Solving X10 Problems

I’ve written two posts about some of my favourite home automation features and both happened to use X10. So, I thought I should probably mention the significant problems we had with X10 and how we solved them.

We had three significant problems. The first was noisy devices preventing the X10 powerline signals reaching some parts of our house.

Initially, we attempted to resolve the noise problems by using X10 FM10 Plug in Filter Modules or X10 FD10 DIN-mounted Filter Modules. We still use them on a number of appliances - things like TVs, fridges, laptop power supplies, UPSs, etc. They definitely help but there were still sockets that didn’t get any signal. (We know because we used an X10 Signal Tester to check the sockets.)

Eventually, I came across Jeff Volp’s excellent explanation of X10 problems and ordered an XTB signal booster. This device takes the X10 signal from the X10 CM12U Transceiver computer interface and boosts it by a factor of 10. This fixed our X10 powerline signal problems completely. We still occasionally plug in a new, exceptionally noisy device that needs a filter but this is very unusual.

The second problem was with X10 RF signals. When the batteries in an X10 Motion Sensor run out, they often end up transmitting excessively. This effectively jams any RF signals (including my car key buttons). Unlike most of the other RF devices we use, these devices don’t report battery status so I’ve solved this problem by using an excellent charger, good quality rechargeable batteries and reminders to change the batteries every 6 months.

The third problem, with latency, is a bit more complicated so I’ll cover that in another post.