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Get the home of tomorrow, today! Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation will help you turn your ordinary home into a high-tech haven. Want to schedule your lights to turn on while you're on vacation? Stuck late at work and want to start the roast you put in the crock pot this morning? You can make it all happen with the help of existing 110V electrical wiring in your home and this step-by-step tutorial. Through simple, do-it-yourself instructions, you will walk through the process of outfitting every room in your home with a network connection that you can control with a few clicks on your computer keyboard. Complete with illustrations and photographs, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation will have you riding the wave of the future in no time.
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About the Author
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation About the Author
Mark Edward Soper is president of Select Systems and Associates, Inc., a technical writing and training organization.
Mark is a 22-year veteran of the technology industry. His previous experience in photography, creative writing, and journalism has helped him make high technology useful to everyone.
Mark has taught computer troubleshooting and other technical subjects to thousands of students from Maine to Hawaii since 1992. He is an A+ Certified hardware technician and a Microsoft Certified Professional. Mark's previous books on home technology subjects for Que include The Complete Idiot's Guide to High-Speed Internet Connections, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Cable Internet Connections, Easy Digital Cameras, and Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Networking. Mark is also the author of TechTV's Upgrading Your PC, Second Edition, published by another Pearson Technology imprint, Peachpit Press.
Mark coauthored both the first and second editions of Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Technician's Portable Reference, Upgrading and Repairing PCs Field Guide (which has been translated into several languages) and Upgrading and Repairing PCs: A+ Study Certification Guide, Second Edition with Scott Mueller, one of the world's leading PC hardware experts. Mark also co-authored the original edition of TechTV's Upgrading Your PC with Patrick Norton. Mark has been writing technical documents since the mid-1980s and has contributed to many other Que books, including Upgrading and Repairing PCs (starting with the 11th edition through the current 16th edition); Upgrading and Repairing Laptops; Upgrading and Repairing Networks, Second Edition; Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition; Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition (all editions); Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition (all editions); Platinum Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP. Mark has also contributed to MaximumPC Ultimate PC Performance Guide and MaximumPC Guide to Building a Dream PC.
Mark has been writing for major computer magazines since 1990, with more than 140 articles in publications such as SmartComputing, PCNovice, PCNovice Guides, the PCNovice Learning Series, and MaximumPC. His early work was published in WordPerfect Magazine, The WordPerfectionist, and PCToday. Many of Mark's articles are available in back issues or electronically via the World Wide Web at http://www.smartcomputing.com. Mark welcomes comments at email@example.com.
© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Read an Excerpt
IntroductionIntroductionSmart Homes for Everyone
Ever since I was a kid growing up in the 1960s watching TV shows like Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons and reading stories such as Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the idea of a "smart house" has fascinated me. In some ways, the smart house of the future is already here for many of us:
TV screens are getting larger and larger.
Home theater systems combine digital surround sound and better-than-broadcast video.
Internet access enables us to work from home remotely.
However, in other ways, today's homes are often stuck in the past. In my youth I saw older homes with rotary light switches, relics of a retrofit from gaslight to electricity. Today's homes use toggle or decorator paddle switches, but you still have to walk across the room to turn off a lamp or an overhead light fixture.
Now, just as then, if you're not around to turn off the lights when your kids leave the room, the lights stay on, ripping a hole in the family utility budget. If you forget to turn down the thermostat when you head out for the day or go on vacation, you'll make your utility company very happy. If you're away from home and you don't have somebody keeping an eye on things for you, your vacation or business trip might be frittered away with worry about what might be happening while you're away.
If you're building a brand-new luxury home, many home builders can build-in "smart house" features that provide remote control of lights and appliances, remote control of heating and cooling, and security. But you don'tneed to be a millionaire to make your home a smart home.
Whether you want to reduce the drudgery of turning off the lights at bedtime, make your home look lived in when you're away, provide extra security for your home and family, or use your home PC as the PC that runs your home, this book is for you. This book shows you how to turn the dream of home automation into a practical reality at minimal cost. From controlling your lights with a wireless remote to equipping your home to call you when there's a problem, this book provides practical advice on buying, installing, and using the most popular home automation standard on the market today, X10. We chose to focus on X10 because of its popularity, low cost, and versatility. However, if you are using another home automation standard such as Z-Wave, UPB, or others, the home automation software programs discussed in Chapters 11 and 12 can be used to create a home automation solution that combines X10, X10-compatible, and non-X10 home automation products.
I have spent many hours in my own home experimenting with many of the products described in this book and countless time researching other products. My goal in writing this book is to make sure that you have a fast track to transforming your home into the smart home you want...today.
Although X10-compatible products have been on the market since 1978, the continued development of new features, new types of home automation products, and the ability to interconnect X10 with other types of whole-house or do-it-yourself home automation standards through computer control make X10 an evergreen technology.
As you'll learn in the following pages, the X10 standard offers a huge universe of home automation possibilities. But the X10 standard often hides behind various brand names. This book shows you how to choose the right home automation products from leading vendors to accomplish practical tasks. If you're looking for Rube Goldberg contraptions, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for practical advice about how to make your home smarter, friendlier, more economical to run, and even more secure, keep reading!How This Book Is Organized
This book contains 12 chapters and two appendices. You don't need to read it cover to cover, but to make the most of it, take a moment and review its basic plan:
In Part I, "Home Technology Basics," you will learn about major uses for home automation and home automation standards (Chapter 1); the basics of X10, the world's most popular home automation standard (Chapter 2); and how to plan your future home automation projects (Chapter 3).
In Part II, "Using X10 for Basic Home Automation," you will learn how to use X10 to control home lighting (Chapter 4), appliances (Chapter 5), and how to upgrade your X10 home automation projects with more powerful controllers and timers (Chapter 6).
In Part III, "Using X10 for Advanced Home Control," you will learn how to use X10 to control central heating and cooling systems and portable fans, heaters, and window air conditioners in your home (Chapter 7); how to control exterior lights, garage lights and outlets, and other landscaping and exterior features (Chapter 8); and how to use X10 to provide home security through motion detectors, video cameras, and alarm systems (Chapter 9).
In Part IV, "Remote Access to Your X10 Home Control System," you'll learn how to control your home by telephone (Chapter 10), with your home computer (Chapter 11), and remotely via your home network or the Internet (Chapter 12).
To make sure that you're fully equipped to enter the wide (and sometimes wild) world of the X10 home automation standard, I've added two appendices:
In Appendix A, "Integrating X10 with Other Home Control Systems," you'll discover which whole-house and non-X10 systems can be added to an X10 installation. You'll also learn the many brand names used for X10-compatible hardware over the years.
In Appendix B, "Troubleshooting X10," you'll learn how to bridge X10 signals between different phases of your home wiring, how to boost X10 signal strength, and how to test your X10 installation.
You can read this book in two ways:
If you're truly an absolute beginner to home automation, start with the first chapter and keep reading. The early chapters provide essential grounding in home automation concepts, terms, and technology you'll need as you progress.
If you've already dipped your feet into the ocean of home automation, feel free to go straight to the chapters that interest you most. I've added a lot of cross-references when they're needed to make sure that you have the help you need when you need it.
Either way, I know you'll have as much fun using this book to help you create a smarter home as I had writing it.Conventions Used in This Book
Commands, directions, and explanations in this book are presented in the clearest format possible. The following items are some of the features that make this book easier for you to use:
Shortcut to SuccessI use this feature to provide tips that make a task easier to complete.
Cautions and WarningsI use this feature to keep you out of trouble when you're performing potentially dangerous or tricky tasks.
On the WebI use this feature to guide you to useful websites that provide more information on the topic or product being discussed.
The Big PictureI use this feature to bring you up to speed on major home automation concepts.
© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Smart Homes for Everyone
How This Book Is Organized
How to Use This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
I. HOME TECHNOLOGY BASICS.
1. Understanding Home Technologies.
Ways to Automate Your Home
Alarm and Security Systems
Window Control Systems
Major Home Automation Standards
Universal Powerline Bus
Ethernet/Wi-Fi Home Automation Systems
Proprietary Home Automation Products
Methods for Controlling Your Home
Interactive Home Control
All Lights On/All Units Off Controllers
Photocell-Based Lighting Control
Programmable Devices and Remote Controls
Remote Control by Telephone
Home Network Control
Remote Control via the Internet
Home Technology Glossary
2. Getting Started with X10 Home Automation.
What X10 Can Control
Why Use X10 for Home Control?
How X10 Systems Work
A Technical Look at What Makes X10 Work
Setting Up a Simple X10 System
Equipment You'll Need
Selecting House and Unit Codes
Configuring the Components
Testing the System
Troubleshooting Your First X10 Installation
3. Strategies for Adding Home Technology Features.
Determining Your Home Automation Budget
Selecting Where to Start
Automating on a Room-by-Room Basis
Automating on a Task-by-Task Basis
Evaluating Products and Price Ranges
Deciding on a Control Method
Choosing the Most Important Features
How to Select Versatile Components
Vital and Useful Accessories
Selecting Your Next Goal
Budgeting Your Time
Plug-in and Wireless Modules
Electrical Outlets and Switches
Computer and Internet
Deciding When to Call in the Pros
Selecting a Contractor
Just Do It!
Controlling Seasonal Lighting
Turning On Porch Lights at Night
Creating a Lived-In Look When You're Away
Keeping an Eye on Your Home
II. USING X10 FOR BASIC HOME AUTOMATION.
4. Using X10 to Control Home Lighting.
Understanding X10 Lamp and Appliance Control Modules
Selecting the Correct Module for Your Lighting Type
Higher Wattage Rating
Adjustable Dimming Rate
Adjustable Brightness Level
Support for Resuming Dim Level (Memory Dim)
Pass-Through AC Connector
Three-Prong Plug Support
Burnt Bulb Detection
Support for Preset Dimming
Support for Scenes
Two-Way X10 Support
Programming an X10 Remote to Control Lighting
Controlling Multiple Lamps with X10
Black & Decker freewire Lighting Control
Elements of the freewire System
Controlling Groups of Lights with the Mood Button
Dimming Lamps Controlled by freewire Modules
Using X10 with Built-in Light Fixtures
Installing and Using Screw-in X10 Lamp Modules
Installing and Using X10 Light Switches
Using X10 with Fluorescent Lighting
Using X10 with Halogen Lighting
Using X10 with Aquarium Lighting
Choosing the Best X10 Controller for Home Lighting
Troubleshooting X10 Home Lighting
Can't Turn Lights On and Off
Can't Dim Lights
Can't Bring Light to Full Brightness
Lights Operate Erratically
5. Using X10 to Control Appliances.
X10 Appliance Module Types
How X10 Appliance Modules Differ from Lamp Modules
Support for Motor and Electrical Loads
Installing X10 Appliance Control Modules
Installing Plug-in X10 Appliance Modules
Installing X10-Compatible Wall Switches for Use with Appliances
Installing X10 Electrical Outlets
Installing X10-Compatible Appliance Relay Modules
Using Appliances with X10 Appliance Modules
Programming Your Appliance to Work with Other Devices
Troubleshooting X10 Appliance Control
Incorrect House and Unit Codes
Device Is Turned Off
Remote Control and Transceiver Problems
Tabletop Controller Problems
No Power to Outlet
Incorrectly Wired Outlet
X10 Devices Work Erratically
6. Using Timers and Advanced Remotes for X10.
What X10 Timers Can Do
Preparing to Use an X10 Timer
Setting Up an X10 Mini Timer
Using the Timer Interactively
Using Timed Control
Using the Security Feature
Sleep, Alarm, and Snooze Features
X10 Tabletop Maxi Controller
Setting Up the Maxi Controller
Using All On/All Off Commands
Configuring Programmable Modules
X10 Universal Remote
Setting Up a Universal Remote
Using the Remote to Control Home Entertainment
Using a Universal Remote with X10 Devices
X10 IR Controllers and Universal Remote Controls
III. USING X10 FOR ADVANCED HOME CONTROL.
7. Using X10 to Control HVAC Systems.
Integrating X10 with HVAC Systems
Using X10 for Temperature Monitoring
How TempLinc Reports Temperatures
Using TempLinc's Thermostat Mode
Thermostat Setback Devices
Installing and Using the TH2807 Thermostat Setback Module
X10-Compatible HVAC Controllers and Thermostats
Installing the TXB16 Control Unit
Installing the TS16 Wall Display Unit
Operating the TXB16
Using X10 Control for Heating and Cooling Appliances
Installing X10 PLC Control for Attic and Whole-House Fans
Installing X10 PLC Control for Space Heaters
Installing X10 PLC Controls for Fans and Air Conditioners
Troubleshooting X10 PLC HVAC Control
8. Using X10 to Control Exterior Landscaping.
Connecting Standard Exterior Lighting to X10
Controlling Porch Lights with X10
Controlling Patio, Pool, and Deck Lights with X10
Installing Photocell Sensors for Outdoor Lighting
Using X10 in Your Garage
Connecting Low-Voltage Accent or Holiday Lights to X10
Controlling Spas, Hot Tubs, and Pool Filters with X10
Troubleshooting X10 Exterior Controls
9. Using X10 to Provide Security.
Methods of Securing Your Home
Installing X10-Compatible Video Cameras
Configuring the Camera
Configuring the Receiver
Using the Camera
Using Multiple Cameras
When Wired Cameras Are Better
Moving the Camera
One Camera or More-Determining the Best Camera Strategy
Recording for Additional Security
Using X10 Motion Detectors to Improve Security
Preparations for Setup
Using a Battery-Powered Motion Detector
Using Other Types of Motion Sensors
Installing Comprehensive X10-Compatible Security Systems
Security System Consoles
X10 DC8700 Monitored Security System
Configuring the Security Console to Use Security Components
How the Security Sensor Reports Problems
Testing the Security System
Arming and Disarming Your Security System
Controlling X10 Devices Through Your Security Console
Troubleshooting X10 Security Systems
IV. REMOTE ACCESS TO YOUR X10 HOME CONTROL SYSTEM.
10. Accessing X10 Home Control via Telephone.
X10 and Home Telephone Systems
Installing and Using a Touch-Tone Controller
Configuring the TR16A Touch Tone Controller
Using the TR16A to Control Your X10 System Remotely
Using the Touch Tone Controller as a Tabletop X10 Controller
Limitations of the Touch Tone Controller
Using Home Automated Living
HAL's PCI Voice Portal Modem
Using HAL Setup to Configure Your System
Adjusting HAL's Telephone Settings
Adjusting HAL's Voice Recognition Settings
Configuring HAL's X10 Module Support
Creating Macros, Scenes, and Modes
Using HAL to Control X10 Modules Remotely
Using HomeSeer Phone
Using HomeSeer Phone to Control X10 Modules
Keeping Your Home Safe with Sensaphone
How Sensaphone Works
Configuring Sensaphone for Use
Adding and Configuring Sensors
Responding to a Sensaphone Alarm
Receiving a Status Report Remotely
Controlling Sensaphone Remotely
Typical Sensaphone Sessions
Sensaphone Cottage Sitter
Troubleshooting Telephone Access to X10-Based Systems
11. Accessing X10 Home Control via Your Home Computer.
Connecting Your Computer to Your X10 System
Installing a Computer Interface for X10
Using Smarthome Manager
Creating a New Location
Adding Devices to Smarthome Manager
Controlling a Device Interactively with Smarthome Manager
Creating a Timed Action
Creating an Event-Triggered Action
Saving Your Smarthome Configuration
Downloading Your Smarthome Configuration to the Controller
Using the Smarthome Manager Tools Menu
Creating and Controlling Scenes
Starting HomeSeer with the HomeSeer Assistant Wizard
Adding and Configuring Devices with HomeSeer
Adjusting Specific Device Options
Creating an Event with HomeSeer
Viewing the Event Log
Using Device Control
Using the Tools Menu
Using X10 ActiveHome Pro
Registering ActiveHome Pro
Working with My Room
Modifying My Room's Module Addresses
Modifying My Room's Name
Renaming and Editing a Module
Removing Modules from a Room
Adding a Module to a Room
Controlling Modules Interactively
Creating a Timed Event
Adding a Room
Storing Changes to Your Configuration
Updating ActiveHome Professional
Creating a Macro
Using the Tools Menu
Using Lifestyle Mode
Retrieving a Deleted Module
Ordering SmartMacros and Other Plug-ins
Creating Reports and Printing Labels
Finding Other Computers
Troubleshooting Computer Control of X10-Based Systems
12. Accessing X10 Home Control via Your Home Network and the Internet.
Methods for Accessing Your Home Automation System Remotely
Integrated Web Server
Remote Access Software and Services
Selecting the Right Home Networking/Web Access Solution
Configuring Your Home Automation System for Remote Access
Using an Integrated Web Server
Using Remote Access Software and Services
Adding Webcams to Your Home Automation System
Troubleshooting Home Network and Broadband Access to Your X10 System
Home Automation Software with Integrated Web Server
Remote Access Software and Services
A. Integrating X10 with Other Home Control Systems.
Methods for Integrating X10 with Third-Party Home Control Systems
Integrating HAI with X10
Integrating Xanboo with X10
Integrating Leviton DHC with X10
Integrating Z-Wave with X10
Integrating Home Automated Living with X10
Integrating JDS Stargate with X10
Integrating Lightolier Controls Compose with X10
Integrating Applied Digital, Inc. Controllers with X10
Integrating HomeLink with X10
Brand Names for X10-Compatible Equipment
B. Troubleshooting X10.
Typical Causes for Problems with X10
Diagnosing and Solving Problems with X10 PLC Signals
Solving Wiring Phase Problems with X10
Using Signal Boosters
Using Noise Filters
Blocking X10 Power Line Signals from Entering Your Home
Testing X10 Signal Quality
Solving Problems with X10 Wireless Transceivers and Remotes
Adding Wireless Signal Repeaters for Greater Range
Upgrading to All-House-Code Transceivers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book is mostly about developing nifty controls using X10. In this field, X10 is by far the dominant controller. Soper explains why, by describing numerous varied ways to have it control items in the typical household. It is probably simpler to read this book than thumb through the official X10 documentation. Soper does not require that you have a deep technical background to implement the book's methods. Aside from the specific automation methods, he also offers a chapter on planning what you might want to and be able to automate in your home. Here is where you can start, to devise an overall plan, in a top-down fashion, rather than plunge into hooking up one or two gadgets. That can come later. The chapter is good for helping decide, especially within the constraints of a budget, which surely applies to many readers. The book also points out a strong point about the latest X10 devices. These can be wireless, hugely easing installation. No awkward and unsightly wires trailing along your floors and walls.