X10 Questions

Hello all,

First of all, pardon my ignorance. I did do my homework and searched both Vera Wiki and these forums on the subject, but I still don’t have a clear picture with regards to x10 support in Vera.

I own Vera lite and a few z-wave switches and remotes which work great. But I also own a bunch of x10 gear which I would like to integrate into my home automation system. I’m particularly interested in using x10 wireless motion sensors (EagleEye) to trigger scenes in Vera. I’ve got a half a dozen of them and they work quite well, not to mention that they’re dirt cheap comparing to zwave or insteon motion sensors.

I understand that x10 is supported via insteon plm, but I’m reluctant to spend money on yet another piece of hardware, particularly because I don’t have any insteon devices and don’t plan to buy any. Besides, I’m not sure if insteon plm can even receive x10 rf signal. The “Supported Hardware” wiki page (http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php/Supported_Hardware) does not mention any x-10 devices at all. I found some old (circa 2009) forum threads mention x10, but there’s no how-to guide or even a list of supported hardware.

If anyone has any advice, please share.


The threads you may wish to review start here.


The alternative option to review is the RFXTrx USB RFXCOM.com which is highly supported on the forum and is x10. Note there are different frequencies between different region.

@brientim, thank you for your quick reply. Very interesting reading indeed. It’s amazing how much trouble users are having with making X10 devices to work with Vera. Obviously, paying 98 euro (!) for RFXCOM USB transceiver is not an option. With shipping, it would be almost as expensive as Vera itself. I find it deeply ironic that RFXCOM advertises it as “low priced” (is it a joke?). One could buy a nice Android tablet loaded with WiFi, Bluetooth, touchscreen and what not for much less.

Anyway, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned about X10 support in Vera. Hopefully somebody will find it useful:

  1. 2412U (Insteon PLM with USB intrface)
    This is the “official” X10 solution and is supported natively by Vera. The PLM is not cheap (around $80 on Amazon) and there are multiple negative user reviews. Apparently, it can only send X10 power-line commands. There’s no way to receive X10 RF commands, even with the RF-to-powerline transceiver (e.g. TM751). Scratch that.
    Cost: $80

  2. CM11 (X10 PowerLine Modem with serial interface)
    This device can be connected directly to Vera (with USB serial adapter) and requires installing a third-party plug-in (http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,10817.0.html). CM11 has been discontinued long ago, although it can still be found on ebay for around $25. Not a bad option comparing to Insteon PLM (see above). However, CM11 is a power-line only device, i.e. it cannot receive X10 RF signals from EagleEye motion sensors, remotes. etc. You’d need a separate RF-to-powerline received (model TM751, $15 on ebay). Problem is, TM751 can only receive RF signal from a single house code, meaning that you’re limited to 16 RF devices. Given that EagleEye has a built-in light sensor and uses two unit codes, only 8 sensors can be used (if you enable light sensor function).
    Cost: $40 (plus USB serial adapter)

  3. CM15 (Dual-mode, both RF and Powerline, X10 Controller with USB interface)
    This has been X10 flagship for many years. Unfortunately, X10 stopped producing this device last year (see this thread The Future of X10) and now recommends CM19 as a replacement. It can still be found on ebay though for around $80. Bad news is, CM15 is not supported natively in Vera (you cannot plug it into Vera USB port and expect it to work). Why? Because in its infinite wisdom, X10 decided to implement non-standard, proprietary USB protocol, probably to save 50 cents on their bill-of-materials cost. So instead, you’d have to setup a separate Linux box running open-source (free) mocad server software and install a third-party Vera plug-in to communicate with mocad. It may be an acceptable solution if you’re running a Linux server 24/7 anyway, but then again why would you want to pay $180 for Vera in this case?
    Cost: $80 plus $$$ for a Linux box and electricity to run it

  4. CM19 (RF-only X10 Tranceiver with USB interface)
    This seem to be the only X10 computer interface currently available from X10. It’s fairly inexpensive (less than $20 on ebay), although being a RF-only device, you’d have to pay another $15 for a TM751 powerline transceiver if you want to control X10 switches and dimmers. Still cheaper than CM15. Keep in mind that TM751 can only handle one house code, so although you’ll be able to receive RF signals on all house codes, all your powerline devices will have to be on one house code, meaning 16 devices maximum. Although you could set up multiple TM751’s on different house codes to work around this problem. Unfortunately, like CM15, CM19 cannon be connected to Vera directly and requires running a stand-alone linux box 24/7 (see #3 above).
    Cost: $35 plus $$$ for a Linux box and electricity to run it

  5. X10 Firecracker CM17 (RF Transmitter) and MR26 (RF Receiver)
    These are simple RF-only X10 devices with serial interface. They have also been discontinued, but are still available on ebay for around $7 (CM17) and $18 (MR26). The MR26 receiver would be a perfect solution if your’re only interest in integrating X10 RF sensors and remotes with Vera. Unfortunately, MR26 is not supported neither natively, nor with a thrid-party solution.

All in all, I can see now why Vera has been such a frustrating experience for long-time X10 users. Just another classic example of total disregard for inter-operability so prevalent in the home automation space. “Do it my way or highway!” should be the home automation industry advertisement tag line.

Sorry for the long rant :slight_smile:

@geko, it certainly is too bad that there isn’t an easy / cheap way to attach X10 devices. :frowning:

However, if you do go the mochad route (cm15a/cm19a) you don’t need much of a linux machine to run the interface. I use a pogoplug for this task, I just picked up two more for $15 shipped about two weeks ago. They use just a few watts and are quite reliable.

A raspberry pi would also be a nice option.

@radarengineer, thanks for the tip. I agree that cm19 seems to be the best option. I’ll look into pogoplug, although it may be easier for me to set up Linux on an old laptop and use it as ZoneMinder server as well.