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X10 Newbie Question

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by gilesm, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. gilesm

    gilesm
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    Hi all

    I'm new to all this X10 stuff, and I'm not an electrician but looking for some help on what I need, and costs.

    I have a 6 year old house and I'm finally getting round to getting the lighting sorted out. My lounge (20ft by 17ft) for instance has a single pendent in it in the middle and no wall lights. I've arranged for an electrician to come and fit new mains powered halogen downlighters, in the lounge and my halls and stairs (over 3 stories).

    I like the idea of being able to switch on and off my lights remotely, and also doing that while I'm away on holiday, so I'm toying with the X10 idea.

    My thoughts so far are that I'd like to control all 6 downlighters in my lounge as one, ie switch on/off dim all lights, I do not want individual control of each of them. The lamps I already have I'd also like to control but probably on an individual basis. For the lamps it's easy I think I need an X10 module for each. My confusion comes with the downlighters. Do I need an X10 module with each? or can I control them from the switch as one, and thus only have one module? If so what do I need?

    The same goes for the stairs and landings (which I have 3). There'll be 4 downlights on each floor, I want to control the 4 on a floor as a whole, but switch on or off a floor at a time remotely. Again do I need an X10 module for each?

    I guess my concern with this is if I need a module per downlight then it's probably going to be too expensive to contemplate.

    If I can go with X10 then I'll be wanting to add a timer to this, maybe PC controlled - but thats ahead in the future.

    Thanks

    Giles
     
  2. rectorydp

    rectorydp
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    Giles
    It is a simple enough question unfortunately the answer is likely to be a bit more complicated. I can give you some pointers that should hopefully help you along.

    Assuming you go the X10 route (alternatives include Z-Wave, DMX, C-Bus, Dynalite, Lutron, etc) then the deciding factors include:

    *which items you want to control individually/separately (which you have done)
    *the power consumtion of each group of items
    *the type of control ON/OFF,Dim, Scenes
    *how you will control the lights - existing switches, remote controls, pc, etc
    *the current wiring layout
    *wiring accessiblity ie how easy will it be to change - do you want to change
    *how much you or your electrician know/want to know about lighting control
    *what you ultimately want to achieve

    You will need separate modules for separate groups of items but you can control several items simultaneously from one module. Your main parameter will be the load that has to be controlled. You can split the load and control with two (or more) modules that will act as one by giving them all the same code.

    Different X10 modules can handle different levels of power. ON/OFF modules generally cope with higher loads than dimming modules.

    An LD11 dimming modules handles up to 700W and and AD10 (ON/OFF module) can switch 2kW of incandescent lighting. I would guess that with 6 downlighters you are probably talking about a maximum of 300w and so you could use something like an LD11. An LD11 is more robust (and more reliable IMHO) than an plug-in module but it should be mounted in a proper consumer unit type container.

    An LD11 (or AD10) can be controlled by sending X10 control commmands over the "wire" or by a switch connected to the LD11 . This means that you may have to reroute your switch wire if you want to use it to control an X10 module. If you want to dim the lights then you also need to think about the switch type. Ideally you should use a momentary switch (a dimmer will not work).

    Most X10 modules in the UK don't return their status. This may not matter to you at the moment but if you are going to look at PC control in the future, then status will be important. What this means in practice is that if you control the X10 module with a local switch nothing else will know that the status has changed.

    If you want to get the status or you want to issue the X10 commands at the switch then you could look at an LWM1 micromodule. This would fit in a deep switch back box and would issue X10 comands when controlled. However, these modules only control 250W and need a neutral wire at the switch. So rewiring may be required. These modules coudl also help with controlling lights on different floors as they can control more than one code. There are other options and I can explain further if you wish.

    I believe that Simply Automate have just introduced a new dimming micro-module that does not need a neutral wire so this is another option. However, it is also only rated to 250W.

    Hoefully all the above gives you some food for thought. If you can provide information on the different factors, then I (or others) can help further.

    The suppliers can also be very helpful. If you use any of:

    www.laser.com
    www.letsautomate.com
    www.simplyautomate.co.uk

    you will find knowledgeable helpful people.

    BR
    David
     
  3. gilesm

    gilesm
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    Hi David

    Thanks for the reply, blimey this is getting complicated. But here goes.

    All of the lights are 50 Watt halogen downlights. There'll be 4 on the ground floor, 6 (or 5 see below) in the lounge, 4 on the first floor landing and 4 on the top floor landing.

    The electrician isn't doing a complete house rewire, all he's doing is lifting the floors and doing what ever he needs to do to make a single pendent into 6 or 5 downlights for instance. We've only just been able to do this, because the house came with laminate flooring so getting underneath it was impossible without lifting it and scrapping it (which we're in the process of doing) so I guess this is one chance to get it done.

    I'm not really sure of the current layout, for the lounge for instance there is a single switch and a single pendent, for the halls and landing there's a switch on each floor that turns on off the other floors (again one pendent per floor).

    In terms of control, I think I want to be able to switch on off the hall and landings, and in the lounge on off and dim. But in the lounge I also want to be able to control freestanding lamps. In the lounge I've already got a Xantech IR distribution amp (for my AV equipment which is stored in a cupbaord in a different room). The idea would be for the lounge to be able to control lighting via IR (via Xantech) to an IR/X10 reciever/transmitter. Also would like to control it based on timer as well for when we're away, I know there are boxes to do this, or even via PC (perhaps in the future).

    In terms of installation, I'm really after the easiest option, with minimal work, if I can get the electrician to fit a module behind light switches then that would be grand, especially as you can get to them if anything should go wrong. Rather not put something in the cieling that's difficult to get too. Also I guess it'll be difficult for them to re-wire in a neutral especially in the lounge / stairs.

    Looking at the sites you sent me, simplyautomated as you pointed out are touting a 250 Watt in wall dimmer (HDM1) that sits behind a switch - that would be ideal for the lounge (it's actually L Shaped, so I could probably get away with 5 rather than 6 downlights).

    It would also be nice to retrofit some of the other rokms in the house with a similar module too, like the bedrooms. But this can come later.

    Anyway thanks for you help

    Giles
     
  4. rectorydp

    rectorydp
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    Giles

    If you want to take the simplest route (I think this is your preference) and the wiring is not very accessible then I think the new dimmers from Simply Automate will probably fit the bill. They are very new and do fix some of the complaints that have been levelled at X10 modules. It would be worth checking with the supplier that it would be okay to run the full load with mains halogens. Another option might be to change to 6 x 35w lamps.

    If you want the greatest flexibility for the future, then I would take this opportunity to rewire the lights and switches. If you wire 'home runs' (to either the main consumer unit or a sub cu) for both the switches and the lights then you could use virtually any modules and replace them with a different technology at a later date. If you do this I would also recommend running CAT5 to the light switches.

    If you get bitten by the home automation bug then pop over to the Yahoo UKHA discussion group but leave your wallet behind. The combination of home automation and AV is terminal!

    BR
    David
     
  5. Docta teef

    Docta teef
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    Theres an awful lot of questions there and im not sure if this is what you want but here goes

    1) living room you just want remote on off dim this can be done with either a wall dimmer switch that just replaces your old light switch (lw10u) this is the easiest option it will come on at full brightness then keep your finger on the remote and it will dim. The second option is a DIN rail dimmer (ld11) this has a "soft start" so starts dim and becomes brighter ( i think this is better for a cinema effect) these are normally installed at the mains box although im sure your sparky could install it under the floorboard of the room above, you will also need to replace your wall swicth called a momentary action switch (this is a switch that is only active when you have your finger on it).
    For the lamps in the room i would just use the LM12U module that just plug into the wall socket.

    You said you want to be able to turn on and off lights while your away to do this either a mini timer which looks like am alarm clock is an option or better you connect a pc to your house with an x10 computer interface (CM11U) and install some home automation software such as Harmony this would really open up the options as to what an x10 system could do.

    Hope that helps a bit
     

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