To X10 or not to X10
First of all, there are several new power line distribution technologies that could replace X10. Most of the them should be out "really soon" and some of them exist but only certain models are available and at very high prices. Another important thing is that the current X10 modules have not passed CE approval and that, has at least partly stopped them from being sold in some European countries.
There is a new line of X10 modules coming out which will be CE approved and some are in fact already approved..
However, I have no idea whether these new modules are using the same carrier frequency, 120kHz, as the old ones and whether the new modules will be compatible with the old ones. Some countries in Europe, at least earlier, limited power line communication to maximum 100kHz.. Newer "Cenelec" (European) norms state that this kind of communication should stay within the "Cenelec C-band" (125-140kHz) .
In both cases the frequency is different. Anyway, be sure to check this in case you plan to mix new and old modules. Why is there a fuzz about this 5kHz difference?!! Perhaps, once again, they must protect the European market from their evil competitors!
Recent information from Laser Business Systems in the UK, however, states that the new modules still operate on 120kHz and that new and old modules will work together. This is not 100% verified yet! Perhaps the filters in the modules are so wide so that a 125kHz module (if that exist!) will be able to also detect a 120kHz carrier but perhaps with a reduced sensitivity and range.
The new CE approved modules using radio have changed their radio frequency. This applies to things like: wireless remote controls, key chain remotes, wireless remote extenders, universal remote controls with both IR and radio, wireless wall switches and perhaps some other devices.
Old modules worked around 305 MHz and I believe that the new approved ones operate somewhere in the 400MHz range. This means that a new CE approved X10 wireless remote controls base unit must use a new remote control. The opposite is also true. This can in fact even be used to your advantage, you could have both a new and an old base unit installed, on the same house code, in different parts of your house. This is something you should normally avoid because both base units could receive the same signal and possibly cause X10 collisions on the electrical network. Anyway, in this case the new remote will only talk to the new base unit and the old one only with the old base unit. Of course, it might be ilegal to use the old remote control (read radio tranmitter)!
This will also be true for X10 wireless alarm systems if they would become available in CE approved versions.
I have no idea whether it will become illegal to use older X10 equipment in Europe or to import old style X10 equipment to Europe. For the moment, it probably depends on the country. And I also believe, that the most of the rest of the civilized world do not care about the European norms!
There are three main competitors:
Personally, I believe that EIB will be a new "French SECAM - 819", "Swedish FM stereo system" or "British digital radio" designed to protect the European market from their evil competitors. Booth CEB bus and Lonworks are technically superior with higher speeds and more possibilities. However, it is possible that it will become an important temporary standard at least in some European countries. For the moment, there is nothing available for civilized prices.
In my opinion, I hope that CEB bus will win all around the world since it is not only a power line distribution system but also a system where appliances like, remote controls, TVs, audio, video, power meters, water boilers, alarm systems, coffe machines and computers could talk to each other and share things like intelligent bi-directional remote controls etc. And not only on power lines, but also on twisted pair, coax, infrared, and radio.
Note that CEB bus is basically a communication protocoll and that they are, in the US, using spread spectra communication (100-400kHz) on powerline communications. This could cause problems with European CE norms. They might be obliged to manufacture a new series of modules for the European market to adapt themselves to these norms and accept the lower bandwith. Unfortunately, 125-140kHz, is very small area to run spread spectra communivation.
If you are a millionaire and want to wait a couple of years, use CEB bus, Lonworks or whatever is best at that time. I you are not a millionaire do the same thing but wait five to ten years. Or just use X10. It is available today, it is cheap and it does work on 220V 50Hz. But as a famous person (email@example.com) said, "I wouldn't trust my mother's iron-lung on it". Personally, I would not connect my mother's iron-lung to a PC either, perhaps my mother in law's iron-lung! :~)
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