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Is Insteon Better than X10 for Home Automation?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the next-generation-of-home-automation dept.

Hardware 284

Paul Carver writes "Smarthome has been advertising Insteon for a while now, but I haven't bought any of it, yet. I've accumulated a fair amount of X10 products over the years, including Smarthome branded signal boosters, signal couplers, noise blockers, and troubleshooting tools. Even so, I'm pretty much fed up with X10. Nothing I've bought has succeeded in making my X10 system more than 'just barely acceptable' and 'better than nothing but not by much'. A Google search for Insteon doesn't turn up much other than their own advertisements and a couple of vaguely positive but not detailed reviews. Is this new technology going to take off? What's the community's consensus on home automation?"

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Start your astroturfing..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15125800)

NOW!

Re:Start your astroturfing..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126229)

Err ... why? No astroturfing in the comment-section can beat the Slashvertisement that the "article" is.

Did you bother to (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125817)

go to google groups?

Looks like a lot of info there.

Advertising... (4, Insightful)

Jetson (176002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125851)

The question *I* would ask is "will Insteon advertise using pop-up or pop-under ads the way X-10 did?"

I was actually thinking of going with X-10 once, but the advertising became so annoying that when I finally saw the stuff for sale in a local store I changed my mind and decided to boycott the product instead.

Re:Advertising... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125887)

Not only that, the X10 spycam really sucks....

Re:Advertising... (5, Informative)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125902)

X-10 is a protocol. X10.com is one company which sells products using that protocol (as well as various other products, such as cheap wireless webcams). Companies such as smarthome are not associated with the pop-up/unders you despise so much. AFAIK X-10 is the only easily retrofitted home automation solution. I've never heard of this Insteon before, but I'll have to check it out - I have a fair bit of X-10 hardware already so I'd hate to start again from scratch.

Re:Advertising... (2, Informative)

Formica (775485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126026)

INSTEON is backwards compatible with X10, so you don't need to throw away your X10 hardware: http://www.insteon.net/aboutinsteon.html [insteon.net]

Too bad for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126142)

Companies such as smarthome are not associated with the pop-up/unders you despise so much.

Too F'ing bad for them. The whole protocol is tarred with the "pop-up/under softcore porn ad" brush. I am not buying anything from the whole damn protocol.

X-10 softporn pop-up/under dealler. That is all you really need to know. That is all their marketing taught me.

Re:Too bad for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126180)

You prefer hard-core? Or you just haven't reached puberty yet?

Re:Too bad for them (3, Funny)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126327)

Were you dropped on your head as a child? Man, you know, wal-mart sells underwear, and I really hate the business practices of wal-mart, so I'm not wearing underwear anymore.

Re:Advertising... (2, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126370)

I've never had good luck with X10 devices. First, the products were crappy. The light swiches would eventually wear out after a year of normal use - the little springs inside break. Second, the protocol is flakey as hell. It's very simplistic, and also very suceptable to noise. Nothing worse that your bedroom light going on and off by itself in the middle of the night - no, whole house filtering didn't even work. I got tired of all the issues and removed it all despite the rather sizable investment.

I was really looking forward to Lonworks, where each device has a 64 bit address. The protocol is uber reliable over powerlines, and is soooooo much more capable. Unfortunately, the consumer market just has not taken off like the commercial market has. This may change as utilities like ENEL in Italy are deploying it across their entire grid into each residence.

Re:Advertising... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126385)

Nothing worse that your bedroom light going on and off by itself in the middle of the night - no, whole house filtering didn't even work.

By any chance did you have their motion detectors elsewhere in the house, and your bedroom was on housecode A? I had this problem, and finally tracked it down to a weak battery in a motion detector. I now change the batteries fatithfully once a year, and haven't had the problem again in 6 years. (Reason- still a crappy product of a sort- the unit and house code are stored in RAM so a weak battery in remotes or motion detectors WILL reset to house/unit code A1).

Re:Advertising... (3, Interesting)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126437)

Nope. No motion detectors at all. The probelm is that the protocol has no error checking. There are no CRC's, ACK's, or retransmits or anything. It's just a very very simplistic crappy 30 year old protocol that does not handle real world conditions well. It needs to die.

Re:Advertising... (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126028)

I'm exactly the same way. I sent them an email telling them the same thing too. TO this day, I really want to buy X10 products, but refuse to on the principal of their advertising methods.

Re:Advertising... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126211)

WHen X10 was brand new, I bought a couple of units. SHortly after that pop-up ads where...well.. popping up all over the place. So I never expanded, and eventually removed them.

Re:Advertising... (1)

hb253 (764272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126351)

X10 has been around way longer than the pop up ads of a few years ago. I had X10 equipment in the late 80's.

Pathetic... (-1, Flamebait)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125858)

If slashdot needs this kind of astroturfing to survive, might I suggest they hire competent editors who actually take the time to make up a passable fake submission?

Re:Pathetic... (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125909)

What's the community's consensus on Slashtroturfing?

trollturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126101)

if you don't have any interest or knowledge regarding this subject, then why comment? might I suggest a nice tall glass of STFU?

Re:trollturfing? (0, Flamebait)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126122)

Wow, and then the astroturfing asshats come back and troll anyone calling the astroturfing what it is.

Re:Pathetic... (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126109)

Odd; I and my associates have expressed the same sentiment about so many stories on ./ over the last 6 months or so that we've all sort of decided that the shark has been jumped here, so to speak. But I didn't think that at all for this story -- it seems legit, and I'm quite interested.

Usually the stories I think are obvious shilling/astroturfing are for products or services that are not really new, not really available yet, or are of dubious merit and not an analogue of some existing, useful but decidedly imperfect product.

I wonder what signs make you think astroturfing in this case? I'm not really disagreeing as much as I am hoping to hone my shill-spotting techniques :)

Here's a grammar for Slashtroturf. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126126)

Extend as you please: COMPANYNAME has been advertising PRODUCT for some time. I have not bought into it yet, but my friends tell me SUPERLATIVE1 and SUPERLATIVE2. In contrast, COMPETITOR's COMPETINGPRODUCT is INSULT1 and INSULT2. What does the community think? Is PRODUCT going to change the world forever? (I could not incorporate Piqaupeille (or whatever his name is) into the grammar though, would appreciate help).

Re:Pathetic... (5, Insightful)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126179)

Since I've already posted and, thus, cannot moderate...

This is actually a pretty good "Ask Slashdot." When I made the jump to Insteon, the only information out there was on the Insteon and Smarthome websites. Since both of these places were trying to sell me something, it made sense to take what they said with a grain of salt.

Having made the purchase, however, I can honestly say that Insteon is what we have always wanted from X10: Reliable, fast, reliable, inexpensive compared to other protocols, and reliable.

You can call this whatever kind of turf you want if it makes you feel better. I am glad to add to the amount of knowledge on the Internet for anyone investigating the wonderful world of home automation.

Re:Pathetic... (4, Interesting)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126432)

I'm not sure what you think astroturfing means, but I'm just a person who has wasted too much money on an unreliable X10 home automation system. I haven't bought any Insteon stuff and I said so. Home automation certainly seems to me like a topic where Slashdot readers will have a fair amount of experience and knowlegeable opinions about what works and what doesn't.

If you've got something specific against Insteon I'd love to hear it so I don't waste my money. If you've got nothing of value to add to the conversation though . . .

Ahh so he's the one... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15125864)

... buying spamvertized products. Paul.Carver@gmail.com is my new junk registration account.

Insteon hard to find but X-10? (2, Funny)

mackil (668039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125865)

If Insteon is better, I hope they are able to market themselves well. If only Insteon had an ad campaign like the one X-10 had going for a long while. I can remember when every single pop-up window was an X-10 ad (before Firefox :). I guess it worked since it appears the author of this post can't find any competitors.... ahh memory lane...

x10 (1)

Luciq (697883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125866)

My experience with x10 is the same and I'm considering Insteon as well. I need something very reliable, and x10 does not seem to be progressing these days.

I don't know about Insteon... (3, Informative)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125871)

However, in the book FAB by Neil Gershefeld [amazon.com] , there is described an interesting "Hello World" circuit, which is supposedly open-sourced in some manner by (MIT Media Lab?) - that uses a 2 or 3 wire physical layer protocol, coupled with a low-speed packet protocol, based on TCP, but in a much simpler format (similar to morse code) - it was supposedly dubbed "Internet0" or some weirdness. HERE IT IS [mit.edu] - anyhow, I am pretty sure that is it - if not, it is probably located somewhere else in the FABLAB wiki. Also, look at this too [google.com] ...

Re:I don't know about Insteon... (2, Informative)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125925)

Here is some more info [mit.edu] - BTW, it is Neil Gershenfeld - small typo, sorry...

Some more background... (3, Informative)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125961)

Basically, the idea behind Internet0 is the development of a small, easily implemented protocol to allow for "everyday objects" to communicate to one another. For the purposes of home/office automation (especially in the case where it may be a "noisy" environment, like a large office building - or one where installing a lot of communication or control systems is difficult), where you want to control lights and other electrical systems, such a protocol and the simple physical interface (the original implementation relies on an ATMEL uController, but you could easily get away with any such device) - which could be anything from a couple of wires, RF communications, or an LED/phototransistor pair (short range, of course) make it ideal for such needs. Of course, I don't think there are any commercial offerings of Internet0, yet (though I could be wrong). Also, because it is based off of TCP, building a gateway or other hardware to interface it to the rest of the internet is certainly doable...

Re:I don't know about Insteon... (3, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126393)

And for something actually commercial that is wide open, there is the CAN protocol: http://www.can-cia.org/can/ [can-cia.org]

Yes. (5, Informative)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125877)

Insteon is awesome. It takes away all the headaches I have had with X10 devices.

Now, if the question is really, "How does Insteon compare to other, more expensive, home automation devices?" then I don't know. My experience is only with X10 and Insteon, and compared to X10 Insteon is the bee's knee's.

There is not a very large selection of types of Insteon devices right now, but that should change in 2006. For us Mac folks, the current version of Indigo has pretty good Insteon support.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126015)

For instance, I as yet have no way of controlling Insteon devices through Girder.

Re:Yes. (4, Informative)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126133)

Ask and ye shall receive:

Promixis Announces the immediate availability of Insteon Support for Girder 4.0

Minneapolis, MN - February 22th, 2006: Promixis LLC today released the first public beta of the Insteon plugin for Girder. The plugin allows full control over your SmartLabs' INSTEON devices through the powerfull Girder automation software.
Some features

        * Device control
        * Device change events
        * Group change events
        * Device enumeration and detection
        * Automatic level polling
        * Device manager for naming and configuration
        * Full integration into the Girder UI
        * PLC link management (not completely implemented)
        * Coming features include sophisticated group and link management.

X is better then X10 (3, Informative)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125879)

For all values of X. In particular, the values of X that really really look interesting are the ZWave things from smarthome.

http://www.smarthome.com/prodindex.asp?catid=50 [smarthome.com]

There's another one called ZigBee that looks even better.

It's a brand new technology. They use radio communications, and a pretty neat broadcast algorithm that means your signals will get to their destination. Plus, you can get a response back.

Re:X is better then X10 (2, Interesting)

benbritten (72301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125946)

from TFA (er the advert) :


How Reliable is INSTEON?
Nearly 100%. Over 10 million signal packets were tested in over 100 homes across America. A near-perfect success rate of over 99.97% was measured. Each INSTEON message contains error detection, so lights turning on accidentally will virtually never happen.


hmm... so basically this is saying that virtually never is about 1 in about 3300. (or 3 in 10000, however you want to look at it) now if you turn on ten things a day (which seems reasonable if not conservative) then at least once a year your house will do something crazy.

now for something innocuous like lights, i turn on lights all teh time and it sometimes doesnt work (ie it burns out) but if I am away on vacation and insteon decides to turn on my AC full blast in the middle of summer for a week, well then that would suck.

How hard is it to guarantee packet delivery, and to make the hardware not do something stupid if it gets an error?

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

anjrober (150253) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126082)

when you compare this though to X10s failure rate, which seems to be about 1 in 10, these would rock. They are MUCH more expensive though.

As for the AC, the idea is to use a sensor to measure temp vs. turn on AC from 1:00 to 3:00. See http://www.smarthome.com/3045B.html [smarthome.com]

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

asland (26316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126086)

Well 1 in 3300 is like nirvana compared to X10. X10 has a failure rate somewhere nearer 1 in 3.

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126264)

How hard is it to guarantee packet delivery, and to make the hardware not do something stupid if it gets an error?

As an EE I can say: unless you can tolerate (multiple redundant sets of) wires running to and from every device and every controller, or have an unlimited budget, then the answer is hard. Very hard, in fact.

I guess what I'm saying is, "reliably, cheap, not ugly -- pick two."

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126380)

99.97% is the success rate. The error rate is not given, but it should be some theoretical value too small to actually measure. If it's not, then I wouldn't want this system.

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126397)

I read it as saying that 1 out of every 3300 packets would get garbled, meaning the transmitter won't get an ACK and thus would retransmit up to 5 times as per the spec unless it was a broadcast message, but I don't imagine those will be very plentiful. Given that the packet has a CRC and thus receiver can tell whether it got good data or not, I'd think that the incidence of devices doing something they're not supposed to would be vanishingly low.

Re:X is better then X10 (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126419)

I think it depends on how you read the claim. So let's say that they have a signal sucess rate of 99.97%: this probably means that 99.97% of the packets DID NOT NEED TO BE RETRANSMITTED - not that devices started doing stupid shit. Any good protocol that runs over a crappy medium like powerlines should have retransmits, acks, checksum hashes, etc. and will end up being very reliable in real life. This is very different from X10 which has NONE of that, and therefor toally sucks.

                                 

X10 (2)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125883)

I need some help here. I've been interested in X10 products for a while, and wanted to get one of the kits and such.

Is X10 a standard, or a brand name? Is this the same company that pioneered outrageously annoying popup ads?

I'm not sure my conscience could live with that.

Re:X10 (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126003)

X10 is a standard. Basically, X10 is also the most widely used standard simply because Radio Shack has been selling X10 compatible stuff for years. X10.com is evil and should be shot on sight, but you don't have to deal with them.

Unfortunately, X10 is passable but not particularly good. For example, you can setup your lights to go on or off when you come home by combining a light switch device with a clock device. But it doesn't get much smarter than that. If you turn off a light with the automation system, you have to go find the control panel to turn it back on: no turning on things from the device itself. The exception to this are the lightswitch pannels, but I found the Radio Shack version fell apart within a week and could not be activated without the remote anyway. The control panels are annoying in that you have to know what device number you're attempting to interface with, and even though 99% of these things are power toggles, you still have to press multiple buttons to turn something on or off.

I used these things before computer interface kits were standard, so maybe they've gotten better. Maybe. But I'd look into other systems first.

Re:X10 (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126426)

I've used X10 successfully for the last 8 years. Some things are better, some are worse. Mr.House (Linux Open Source) or Homeseer (Windows Closed Source but with an open API that uses VBScript of all things) are basic software that is needed to do anything useful. And you've got that backwards- local sense circuitry in alomost all X10 standard device controllers allow you to turn stuff ON from the device- but not OFF (or at least, not off and have it turn on by remote the next time).

Re:X10 (3, Informative)

gregmac (629064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126047)

s X10 a standard, or a brand name? Is this the same company that pioneered outrageously annoying popup ads?

Both. And yes, X10 the company is the one that does the annoying pop-up ads. I don't have any experience with X10's (the company) stuff but I have used X10Pro (which seems to be an offshoot of X10 (the company)). I bought what was supposed to be a something load dimmer, but it made the fans hum anyways. Most of my light switches are Smarthome's SwitchLinc [smarthome.com] X10-based switches (now replaced with this Insteon stuff). The smarthome switches are very nice and high quality .. the X10Pro switch is a cheap piece of crap. It looks like a dimmer, but actually only has one button.. You have to hold to alternately fade up/down. There are no indications of brightness on it like the SwitchLinc's have (which makes controlling a fan hard, because it takes time to react.. you can't even tell if you're fading up or down half the time). I would not recommend buying any of their products.

X10 (the protocol) [wikipedia.org] is used by many manufacturers, including X10, X10Pro, Leviton, Smarthome, ACT,.. the list goes on. The biggest problem with X10 is it's quite slow (it can take several seconds to transmit multiple commands), and because it uses signalling on the power line as the 120/240V alternating current sine wave crosses 0, it basically looks like 'noise'.. due to the simplicity, actualy noise is often misinterpreted as X10 commands. This has become more of a problem in the past few years as modern electronics are plugged in, but there are filters to block it (at additional $$).

I considerd Smarthome and ACT products, and ultimately chose smarthome because of the extensive amount of stuff they had. I wish Insteon had been announced slightly earlier.. I bought all my stuff just over a year before the Insteon products were released. On the plus side, they seem to at least be somewhat compatible. The products for other protocols (zigbee, some of the other wired ones that use Cat5, etc) were just more expensive or time-consuming to install.

Star Trek Voice Command light switch (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15125890)

Forget all those fancy light automation kits, all you need is the Star Trek one http://www.smarthome.com/2017.html [smarthome.com] which gives you the power of voice commands such as "Computer, off"; simultaneously turning off the lights and your female partner.

Re:Star Trek Voice Command light switch (4, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126323)

I had one of those, but it was broken.

Like you said, both the computer and female partner would get turned off, but only the computer would get turned back on.

I even RTFM...

Wherefore home automation? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125899)

When I read about an Perl interface to X10 used in Make magazine to turn on the coffeepot, I knew that there were two groups interested: complete geeks, and technoweenies, technoweenies being the early adopters, the beligerent oaf at work who declaims loudly that everyone needs a P43.6HT else your computer is "obsolete", that sort of fellow.

Can anyone provide concrete benefits to this sort of trendy geek crap? Obviously I am biased. Other than "I can leave my PC on all day, and at 5pm, it turns the heat on for me!" is there any real practical application? Maybe THATS why X10 died/sucked/does suck.

Re:Wherefore home automation? (1)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125953)

In my experience it's great - I use it heavily in my home. There are nice little things, like the fact that my TV remote also turns off my lights. Or the x10 remote on my night stand so I can turn the lights on or off from bed. Another huge benfit is the fact that lights can be automated to make it appear as if someone is home when I'm out of town. I travel a lot and this little extra bit of security helps keep me from worrying about robberies. I also use the motion sensors to trigger key lights in the house - if the dogs go downstairs for a drink of water at night, a light will kick on so they don't stumble over the water dish and knock it over (something that happened quite regularly, actually).

Re:Wherefore home automation? (1)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126060)

I'll second that. I have several X10 modules in the house and it works great.

I put one on the lamps in the kids' rooms, so they can read or whatever without me having to worry or sneak in if they crash without turning them off - I just hit "all off" on the remote at night before I go to bed. A USB interface to my Linux box allows me to make the house look occupied while we're away. It's also great for lights down in the basement, in closets, etc that always seem to get left on - every night the Linux box shuts them all down at 11pm. Saves quite a bit of electricity right there.

Luckily, though, the X10 stuff was so insanely cheap that I'll most likely get some Insteon stuff to try out and nuke all the X10 stuff if it's better.

Re:Wherefore home automation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126105)

X10 has been around for quite a while(1975 according to Wiki.) My father purchased a kit in the mid-80's that included a button-box/control module and a handful of wall warts to stagger the lights while on vacation--it was likely X10 but I don't remember much about it.

The advantages are immense if you want intelligent home automation. Imagine this:

Motion sensors in every room/doorway/hallway that montior occupancy by ingress/egress and temperature sensors in every room.
Nobody in the room? Kill the power on what isn't needed--including those unnecessary wall warts.
Set a range of temperature settings to deal with occupancy of the room, time of day, etc. Maybe crank up the heat in the bathroom when you'd normally wake up?
Lights turn on when you enter the room, turn off when you leave.
Motion detected during times when there shouldn't be any? Turn on the lights/television/radio in another section of the house and send an SMS.

Re:Wherefore home automation? (2, Interesting)

RichardtheSmith (157470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126145)

You can control your lighting and heating without getting out of bed.

You can turn the outside lights on at sunset and off at sunrise.

You can "gang" all the lights in your room together so that the main
switch by the door turns everything on and off.

If you are hacking at your computer and have your head phones on so you
can't hear the door bell, you can have your house tell your computer to
pop up a message on your screen. If you don't want to wait for someone
to ring the door bell (i.e., UPS) you can put in a motion sensor to do
the same thing.

Re:Wherefore home automation? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126183)

"You can control your lighting and heating without getting out of bed."

Why? Unless you are disabled. Even then, Thermostats have timers.

"You can turn the outside lights on at sunset and off at sunrise."

If only there was some sort of sensor to do this automatically...

"You can "gang" all the lights in your room together so that the main
switch by the door turns everything on and off."
How many lights do you need to turn on at once? sheesh.

"If you are hacking at your computer and have your head phones on so you
can't hear the door bell, you can have your house tell your computer to
pop up a message on your screen. If you don't want to wait for someone
to ring the door bell (i.e., UPS) you can put in a motion sensor to do
the same thing."

Ok, having a scren op up with the message is good. I would also like the pop up to show me the porch. Also an option to broadcast someone is at the door over a radio would be good. That way I can take my cheap radio with me when I am working around the house.

That Depends. (1)

Stormbringer (3643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126200)

It's like any other field of hackery: if you want its benefits, even those you dream up, you'll tweak it until it delivers.

I'm somewhat hard to wake up at the best of times. Not good when there are kids to be gotten up, fed and clothed and off to catch the schoolbus on time. I use a combination of cron and X10 stuff to turn on lights before the alarm clock (so I'm almost awake), then play WAV sounds as timing chimes (even a Morse countdown to when each schoolbus is due to go by). In the evening, the same system turns on lights, reminds me to get up and fix dinner, drops the kids' Net access with firewall rules and time-chimes bath- and bed-times. After bedtime, a light-killer script runs for awhile to make those bedroom lights stay off.

To get my relatively simple system working right, I've gone so far as to open up X10 relay modules and clip out the local-sense resistor, so the Compact Fluorescent lamps I drive with them will stay off, and throw together a CGI buttons page on my LAN specifically to drive X10 units.

You can take it a lot further than I have (look up MisterHouse [misterhouse.net] to see a comprehensive system that even yields fuel savings), but, like anything else that's worthwhile to implement, it'll take some money, some time and some learning; it's up to you where that fits into your scale of values.

I need a solution for... (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126250)

Without wires, with open source that runs on Linux, I want to:

  • measure and control aquarium temperature
  • feed the fish
  • detect an animal in my trap outdoors
  • close the door to my trap
  • detect the trap door closing

I can solder, and I could probably design a circuit that wouldn't immediately catch fire, but I'd rather not worry about such things.

Re:Wherefore home automation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126303)

Quick answer:

You're on the couch. You have the remote. You can control your MythTV, your surround system, your Plasma screen.

Sure would be nice to be able to get the lights, too. And shut off that damn loud dehumidifier downstairs while the movie plays. X10 can do this - provided you can get all the signals on all phases of your AC power line.

Nice also to make the house look more lived-in while you're out-of-town in ways that the cheap coffee timer and a loud radio can't do.

Home of the Future (2, Interesting)

MachievelianEngineer (933249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125901)

I would like to improve the automation of my home. I have some vague images of the "Home of the Future" from early cartoons and discussions with friends. Some people worry about gender role changes and social impacts: http://askpang.typepad.com/relevant_history/2003/0 7/home_of_the_fut.html [typepad.com] http://samvak.tripod.com/home.html [tripod.com] Others just want better technology. For me it is really about common communication standards, even [gasp] network aware appliances. Leaning on communication over the power lines to achieve low-quality control with limited feedback is not good enough for me to adopt. My brother-in-law loves X10 though and suggests that wider usage will result in improvements that will bridge the gap. I am not convinced however. Ultimately for me its about what I can control and see from my office, but I am just a hopeless geek...

"Better than X10" (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125906)

Some years back I replaced about half of the lighting controls in the house with X10 stuff (I would have done more but I have quite a bit of fluorescent lighting and they don't do fluorescents.)

A year later I ripped it all out and threw it away. The crap was just too flaky -- the ones that didn't go totally Tango Uniform would change state spontaneously at totally random times. Changing addresses didn't help at all.

So, IMHO, the "better than X10" technology has been around since the 195h century.

Re:"Better than X10" (1)

Basalt (47097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126162)

So, IMHO, the "better than X10" technology has been around since the 195h century.

Ok I know it's picking on a typo, but I read that as 195 hex (405th) century.
Well I hope the tek is better then...

Re:"Better than X10" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126305)

> the ones that didn't go totally Tango Uniform would change state spontaneously

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot did Yankee Oscar Uniform have to Sierra Papa Echo Lima Lima out "TU" using Papa Hotel Oscar November Echo Tango Indigo Charlie alphabet instead of just saying what you really meant: "tits up" ???

Oscar Bravo Foxtrot Uniform Sierra Charlie Alpha Tango Echo much? Lima Oscar Sierra Echo Romeo.

Re:"Better than X10" (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126446)

I would have done more but I have quite a bit of fluorescent lighting and they don't do fluorescents.

Huh; that's news to me! I have several dozen fluorescents (and halogens, and incandescents) controlled by X-10 devices in my home. X-10 work OK, X-10pro work better, and the molst expensive brand at Smarthome (Leviton or similar, I think) work nearly perfectly.

First Things First (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125956)

Home Automation, Shmautomation.

I'd be far, far more interested in a "universal remote" that really worked, that was infinitely programmable without having to learn a new language of keypresses, that didn't lose everything it had learned every time it's dropped from a height of one foot (or the batteries go dead), and actually KNEW HOW TO FRIGGIN' TURN ON ALL MY JUNK AND WORK THE VOLUME AND CHANNEL SELECTION.

Here it is 2006, and I STILL have to turn my TV and home theatre receiver on manually, so the remote can do MOST of the rest of it.

Someone come up with a universal standard for communicating with the modest array of electronic home entertainment devices--and have them communicate with each other--and THEN I'll start getting hot-and-bothered about "home automation standards."

Re:First Things First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126037)

Harmony remotes [logitech.com] 4tw!

Re:First Things First (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126125)

Sounds like a couch to remote error to me...

Re:First Things First (1)

jormurgandr (128408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126224)

Go pickup a logitech harmony remote. They are a little pricey, but it solved all my remote woes. It turns on all devices for a specified activity (watch a dvd, and it turns on the tuner, sets it to DVD, turns on the TV, sets it to input 1, turns on the DVD player). Likewise there is a "OFF" button that just turns off everything. VERY nice remote.

Re:First Things First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126422)

I got a Logitech Harmony 520. The remote itself is pretty good, but the software for programming it sucks. Slow, difficult to use and unreliable. Seems to be typical for logitech products.

Re:First Things First (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126249)

I think your looking for Woz's Cloud 9, created back in the 80s...

Re:First Things First (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126460)

I doubt it, since it would suck with most modern devices even more than it did when it was new. Maybe you should look for a way to get his member out of your orifice. It seems to have been there since the 80's...

Article doesn't ask the important questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15125962)

What I think we all really want to know is, is snargblaff better than wooblefloo at zorping the tarny gagglefoggs?

A google search for snargblaff doesn't turn up anything :(

Look at ZWave (3, Insightful)

msoftsucks (604691) | more than 8 years ago | (#15125997)

Forget about X10. It's always been a mess. Take a good look at ZWave Technologies [zen-sys.com] . I've had very good success with it. It has alot of potential, so much so, that it seems that Cisco is buying the company in order to roll it out in its Linksys prodcuts.

Works very well! (1)

patrick0brien (615224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126035)

Had a pure X10 system, moving to Insteon where I can.

This article may be Slashvertising, but I do have to admit that Insteon works as advertised, and is much easier to integrate (no address assigning - all modules are hard-addressed)

Also, never, never had any spurious signals, like I sometimes get with X-10

Smarthome is free-software hostile with Insteon (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126053)

I had a long discussion with Smarthome about the license you MUST agree to in order to purchase their Insteon SDK, which includes nondisclosure terms as well as requiring you to get their permission before distributing anything. And other hostile legal stuff. The person I was discussing this started off trying to be helpful and then did a 180 and gave me a bunch of corporate doublespeak BS that clearly indicated that they weren't going to change anything.

Smarthome has in the past been friendly to free software developers, but with Insteon, they are hostile. Because, you know, X10 was popularized by commercial software folks, not those silly hobbyists.

There are several different companies with their own ideas as to how to replace X10. One good example is the Universal Powerline Bus, which is documented enough to write software. The problem with ALL of the X10 replacement ideas is that they're different. The reason I have X10 is because I can get cool dimmers and a USB interface from Smarthome, a repeater/bridge and wire-in switched outlets from Leviton, and cheap wall wart modules from X10.com. I have a lot of products to choose from, and different vendors selling similar products and price competition. None of the X10 replacement proposals are really and truly open, they're all really proprietary, but their vendor will happily take royalties from everyone else.

Until this situation changes, and the major vendors band together, make something truly open, and all unify behind it, we're stuck with X10.

Re:Smarthome is free-software hostile with Insteon (3, Insightful)

spidey (32) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126240)

Everything that has been posted to the developer forum about open source software. Has been agreed to be posted as far I a know.

Example:
http://www.linuxha.com/athome/common/iplcd/index.h tml [linuxha.com]

And I know for a fact that Neil Cherry (the developer of the above software) got permission from Smarthome to release the software.

Re:Smarthome is free-software hostile with Insteon (2, Informative)

QuasiEvil (74356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126445)

Damn, the people you run into on /. How ya doin', Steve? (It's Nathan)

It is possible to get X-10 to work reliably, it just takes some work, a little tinkering, and quality components. My house is now almost exclusively based on X-10, largely on Smarthome Keypadlincs. Whoever wired this place initially was a moron, and pulling new romex was way more trouble than it was worth. Light switches that don't control the lights, places where you have to wander into dark rooms to find the lightswitches, etc. Enter powerline carrier gear. I've found that as long as I stay away from the cheapo X-10 crap (the stuff largely marketed by x10.com) and stick with either Smarthome or Leviton-manufactured bits, things work fairly well. Oh, and a whole-house filter and active phase-to-phase repeater. I have one TV that soaks up signal and thus must be filtered at the outlet, but otherwise everything has "just worked" for about 18 months now.

Insteon looks like a quantum leap forward, but I haven't embraced it because it's a single-source system. Once 3-4 vendors make products, I might consider upgrading. The protocol is much, much, much more solid (acknowledgements, checksums, more data bytes), and I definitely wouldn't complain about better response times. Open source support is a deal-breaker, however. Like Spidey pointed out, Neil Cherry seems to not think this will be an issue based on his conversations, but I'm taking a very wait-and-see attitude. Even if SHM never officially supports it, if at least someone gets it working and they don't get sued, I'll consider it workable. Their closed attitude does rather concern me, however - exactly who do they think they're selling to if it's not the tinkerer market?

I'll point out that Smarthome was never really helpful about documenting the original X-10 USB Powerlinc protocol, either. I messed with it for a while by sniffing with the Windows driver, and then decided it was easier to stick with good ol' RS232. Eventually I just started using WiSH, and the open source community eventually worked out the details on the USB PLv1. (I continue to use serial, however)

Insteon works and it IS better than X-10 (4, Informative)

cshotton (46965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126072)

I have the Insteon "starter kit" installed. It consists of the computer interface, wireless/wired signal bridge units, several lamp modules, 2 wall switches and a table-top controller. It has the ability to be backward compatible with X-10 addressing and the new Insteon protocol is actually a 2-way protocol that uses each node in the net as a repeater to ensure commands are delivered and acknowledged.

Bottom line is that it works. It works in places where old X-10 modules didn't. And it is MUCH faster than X-10 when respondng to Insteon commands from the controllers.

My biggest problem is that the current switch units REQUIRE a neutral wire in the switch box to work. Without it, the units cannot communicate between themselves. As my house is over 100 years old, the presence of neutral wires is problematic. Sometimes an outlet is close enough to a switch that I can snake a neutral wire through the wall, but generally my switches are wired as old-style switch legs with the switch in-line on the hot wire.

Other than that, the system works great and I'd happily change all of my wall switches over to Insteon in a heartbeat if not for the neutral wire problem. Rumor has it that they are coming out with units that install at the fixture, rather than the switch, making the neutral wire problem moot.

Upgrade if you can afford it. It is better technology than X-10 by far.

Re:Insteon still sucks. (3, Informative)

mfarver (43681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126190)

I'll disagree, for me it sucks about as much as X10 did.

Insteon sells itself as a hybrid protocol, both RF and powerline but the switches are powerline only.. the only RF in the system is in the signal bridges AFAIK.

1. Whenever Insteon signals are traversing the power line the backlight on the KeypadLinc blinks. The labels on the keypad link look like backlite paper becuase of the white LED illumination. Uniform plastic labels, or different color backlight would help improve the look a lot. Construction and feel of the device is excellent.

2. Insteon programming seems simple, but you have to do weird things. Like when you program a button on the Keypadlinc if you want the light behind the button to track the state the fixture when the fixture is controlled from something other than the keypad lic you have to reverse program it.. and the system tends to get confused as to which unit will be the controller and which is the controlee. Once again, if you have noise in your environment.. forget it.

3. Acknowledged transmission.... Insteon devices will repeat transmissions until they get an ACK from the controlled device... but only for about 1 sec. Not enough time to bypass a noisy environment. Also the ACK does not appear to contain the device ID, so when two commands go out in rapid series the transmmitters both assume the first ACK is meant for them.

4. The getting started docs are too simple.. the full use docs are way too complicated.

5. Insteon has an X10 compatibility mode that works ok, but interoperation with X10 automation controllers is still a little dicey.

Mark

Re:Insteon works and it IS better than X-10 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126199)

well you shoulod pound some copper into the ground and put neutral wire in all your outlets anyways.

Re:Insteon works and it IS better than X-10 (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126328)

As my house is over 100 years old, the presence of neutral wires is problematic

you want to keep that house, bring the wiring up to code

Yes, it works as it says it does. (5, Informative)

DarkHelmet433 (467596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126076)

Yes, it does actually work. It works because:
* every single device is a repeater!
* they repeat by simulcasting. if 10 of your 50 devices hear the signal, all 10 will retransmit together in unison, generating one seriously strong signal.
* Unlike X10, they are very very fast. X10 has 1/3 to 1/2 second latency. Insteon is practically instant. Certainly fast enough to be percieved as "instant", anyway.
* Unlike X10 which degrades as you add devices, Insteon improves as you add devices.
* You have RF bridges that you can add to bring the signal via RF to weak spots, if you somehow have any. Usually you need an RF bridge to cross phases in the house, but once you get enough devices even that is unnecessary.

I have 50-something of these installed. They are more reliable than UPB here. X10 was an utter disaster in this house... we have UPS's everewhere, loads and loads of noisy fluroescent lights, noisy fish aquarium electronics, etc. Insteon handles it without missing a beat.

HOWEVER.. All is not perfect. It is a young technology. Smarthome have made mistakes and to their credit are fixing them.

My current problem is that their Appliance modules seem to be troubled by electrical noise, eg: EMF spikes from turning fluroescent lights on/off. It seems to crash the microcontroller on them. Older models used to burn out their load sense circuit with those electrical spikes. They're fixing them, but just not fast enough for my liking.

Computer interface software has been very slow, but being fixed on a daily basis. 3rd parties are adding Insteon support to their home automation software on a near weekly basis these days.

Smarthome are providing a cost-cut version under the 'ICON' brand and are in the process of getting them into Home Depot stores. $20 for a decent remote controllable dimmer compares pretty nicely to the dumb electronic dimmers they have.

Yes, you can get developer docs via a SDK (comes with hardware to test with). Yes, it is easy to write unix software for it - I've done it myself. They do have a certification requirement if you're going to use the Insteon brand on your "product" though. But you can give it away as open source if you don't pretend it is certified.

I think Insteon will ultimately win the defacto standard stakes. ie: it will be as ubiquitous as X10 at its height.

Re:Yes, it works as it says it does. (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126344)

My current problem is that their Appliance modules seem to be troubled by electrical noise, eg: EMF spikes from turning fluroescent lights on/off. It seems to crash the microcontroller on them. Older models used to burn out their load sense circuit with those electrical spikes

Thanks. I've had several controllers die on me unexpectedly, this sounds like a likely explanation.

dave

X10 is obsolete (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126081)

X10 is mostly useless today.

1) X10 doesn't work with modern wiring.
It started degrading 10+ years ago, when building wiring improved and circuits and outlets started becoming more isolated. I've seen homes built as much as 20 years ago where the X10 signal only propogates from the upper outlet to the lower one, not to any other outlet. Plus, it never worked on surge protectors.

2) The workarounds are worse
Current X10 solutions get around this by having a wired-to-wireless bridge. This complication adds to the expense and defeats the entire purpose of having the electrical wiring propogate the signal. We need an all wireless solution.

3) X10 is too limited
X10 is limited to on/off/up/down. For example, you can't fade-up the lights on a home theater room if they were turned off. They first must "pop" to full brightness then fade down. There are complicated ways around this, but they really isn't worth it.

Now, with all that said, I've not seen the alternatives. But I imagine anythnig would be better.

Re:X10 is obsolete (1)

TBone (5692) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126438)

X10 is limited to on/off/up/down. For example, you can't fade-up the lights on a home theater room if they were turned off. They first must "pop" to full brightness then fade down. There are complicated ways around this, but they really isn't worth it.
Untrue. There are now 2-way X10 devices. I use the lamp modules in my living room to do exactly what you complain doesn't work - going from 0% on to 15% on, primarally brought about by the birth of my daughters, who didn't take well the having bright lights popped in their eyes at 2 AM when we got up to feed them.

Try X11 (1, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126112)

Dude, I didn't RTFA, but you really need to upgrade to X11. [x.org] I haven't used X10 [wikipedia.org] since the 80s.

Ah, home automation.... (2, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126135)


Is this new technology going to take off?

Not any more than X10. See below for reasons why home automation in general, and these two specific products, has not yet taken off.

What's the community's consensus on home automation?

It would be great if it was:
* Cheap (less than 2 * the cost of existing switches and plugs)
* Easy to install and configure for both new homes and retrofits
* Super-reliable - not controllable from other sources, no chance of interference, no chance of failure after power outages, brownouts, etc, can survive multiple lightning strikes and other destructive conditions, falls back to a simple, obvious control state when there's a problem
* Secure
* Works like current technology - guests or prospective home buyers won't be left wondering what the extra buttons do, nor will they wonder how the light is supposed to go on.
* Handles all common types of electrical lighting and appliances correctly automatically - you won't have to worry about plugging a flourescent lamp or fan in where a dimmer module is - it detects it and controls it appropiately

The primary keys being that they be intuitive (ie, simulate normal dumb technology), cheap, and easy to install.

So far every system has failed in nearly every respect. I've been considering the problem for many years, hoping to design my own home automation system, but even if I ignore the installation and cheap aspects (since I'll be doing both with no intent to commercialize) it's difficult to make it so simple that anyone can use it, nevermind meeting the other goals.

So-
Home automation is something that is still very niche. It's expensive, non-trivial to setup, and therefore will not make a huge penetration in the market for some time.

Eventually it'll happen, but certainly not with these systems. The biggest advantage they have is no need for seperate or additional wiring. Insteon has a huge advantage over X-10 due to the wireless capability. Change that to Zigbee, manufacture plug units that are installed in the wall instead of plugged into it, build out the system options to include HVAC, garage door, sprinkler, whole house power consumption monitoring, very secure internet/cell phone access and monitoring, and drop the price to $3-$10 per module in small quantities ($2-$5 in hundred lots) and it'll be killer.

As the "internet generation" gets older we'll see more and more interest in this and the non-trivial setup will become less of an issue. The other issues still need to be addressed.

-Adam

Power line carrier has always had problems (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126152)

Power line carrier data communication has always had problems. National Semiconductor
used to sell a device that functioned as a data trasceiver that used signals in the
50khz to 300khz range over the AC lines. The marketing idea was that communcation could be made between electronic devices without the expense of retrofitting buildings with additional wiring. There was even a prototype system set up in a grocery store that was fitted with HVAC equipment controlled via a central computer over the AC lines. The biggest problem was that the signals were attenuated by the distribution transformer between lines on different phases. So an expensive bridge repeater had to be installed. You could plug a unit into an outlet and the signal would not appear at another nearby
outlet as the AC line went all the way back to the distribution tranformer and then back into the store to an outlet that might only be a few feet away. I don't know if X-11
ever had any sort of bridge like that, but considering that houses have 2 phases I doubt that reliable communication could ever be made between every AC outlet in a house.

What about (Aussie) Clipsal's C-Bus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126194)


  I once heard the [former] president/chair of a residents' organisation,
  for people who'd bought into a "high-tech" residential development near
  "The Levels" (ie, Mawson Lakes) north of Adelaide, South Australia...

  He was speaking about the REQUIREMENT (ie, an encumbrance on the title
  - ie, a lasting purchase-condition, binding on all [future] owners)...
  that they design & build in systems of remote control & environmental
  controls, etc. into their new homes in the estate.

  He gave us to understand (in no uncertain terms) that folks weren't
  very happy with the costly systems they had to install; I seem to
  recall building costs were inflated (by the Hi-Tech add-on req'ts)
  by around 20%... with little if any chance of pay-back over time.

  From the demo he presented - with all kinds of screenshots & photos -
  few at his talk seemed very impressed with capabilities or ease-of-
  use.

  Nevertheless, it seemed to be using Clipsal's C-BUS system, under-
  the hood.

  (I doubt that the disappoitments and technical problems highlighted
  were in any way due to their choice of C-BUS; they were more likely
  in the design of the system & its GUI bits.)

  PS Are any Open Source projects designing / building envrionmentally
        friendly homes / communities anywhere in the world? How'zit goin?

How about compared to UPB? (1)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126236)

I have had nothing but bad experiences with X-10. I was about to jump on the UPB (Universal Powerline Bus) bandwagon when I got my recent smart home catalog promoting Insteon. So I'm curious how Insteon compares to UPB.

My Version Of Home Automation.... (2, Funny)

JustASlashDotGuy (905444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126315)


My home is automated.... I call it having a wife. Everyday when I come home from work, my home
automation system has already cleaned the house and cooked me dinner. Granted, the upkeep on such a
system is quite expensive sometimes, but it's worth it for the most part.

I'm already planning on the Mark 2 home automation system referred to as 'children' in a couple of
years. This system takes a bit longer to train, but runs on peanuts.. or well.. maybe jelly beans.

Both Insteon and Zigbee will fail; ZWave will win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126322)

Insteon will fail because parent Smarthome is competing with end user products directly with the OEMs that it needs to by its silicon. Oops.

Zigbee will fail because it has no enforced interoperability, so therefore it's suitable only for vertical applications. Think Bluetooth in '96 when products from different manufacturers didn't work together.

ZWave will win because they have built an enormous keiretsu of companies that are #1 in their niches that are shipping real product in very significant volumes, easily 10X any competitor. Leviton, Intermatic, Logitech, UEI, Wayne-Dalton, etc - this market is ZWave's to lose and they don't appear to have any intention to do so.

OK here's my answer... (2, Informative)

RichardtheSmith (157470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126336)

Reasons Insteon is better:

- Does not rely on sending signals thru the electrical system and all
the problems that go along with that.

- Each unit has a hard-coded address so you don't have to mess with
house and unit codes.

Reasons X10 is better:

- Mature technology, all that gotchas and quirks are well-known.

- Once you understand how house and unit codes work it's very easy to
set up room control just by ganging multiple devices onto the same
code. Using different house codes to "zone off" your house is
convenient and slick.

- The Insteon Powerlinc USB contoller sends signals thru the power
lines to the nearest repeater, so your wiring is still a potential
point of failure.

- Insteon software support still sucks. For the Insteon Powerlinc
serial controller there is no software support at all.

- The internal IDE and API for the Insteon controller is hideously
complex and poorly documented since it's a moving target. You have to
master this thing called a "Salad IDE" and it just seems like massive
overkill if all you want to do is simple home hobbyist stuff,
especially if you want to do it from Linux.

- More hardware available for X10. Try finding hardware for Insteon other
than lighting control (you want to control your thermostat or your garage
door or add a motion sensor to your lighting system). So what you end
up with is a hybrid Insteon and X10 environment no matter what you do.
So then you have to wrestle with Insteon, X10 and the Insteon-X10
integration issues. So now you have 3 problems where with X10 you
only had one.

Overall I think Insteon has a lot of promise, but I'd wait another
year or two for it to be more stable and for the variety of switches
and the software support to improve. If you think Insteon will "just
work" and you won't have to mess with it like you do with X10 you may
be disappointed.

No it's not better (1)

laing (303349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126354)

Having never heard of it, I checked the website. The first thing I noticed is that the software development kit (which includes the protocols) costs a hundred bucks. The X10 protocols are widely known and lots of software (both free and otherwise) has already been developed. If these guys expect to make a dent in that market, they'll need to re-think their pricing structure.

And tomorrow's weather will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126359)

What's the community's consensus on home automation? Before its time.
Is this new technology going to take off? You want us to predict the future? OK. Yes it is.

Insteon - X10 compatibliity (1)

neoee (795835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126361)

I have been installing Insteon products in my home and believe they are excellent products. I'm currently using x10 signaling instead of the Insteon since things like my alarm system only speak x10. The only problem I've encountered with the Insteon products is the signal absorbtion. X10 doesen't use ack's and I find the more switches I put in the less reliable the system becomes. Smarthome is currently working on a X10 to Insteon translator. Some of the beta models were sold last year. Once this product is available and mature I imagine things will be drastically improved since I'll switch over to Insteon as the primary communications protocol. As far as the Insteon protocol itself it seems to work great, but the only means I currently have of testing it is in linked switches (2,3,4 way switches etc.)

Intermatic ZWave lightswitches etc are at Lowes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15126367)

Every Lowes store sells the Intermatic ZWave devices now. I understand that the USB dongle and software so all ZWave devices (from any manufacturer) can be controlled from the PC will go on sale at Lowes in another month or so for $49.

X-10? HAH (1)

DextroShadow (957200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126369)

I automated my home with HAL 9000. It works wonders. But I can't seem to find my dad...

x10 is very slow (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126382)

I used x10 to run a traffic light I bought off ebay. Sucked. Used it for about 120 seconds before I decided it wasnt going to seem cool to visitors. There were 2 options. The "lamp" modules have a 1/2 second or so latency before the command gets to them and they activate. The appliance one, on the other hand, is very "instant", but it makes a loud pop when it activates. So I could either have the world's most retarded looking traffic light, or POP POP POP every 20 seconds. Stupid.

huh? (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126410)

Brand X has been advertising Brand X product for a while now, but I haven't bought any of it, yet. I've accumulated a fair amount of Brand Y products over the years, including Brand X branded signal boosters, signal couplers, noise blockers, and troubleshooting tools. Even so, I'm pretty much fed up with Brand Y. Nothing I've bought has succeeded in making my Brand Y system more than 'just barely acceptable' and 'better than nothing but not by much'. A Google search for Brand X product doesn't turn up much other than their own advertisements and a couple of vaguely positive but not detailed reviews. Is this new technology going to take off? What's the community's consensus on home automation?"

could someone explain what on earth this is about. geez i laugh when people see something like PSP or DS and complain about it not being descriptive, but this is just extreme. Guys April fools was almost 2 weeks ago.

How do you guys incorporate this into old homes? (1)

beoswulf (940729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15126430)

I'm really not at all familiar with this smart home technology. I live in an old development in the Northeast where my home and the vast majority of my neighbors homes date to around the early 1920s. The neighborhood is designated as a protected landmark so there hasn't been any new home construction really.

Is this technology common in new developments or at least in high end developments? Or do you retrofit your own homes, including older houses?
I guess what I'm trying to get is, is it just a novelty or a real "killer app", and two, does it work with all the legacy hardware in my home or would all the electrical wiring, fixtures and appliances have to be ripped out and replaced?

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