Why X-10 still rocks - beats Zigbee and Z-wave for stability any day


(Enis Hoca) #1

I moved into my house in early 2001. It’s an old house with 100 year old knob and tube wiring. Most lights in the rooms have no switches on the walls just on the fixture itself unfortunately the three main room downstairs didn’t have overhead fixtures. With plaster walls putting in switches was going to be very messy and expensive. I had X-10 stuff from my old house, now I had a real reason to use it beyond laziness. I took switch modules wired them to the chandeliers and threw them in the ceiling. The have been there for 8 years. And yes they don’t give feedback, and dimming is quirky, but they don’t fall off meshes and just work. I replaced the one in the TV room and replaced it with 2 z-wave devices one for lights and one for the fan.

Now I started “upgrading” about 3 years ago with Wink and got zigbee and z-wave for various rooms, all in all I have converted most of the house. And I was thinking of converting the ones that have been in the ceiling for 17 years by this time. Then I realized that in the last 3 years, every z-wave and zigbee device has fallen off the mesh mutlitple times or have had some issue or the other that required fidgeting with them, but those 3 X-10 switches in the ceiling have not once had a an issue. So it would be nuts to take off the chandeliers and replace something that doesn’t need any care.

I have gone from Wink, to Openhab, to pimatic back to Wink and now to ST during this time and worst case scenario If all else fails, I still have my trusted Max-controller and you press buttons on it and lights turn on. Cloud outages natch.

Just saying…choose your poison carefully.

Having said that I think ST is really a great platform for managing and controlling X-10 devices and autmation. With all the automation possibilities, I am using my devices in ways I never could before.

@mckenph, @JohnnyD69 - what do you guys say?


(phil) #2

When I lived back in Illinois, 4 years ago, my entire house was X10 and had no issues. Everything worked when I needed it. Yes there were those times when I had issues due to interference or trying to communicate between fuse panels but for the most part they were very temporary setbacks. When I moved to New Mexico into my new house I had 4 different fuse panels and did not want to go through the pain of getting it to work again so I decided to go wireless. St seemed like the thing

So I spent all the money and put my wife through lights going off and on when not supposed to and all the other trials and tribulations of bringing up ST. Well with all the new apps, and especially WebCore, it has worked pretty well until it came to buttons. So I ordered a bunch of Xioami buttons and other devices and boy was that an issue, Since I had 4 fuse panels I have a pretty big house and needed a lot of repeaters to get the system working correctly and we all know that Xioami and repeaters just don’t work.

So in conclusion ST is OK with all the software glitches and minor limitations but since I started to use @enis application…I am not buying another Zigbee/Z-wave device. So if you have any X10 remotes or things you don’t want make sure you post them in the Deals section because those that are using his application I am sure we will use them.


#3

Xiaomi are only designed to work with their own Gateway, so they are understandably idiosyncratic when working with something else.

Beyond that, i would just say don’t confuse the protocol with the platform. :sunglasses:. Zwave and zigbee were both designed to run locally, sending tiny and infrequent messages, and both are a solid and reliable protocol for that purpose.

You probably already have at least one zigbee system in your home without knowing it, since it is used for smart meters and cable tv boxes. It’s also used for hospital monitoring equipment, Lighting for commercial systems, oil field sensornets, and high end Home automation systems like Control 4 that cost $50,000 and up. None of these uses would be popular if zigbee itself were inherently unstable.

For zwave, it’s not as versatile, but if you get a Leviton or Cooper tabletop controller and just use it for a simple DIY lighting system with motion and contact sensors (and no mobile app or power monitoring) it will be as solid and reliable as any home Lighting system, including X10.

I’m not saying you need to keep buying zwave or zigbee devices to use with SmartThings if they don’t work well in your particular setup, and if you add in anything that does frequent messaging all bets are off, I’m just saying it’s not the protocol itself which is unreliable. :wink:

It’s like using a smartphone messaging app which crashes all the time. :scream:Maybe the problem is Android, but more likely it’s that particular app.

Just sayin’…


(Glen King) #4

I dunno… I’ve seen issues with ST of course, but I have NOT seen protocol-related issues with any of my devices. It’s predominantly zigbee with a handful of z-wave, and it’s been solid. No devices have dropped off the mesh, and the only real comm issue I’ve had was resolved by repositioning the device such that an exterior concrete wall was no longer a line-of-sight obstacle.

Even the admonishments about not having a ST hub within two feet of a WiFi router have not mattered. My devices coexisted for more than a year within the same 18-inch cabinet.

Oh… and I’ve done a total of zero mesh repairs. Total of approximately 60 physical devices connected to ST.


(Enis Hoca) #5

I have seen you make similar comments in other threads. Wondering why then some people see these issues and others don’t? I had a horrible time in one location in my house where I have 2 wifi routers in my TV cabinet and had to relocate the hub. Wonder if it has to do with what else going on in 2.4Ghz around you.
How many wifi networks do you see around you? I am in a fairly dense area wifi wise the houses are 1/3 are lots then the there commercial building and stores one street away.


(Enis Hoca) #6

True but can’t access the devices with the platform :slight_smile:


(Glen King) #7

We are also 1/3 acre here. Ordinarily I see other networks, but in checking right now at 9:52am Sunday I see only my own WiFi plus one other.


(Lee Florack) #8

Like yours, one of my routers - acting as a Wi-Fi Access Point, is within 1" of my SmartThings hub. Has been for over a year and a half without any issues.

BTW, other than my (3) Wi-Fi networks, I can see (10) additional Wi-Fi networks.


(Johnny D) #9

I have similar experiences as others here and saw a lot of the same. I started with X-10 in 2000 and had a security system and a bunch of X-10 devices. A couple of years ago I painted the rooms and with new infants crawling around, I removed all plugin modules and upstairs security sensors. I did keep some light switches and it was pretty stable for most of the last 18 years, but do experience some issues. The X-10 light modules don’t always respond to motion sensor or wireless commands, but work most of the time from powerline commands. I picked up smartthings just this past Christmas with Xioami sensors. I have been using the Xioami device handlers by @ArstenA and they work pretty good. Only maybe had one dropoff that I had to reconnect to the hub. I like the smartthings system and the modernness of the app and notifications and general flexibility it has like integration with Google home.
I was a little disappointed that out of the box, as a security system, it didn’t have simple stuff like x-10 had for 20 years. Things like beeping when armed/disarmed and inclusion of a console with siren. I got a separate siren, and Xioami buttons, but my wife is always triggering the alarm because of no feedback that the system was disarmed after pushing the button. Smartphone only app/console is a little annoying as well, but I generally like the system except when there was a cloud outage like last week (I think ) where I couldn’t arm the system.

I have started using the X-10 integration that @enis wrote and it is really an awesome piece of work that brings the flexibility of smartthings to old X-10 devices. I can utilize these old devices in a modern way that i couldn’t before. I will definitely put my old stuff to use now as long as the stuff lasts. While I can’t say my experiences with zigbee/zwave have been bad, I would say X-10 powerline has proved solid. X-10 radio frequency and transceivers were not as solid as powerline transmission in my experiences as well. Working with @enis, we even got his solution working for the old X-10 CM11A serial port computer interface.


(Tony) #10

Old X-10 user here as well; still have a big junkbox of stuff of many vintages and brands (BSR, Radio Shack, Sears, anybody remember IBM Home Director?). Used a Stanley branded X10-based security system. Moved into automation with the Home Automation Console followed by the RS232 attached CP290 and ultimately spent a couple of years getting the CM15A to work reliably and used it from 2004-2015. Thanks to the dipole I mounted in my attic I was able to make use of the X10 motion sensors outdoors. It took a lot of effort to get my mailbox alert working but oh the joy when the X10 ding dong sounded and it was the mailman-- and not a garbage truck, which oddly also triggered the motion sensor even though it was mounted inside the box.

I have to admit I felt a bit of anxiety hearing about the new Insteon, Zigbee and Z-Wave stuff, having invested so much time and effort getting (and keeping) my X10 stuff running and couldn’t imagine moving away from it; but it was pretty clear that the handwriting was on the wall when CFL’s came out and wreaked havoc on my finely tuned powerline network. I also got really tired of phantom turn on signals, stuff that should have turned on but didn’t, lights that would turn on but couldn’t be turned off, etc. etc… kind of like SmartThings when its having a bad (normal?) day.

What I disliked most was you never really knew sometimes where to look for problems (not owning any of the $$ diagnostic tools); it took nothing more than plugging in something with a noisy switch mode power supply and you were down the tubes until you figured out what had happened and tracked down a powerline filter. The allure of two-way communication to every device, battery status reporting and the ability to control things from a mobile device was too much to resist. Also I was sure that the sophisticated radios and protocols would mean an end to the constant tweaking and fiddling. Stuff would just work!

But now that I finally bit the bullet and have been using ST for more than a couple of years, I’d have to say that I still spend a lot more time fiddling than I expected to; in reality I’ve traded one type of debugging and maintenance for another-- trying to figure out why my Zigbee mesh never healed after I relocated a smart plug, pondering why Alexa won’t turn off my mailbox alert which worked fine for nine months but now has to be renamed ‘male box alert’, creating a watchdog automation to turn off my smart bulbs in case they all turn on in the middle of the night after a power outage, etc. Luckily I haven’t had any significant stability issues with Zigbee or Z-Wave (I have no nearby wifi networks aside from my own, and a relatively small device count, about 60 Zigbee and a dozen Z-Wave devices).

The upside is there is so much more potential and the cloud integrations with Amazon, Harmony, and the like are tying things together that I never thought would have a chance of interoperating. As an example, when I bought my Yamaha receiver, I thought that having it on a network would just mean it would receive internet radio-- never dreamed I’d be able to control it with a SmartThings app a few years later. Or when I stuck my Wink Relay on the wall and got it to run ActionTiles… a few months later I’ve got it running the Amazon Music app and now the click of a ActionTiles button starts a sequence that turns on my Aeon powerstrip, powers up the bluetooth adapter, turns on the receiver and sets it to the auxiliary input to pipe music through the speakers… bliss.