Home Automation Technology Comparison: Frequently Asked Questions




Feature Comparison of Home Automation Technologies

LightwaveRF or Z-wave? X10 vs. Z-Wave?
INSTEON or Z-Wave INSTEON or LightwaveRF  
What is Z-Wave? What is LightwaveRF? What is INSTEON?

Home Automation and Lighting Control, X-10 vs. Insteon vs. Z-Wave Technology Review, When I first decided that I wanted some degree of home automation, one of the first decisions was which lighting control protocol to use.

About UPB Technology

UPB technology provides an inexpensive and reliable solution for residential and commercial powerline communications applications. While other powerline communication technologies exist, none compare to UPB in cost per node, functionality and reliability.

Highly Reliable — The UPB method of communication is 100 ~ 1000 times more reliable than current X-10 technology and 10 ~100 times more reliable than CEBUS or LONWORKS powerline technologies.  UPB is 99.9% reliable versus 70%-80% reliability of X-10.*

UPB transmits farther (over a mile), is less susceptible to powerline noise and capacitive attenuation (signal reduction) than other technologies for three reasons:

Pulse Position Modulation is a highly reliable time based method of sending bits; it narrows the possibility of power line noise affecting communication, unlike X-10 and other carrier modulation technologies.

UPB pulses on the power line are approximately 40 volts; more than five times greater than the 5 to 7 volt signals of X-10.

UPB transmits at low (4 to 40 kHz) frequencies, carrying much more power than higher frequency technologies like X-10 that transmits at 120 kHz.

When put on one phase of a home’s two phase power line, the signals are so strong they go out to the street side transformer and are induced on the opposite phase, returning back to the home.  Since UPB transmits at a low frequency, it does not affect other powerline devices or appliance/loads.

No New Wires – UPB dimmer switches are installed exactly like regular dimmer switches.  They connect to a home’s standard wiring. Since no new or special wiring is required, they work great in retrofit applications too.

Affordable — UPB dimmer switches can be as affordable as high end non-communicating dimmers.  When comparing costs of home upgrades (theater TV, remodeled bath or kitchen) adding lighting automation and control to a room or whole home provides a surprising improvement in quality of life at a comparably low cost.

Simplicity – Adding lighting control can be as simple as plugging in dimming modules or replacing dimming switches Pre-Configured Series. Unlike radio frequency (RF) wireless switches, where reliability is proportional to the number of ‘mess-networked’ switches installed, UPB provides reliability and performance anywhere in the home without the need of repeaters.       

Peer to Peer – No host computer or central controller is necessary for single, point-to-point control or group (lighting scene) control.  UPB is a no-host, peer to peer network.  Interruption of power, or single point controller/repeater failure, will not affect a stand-alone UPB network.

Two Way Communications – Hardware, software and protocol design allows for two-way communication in all products.  Status can be confirmed with polling or automatically transmitted upon local/manual load changes.  

House Separation – Neighbors with UPB will not control each other’s lights.  The UPB addressing scheme allows for 250 systems (houses) on each transformer and 250 devices on each system. It incorporates over 64,000 total addresses compared to 256 for conventional X-10.

Interaction – UPB communication can be used in the presence of all X-10, CEBus, HomePlug or LonWorks compatible equipment with no interference between either. The UPB technology uses a completely different frequency range than any of the wide-band, narrow-band, or spread spectrum technologies. The physical method of UPB communication is entirely different than the modulation-demodulation techniques of all X-10, CEBus, or LonWorks.

Higher Speed – 20 to 40 times the speed of X- 10 in terms of data transmitted. This is equivalent to over ten full commands per second. The average latency of command to action is less than 0.1 second.


UPB System Description X-10 to UPB Migration


* Reliability is defined as the percentage of transmitter/receiver pairs that correctly operate upon initial installation. The UPB test units are randomly installed in the environment typical of the target market. This market is defined as the single-family residential market in the US, homes with a median size of 2500 Sq, Ft. This environment is defined to be the existing base of homes, without any modifications, which means there should be no “fixing” the electrical system of the residence by adding couplers, repeaters or filtering.


7 comments on “Home Automation Technology Comparison: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Kris Olean on said:

    How in the world can you do a technology comparison and not include the market giant Lutron radiora2? also not include Simply Automated upb. obvious omission oversight of two biggies/technologies. this type of reporting gives a black eye to industy ive been part of for more than 10 years.

  2. benny samson on said:

    I agree. lutron is used by most of us for high end installs, not includeing lutron makes this a one sided not fair comparison. I prefer upb over insteon and zwave.

  3. johnny roth on said:

    Be careful with reviews looking like they are a bible, obvious no understanding of market w/o lutron radiora2, a “paid” advertisement? Not having upb is also a glaring omission.

  4. Seems like even though Simply Automated’s UPB is so highly regarded, it gets left out of technology comparisons more often than not. Shame.

  5. automated student UNLV on said:

    I’ve now done quite a bit of research, agree with other posts, especially for Lutron, looks like they are the market leader, how can this site do a review and not include Lutron, an obvious omission, what’s going on?

  6. Fred Paulson on said:

    I do not know how a review of home automation technologies does not include UPB, UPB and Simply Automated should be on any comparison technology listing of lighting control suppliers.

  7. P.Dillanger on said:

    ? By keeping UPB off this list, makes it look as if they are trying to draw consumer attention away from the best option.

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