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Welcome to the Automating Easy blog

Welcome to the Automating Easy blog which is intended to inform, amuse and entertain. We will attempt to provide information on things related to Home Automation but you may find the odd article which we just thought might be amusing or different.

Now for the boring bit. Although we will try and ensure that any information we provide is accurate and correct, we cannot be held liable if that is not the case. If you intend to modify or fit equipment to your electrical system we would always suggest that you employ a competent electrician who is capable of meeting any regulations currently prevailing in your country.

Which is the best smart home hub for 2017?

We’re often asked which smart home hub we would choose, if we were automating our property. Of course, this is highly subjective so to make the process of decision making a little easier, we thought it would be a good idea to do a comparison of the 3 best selling Z-Wave hubs on our shop.

Smarthings compatibility with Z-Wave devices

We often get asked if a certain Z-Wave device is compatible with the Samsung Smarthings controller. As with all controllers software needs to be available to get the best functionality out of the device. Currently the choose of products within the Z-Wave range is fairly limited. Below are the items which are known to be compatible as published by Samsung on 3/6/16: Continue reading “Smarthings compatibility with Z-Wave devices”

What is HomeWizard / Smartwares automation?

HomeWizard from Smartwares is a new, wireless home automation system which has been designed to provide excellent home automation capabilities at an affordable cost.

The system works using wireless communications between the modules. You can program a remote control or sensor to switch a single receiver or multiple receivers together.

Using the HomeWizard controller, you can make the system much smarter. The controller will allow you to create lighting scenes, automate devices based on logic conditions, switch devices and lights on remotely via the web or a smartphone app and much more. Continue reading “What is HomeWizard / Smartwares automation?”

Using X10 for lighting control

Update – Sept 2015: When we wrote this blog post a few years ago, X10 was still the simplest and cheapest way to control your home lighting. If you’re looking for a reliable entry-level control of home lighting, we recommend SmartWares for a basic single room control, or Z-Wave for multi-room/whole house control. However, X10 is still useful and has a place – plus is widely installed, so we’ve kept this article live for your benefit!

Using X10 for lighting control

X10 is a very simple way to add advanced automation to your home lighting.

There are numerous modules and products available to control different types of lighting, and the X10 system gives you the ability to control these lights via a computer, a remote control, another X10 module/sensor or a switch.

To get started, you need to understand how X10 works – with regards to the way it switches devices by encoding a signal into your home powerline. If you don’t know about that, please see our starter article here:
Using X10 for Home Automation

To add X10 control to your lights, you need to look at what type of lights you have and buy the appropriate modules.

For plug-in desk/table lamps & uplighters
With plug in lamps, you can control them with a plug-in lamp module!
We offer 2 varieties, the original X10 designed module and a 2nd generation module. The 2nd generation module offers better response to low X10 signals – so is ideal if you have a larger house or are having problems with your current X10 modules not always switching.

Links:
X10 Lamp module
X10 2G Lamp module

For ceiling lamps or wired-in lighting
For ceiling lamps, you have the choice of either changing the wall switch itself, using a hidden ‘micro module’ behind the existing switch, or using a wired-in lamp module.

For wall switches, you can use a dimming wall switch to give you dimming & X10 control of any connected lights.
See:
X10 2 button wall dimmer switch

Note: if you have a non-dimmable lamp, such as a standard energy saving bulb then you can’t use a dimmer switch.

To use a micro-module, or a wired in module, please see our range of modules here:
X10 lighting control – micro/inline modules

For a comparison table that explains what type of loads each module can switch, plus whether they can switch dimmable lamps or not, please see:
Marmitek X10 micro module compatibility

Of course, if you have any questions on X10 lighting control then please call us on 0845 094 0089 or drop us an email via the contact page.

How to control X10 with an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device

What is X10?

X10 home automation can be used to control basically any electrical equipment you have in your home. From creating lighting scenes to switching on your coffee machine in the morning before you get up, the possibilities are limitless. Continue reading “How to control X10 with an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device”

What is Z-Wave Plus? (5th Generation)

Z-Wave Plus™ also known as 5th Generation is an improved standard for Z-Wave devices which brings improved performance and reliability to the user. Devices using Z-Wave plus technology are based on a new series of chip and are fully backwards compatible with other Z-Wave products. The benefits and features you can expect are as follows:

  • 50% improvement in battery life
  • 67% improvement in range
  • 250% more bandwidth
  • Three RF channels for improved noise immunity and higher bandwidth
  • New Plug-n-Play Network-wide Inclusion feature
  • Improved self-healing and fault tolerance with Explorer Frame feature
  • Standardized method for Over the Air firmware updates (OTA)
  • Improved product information capture for product certification database

Using X10 for Home Automation

Disclaimer

This article has been modified from it’s original form by UK Automation with permission from Kevin Boone. We have provided links to relevant products in our shop where they are mentioned by Kevin Boone.
Kevin Boone does not in any way endorse or recommend our products.
To view the article in it’s original form, please visit: http://www.kevinboone.com/x10.html

The article was originally modified in 2009, and since then there have been changes in the X10 range, with new products and products removed from sale. As such, this is still a useful reference guide but you may find some of the items mentioned below are no longer available. For the latest X10 products, please visit: http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/x10-home-automation/

Continue reading “Using X10 for Home Automation”

Return of HAL or an Echo of the past

Being smart is part of today’s trend. Technology these days makes it easier for us to perform some tasks. Smartphones and other gadgets make our life much simple and no doubt add some experience to it. However, your home also needs some attention and Home automation can provide that much needed modernisation. It can include a number of things like the control of lighting & appliances, more adaptive heating control, added security and other systems which enable you to have all the comfort and security whilst improving the energy efficiency of your home.

There is nothing new about home automation, X10 was developed back in 1975 by Pico Electronics in Scotland. The technology has been improved and is still useful for home automation projects today. Increasingly the demand is for affordable products which are reliable and easy to use. These devices can be controlled using your smartphones as well as tablets and computers. What else could you want.? Well, one of these home automation devices you may of heard about is the Amazon Echo.

Amazon Echo is a small and cylindrical in shape with a 9-inch speaker and 7 piece Microphone array. It’s basically a command device that as the name shows is from amazon.com. This device contains many functions like answering questions, music playing, providing news, weather, traffic and sports reports, as well as controlling other smart devices using voice commands. However at the moment this is limited to Wink, WeMo and Phillips Hue devices.

The device gets started as soon as it notices the wake word. When in default mode, the device initiates and responds to the name “Alexa”, nonetheless, this can be changed once the user knows how to operate it. Though till now there are only two options, one Alexa and other Amazon.

This device is an interesting choice for those interested in home automation for their home, however you have to wonder if this is another way for Amazon to sell product, as another feature is the ability to purchase products from them.

Voice command has been available for some time now with varying degrees of success and has not previously been taken up in a big way. For the serious Home automation user you may want to look at Homey a far more versatile device than Echo, providing control of a vast range of devices like Z-wave, Zigbee, X10, 433Mhz modules, Infrared and more.

We may not be at the stage of HAL from 2001: A space Odyssey but technology is moving in that direction!

UK-Automation Tips on Security Alarms

Marmitek X10 Motion Detector MS13E
Marmitek X10 Motion Detector MS13E

UK-Automation provides solutions to security with a range of branded alarms that can be used inside and outside of the home.  One of the most popular items is the Marmitek X10 Motion Detector PIR. When this senses movement, it sends wireless X10 signals to an X10 receiver. This receiver can also perform alternative functions such as controlling on/off light and appliance switches. The benefits of the system are:

  • Saving energy by turning off lights when a room is unoccupied
  • No need for lighting wall switches.
  • Activating lighting sequences
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Protecting and warning of visitors.

When used in conjunction with a Marmitek CM15pro Computer Interface and ActiveHomePro software, macros can be set up to run when the MS13E senses occupancy. Sequenced lighting is possible with the CM15pro time delay. The system works by sending wireless radio frequency (RF) signals to a transceiver module, which then passes the signal to the house wiring. Other X10 controlled modules, such as the lamp or appliance modules can then turn on lights or appliances. The MS13E also has a built-in photocell that detects when it is dark. The field of view is approximately 110 degrees on the horizontal axis and 125 degrees vertically with a PIR Range: 45 degrees – 5 metres, straight ahead – 12 metres.

Alarm chimes

Doorway Beam Sensor Alarm - Chime
Doorway Beam Sensor Alarm – Chime

Another popular product in the security alarm range is the Doorway Beam Sensor Alarm or Chime designed to sound a user selectable chime or alarm when someone walks through an invisible infra-red light beam. This beam is projected from an emitter and bounced off a reflector placed at the other side of the detection area. When the infrared beam is broken by any presence in the path of the infrared beam, it is spotted by a sensor built into the emitter detects. A chime or alarm can be set via the included separate speaker annunciator to notify of a security alert.

HCF Proactive Security System
HCF Proactive Security System

Finally there is the Hydra Control Freak Proactive Security System which is currently on special offer with a saving of £149 over the RRP. This is an advanced security system which informs a homeowner via text or email when a PIR is triggered. This enables the homeowner to monitor the video captured by the camera via a smart phone at the point that the PIR was activated. The HCF can be used to control X10 devices, and can be activated to switch on lights, sirens  or alarms. It can schedule events on a timed weekly or daily basis. All of these and many other alarms can be found on the UK-Automation website, allowing you, the homeowner peace of mind about the security of your property.