Some Common X-10 Questions and Answers

Dave Rye

HTINews Column - Dave Rye on X-10

Dave RyeSome Common X-10 Questions and Answers

Q. I would like to install a security system in my home, I don't think that a local siren is enough and would like a system that calls out for help. I've heard that most systems that hook up to a central monitoring station require a monthly monitoring fee. That can work out to be quite expensive in the long run! Is there any kind of security system available that can contact someone by phone without my having to pay a monthly monitoring fee?

A. Yes, X-10 have recently introduced a Voice Dialer Security System (DS7000) that you set up to call a friend, relative, or neighbor. You can set it up to call up to 4 different phone numbers. You set it up to play back up to 15 seconds of voice message, in your voice! For example "There's a burglary in progress at such and such address, please press any button on your touch-tone phone to listen in." Your friend or neighbor can then listen-in for up to 75 seconds to see if it sounds like there's a real problem, if it does they call the Police.

Q. I have an X-10 wireless security system and have used it without any problems for some time. I recently moved to a larger house and have expanded my system. I now find that some of the door/window sensors are too far away from my base receiver to reliably get the signal through. What can I do to extend the range of my system?

A. X-10 have recently introduced a wireless radio frequency smart repeater. You simply plug it in somewhere near the middle of your home. It receives RF signals from your door/window sensors and re-transmits them to your base receiver, thus doubling the range of your system. For really big homes you can use up to 4 of these smart RF repeaters (model SR731). The SR731 also works with the SP554 Motion detectors and all X-10 Home Automation Wireless Remote Controls.

Q. Why does my DS7000 Security System (R.S. 61-2610) say I have more zones than I installed, then when I arm it I get a fast two-tone chime?

A. If the motion detector sees motion while the base console is in the INSTALL mode, it will install itself. If you then press CODE and TEST to install the motion detector (as directed in the instructions) it will install itself again into the next available zone. Now the system thinks you have two motion detectors installed. To prevent this from happening, be sure to turn the motion detector OFF before setting the console to INSTALL. If you have a "phantom" motion detector as a result of installing the same one twice, then the base console will not recognize the first one you installed when it reports in, and it's zone indicator will therefore start flashing after a period of 4 hours has elapsed. If you then try to arm the system you will hear the "trouble alarm." To remove a zone you must unplug the base console, remove its 9V back-up battery, then plug it back in and re-install all the desired sensors and remotes. i.e. there is no way to remove a zone without removing ALL zones and remote controls.

Q. Why do I get a slow chime when I arm my security system?

A. The slow chime heard when arming the Security System is the count-down delay allowing you 60 seconds to exit your home before the alarm arms itself. It does this when armed directly from the console, or when armed from the large hand held remote (SH624/61-2561) with the MIN/MAX switch at the bottom set to MAX (delay). If you want to arm the system instantly, set the MIN/MAX switch on the SH624 to MIN, or arm the system from the Key Chain Remote (KF574).

Q. Can I hook up an outdoor siren to my security system?

A. The PH508 Powerhorn (R.S. 61-2613) is a remote siren that trips a few seconds after the siren in the base console trips. It can be plugged into an outlet anywhere in the home (at the other end of the house, or in an attic for example). It is not intended for outdoor use but might be o.k. to use outside if it is enclosed within a weather-proof enclosure. It is not possible to trigger a third party siren from the base console because any module that might be used to control a siren (Universal Module or Appliance Module) does not respond to the All Lights On code which is transmitted from the base console when it trips.

Q. Radio Shack told me I could use a PF284 Burglar Alarm Interface (R.S. 61-2687) to trigger a module which controls an outdoor siren but X-10 says I can't. Why not?

A. Most security panels have an output which gives a contact closure to trip a dialer or remote siren etc. This contact closure could be used to trigger the Burglar Alarm Interface PF284 (R.S. Universal Interface Cat. No. 61-2687 CMC). This contact closure could cause the interface to send a specific Unit Code signal to trip the UM506/61-2688 which in turn could activate a low voltage siren at a remote location. Or the PF284 could turn on an Appliance Module to activate a 120V AC siren. However, this is for "other" security panels, not X-10 or Plug 'n Power Security Systems (which transmit All Lights On). The All Lights On signals transmitted by the X-10 system interferes with the signals transmitted by the PF284.

Q. Radio Shack told me the UM506 Universal Module (R.S. 61-2688) could be used to trigger an auto dialer but I can't get it to work with my DS7000 (R.S. 61-2610) security system. What's wrong?

A. X-10's Universal Module (Model UM506) is identical to Radio Shack's Sounder/Actuator Module Cat. No. 61-2688 CMC. Both modules do NOT respond to "All Lights On" and so will NOT work with ANY X-10 or Plug 'n Power Security System. Some confusion can arise because Radio Shack's literature for the 61-2688 says it can be used to trip an auto-dialer. This can be true because many auto-dialers can be tripped by a contact closure and the UM506 does give a contact closure. The UM506 could be activated by a powerline signal from some other kind of security system and in turn trip a dialer but it CANNOT be activated by the All Lights On signal transmitted by X-10 and Plug 'n Power Security Systems.

Q. I just purchased a P.I.R. Motion Detector (SP554A) but the Home/Away feature doesn't seem to work with my SS5400 security system.

A. The new version of the wireless passive infrared motion detector, SP554A (61-2614A CMC) has a home/away switch which lets you arm the system with or without motion detectors armed. This new feature requires the new voice dialer security system base PS561/61-2609R (also included in the DS7000/61-2610 kit) or the new base BR521A (61-2611A-R). To arm the new base in the Home or Away mode you need the new remote control SH624 (61-2561 CMC). If you use an old base BR521 (included with the original SS5400/61-2611) you must set the SP554A to the NORMAL position (not Home/Away). If you use the SP554A with a new base but arm the system with an older remote that doesn't have the Home/Away feature, the system will always arm in the away mode.

Q. X-10's plug-in controllers are handy for some of my applications but I don't always have an AC outlet where I would like to control my lights from. I like the wireless remote control but I tend to lose remote controls easily if they're not plugged in. I would like to have some kind of wireless remote control that I can attach to the wall permanently.

A. X-10's new Wireless Wall Switches are just what you're looking for! They come in 2 channel, 4 channel and 3 channel + Bright/Dim versions. They use 4 AAA batteries and attach to the wall with screws, Velcro or double sided tape. They transmit radio frequency signals to any X-10 RF receiver which then re-transmits the signals over your house wiring to control lights (or appliances) connected to X-10 Modules.

Q. Why doesn't my Wireless Wall Switch work in every bank-switch position with my RR501 (R.S. 61-2676R) Transceiver Module?

A. Wireless Wall Switches are normally packaged with the TM751 which passes through all codes from the wireless wall switches onto the power line to control X-10 modules. You can also use the Wireless Wall Switches with any X-10 or Plug 'n Power security system instead of the TM751 (the security system receives the RF signals from the wireless wall switches and passes them onto the AC power line to control the X-10 module).

You can use the Wireless Wall Switches with the RR501 but there are some caveats:

The 2 button version, RW684 (61-2562 CMC) will only work on position 1-2 with the RR501 set to 1-8, or position 9-10 with the RR501 set to 9-16. It will not work with the RW684 set to 5-6 or 13-14.

The 4 button version, RW694 (61-2664) will only work on position 1-4 with the RR501 set to 1-8, or position 9-12 with the RR501 set to 9-16. It will not work with the RW694 set to 5-8 or 13-16.

The 3 button version, RW724 (61-2563 CMC) will only work on position 1-3 with the RR501 set to 1-8, or position 9-11 with the RR501 set to 9-16. It will not work with the RW724 set to 5-7 or 13-15.

Q. Why doesn't my KC674 work with my RR501

A. The 2 button key chain remote control, KC674 (61-2565) is normally packaged with the TM751 and sold as the RC6500 (61-2663). The KC674 will also work with any X-10/Plug 'n Power security system. It will also work with the RR501 with the following restrictions. It will only work on position 1-2 with the RR501 set to 1-8. It will not work with the KC674 set to 5-6, and it will not work with the RR501 set to 9-16.

In general, the wireless wall switches and KC674 have more utility when used with either the TM751 base or any X-10/Plug 'n Power security system base.

Dave Rye is Vice President and Technical Manager for X-10 (USA) Inc., and was formerly with Pico Electronics in Scotland (X-10's engineering division). He has been with X-10 for 23 years (he jokes about how he was with X-10 when it was X-9). His responsibilities include technical liaison between O.E.M. customers and X-10's engineering in both Scotland and Hong Kong, procurement of industry approvals (UL, FCC, CSA, and ISC), technical writing and production of all X-10 brand literature, manuals, and packaging, and management of X-10's customer service department. Dave has written many articles on Home Automation and Security. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Home Automation Association.

Dave can be contacted by email -

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