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DOMOTICA / HOME AUTOMATION
What home automation protocol should I choose?
X10 is a protocol that was born in 1975. It's considered as the 'founder' of Home Automation and has been for years the leading protocol. The closure of the original X10 factory in 2011 has led to a situation where there are no more developments and no new products. You can read more on this issue here: Facciamo chiarezza su X10 – A10 – Insteon – X10RF – X10.com
New X10 products are no longer being developed and many newer home automation controllers do not support it. Legacy products such as the CM15 interface continue to be manufactured but the future of X10 and its "shelf life" appear to be pretty limited. Consider updating your system by introducing newer technologies (Z-Wave, Insteon, CoCo, etc) when adding or replacing devices in your home.
The wireless (RF) protocol at 433 MHz used by CoCo (Controlled Comfort) is widely used and supported by many brands. Actually, CoCo is a variation on the X10 protocol, but they are both not compatible. The advantage of this system is certainly the low price of the products. The disadvantages are the limited range, the lack of two-way communication (you do not receive any confirmation if a lamp for instance is actually ON or not) and the limited (6) number of products per room. CoCo is a good choice for anyone wishing to install Home Automation in their home and has no excessive requirements. By connecting a RFXCOM controller to a Vera controller you can use CoCo products along with Z-Wave products.
The American Insteon system is technically perhaps the most complete Home Automation protocol available, since many of these products transmit their signals both via the mains (PLC) and radio frequency (RF), thus resulting in a very high reliability. Additionally, Insteon also has the advantage that there is an almost infinite number of nodes that can be connected. Z-Wave for example is limited to 256 per controller. Insteon is "mesh" which means that any product will act as a repeater (amplifier/repeater). The more modules you install, the higher the reliability of your network will be.
The disadvantage of the system is that there are not really many products available for the European market and is manufactured only by Insteon itself. The story of the X10 temporary closure has clearly shown that one is better off with a protocol that is supported by different manufacturers. Without the latter drawbacks, Insteon would always be our first choice.
Z-Wave is a wireless protocol that is supported worldwide by more than 200 manufacturers and with more than 1,100 different products in the offering. The support by so many manufacturers makes Z-Wave the most popular home automation system of this moment. Z-Wave products also offer the advantage that they are "mesh" (such as Insteon), that they support two-way communication, that they can be used for all kinds of home automation applications ranging from simple lighting control to a complete home security system. With the recent launch of Gen 5 (Z-Wave Plus) products and controllers the power consumption of the modules has even been further reduced and the range is even greater than ever before. Also firmware upgrades can now be done Over The Air (OTA). Through the introduction of plug-and-play functionality, the installation process is easier than ever. Z-Wave products are our first choice when it comes to home automation because so many manufacturers support Z-Wave products and there are so many products in so many versions.
For simple applications X10 and CoCo (or X10 RF optionally) are an excellent choice.
If you want a comprehensive and complete home automation system with the possibility of energy measurement, controlling thermostats, adding IP cameras, integrating AV products such as Sonos, etc… then you have to choose between Insteon and Z-Wave.