Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation

by Mark Edward Soper

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780132796958
Publisher: Pearson Education
Publication date: 06/08/2005
Series: Absolute Beginner's Guide
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 11 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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 mesoper@selectsystems.com.

© 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


1. Understanding Home Technologies.

    Ways to Automate Your Home

      Lighting Systems

      Appliance Control

      Alarm and Security Systems

      HVAC Systems

      Window Control Systems

      Remote Access

    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

      Timer-Based Control

      Photocell-Based Lighting Control

      Sensor-Based Controls

      Programmable Devices and Remote Controls

      Remote Control by Telephone

      Computer Control

      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

    Skills Checklist

      Plug-in and Wireless Modules

      Electrical Outlets and Switches

      HVAC Controls

      Specialized Tasks

      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


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

      Status Light

      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

      Lighting Support

      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.

    X10 Timers

      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

      Controlling Devices

      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


7. Using X10 to Control HVAC Systems.

    Integrating X10 with HVAC Systems

    Using X10 for Temperature Monitoring


      Programming TempLinc

      Configuring TempLinc

      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

      Installation Preparations

      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


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

      Serial Port


      Important Features

    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

    Using HomeSeer

      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

      Upgrading Software

      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

      Leviton HCPRF

      X10 CM15A




Smart 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't need 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.

How to Use This Book

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 Success—I use this feature to provide tips that make a task easier to complete.

  • Cautions and Warnings—I use this feature to keep you out of trouble when you're performing potentially dangerous or tricky tasks.

  • On the Web—I use this feature to guide you to useful websites that provide more information on the topic or product being discussed.

  • The Big Picture—I use this feature to bring you up to speed on major home automation concepts.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.