Yesterday I tried to purchase an appliance module at the local Radio Shack (Rochester, MN) and was told that RS is discontinuing its X10 Plug N Power products. There may be some good deals at stores that still have inventory.
What is the best alternative to Radio Shack for me, an infrequent buyer of basic X10 products?
X10 can be a cost-effective and very reliable system for those who care to put in some effort.
Actually, it is probably better that retail channels drop it because that will get rid of many of the impulse buyers who are disappointed when it doesn't work 100% right out of the box. You know the ones - their VCRs flashed 12:00 for years until manufacturers included automatic clock setting.
How many of the "new and better" systems will still be around 30 years from now?
Ours still flashes 12:00 after an outage. X10 let us down here: We bought the X10 universal remote and on the picture it had a "Menu" button in the lower left. When I unpacked it I discovered that it had a "Guide" button in that space and no menu button. Hence we cannot program the clock or anything else at all except by unplugging again and holding some magic buttons on the VCR itself. Its original remote had died.
Tried dozens of VCR codes in the booklet and none turns that useless guide button into menu mode :-(
Good point. "New and better" is not only about technology, they also need to understand marketing. So far I don't see that happen.
There's nothing on the market that can come close to either the low cost or the breadth of product offerings. Everyone's still playing catch up. With the addition of the XTB it's become a workable system once more. Thanks again for inventing it!
It's not for the faint of heart, especially in this age of CFL's and switching power supplies. Even factoring in the cost of filters, a good meter and XTB's on the main transmitters, X-10 *still* comes in way cheaper per load than any other control system. And it does it with more types of controllers (from PLC hardwired to pocket RF remotes) than anything else currently out there.
Best of all, Ebayers who bought the stuff cheap from X-10 and never used it are now selling it in droves on Ebay for dirt cheap. They'd be worthless to me without your XTB. It reminds me a little of the early days of disk compression and Stacker where you could truly get something for almost nothing. In this case, it's the ability to extend the life of my X-10 setup for perhaps another 10 years. Maybe 20. (-:
It's been a remarkable run - made even more so because it's still a player. Personally, I'm going to start trash talking X-10 here so that people panic and dump their excess X-10 inventory for pennies on the dollar. I've already made some fantastic buys - a carton of StickaSwitches, remotes, appliance modules, transceivers and more (all unused) for $20. It's really nice to be able to add a few more control points here and there for less than $2 each.
While I'd love to have the reliability of Centralite or Lutron's RF system, I don't think I'd ever be able to recover the cost when selling the house.
Is it *really* their fault? If you're talking about one of their learning Universal remotes, it *could* learn the code you're missing in all probability, but your original died. Which of the many X-10 remotes are you talking about?
If it's a learning remote, maybe there's someone that can lend you an original remote just for learning purposes if you list the exact make and model of the gear you want to control.
I just had a situation where I couldn't get my X-10 learning remote to learn the codes to control my Sony DVD jukebox. It was a real bummer because up until that acquisition, the X-10 remote was able to learn any command it didn't have embedded in its ROM. Dave Houston helped me out tremendously by suggesting that I use as short a teaching press as possible because (IIRC) Sony used atypically short codes. This was in direct contravention to the advice I had gotten about programming my Ocelot, but lo and behold, I was able to teach my X-10 remote to control the basic functions of the jukebox. For some things, we still need the original remotes, but it's very nice to have a remote that controls all the lights, the AV gear and the CCTV and can perform 95 per cent of the work that needs doing. Very nice. Thanks Dave!
Dude. They ramped up sales at X10.com using popunders, popovers, popups, popouts and spam at a rate that kept breaking records. I'm not saying those were *good* tactics but they certainly moved the product. And now I can benefit from all of the 2 for 1 vouchers X10.com used to give away. Those vouchers caused people to buy far more gear than they ever needed (that's the hallmark of effective marketing - selling snow to Eskimos). I liked the vouchers, personally, and I know a LOT of people here bought lots of gear with vouchers. The popup crap I could live without and did, as soon as I got a popup blocker.
To get X-10 to work reliably in the new world, you need filters, you need a meter and you need a signal booster like Jeff's XTB. That's really a small cost to protect for what some is a fairly large investment in X-10 gear. IIRC, there was a comment here a while back that claimed over 5 million X-10 devices are in use. If true, it's going to be a while before any other HA technology reaches that number.
Daily satisfaction of reliable operation makes RadioRA more than worth the price paid.
When I sell the house the new owners don't even need to care about the switches. They're just like normal switches, requiring nothing special about using them. Unlike the X10 crap.
I switched to RadioRa a couple of years ago and it's been absolutely fantastic. Absolutely no troubles whatsoever with switch operation, installation and reliability. They "just work" as one should rightfully expect. X10 is a fraud perpetrated on the public and deserves it's decline in sales. The stuff's just junk and nobody in their right mind should waste any time or money on it. Cheap is worthless when it aggravates like only X10 can.
X10 is both a protocol and a product. While X10 products are cheap, they do work. Those brown BSR modules we bought almost 30 years ago are still pushed into service for Christmas decorations. How many electronic devices you own now will still be in use 30 years from now?
The X10 protocol does have some challenges in today?s environment. Not many of the electronic devices found in a typical home today were in use when the X10 protocol was developed. As the power distribution environment becomes more complex, it does take some work to keep it ?X10 friendly?.
Our X10 modules and Leviton X10 switches ?just work?, doing what they should day in and day out. Who can ask for more?
But will you be able to recover the cost of your investment in RA? I have my doubts. I'm not into making unrecoverable investments - too many years of watching HGTV. I also understand that there's a 32/64 device limit, well under the 256 that X-10 offers. That immediately puts RA in the back seat because, believe it or not, I have 48 codes in play and will probably expand that.
More importantly, RF is *always* subject to interference. I suppose you can Faradize your house to keep out EMI from some nearby government transmitter but that would be a bitch. Easier to filter the powerline as it comes into the house than the entire radio spectrum as it pours through the walls. More importantly to me, X-10 is really a dual protocol, using both RF and PLC. That gives me a fast fallback position if the local AF base begins transmitting a signal that ends up jamming the RF. Not likely, but not impossible either.
Yes. It's all crap. Anyone reading this should box all their X-10 stuff up and sell it on Ebay before the bottom falls out completely. Palmpads, Stickaswitches and their larger AAA powered cousins, appliance modules - sell them now before it's too late. No reserve price either. (But drop me a line if you do!) (/sarcasm off)
It all depends on your "use profile." Obviously, for a lot of people, X-10 still does the job. Thanks to Jeff V. and the XTB, the major problem I've suffered (weak PLC signal) has disappeared and now I am troubled more by the rotten switch feeling of some of the switches. Would I like something better? Sure! But there's the little problem of never being able to justify to my self or my wife any schema that involved a cost of over $100 a load. Or even $50 a load. Her attitude is that we have HA because *I* am too lazy to get up and turn off a light. It's hard to advance that position into one where we spend $1,000's on something that we'll never recover in a sale. For us, something like a granite countertop upgrade would be a much better long-term investment in so many ways than something like RadioRA. . .
But it's really a case of "to each his own." Reliability is important to you. Not breaking the budget is important to me. Not putting lots of money into a house we'll be selling soon is also important to me. X-10 lets me do a lot of things for very little money. Not perfectly, but quite well enough to suit my tastes.
And just because you're willing to fool with it doesn't mean it's not.
I've used this stuff for decades. X10 devices regardless of vendor, time and again, can't stand up to use, don't operate in expected fashion and can't interoperate with other normal UL-approved devices. They're just not worth the aggravation.
My time and satisfaction is worth something. The time/money wasted on X10 has no doubt been considerably more than the cost of RadioRA gear. Like I said, I'm not at all worried about recovering the costs. I like how these work, that makes it worth the expense.
Yeah right, two hundred and fifty six pieces of shit that don't work is not my idea of an advantage. I dare you to get that many working in a residence anyway. The signal collisions would make it nearly impossible to use it without driving your spouse insane.
Yeah, in theory I'd like more device addresses. In practice, however, I've found I don't need more. Since I run all my gear through a PC I could just add another RS232 interface and a repeater. Not as "easy" as X10 but at least I'd KNOW they'd work.
Oh that's bullshit. X10 is even WORSE for being susceptible to interference. I've got all sorts of RF polluting crap here at the house and have NEVER, EVER had an interference problem with RadioRA. Not once. And I've had plenty of RF issues with things IR-RF remote repeaters (besides the shitty powermid abominations of course).
This is a 50's era brick on block construction house in the DC metro area. It's ALREADY a faraday cage. Damn near kills cell phone coverage just by walking indoors. Outside RF is the LEAST of my worries!
Outside interference isn't what plagues most single homes with X10's crappy protocol. It's the other devices already inside the house that X10 can't interoperate with.
X10's RF "sucks less" than their powerline crap, I'll give you that. But barring use of someone else's RF transceiver even that's a pain in the ass to get working reliably.
Had I the patience to put up with shipping all the crap I'd sell 'em on fleabay. Meanwhile they're just gathering dust. I really don't feel like inflicting their pain on someone else.
No doubt, the WAF always comes into play. But for me it's a matter of balancing between the wife absolutely DESPISING the crappy X10 switch-feel, not to mention the complete lack of reliability, or the one time unrecoverable costs. Buck up, waste the money and avoid the complaints.
I'm always boggled by the number of people that will go to such lengths to defend the absolutely shitty performance of the X10 gear. It JUST DOESN'T WORK. Sure, tweak it endlessly and don't add any new devices and you MAY be able to get it stabilized. It's not a matter of not being perfect, hell, even I'd put up with some degree of issues. But without having reliable
2-way or status tracking it's just impossible to get it all working in a manner that doesn't constantly call attention to itself as being a clusterfuck. This is not conducive to garnering spousal respect.
Of course now with the recent news that Control4 is going to start pimping their stuff through BestBuy it might be interesting to see how the price points adjust again...
You sound like a typical teckie with money falling out of his pockets. Can't get something to work? Just throw money at it. Can't be bothered to understand how it works.
Remember, X10 was developed 30 years ago in a different environment. It worked then out of the box. The environment has changed, and now it takes some planning. But X10 still works, and can work 100%. The WAF is important, and she is my best indicator of any X10 problem. We only had one cranky module on a compact fluorescent light before adding the XTB. It missed its OFF command every few months. Now everything works 100%.
So, what "endless tweaking" did I do to get this reliability?
1) Most electronics is on its own circuit isolated by a 20A filter.
2) All circuits with X10 devices were wired to the same phase.
3) Leviton "Intellisense" X10 wall switches are used throughout.
4) All X10 circuits feeding CF ceiling cans use Leviton 6287 filters.
5) One signal sucking UPS is isolated with its own filter.
All but #5 was done over 3 years ago when the house was built. Since then the only "tweaking" has been to the Ocelot program adjusting irrigation cycles, and adding even more automation.
RadioRA works well now. Will it run into problems as more RF devices move into our homes? Only time will tell...
Having X10 switches installed actually *reduces* the value of the house -- the average home buyer sees this stuff as an unknown, and most home inspectors will flag it as a liability. Which, IMHO, is correct. If a X10 switch quits working (which is quite common, unless you are using very high quality stuff like PCS), how will a new homeowner who knows nothing about X10 be able to fix it? Most likely, they would have to call an electrician (read: $$$) and they would most likely just replace the X10 w/ a regular switch.
When you come to sell the place, don't be suprised if you will have to swap out all of your X10 switches with regular switches.