move. Who wants to be near a base anyway?

As opposed to, what, the KNOWN trainwreck that is X-10? The Lutron stuff's been entirely immune to anything I've thrown at it. And with all the devices I've got here that's no small claim.

8 tracks and the rest sold BILLIONS of units. I'd daresay X-10 has sold nowhere near the same quantities. It's still just a hobbyist plaything in comparison to mass-market consumer electronics.

True, but all that jimcrackery doesn't mean shit if it still DOESN'T WORK RELIABLY. I've got all those X-10 devices and if they actually WORKED then, yeah, it'd be great! But the sad fact is they don't.

Oh indeed, the dimmers are even more worthless (if that's even possible) but the appliance and lamp modules have been just as flaky.

Yes, it'll be fun to see how his new device works. I only use the RF remotes for picking up signals into a PC. Which then sends RadioRA signals via RS-232, and/or IR signals via a usb-uirt. The X-10 RF remotes are an entirely different technology than that gawd-awful powerline crap. I never use the keychains as they're not all that useful.

Heh, two more were found dead when setting up for Xmas this year. These being units whose SOLE purpose is the holiday lighting. I only use them during the season and store them indoors the rest of the year. They crapped out just SITTING IN A BOX.


Oh please, while I despise the insanity of the X-10 devices I've never tried to use them in anything other than a typical household setup. They just don't work reliably.

Indeed, but even when you scale back to just simple stuff it still fails.

No, I'm not. That's just putting a band-aid on a shotgun wound. No thanks, good money after bad.

For me low price at the high cost of aggravation is NO BARGAIN.

-Bill Kearney

Reply to
Bill Kearney

I've seen "players lists" come and go like the seasons. IIRC, the company that created Bluetooth dropped the line recently. Bluetooth turned out to be the Comet Kohoutek of the 90's. Today's alliance is no assurance of success tomorrow. Lots of big players backing both sides of the DVD format wars. Someone will win out in the end there as they will in HA. In the long run it's whatever standard that emerges that makes it possible to control devices via relays and controls internal to the device, not through dumb plug-in boxes like appliance modules.

I give it the same chance I give the EU. :-)

The fact the their ranks includes defectors from last year's "standard" doesn't bode well for their future loyalty. No manufacturer really believes that interoperability is good for their bottom line. They all want to be the ones collecting the royalty payments as soon as they have something they think will differentiate themselves from the pack, we'll have Zwave-G and Zwave-QuadShield and Monster Cable Zwave inductors and extra-range MegaZwave.

Remember the good old days of X-modem, Y-Modem and all the other dowload protocols used with modems? I wonder who will be the first to create a "flavor" of Zwave that works only with their equipment.

I think it shows these alliances are ephemeral and that members change their loyalties with the first strong wind!

VHS was a big ticket consumer item - it's not necessarily comparable to HA in that respect although it illustrated the basic point that companies will only cooperate when doing so would be cheaper than paying royalties to a

*hated* competitor. It took a household name like IBM to make personal computing legitimate for the average home user. I don't know if any company has the same sort of clout in appliance manufacturing.

X-10 made it without such support. I don't think you should underestimate Smarthome. Their catalog gets fatter and fatter and seems to come more and more often. They've carved out a pretty big niche for themselves in the HA world - sort of like Land's End or LL Bean. And they are factoring in the installed base of X-10 equipment in HA land - which no one else seems interested in doing. I think that's a colossal mistake. Too bad it's entirely in keeping with the NIH syndrome.

It remains to be seen. Any new rollout is troublesome. I think they'll survive - there seems to be much less squawking about their QC in recent years here in CHA.

Yeah - getting stuck with a load of Zwave inventory if they go south would not be good!

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
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