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Advice on remote control lighting

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by elementalist2, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. elementalist2

    elementalist2
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    Hi, folks. Could anyone advise me on what I need to get to enable me to control my lounge lights (dimmers) by remote control. I would like my learning remote (Philips Pronto NG) to control it like it does my AV equipment.

    I've seen replacements for the wall dimmer unit, but these use X10 (whatever that is) and I'm unsure whether my learning remote would work. Is X10 radio, not IR?

    Thanks for any help! :)
     
  2. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    hi elementalist,

    I've got X10 lights in my living room (2 sets of ceiling downlighters, 1 set of wall lights, and a mains powered uplighter. I control all of these via my pronto and have macros setup to go to specific dim levels for different things.

    X10 is a mains based signalling technology, the way it works is that you plug a small infrared receiver into a normal mains socket, this reads the IR signal sent by your remote and sends a signal over your mains wiring in your house, this signal contains a few things: a device code to tell the switches which ones its talking to and then a command (such as dim, off, on, all on, all off, etc).

    IIRC the IR transceiver costs about £30 as does each light switch, the plug in module cost about £20. have a look on www.letsautomate.co.uk for more accurate pricing.

    The system works very well and is quite reasonably priced but there are a few things to bear in mind: certain appliances will interfere with the X10 signal if they are near to the light switch you are trying to control (tumble driers, some fridges and certain low voltage halogen transformers). From my experience of this there isn't that much of a problem, the only thing that seems to bother my setup is that sometimes if the halogen lights are on in the kitchen one set of downlighters won't respond, all the others work whatever. Our fridge, washer dryer etc are all fine it seems. With the X10 stuff you buy in the UK you can't have the lights come on from dim, they come full on and then go down, no the end of the world but not quite as professional as some of the more expensive solutions.

    As far as fitting goes I found no problem, the light switches just replace your existing single gang switch, no extra wiring is needed, they just screw into place, the transceiver and appliance module (the thing that controls the mains uplighter) just plug into a normal mains socket.

    HTH, any more questions just ask,
    owain
     
  3. Dave R

    Dave R
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    I would also suggest the Futronix range as suitable. They have the advantage that you just replace your existing light switch on the wall with one unit that has the IR reciever built in, but the disadvantage that you may need a deeper back box (47mm) than you have currently, and you need a permenant neutral feed.
    Have a look at http://www.futronix-info.com/ or do a search for P100 on this forum for more info.
     
  4. pharris007

    pharris007
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    HI

    I got a cheap IR light dimmer from B&Q, Iv got a cambridge audio M+ remote, it learnt a signal from an old VCR and use this for the dimmer (which also learns any IR command). No special adaptations had to be made, simple replacement for the original switch up and running in 5mins and cost £18. Bargin. :thumbsup:
     
  5. sofa-spud

    sofa-spud
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    elementalist2,
    Owain is corect when he explained X10 is mains bourne rf signalling.
    the IR interface you would need is either the IR7243
    http://www.laser.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=40&category_id=&
    or better, is the the IR543AH
    http://www.laser.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=114&category_id=&
    this one allows you to send extended type codes from the pronto which avoids the need to have the pronto send streams of commands to the IR unit. to use the extended capability of this you would need something like the LW12 micromodule
    http://www.letsautomate.com/11608.c...=421aeb2-50a4d857-9388-488a-a524-343a902939ba
    which allows you to use your own wall switch (the X10 ones are not pretty...)

    I would not bother with the plug in units(LM12) as they offer limited control and need to receive multiple commands to fade them more than one step. Each step is approx 5% whereas the LW12 should be ~1.5% per step, which also looks smoother to the eye. The LW12 uses extended command codes which can include the output(dim) level in the single command.

    HTH

    John
     
  6. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Those LW12 micromodules are interesting, not come across them before. They seem to address some of the issues I have with my current X10 switches (ie they are ugly and have to come full on then dim down).

    I don't have any problems with my plugin module and hadn't noticed it being any less smooth than the wall switches. One benefit I did find though was that it doesn't hum like wall dimmer switches do when they dim the lights, not sure whether those new micromodules will or not. do you have some of those john?
     
  7. sofa-spud

    sofa-spud
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    Owain,
    No I dont use these myself, I have some 'prototype' lighting controllers and instead use the TMA4 transmitters behind the switch instead.
    http://www.laser.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=245&category_id=&
    As far as I know the LW12's should operate the same as the LD10/11 units and so give 64 steps in the dimming control. If they do operate identically then there is an 'undocumented' feature with the LD units where you can alter the fade rate as well by adding either 64, 128, or 192 to the dim level value.

    I also have some (now redundant) American LampLinc scene controllers (modded for UK use) where you can alter the dimming rate for each scene, these use 32 steps and you can see the stepping effect when you use slow fade rates, This becomes obvious if you compare these to some of the high-end control systems.
    If your wall switches do not have soft-start, they will be the same as the LM12's and so will have 22 step control as well.

    John
     

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