X10 water and irrigation control - smart home on a budget
'Home automation made easy'
by Adrian Biffen
AeroHOST Web Systems
Bulletin: RollerTrol™ Automation Systems is Launched!
I use the Activehome Pro system to extensively to control water systems in my home. I have written about my spa control system elsewhere on this site, but it is worth repeating here. I also control my outside irrigation systems for the lawn and garden, as below. (for complementary home automation products such as lighting control and motorized blinds and shades, see our home automation DIY kit article)
I usually have a Jacuzzi bath in the morning as well, and I find it convenient to use a mini remote beside the tub when I want to turn the jets on and off, rather than having to reach up to the wall switch every time (which was positioned by the installer on a wall requiring that I'm actually out of the tub). I find the jets therapeutic, but I also like to soak quietly at times, without the noise and vibration. By using the battery operated wireless remote, I'm also safe from any electrical hazard.
The remote sends a radio control signal to the transceiver, which in turn sends the signal along the power line to the central house controller. The controller listens for this code and responds by sending a control signal back over the AC line to a relay module (with the X10 Home Automation System) installed in the pump motor line (it was hard wired to a junction box, not plugged into an outlet). At the same time as it receives an 'on' signal, the controller also starts a 15 minute 'countdown' timer which issues an 'off' signal at zero minutes so that the pump is turned off if it somehow ever got turned on by accident with nobody around (believe it or not, one of my cats has actually done something like this). I could also use a controllable water valve, like the kind I use in my irrigation system (below) to fill the tub, if I wanted to take it that far.
I also have a steam generator installed in my shower stall which I like to enjoy after a hot bath. It is nothing more than a big electric kettle plugged into an appliance module in the cupboard behind the shower stall. The steam is piped from the spout directly into the stall, where it comes into contact with essential oils that effuse into the steam, creating very pleasant aromatics that I find help a great deal with my breathing. I use the remote by the bath to turn the steam on so that it's ready when I'm finished with the tub. It uses the same kind of controller macro to turn itself off if I forget (or is accidentally turned on).
Note that because these systems do make use of a script downloaded to the central controller (unlike some of my simple lighting systems), you must use a different address code for both the remote control and the activating module. In other words, for example, the controller receives 'on' code A10 from the remote (via the wireless transceiver) and responds by sending out 'on' code B14 to the control module. At the end of the countdown period, the controller also sends an 'off' code B14 to the control module.
Irrigation Control: We have drip hoses installed in all our flower beds and I found it very useful to automate the operation of these, along with the lawn sprinklers. The key to this is a flow valve that uses 110V operation. These were readily available at our local irrigation supply house; all I had to do was plug it into an appliance module and set the timers in the Activehome Pro system from our X10 Home Automation Store website. All in all a pretty simple thing to do and, boy, does it beat having to remember to water all the time! This could just as easily be used to implement an indoor plant watering system, using small diameter plastic hose. (click here to get the kit to Automate your home with X10!
Automate your home with X10! )
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