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#63446 - 03/15/06 06:20 PM Home automation preferences/hatreds
WFO Offline
Member

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 206
Loc: Cat Spring, TX
Alright! I work in substations and know nothing about this, so be gentle.
I need to work a common light from two different sources (basically a 3-way switch).
The two locations are two seperate houses about 75 feet apart and I'm getting to old and lazy to dig the trench to run the wires, so I need an alternative.
I know there are "home automation" systems out there, but I see people refer to X-10 and everyone goes "ugh!"
What is a good PLC (power line carrier) or wireless system to use for this application?
Remember that I am a fellow electrician so cost (or the lack thereof) is imperative

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#63447 - 03/15/06 06:39 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
SolarPowered Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Insteon ( www.insteon.com ) looks interesting. It's designed to fix all the flaws in X-10 (I'm sure someone else will catalog those flaws here.) As it's brand new, it's not clear whether it will catch on. In my opinion, it looks like a technology that should do really well, but only time will tell on that. For your application, though, you're not really out a lot if the technology goes by the wayside in five years, so I don't think I'd be too worried about that.

It's pretty reasonably priced--$20 the "low end" dimmer/remote (same unit), and $40 for the one with more features and power-handling capability.

They say that you need to have two of their signal enhancers, one on each phase. It appears, though, that you should be OK without those if you keep both sides of your setup on the same phase.

(Edited to try to get it to turn the web page reference into an actual hyperlink.)



[This message has been edited by SolarPowered (edited 03-19-2006).]

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#63448 - 03/15/06 08:01 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
e57 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
PLC type items do work well, most are X-10 based, but with improvements on the coding and interferance. Leviton makes a nice set-up... not too bad on the wallet. The other option is RF, and Lutrons RadioRA, and HomeworksRF works very well, pricey, but works... Personally I hate programing them, but once it is done, it is done...

Although I have worked with all kinds of systems, I still like the tried and true trench. If you dont want to dig it yourself, hire someone who will... Might cost you less in the long run...
_________________________
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

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#63449 - 03/16/06 03:22 AM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
Tom H Offline
Member

Registered: 01/31/05
Posts: 74
Loc: Milford, Ct, USA
In this instance you are stuck with PLC, Lutron's HomeWorks RF and Radio Ra need repeaters within 60' of each other to guarantee success. It would likely work at 75', but I would not guarantee it. And as a Lutron Dealer, it kill's me to say this.

e57, what systems have you had trouble programming?

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#63450 - 03/18/06 12:47 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
e57 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
Tom, RadioRA etc. suggest the repeaters at 60', but the signal doesnt really breakdown until around 100'(Depending on the environment), and like you said... you wouldn't be able to guarantee it.

As for trouble in programing, with RadioRA unless you have someone with you at that step, and commincation with them, you get to look real dumb walking back and forth all over a house tapping devices to address them. Especially if you have some non-working PM sell a large system designed to have remoted a bunch of stuff from a crawl space. Easy, if you have another guy and some walkietalkies...

X-10 based stuff... On larger systems, or additions to existing systems it is easy to run out of addresses for them, or in the groups nessesary.

I have also done a lot of work with commercial Lithonia and other timeclock based products with sweeping off times and manual over-rides. A concept that is not difficult to grasp with some basic programing knowledge.... But with all of the types, if you have a customer who decides to do some programming changes themselves for whatever reason... You eventually get the call back and have to start all over again. Anyway, what I am trying to say is... I don't mind installing them, and programming them ONE time, if they can even handle what needs to be done intitially. But being called back to do a system over, or with systems that can not be customer modified at all, (Password protected/equipment/tools required on site, etc.) when I have SO many other things to do, other than programming. If you have the option via modem to do it remotely, at your leisure, with out having to drive to deep space sites to do it, thats the best....
_________________________
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

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#63451 - 03/18/06 02:33 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
Active 1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 684
Loc: Grayslake IL, USA
I'm betting it would be cheaper to hire someone to pipe it in the ground compared to Radio Ra.

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#63452 - 03/18/06 04:07 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
e57 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
Yes, it would....
_________________________
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

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#63453 - 03/18/06 05:25 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
WFO Offline
Member

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 206
Loc: Cat Spring, TX
"Cheaper to dig in wire."

How much does it cost to convince the wife that it's better for hired labor to do this than me?

I see a shovel in my future.......

Thanks for the input.

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#63454 - 03/18/06 06:17 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
e57 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: S.F.,CA USA
Remember old man some young whipper snapper with a good back (For the time being) will cost you less than lost income from the broke back yours when it come to the medical bills or crys of pain in equal value. Drag in that neighbor kid when shes not around...

Might I add, consider a few extras along the way.
_________________________
Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

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#63455 - 03/18/06 08:51 PM Re: Home automation preferences/hatreds
SolarPowered Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
It seems to me that Insteon, that I mentioned above, would get the job done without shovel work.

I guess I didn't explicitly state that Insteon is a PLC technology, so you can run it over the existing power connection. It is supposed to be much more reliable than X-10 because it uses an acknowledge/retry protocol. It also uses a faster bit rate, so the reponse is much better than X-10 (hence the "Instant" base for the name "Insteon").

I haven't tried it out yet (but am planning to do so shortly), so I can't vouch for the system. However, the reports I've read indicate that it works as advertised.

And the price is definitely right.

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