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X10 Home Automation

Updated on November 21, 2015

X10 Home Automation

Use X10 components to automate your home, improve security and save electricity. I will also document other home automation devices that are out there and I am thinking of implementing. I have used X10 products over the past year and I am happy with the results. This lens is a general overview of the common x10 devices and how they are used. I hope to soon start testing x10 wireless camera devices. X10 only sends signals down your electrical wires but other products like Insteon also send a radio frequency signal.

Melloware has an iPhone X10 controller application called X10 Commander


Please add comments to the guest book to let me, and others know what home automation solution you are working with and which you avoid. I have recently started experiencing some failures with X10 devices where signals are not being sent or not being received.

X10 fundamentals

X10 components send signals either down your home electrical wiring, or on newer components, wirelessly via radio frequency (RF) signals. There are 16 house codes and 16 unit numbers per house code available on your network for a total of 256 addresses. You can control multiple devices by setting a group of them to the same house code. It should be noted that if you do not have a filter at your breaker box, X10 signals can pass from one house to another and cause odd behavior.

Getting Started Kit

A nice starter kit

Radio Shack has a "Plug 'n Power Home Automation Kit" which is a good kit to purchase to see whether X10 devices will improve your home. The kit contains 1 lamp module, 1 appliance module and a mini timer. The timer is used to control and program events for the modules.

X10 limitations and problems

X10 signals travel through your electical lines and can pass from one house to another if you do not have the signals filtered by adding additional hardware. So if a light turns on or off unexpectedly, it may be your neighbors recently discover X10 and now control parts of your house. Hopefully it was just noise on the powerline. If you have problems with a device on a given house and unit code, experiment with other codes and see if the problem goes away.

X10 modues are meant to control incandescent lighting, not fluorescent. There are also limitations with controlling ceiling fans. Check the product information for compatibility and do not exceed the rating of your X10 controller.

Nest Thermostat - Remote Thermostat control

I recently added a NEST thermostat to my home and can now control my heat remotely. The NEST senses when people are around and will turn the temperature down if no one is home. Completely programmable. Very nice.

X10 solutions I use at home

Security. Many of the control hardware and software products have a vacation setting which will randomly turn on and off x10 devices when you are away. There are also barking dog modules to make people believe you have an aggressive dog.

Room lighting. My kids like to leave their lights, and many others on when they leave a room. I use X10 wall switches in these locations which allows the computer to shut off these lights after everyone goes to bed.

Master bedroom. The X10 TV controller can be used to turn on the TV as well as individual lamps in the room. It also has an all-on and all-off feature shutting all devices off and you do not even have to get up.

Porch lights activated by motion detectors. Use an X10 transceiver, and eagle eye motion sensor and x10 lamp or wall switch modules. Mount motion sensor on the path to the doors.

Interior lighting activated by motion sensor. If a light switch is out of the way, install a motion sensor in the room so the lights will automatically turn on when you enter and stay on a short time. The motion sensors have a wait interval which will then turn the light back off after a set amount of time.

Garage lighting. Ever have your garage door opener bulb burn out? Install a motion sensor in the garage so the garage lighting will automatically turn on when you or a car enter and stay on a short time.

Save electricity. Use an appliance module and attach devices which constantly pull power, to save electricity. I use appliance modules on my shaver as well as multiple battery chargers I have. Use the control software to turn on the modules for a short time every other day to charge the devices.

Simple Controllers

Simple controllers control devices with the push of a button. The devices come in a wired or wireless configuration. The wireless devices require use of a transceiver to receive the signal from the controller.

Configuring modules.

Each module can be set to a house code of A through P (16 choices). It is best to partition your house codes up by room or by combination of devices you would like to group together, like all exterior lights would be set to the 'E' house code. Many of the control modules have an all-on and all-off feature that applies to a given house code. Within each house code, 16 unit codes are available for a total of 256 devices.

X10 Software Resources

X10 software is optional since many wired and wireless controllers exist, but using a software product allows for greater control of your home.

X10 Controllers

Devices used to receive and send x10 commands.

X10 controllers come from many manufacturers and packaged in various formats. For example, there is a digital clock which you can program to send signals to devices. More common is the use of a controller module connected to a computer which runs software that sends and receives signals. Controllers are connected via a serial or USB cable. Some controllers also have a wireless receiver built into them. Control modules have batteries and can hold programs to enable programmed behavior to take place when the host computer is turned off.

Motion Sensors

Use to detect motion and signal devices.

Motion sensors come in two standard colors, white and black. Use them to detect motion and turn on devices such as porch lighting or signaling a universal module to beep. Once you get familiar with the devices you can make for a scarier halloween experience.

Lamp Modules

Control your lighting.

Lamp modules are used to assign a house code to lamp. To control built in lightin investigate the numerous switches that are available. The switches replace the currently installed switches and are programmable to set a house code.

Wall Switch

Replace existing mechanical switches.

A wall switch can be used to add a house and unit code to built in lighting devices. These are used to replace existing porch light switches to allow remote control of the lights.

Appliance Module

Hot coffee in the morning.

Appliance modules can be used to control appliances. There are two and three prong modules available. Compare the electrical ratings on the modules to that of the appliances you wish to control.

Universal Module

The universal module is used to complete a circuit or for signaling an event within the network. The device contains a relay which can be set for a momentary or continuous setting. This device is often used to control a garage door.

Wall Outlet Module

A wall outlet module replaces an existing outlet. One side of the module can be assigned a unit number and the other will provide continuous power. I use these module to turn off devices which I do not want my kids using. For example, my controller disables my treadmill during the day so if the kids find the key needed to start the treadmill, it will not work since it has no power. I must note my kids are young and would not think of moving the plug over.


Many available.

Many different kits are available which provide a combination of the above devices. A wall switch kits includes a tansceiver and a switch plate. This allows for the switch to be place in a more desirable location or where one does not exist. The device is plugged into the bottom of the transceiver and the switch set to the appropriate house code.

Other kits include the digital programmable clock and lamp devices.

Personal Emergency Dialer

Radio Shack's P.E.D.

The Personal Emergency Dialer can be used to make people feel more comfortable living at home since the PED kit comes with a pendant that can be used to call for help in case a phone cannot be reached. The kit can be set to control X10 devices on a particular house and unit code. The PED stores a prerecorded message and when a button is pressed will dial up to six numbers and play the recorded message. The unit also can be set to set off an alarm as well as flash X10 devices.

Great Stuff on eBay - X10 modules on Ebay

Deals can be found for X10 devices on ebay.


Thanks for visiting.

It is fun to automate your home, as long as the members of your household find the technology useful. Automatically controlling lights is cool, depending of course, on where you are when they go out.

Thanks for visiting,



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