Home automation is here


Thursday, October 2nd 2008, 6:53 pm
By: News 9


By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

Imagine turning lights on and off with a remote or a computer. Home automation is here, and it's not reserved for the rich.

The two readily available systems are X10 and Z-wave. They both have modules that simply plug in to automate your lighting. But what's great is what these systems can do for you. I can sit in one room, press a button and turn off a light in another room. I can dim the lights in my family room for better TV viewing. I can also use a program on my computer to not only let me manually do those things but also to automatically turn lights on, off or even dim lights. In my house the automated system turns on my porch lights when it gets dark then dims them to save energy later at night. It also turns off all the lights in the kid's rooms they forgot after they've left for school - a real money saver.

So what's the difference between the two systems? The X10 system uses your home's electrical wiring to send the command signal to the modules. The Z-wave system uses an over-the-air radio frequency to transmit the commands.

The X10 advantage is low cost modules. The downside is by using your home's wiring there could be outlets in your home where a module won't work. Not all homes are wired in a manner where the X10 system can get through to all the wires.

The Z-wave advantage is every module retransmits the signal being sent until the proper module gets the command and this creates less a chance of a command being missed. Its disadvantage is the modules cost two to three times more than the X10s.

There are of course other considerations when selecting which one to choose for your application so do your own research.

We may not have the flying cars we were once promised but automating the lights in your home is now available.