I am looking for some simple lighting control, the X10 product looks pretty inexpensive will it give me any dimming marco abilities? I would like to have a couple of different dimming modes for my theater.
X10 is cheap, but the operation and debugging is completely on you. Plus for higher-wattage installations, I've found their dimmers to be unreliable. Lutron stuff has been rock solid, but more expensive.
The Lutron product looks good for sure, I was hoping to pick up a smart remote that has the ability to control either the X10 product or I guess the Lutron. The scene control for sure is something I would like but I am only dealing with 1 wall switch that would control my ceiling lighting and probally 3 retro fit wall sconces that will be plugged into the wall outlets so I guess I would need 3 dimmable wall socket modules as well. Not sure what smart remotes have lighting control module brand recognition, for instance would a Harmony smart remote control the Lutron dimmers?
So the kit I am looking for is;
1 wall dimmer switch
3 wall outlet dimmer modules
Any remote that learns should be able to control your lighting. If you are lucky, the codes are available online, if not, you may have to buy the remote for the lighting and then use it to program your universal remote. That's what I had to do for my X10 stuff.
Wall modules and the more expensive dimmers are great. Cheap dimmers and some of the other units burned out quite a bit.
I also found that most of my problems were related to noise on the power line. A compact florescent bulb near a module on the circuit made it not function. When I was in a townhouse I had intermittent problems with the signals not getting through.
Since I moved, though most of the stuff works great. My alarm is far away from most of my light dimmers and the signals get through (it turns on porch lights and entry lights on timers/door opening).
So I made the plunge and bought a smatering of X10 components for my HT. It arrived yesterday and I installed the wall modules to a couple of lamps and no problem. The smart remote that came wth the system opererates and dims the lamps perfectly. I then installed one of the wall switch dimmers and noticed a buzzing noise when the module was in anything but a 100% on or off state. Very annoying the wall switch controls 3 ceiling fixtures. I have yet to try and balance the bulb wattage in the fixtures but that is my next step. As it stands the wall switch at a dimmed state is way to noisy for my Home Theater.
One customer reported that he was running the lights at 60 to 50 percent most of the time and the noise was too annoying. He changed the bulbs to ones rated at about half the wattage and ran the dimmer at full brightness and the noise disappeared. If all this experimenting with different light bulbs is too crazy for you, use non-dimming X10 wall switches. These units don't contain dimmer circuitry, but rather a hard-contact relay. Just like a mechanical switch, these units don't alter the electricity before it goes to the bulb. Smarthome has a few models for your consideration:
2207WIR Leviton Enhanced 10-Amp Relay Wall Switch 2206WI Leviton 15-Amp Relay X10 Wall Switch w. AGC 2207ACWI HomePro 20-Amp Relay X10 Wall Switch
A little off topic but I bought Insteon with the iOS compatible box a remote and 3 repeater dimming modules. Had all x10 and dimming noise was a issue here too. The new system can still in a roundabout manner control x10 but Insteon is silent switching no hum and even dims my cheapo Home Depot non-dimmable FL bulbs and much more. I got my setup at Smarthome and after a year and a half its still working perfect.
I control 2 200w torch lamps with one plugin and 2 typical fluorescent lamp bulb style with another. I use a hand remote or iPod touch for control.
One more thing this system works great across the house (different circuit) without a repeater only box. x10 did not.
The Insteon sounds like the way I should have gone. I checked my ceiling fixtures and put 1 60 watt bulb in each of the 3 and the buzzing was reduced somewhat but I still can hear the buzz if I get my ear close enough to the wall switch.
So for the time being it is okay, definatley not as quiet as I would have liked.
Just a side note, When the power goes out from a storm or other issue I find that when it comes back on the lights connected to the X10, even when turned off, turn back on. I thought I was going nuts a couple of weeks ago when we lost power during some storms and could have sworn I turned the lights off in my HT but the other day I was sitting in the adjacent room and the power went off for only about 1 minute and when it came back the lights in my HT came on.