X-10 Home Automation

The X-10 Web site can be a little much if you have never seen it before, but that’s OK. You can work your way through to the useful parts without a lot of fuss if you know what you are looking for, or you can go to a calmer site like Smarthome. Basically, it is a very simple form of home automation over power lines that has been around since 1975. The devices that you want to control are plugged into modules (or the module is installed in the light switch) and an RF sensor is plugged into the same circuit. Each device has a unique code, so you can control on/off and dimming from anywhere in the room (or nearby). I use mine to control vintage analog devices: holiday lights, model trains and audio components. Very handy not to have to bend over just to turn something on or off, and it makes an audible click from the relay. If you like the concept, the CM15A USB interface and the free software enable you to do all sorts of things: time your outside lights or set up seemingly random vacation lighting, for example. You can try it very inexpensively and see if home automation is for you.

Affordability: 8                  Luxury: 6

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