4 Home Auto­mation Systems­ for $200 or Less
Easily seize remote control of your lights and appliances with any of these four affordable starter kits.
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November 14, 2008 by Jeff Winston

UPB (Click here to view product)
UPB is another two-way powerline technology designed to supplant X-10, invented by Powerline Control Systems in 1999. Focused more at the builder market, we were unable to find any kits for less than about $200. At that price point, the kit we found (SADKIT01, $225 at Homecontrols.com) consists of 3 smart light-switch replacements. Two dimmer switches work like regular light switches but can also be controlled remotely, and the Universal Dimmer-Controller Base is a smart controller capable of enabling and dimming the other switches in a variety of user-defined configurations. 

A wide assortment of UPB devices are available, but at higher prices than those for other protocols. A UPB computer-based controller (FS100011083) is available for $149 including software. A phase coupler (PCSPRx) costs $299. 

Z-wave (Click here to view product)
Z-wave avoids the various powerline issues by being an RF-only protocol. All devices communicate two-way and wirelessly. Their Green Zwave Starter Kit sells for $99 and consists of two Lamp Modules and a stand-alone controller. No phase-coupling devices are required. A starter kit with a PC Interface, software, lamp module, appliance module, and a remote control is $149 (HA102M). Find these kits at Zwaveproducts.com.   

If you’re looking to get started in Home Automation, you’ve run out of excuses. There are plenty of choices, and in most cases, the price point is within reach.

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Jeff Winston - Contributing Writer
Jeff Winston has been writing about home electronics since 1998. An electrical engineer, Jeff has contributed to the development of products in the computer, consumer electronics, and wireless industries. He spends his spare time with his wife, kids, and many PCs, sometimes in that order.

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