What is X-10 Home Automation?


A pioneering home control technology when it was introduced in 1975, X10 has seen decades of use from home automation enthusiasts all over the world. Like several other competing technologies to come after it, X10 devices utilize a home’s existing powerline wiring for communication. X10 products can be used to can control lamps and appliances, replace wall switches and even be used to monitor doors, windows and motion. Below are some of the X10 devices available.

Technologies like UPB continue X10’s legacy of powerline networking while alternatives like Z-Wave and Zigbee eschew the powerline completely in favor of wireless systems. Systems like Insteon use some of the principles of X10 powerline technology while coupling it with advanced wireless technology to create highly-reliable dual-mesh networks.

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X10 is largely a one-way technology (signals are not expected to, nor required to be acknowledged). Therefore, each signal is sent twice (A-1:On, A-1:On). Signals take about ½ to ¾ of a second to reach the responder – leading to clearly visible delays between pressing a button and the “light going on”.
X10 sends bursts of 120 kHz(RF) signal, representing digital information, onto the powerline at the zero crossing of the AC sine wave (to minimize interference). Each X10 product can be assigned a house code (A-P) and a unit code (1-16) – thus providing up to 256 unique addresses. Most products contain two small address wheels which are used to set the address.

X10 is more sensitive to attenuation and line noise than other, more modern powerline technologies. Filters, couplers and repeaters are commonplace requirements.