The X10 Company |
X10 Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology was invented and patented in the late 1970s by an engineering firm named PICO Electronics, headquarted in the UK. The PICO engineers subsequently relocated to Hicksville, New York and continued with their efforts to develop a method of remote control of "record players" using existing electrical power lines to send the control signals. They had already tried and abandoned 9 different experiments and were working on Experiment 10 when they had their breakthrough, hence the term X10, which has been used to describe the signaling technique. The X10 team subsequently named their new home automation company X10 USA, and relocated to Closter, New Jersey.
The X10 signaling method opened up a whole new world of remotely controlling almost anything plugged into the electrical power line, without adding any control wiring. This was the beginning of affordable home automation. X10 USA has produced millions of X10 automation products and is currently the world’s largest producer of home automation products.
Basically, the X10 power line signaling technique consists of superimposing and transmitting a 120khz coded signal on the 60hz electrical power line. Using X10 transmitting device(s), the signal is sent over the power line to X10 receiving device(s) which are programmed with the same House and Unit code. There are 256 different standard X10 codes available (16 House codes: A through P, and 16 Unit codes: 1-16).
The X10 PLC home automation network consists of:
Transmitting devices such as wall mounted, plug-in, phone, & PC controllers.
X10 Home Automation Systems
Receiving devices such as light switches, receptacles, & chimes.
Transceiver devices that transmit and receive such as the Smart Motion Flood lights, the plug-in devices that receive an RF signal from a remote and re-transmit it on the power line as an X10 signal.
X10 PLC Network devices such as passive couplers, coupler repeaters, surge protectors, noise filters, and signal blocks that are installed in or near the electrical service panel. These are required for consistent and reliable whole-house signaling performance. It is possible in very simple systems to obtain satisfactory results without any of the above, however this is a result of lucky circumstances. The use of a coupler repeater and a whole house X10 compatible surge protector when budget permits, is well worth the investment is ongoing system performance.
Test Equipment should be used to establish reliable X10 PLC Networks. The objective is to insure that the X10 signal strength is a minimum of 100 mV (2X manufacturers) and that the power line noise does not exceed 20mV, as measured at every location in the residence.
The X10 signaling method opened up a whole new world of remotely controlling almost anything plugged into an electrical power line, without adding expensive & proprietary control wiring. This was the beginning of affordable Home Automation. Over the years X10 USA has produced, licensed, and privately labeled millions of X10 home automation products.
Today, several companies in addition to X10 USA produce X10 compatible Smart Switches & Receptacles for home automation, including SmartLinc, Powerline Carrier Systems (PCS), Leviton, Monterey, and others.
Major product performance improvements over the last few years allow today’s X10 based home automation systems to offer the same features and reliability as proprietary hard-wired products, with far more flexibility, and at a fraction of the cost!
To purchase books on X-10 Technology and Home Automation Applications click here.