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What is X10

Let me start by clearing up a confusing use of termology; that the name X10 is used in several different ways. X10 is a protocol for sending and recieveing control and status commands over electrical wiring to control lights, appliances, and other devices, inclduing cameras and home security devices. X10 is also one of several manufacturers that makes equipment that uses the X10 protocol. X10.com is also a vendor that sells equipment for automation, security, and audio and video.

Vendors of home automation equipment

There are two major vendors for home automation equipment. They are Smarthome and If using X10.com. Home automation equipment can be obtained from many other sources as well, including your local Radio Shack, if you only need a limited selection of modules.


The Smarthome catalog contains much information about home automation, and provides perhaps the most complet selection of equipment. They sell equipment manufactured by X10, as well as equipment using the X10 protocol manufactured by other manufacturers, such as Leviton, and they also have a line of equipment they design and manufacture themselves. The equipment they manufacture often includes features not commonly found in other modules. SmartHome recently introduced Insteon a new, more reliable, protocol for home automation and they sell a line of Insteon products that supports both the Insteon protocol and the X10 protocol. They also sell automation equipment that uses protocols other than Insteon and X10, but I am less familiar with that equipment and will not comment on those systems at this time.

Smarthome provides a better selection of X10 equipment than X10.com. The equipment made by SmartHome and Leviton tends to be more expensive than that made by X10, but may have added features. The modules made by X10, when sold by SmartHome tend to be priced comparably to the list price on X10.com, but you will often find packages of the basic (not SmartHome) modules on X10.com for significantly reduced prices. There are certain products, like SmartHome's BoosterLinc or KeypadLinc products that can not be found on X10.com


X10.com is the best place to go if you are looking to get starter kits or lots of basic X10 modules. They always have things on sale, often at half off, or specials with packages of 9 or 10 modules for fifty bucks. These specials often rotate on the basis of a day or two, so if you don't see the special you like when you first visit, check back again a couple of days later. Thes packages really are a great deal if you need basic modules, even if you only end up using half of the modules that come in the package. These modules will not have some of the added functionaility found in the SmartHome modules, but you will not likely need that functionaility on all of your modules. It is fine to mix modules of both varieties.

One word of caution if you place an order from X10.com: some people have inadvertently ended up with their email on marketing mailing lists they did not want to be on. While I have not had this problem when I ordered from them, you might consider using an alternate email address, instead of your primary address, when you make a purchase from their site.

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