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Skills Checklist

What do you need to know to install X10 home automation? You don’t need to know a whole lot to install a basic plug-in system, but more elaborate setups require additional skills. Compare your experience and your willingness to learn to the skills listed in the following sections.

Plug-in and Wireless Modules

If you can plug in a toaster or a TV and turn a couple of dials, you can install a wireless receiver and basic lamp and appliance modules. See Chapters 4 and 5, "Using X10 to Control Appliances."

If you are installing programmable lamp modules, you need to read and understand X10 code charts to send the appropriate commands for dimming and scenes (and have a controller capable of sending them). Learn more about that process in Chapter 6, "Using Timers and Advanced Remotes for X10."

Electrical Outlets and Switches

If you want to avoid hanging a module on an outlet, or if you want to add X10 control to a built-in light or appliance, you’re looking at replacing an outlet or a switch. To replace an electrical outlet or a switch without frying yourself or your home, you need to know how to

  • Follow a wiring diagram

  • Shut off power to the correct circuit

  • Use a voltage sensor

  • Determine the correct wiring to use for each connection

Figure 3.4 shows a typical high-end X10 two-way dimming and scene-capable light switch. The wires are color-coded to help you install the switch correctly.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 A typical X10 dimming, scene-capable light switch and its color-coded connections.

If some of this seems like a foreign language, don’t panic! See the clear diagrams, photos, and technical help in Chapters 4 and 5.

HVAC Controls

X10 can be used to control your home’s furnace and air conditioning remotely, but this is a tougher installation job, requiring configuration and wiring of the thermostat and the X10 controller that connects your HVAC system to your X10 system (see Figure 3.5). I’ll explain how it works in Chapter 7, "Using X10 to Control HVAC Systems," but this is a task you might consider calling in a professional to handle for you.

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 Wiring diagram for a typical X10 HVAC control system.

Specialized Tasks

X10 can control almost anything, from low-voltage outdoor lighting to draperies. As a consequence, the challenge of a particular project can be as simple as plugging in a couple of controllers or as difficult as decoding a logic circuit.

Computer and Internet

The ultimate in home automation is computer control—especially if you can control your home from your office via the Internet. If you’re considering moving up to computer control, you need to understand the following items:

  • How to connect devices to your computer’s serial or USB ports

  • How to use X10 control software to program your automation system to run when you’re not at home

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