<![CDATA[UK Automation: Latest News]]> http://www.uk-automation.co.uk 2016-03-16T20:42:24Z 2015-10-09T10:37:36Z 2015-10-09T10:37:36Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/home-automation-products-supported-by-rfxcom-rfxtrx433/ <![CDATA[Home Automation products supported by RFXCom RFXtrx433]]> We sometimes get asked which home automation products are supported by the RFXCom RFXtrx433. Below is a list of the known devices but this may not be definitive so if your device is on the list then you always check with us.

  • • Alecto SA30, WS1200
    • ANSLUT
    • ATI Remote Wonder
    • ATI Remote Wonder II
    • A-OK, Ematronic blind motor
    • Blyss
    • BOFU blind motor
    • Brennenstuhl
    • ByeByeStandBy
    • Chacon (including EMW200)
    • Clas Ohlson weather sensors
    • COCO
    • Conrad RSL2
    • DI.O
    • Digimax
    • DomiaLite
    • Düwi
    • dx.com RGB LED controllers
    • ebode
    • ELRO AB400, AB600
    • Energenie
    • Harrison curtain
    • Hasta blind motor
    • HomeEasy HE105
    • HomeEasy
    • HomeEasy EU
    • Ikea Koppla
    • Impuls
    • Intertechno
    • KD101 - Chacon, NEXA, Flamingo smoke detector
    • KlikAanKlikUit
    • La Crosse weather sensors
    • LightwaveRF, Siemens
    • Livolo touch modules
    • Maverick ET732
    • MDremote LED dimmer
    • MediaMount projector screen
    • Mertik Maxitrol
    • NEXA
    • Oregon weather sensors
    • THR128,THC138, THR138,THGN122N, THGR122NX, THGN123N, RGR126, UVN128, UVR128, THGN132N, THGN132ES, UV138, THGR228N, THGRN228NX, THGR238, THGR268, RTGN318, RTHN318, RTGR328N, THGR328N, RTGR368N, THGN500, RGR682, THGR918, BTHR918, BTHR918N, RGR918, STR918, WGR918, RGR928, STR928, THGR928, WGR928, BTHR968,EW109, PCR800, UVN800, WGR800, WTGR800, TGHN800, TGHN801, THGR810
    • Oregon Body weight scale BWR101/BWR102/GR101
    • OWL CM113, cent-a-meter, Electrisave
    • OWL CM119 / CM160 / CM180 / CM180i
    • PC Remote
    • Phenix
    • Proove
    • RAEX blind motor
    • Revolt
    • RFXMeter
    • RFXSensor
    • RisingSun
    • Rollertrol blind motor
    • RTS10 / RFS10 / TLX1206
    • Rubicson stektermometer
    • Sartano
    • Smartwares Radiator valves
    • TFA weather sensors
    • Viking weather sensors
    • Visonic PowerCode
    • Waveman
    • X10 lighting, X10 security
    • X10 Ninja/Robocam
    • Xdom
  • ]]>
    2015-10-04T13:21:01Z 2015-10-04T13:21:01Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/what-is-homewizard-smartwares-automation/ <![CDATA[What is HomeWizard / Smartwares automation?]]> HomeWizard from Smartwares is a new, wireless home automation system which has been designed to provide excellent home automation capabilities at an affordable cost.

    The system works using wireless communications between the modules. You can program a remote control or sensor to switch a single receiver or multiple receivers together.

    Using the HomeWizard controller, you can make the system much smarter. The controller will allow you to create lighting scenes, automate devices based on logic conditions, switch devices and lights on remotely via the web or a smartphone app and much more.

    For example, using the HomeWizard controller you can switch on a heater when the room temperature is below a certain point, and the weather forecast is predicting it will be getting colder, and it's after a certain time of day.

    This is also useful from a security point of view. You can configure the controller to alert you if motion is detected at certain times of day (the times when you wouldn't be at home, for example). If you've got IP cameras, the HomeWizard can retrieve images from this too - allowing you to have a much smarter security set-up than just a camera or alarm system.

    Finally, you can add in items such as a smoke detector, and then configure the lighting to switch on if a fire is detected. If you're out of the house, the system can text or push a notification to you to keep you in touch with what is happening.

    How does it compare to X10?

    The Smartwares system is cheaper than X10, and due to the fact that it works via radio transmission rather than via the powerline it is less susceptible to transmission issues, although the range can be shorter.

    On the whole, if you can find the correct modules you need to automate your devices using Smartwares then we recommend it over X10 due to it's price, simplicity and the excellent HomeWizard controller.

    How about Z-Wave?

    Z-Wave allows for more complex automation, but comes at a price premium compared to Smartwares. If you're looking for a basic, robust entry point into Home Automation then we'd chose Smartwares over Z-Wave. However if you're wanting to control more advanced scenes, or integrate more types of sensors, then you should look into the Fibaro Z-Wave range which has it's own advanced controller and a great range of modules that are all compatible with each other and the Fibaro Home Centre controller.

    Can I use the system without a HomeWizard controller?

    Yes, absolutely. 

    Any Smartwares transmitter can control any Smartwares module without the need for the HomeWizard controller.

    A transmitter could be:

    A receiver could be:

    2015-10-04T11:28:10Z 2015-10-04T11:28:10Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/getting-started-with-home-automation/ <![CDATA[Getting started with Home Automation]]> So, you're thinking about home automation?

    Well, it's a pretty daunting subject when you're just getting started. We're sure you have a few questions, so we've tried to answer the common ones below.

    If we've missed anything, or you need a bit more help, give us a shout on Facebooktweet us, or use the more 'old fashioned' contact methods here!

    OK, let's get started...

    Which home automation technology should I choose?

    Great question, and there is a good choice of technologies available.

    We'd ask you - what do you want to achieve?

    If you just want to do some simple device control, such as remote control of an appliance or light - or turning devices on when motion is detected, then you should have a look at either Home Easy or Homewizard.

    Both of these technologies use wireless communication between their modules. Homewizard has the added benefit of a dedicated system controller (called the Homewizard Controller) which allows you to have remote control via the web/tablet/phone and gives you a much 'smarter' home automation system.

    You can read more about Smartwares Homewizard here.

    If you're looking for more advanced control and monitoring, we'd recommend looking at Z-wave. This is another wireless system, but uses a more advanced mesh network (meaning each mains powered Z-wave device extends the range of the network, and makes it more resilient to wireless noise/drop-outs). As it's a well supported protocol, products are made by many different manufacturers and you'll find lots of different Z-wave enabled devices. We recommend, if you're just getting started, to look at the Fibaro range of modules. They offer 2 different system controllers, depending on your requirement and budget, and a very good range of modules which can achieve most home automation tasks including lighting control, blind/curtain control, appliance control, RGB mood lighting, temperature sensing, motion and movement sensing, flood, fire and door/window open sensors!

    What about X10 or Insteon?

    Both X10 and Insteon use the power line as their primary method of transmission. This is useful for when you can't get the range required with a wireless solution like Homewizard. Insteon has the added benefit of also transmitting its control signals wirelessly, therefore adding an additional level of reliabilty.

    X10 is a well established home automation protocol, but does suffer from not being very quick at switching multiple modules (so if you want to do scene lighting then X10 isn't ideal). It's also a one-way protocol, meaning you can't query a module to see if it's switched on or not (Z-wave is a two-way protocol - so if the module supports being queried then you can ask it if it's turned off or on). This may not sound like a big deal, but when you have local switching of modules (such as using a light switch to turn on a device) then it's useful to be able to log this (or trigger another action with your home automation controller).

    Insteon is an American system that only reached the UK in 2013. However, it's proved to be less useful than Z-wave so we only offer the modules for users who wish to expand their existing systems and we don't recommend it for new starters.

    You can read more about X10 on our guide here.

    Do you sell starter kits?

    Yes, we do!

    You can find Z-Wave kits here:


    We also have a Homewizard kit:


    2015-09-06T13:24:24Z 2015-09-06T13:24:24Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/using-x10-for-lighting-control/ <![CDATA[Using X10 for lighting control]]> Update - Sept 2015: When we wrote this blog post a few years ago, X10 was still the simplest and cheapest way to control your home lighting. If you're looking for a reliable entry-level control of home lighting, we recommend HomeEasy and HomeWizard by SmartWares (which are both compatible with each other). However, X10 is still useful and has a place - plus is widely installed, so we've kept this article live for your benefit!

    Using X10 for lighting control

    X10 is a very simple way to add advanced automation to your home lighting.

    There are numerous modules and products available to control different types of lighting, and the X10 system gives you the ability to control these lights via a computer, a remote control, another X10 module/sensor or a switch.

    To get started, you need to understand how X10 works - with regards to the way it switches devices by encoding a signal into your home powerline. If you don't know about that, please see our starter article here:
    Using X10 for Home Automation

    To add X10 control to your lights, you need to look at what type of lights you have and buy the appropriate modules.

    For plug-in desk/table lamps & uplighters
    With plug in lamps, you can control them with a plug-in lamp module!
    We offer 2 varieties, the original X10 designed module and a 2nd generation module. The 2nd generation module offers better response to low X10 signals - so is ideal if you have a larger house or are having problems with your current X10 modules not always switching.

    X10 Lamp module
    X10 2G Lamp module

    For ceiling lamps or wired-in lighting
    For ceiling lamps, you have the choice of either changing the wall switch itself, using a hidden 'micro module' behind the existing switch, or using a wired-in lamp module.

    For wall switches, you can use a dimming wall switch to give you dimming & X10 control of any connected lights.
    X10 2 button wall dimmer switch

    Note: if you have a non-dimmable lamp, such as a standard energy saving bulb then you can't use a dimmer switch.

    To use a micro-module, or a wired in module, please see our range of modules here:
    X10 lighting control - micro/inline modules

    For a comparison table that explains what type of loads each module can switch, plus whether they can switch dimmable lamps or not, please see:
    Marmitek X10 micro module compatibility

    Of course, if you have any questions on X10 lighting control then please call us on 0845 094 0089 or drop us an email via the contact page.

    2015-09-06T13:17:36Z 2015-09-06T13:17:36Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/how-to-control-x10-with-an-iphone-ipod-ipad-or-android-device/ <![CDATA[How to control X10 with an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device]]> What is X10?

    X10 home automation can be used to control basically any electrical equipment you have in your home. From creating lighting scenes to switching on your coffee machine in the morning before you get up, the possabilities are limitless.

    The beauty of X10 is that it doesn't require any additional wiring to make it work, it's very much a plug and play system. X10 sends its control signals through the existing wires of the electrical system. All you need is a X10 module which is suitable for the piece of electrical equipment you are trying to control. Then you need a X10 transmitter like a remote control, timer, computer control etc. to send on/off signals to the X10 module when you want it to operate. A full range of X10 modules, transmitters and devices can be found click here to see the X10 range

    A question we often get asked, does the X10 module and the transmitter which is controlling it have to be on the same ring main? The answer is no, the only stipulation is that they are fed from the same electrical consumer unit or come from the same main electrical cable into the property. If your property is supplied by more than one phase (this is unusual in most domestic properties) you'll need a phase coupler

    So how do I use my iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device to control X10 devices

    Now it's easier than ever to control your X10 devices remotely, all you need is the TIP10RF. This device plugs into your router or network point and is configured from the free Apple or Android App (links to this can be found on the product webpage). The only other X10 device you'll need is a transceiver like the TM13. This is because the TIP10RF transmits wireless X10 signals which need to be converted onto the powerlines for normal X10

    Alternatively if you have a computer or server permanently running you may prefer to consider the following method. Firstly you'll need an app for your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device. There are several around but a couple which we recommend are iHomeTouch and X10 Commander. The software allows you to control your X10 devices from your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device. You need to download and install some server software on your PC or Mac computer, which needs a Wifi internet connection.

    Plugged into your computer you will need a computer interface either the CM15Pro for USB connections or if you have a serial connection on your computer use the CM11/12.

    After that just select the X10 module that best suits your needs and that's all there is to giving you control of your home whilst you're away!

    2015-09-06T13:14:28Z 2015-09-06T13:14:28Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/what-is-zwave-plus-5th-generation/ <![CDATA[What is Z-Wave Plus? (5th Generation)]]> Z-Wave Plus™ also known as 5th Generation is an improved standard for Z-Wave devices which brings improved performance and reliability to the user. Devices using Z-Wave plus technology are based on a new series of chip and are fully backwards compatible with other Z-Wave products. The benefits and features you can expect are as follows:

    • 50% improvement in battery life
    • 67% improvement in range
    • 250% more bandwidth
    • Three RF channels for improved noise immunity and higher bandwidth
    • New Plug-n-Play Network-wide Inclusion feature
    • Improved self-healing and fault tolerance with Explorer Frame feature
    • Standardized method for Over the Air firmware updates (OTA)
    • Improved product information capture for product certification database
    2015-09-06T10:39:23Z 2015-09-06T10:39:23Z http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/blog/using-x10-for-home-automation/ <![CDATA[Using X10 for Home Automation]]> Disclaimer

    This article has been modified from it's original form by UK Automation with permission from Kevin Boone. We have provided links to relevant products in our shop where they are mentioned by Kevin Boone.
    Kevin Boone does not in any way endorse or recommend our products.
    To view the article in it's original form, please visit: http://www.kevinboone.com/x10.html

    The article was originally modified in 2009, and since then there have been changes in the X10 range, with new products and products removed from sale. As such, this is still a useful reference guide but you may find some of the items mentioned below are no longer available. For the latest X10 products, please visit: http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/x10-home-automation/

    Electrical mains supplies can be dangerous. Please don't let this article encourage you to attempt procedures beyond your competence. The author accepts no responsibility for any adverse consequences of your use of this material. In general, the use of X10 devices requires few changes to electrical wiring, but there are safety implications. Remember that X10 allows electrical appliances to be switched from remote locations, so some care should be taken to ensure that appliances can be properly isolated for maintenance.

    What is X10, and what can you do with it?

    X10 is a system for controlling mains appliances and lighting using signals carried over mains power cables. X10 modules are available that can be used with ordinary light switches and mains outlets. As well as being controlled locally as normal, appliances can also be controlled remotely using keypads, radio and infra-red remote controls, timers, and computer interfaces. X10 can be used for many applications; here are a few examples.

    • Extending a light with a single light switch to be controllable from two, three or even more locations with no additional wiring.
    • Switching lights on and off at set or random times, or opening and closing blinds and curtains to give an illusion of occupancy when the house is empty.
    • Controlling groups of lights or appliances from a single switch point.
    • Allowing lights and appliances to be controlled from outside the house. Using Internet or telephone control allows control from any distance from the house.

    X10 principles

    X10 works by carrying control signals over the domestic mains power wiring. Because most houses are wired so that all power and lighting circuits originate from the same point, a control device in one part of the house can control appliances in another part. This means that controllers do not have to be wired directly to appliances.
    Control signals can be generated by various sources, including plug-in controllers, radio and infra-red receivers, and computer interfaces. These signals are detected by appliance and lamp controllers, among other things. The X10 protocol also provides for a controller to determine the status (on or off) of an appliance, although many appliance modules don't support this (see below).
    As all controllers and appliances are connected to the same mains wiring system, how does the X10 system determine which device a particular control signal should be directed to? Embedded in each X10 signal are a `house code' and a `unit code'. Both of these can take values between 1 and 16. Each appliance or lamp is set to respond to a single house code/unit code combination. The house code was originally intended to allow adjacent houses to use X10 without interfering with each other; this is necessary in theory because houses in the same neighbourhood may share a connection to the power distribution system, so that control signals can `bleed' from one to another. In the UK, where uptake of X10 has not been widespread, the house code and unit code can both be used to select which device to control. This means that a total of 256 devices can be controlled independently in a given property.

    Sample X10 scenarios

    Here are a few situations that might suit the use of X10 devices, based on my own experience.

    Outbuilding lights

    If you have a detached garage or shed, or other outbuildings, it can be very convenient to be able to switch the lights on and off from inside the main building as well as from the outbuilding. Normally this would require two-way switching, with a three-core cable run from the house to the outbuilding. This would be in addition to any other cabling you may have installed already. Suppose you have a detached garage about 60 feet from your house, as I do. You have already run a heavy armoured cable from the house to the garage, and don't want to run any more. With an X10 inline module in the garage you can control the garage lighting from anywhere; no extra cabling is required. In addition, you can install multiple switches in the garage if it has separate vehicle and people doors.

    Coupling room lights

    Suppose you merged two rooms in a house to make a single large room. For example, in my area, houses have separate living rooms and dining rooms; commonly people knock down the dividing wall to make one large room. But you now have a long room with two doors, and separate light switches. What you really want is for both switches to operate both lights. No problem: just wire in behind the light switches with X10 lamp dimmer & transmitter module, set to the same unit code. Either light switch will then control both lights.

    Convenience switching

    When I moved into my house the lights for the attic were controlled by a small switch in the attic itself. To get any light in the attic I had to get into it and then wander around in total darkness looking for the switch. Eventually I rewired it so that the switch was in the room below. However, it would have been much easier to install an X10 appliance micro module on the attic light, and then it could have been controlled from anywhere with a X10 Key Chain Remote Control along with X10 plug in Transceiver module. Similar logic applies to other inaccessible areas.

    X10 devices

    This section describes some of the more popular X10 devices that are available in the UK.

    Appliance modules

    Appliance modules are designed to switch `heavy-duty' loads like fans, pumps and motors. The simplest type (e.g., AM12U) plugs into a three-pin electrical outlet, and provides its own three-pin outlet for the appliance to be controlled. There may be a manual switch on the housing; there will certainly be provision to select the unit code and house code that the device responds to. The advantage of this kind of appliance module is that it can be used with no wiring changes at all; the module just plugs in.
    Alternatively, you can replace a standard three-pin double or single mains outlet with an X10 version. It will work the same in all particulars apart from allowing control by X10 codes as well as by a local switch. It will also be slightly bigger than a standard double socket. For a permanent installation this may be better than a plug-in module, because it can't be removed by accident and looks less unsightly.
    For a new installation, or a significant rewire, you may prefer to use X10 appliance modules that fit directly into a consumer unit (fuse box), e.g., AD10; this, however, is a job for the expert. It is also possible to get (dimmable) lamp modules for consumer unit mounting (e.g., LD11).
    Note that some appliance modules allow a suitably-equipped controller to determine their on/off status. This feature may be very important, because X10 has no built-in error checking; the status report feature may be your only way to determine whether the device really switched or not. This issue is discussed in more detail later.

    Inline Micro Light switch modules

    An Inline micro lightswitch module (e.g., LMM21 or AW12) goes behind a standard wall-mounted light switch. It contains a lamp switching module or an appliance module, and a single-channel controller. The controller normally generates control codes with the same unit code and house code as the lamp module, so pressing the switch operates the lamp exactly as a standard light switch. However, unlike a standard light switch the X10 approach allows more flexibility.

    • We can fit a lamp module in another room that responds on the same unit and house codes; this allows the lighting in both rooms to be controlled using the same switch. Moreover, this technique is not limit to two rooms; any number of lights can be controlled.
    • We can control the light using a different controller altogether, in addition to the light switch. For example, remote control and plug-in controllers can be used.

    Be aware that light switch modules are available in two wiring varieties. The `live only' version (e.g., LMM21) is an addition to a standard light switch and needs no neutral connection. These version is intended for filament lamps, halogen and eco halogen bulbs (not fluorescents) and will be able to dim as well as switch. The `live-and-neutral' variety (e.g., AW12) needs a neutral connection; this may be suitable for new installations, but is unlikely to be compatible with existing wiring. The live-and-neutral version, because it is intended for most types of lighting, will not be able to dim.

    As an alternative, a battery-operated remote control transmitter ,the X10 Slimline Wireless Wall Switch is available that can be fitted to a position of your choice; in conjunction with a micro module fitted inline along with a X10 plug in Transceiver module this offers the same features as the light switch module. It will, however, need occasional battery changes.

    Sirens, locks and other security devices

    A number of X10-controlled sirens and strobe lights is available (e.g., PH7208); these are switched on and off using standard X10 control codes, just like mains appliances. Similarly, X10-compatible locks allow a door to be locked and unlocked under X10 control. It is also possible to obtain passive infra-red (motion) detectors that issue control codes when movement is detected in or around a house (e.g., MS13E), and then switch on other X10 controlled devices like floodlights.

    Relay modules

    If you have electronic devices that cannot adequately be controller by a standard appliance or lamp module, you can use a relay module (e.g., UM7206). This has a standard low-voltage relay which is controlled by X10 signals. Such a module can be used, for example, to switch a hi-fi amplifier onto different sets of loudspeakers.

    Control keypads

    There are plug-in control keypads that can be used to control only one device (or multiple devices on the same unit code). These devices usually have slider controls to allow a smaller number of switches to control a large number of devices. The popular 'Command centre' ( IR7243) is about the size of a wall-mounted light switch (although slightly thicker) and has four on/off switches, bright/dim, all on, and all off. A slider allows the on-off switches to be allocated to either unit codes 1-4 or 5-8. Thus this controller can manage eight appliances or lamps.
    Plug-in controllers normally have a three-pin plug and are intended to be plugged into a standard mains outlet. For a permanent installation you can connect the device to a fused spur unit, but note that these devices always require a neutral. There are controllers that are designed to fit into a light switch mounting (e.g., TWM4), but these won't be useful in most houses because of the lack of a neutral connection in light switch wiring.

    Remote control transmitters and receivers

    You can overcome the `neutral problem', and get increased flexibility, with wireless devices. Being wireless, they need a transmitter and a receiver; additionally the wire-free part (the transmitter) will need battery power. There are two types of receiver: infra-red (e.g., IR7243) and radio (e.g., TM13U); infra-red devices offer better battery life in the transmitter, but are otherwise not very useful (in my experience) as they need line-of-sight between the transmitter and the receiver. With a radio system, the receiver can be mounted anywhere in the house that is within range, and need not be visible (I have mine behind a cupboard). The range of most of these devices is such that the transmitter will work anywhere in an ordinary-sized house, and at least part of the grounds as well.
    Transmitters are available in a number of flavours.

    • `Replacement light switches'. The transmitter replaces a standard wall-mounting light switch, whose wiring thus becomes redundant. One-gang and two-gang devices are available and, owing to their small size, they do look OK as a light switch. However, most of these devices sacrifice range for increased battery life; many have a range of only a few meters. This means that you must mount a receiver fairly close by. If this scheme is widely used, you will end up with a large number of receivers. This is not a technical problem, but will be expensive.
    • Handsets. An X10 remote control handset looks like the remote control device that you might get with a television or video player. However, if it is radio-based -- rather than infra-red -- then it will be usable anywhere in the house.
    • Control panels. Devices like HR10E or Easy Touch Panel provide the same facilities as plug-in controllers, but without the need for plugging in. Although portable, they are large and therefore less suitable for mobile operation than handsets.
    • Key-ring devices. These are very small transmitters designed to be carried on a key-ring (e.g., KR22E). They normally allow one or two devices to be controlled. If they are radio devices they will work from outside the house. This allows lights, locks, etc., to be controlled from outside.
    • Wireless security sensors, e.g., motion detectors (MS90E), door sensors (DS90). These are intended for wireless security systems.

    Telephone-based receivers

    These devices (e.g, SC9000) convert touch-tone telephone key presses into X10 signals. This allows lamps and appliances and lamps to be switched on and off by telephoning the premises and pressing the appropriate buttons. Unless you have multiple telephone lines, such a device will have to be set up quite carefully to avoid conflict with telephone answering machines and fax machines.

    Computerized X10 controllers

    For sophisticated timing and control requirements, you can use a computerized controller (e.g. CM15Pro). These devices have an on-board microcontroller and real-time clock, allowing appliances and lamps to be switched under the control of a timing specification. The timing details are normally downloaded from a computer (e.g, a PC) through an USB cable, once set up the on-board memory allows the unit to operate without further intervention.
    Sophisticated units are normally supplied with software, but it is invariably for the ubiquitous PC-Windows platform. Linux, Unix, and Mac users will have to look elsewhere for software options. Happily, the communications protocols are usually straightforward, so a competent programmer should have no difficulties writing software to control the device.


    Anyone planning to use X10 devices should be aware of a few issues.

    • Most embedded lighting controllers cannot be used with fluorescent lights. By `embedded' I mean devices that replace standard light switches or lamp holders. The problem is that these devices do not have a neutral connection. The power supply to operate the electronics is derived by allowing a small current to `leak' through the light filament when it is turned off. This current is not sufficient to light the bulb, but is sufficient to operate the controller. However, fluorescent lamps do not allow this leakage to take place; they have a very high electrical resistance in the `off' state. For similar reasons, very low power incandescent bulbs may not work either. I have found that 40 watts is the practical minimum. With bulbs rated lowed than this, the bulb may glow even when technically switched off, and not respond to the controller.
      For many applications this limitation is quite severe; it effectively precludes the use of fluorescent power-saving bulbs as a replacement for standard lightbulbs.
      It is possible to obtain an X10-compatible light switch that does support fluorescent lamps, but it requires a neutral. If your lighting system is a standard loop-in arrangement (most are) then you won't have access to a neutral. In theory, a neutral could be taken from elsewhere (e.g., a power ring), but this causes problems with isolation.
      Another possibility is to mount an appliance controller module in the ceiling cavity near the light to be controlled, and get its neutral supply from the ceiling rose. The existing light switch wiring can then be modified at the ceiling rose so that the light switch pulses the control input of the X10 device. This usually means that you have to switch the light switch on and then off again to switch the light either from off to on, or on to off, which is not ideal.
      The plain fact is that using X10 devices to control fluorescent lights usually requires some wiring changes.
    • An X10 appliance or lamp module is never a safety isolator. Switching off an X10 module never constitutes safety isolation, even with modules that include a relay. Someone in another part of the building could be tinkering with a multi-way controller and switch the device on unexpectedly. When buying X10 lamp modules, ensure that they have some form of safety isolation. Light switch modules usually have a fuse compartment in the body somewhere; removing this fuse constitutes isolation. If your modules don't have an isolation mechanism you will need to switch the entire circuit off at the fuse box to make it safe to change a lightbulb.
    • The X10 system was never designed for unattended remote operation. Usually pressing a button on a controller generates an X10 control code, and that's that. The controller does not normally check that the operation was successful. Most appliances and lamp modules cannot determine whether they are switched on or off. An X10 switching operation can fail for a number of reasons, even when there is no fault. For example, if two people try to control two devices at the same time there will be a collision, that is, a conflict. In all likelihood neither operation will succeed.
      This is fine so long as it is people that are controlling the devices. If pressing a button has no effect, you can press it again. If you are switching a light on, it is usually fairly clear whether it worked or not.
      Suppose you are using X10 to switch, say, a central heating system on or off. It you press the appropriate `on' button, it may take several minutes to be sure that it is switched on. The same applies to switching off. If you are using computer-based control to do this remotely, then you don't really have any way to tell whether the heating is on or off. This is not ideal.
      If you plan to control appliance from a remote location, ensure that you get appliance modules that can report their status to a controller. If you are writing software to do this, ensure that the software checks the status of the appliance module after sending the `on' or `off' instruction, and takes appropriate action if the status does not seem to be correct. To the best of my knowledge, there are no controllers commercially available that can do this automatically.
    • Wireless devices use a variety of radio bands. In the UK, there are two `approved' frequencies: 418 MHz and 433 MHz. Most suppliers carry devices that use both these frequencies and these are, of course, incompatible. In addition, it is possible to get devices that operate on the USA standard frequency of 310 MHz; these are unlicensed in the UK and their use may be illegal. These devices are, naturally, much cheaper than their approved counterparts.
    • X10 products are available to suit different supplies. The electrical supply in the UK is 230V at 50Hz, although 240V devices should be OK. However, US equipment rated at 110V will probably not be OK, and may well be dangerous. There is a thriving market in `converted' US X10 devices, as they are about 20% cheaper than UK-spec equipment. These are devices that were made for the US market, and then converted for 240V operation. In general, these products will not be compatible with UK-style three-pin outlets, and a variety of adapters will be required to make them work. In my opinion it isn't worth the modest cost saving achieved.