Well, it’s time to change over the house from those old ivory X10 pushbuttons to something a little more contemporary with higher quality and reliability. We decided on Leviton’s newest line of wall switches. These units are attractive and have a nice feel to them. No … they are not like manual wall switches at all. No click or clack … instead they operate more like a computer mouse than a light switch. A light tap turns the light on … and it gradually increases intensity until it reaches the last dimming level. If you want full intensity you can either just click again or you could have double clicked in the first place. Yes … this takes a bit of getting used to … and you have to explain it to your family and visitors … but I’ve yet to have anyone not understand or be impressed by these switches. Seems to me we had the same issue when the pushbutton phone took over from the dial … we just need to get over it and move on into the next generation of lighting control.

I’ve always had fairly dependable operation from my X10 lighting system in the house but there have been a few areas where the signal is weak and operation has been flaky. As recommended by Leviton I installed a Coupler/Amplifier/Repeater in the breaker panel to improve signal strength. So far so good although I haven’t had time yet to fully evaluate this. One thing for sure is that the switches themselves are more reliable and less susceptible to line noise (due to Intellisense circuitry I presume).

Two power ratings are available … 600 and 1000 watt. If you use the switches in multi gang boxes then the ratings are reduced due to heat buildup. One thing to be aware of if you are replacing standard light fixtures with these or any other electronic switches is the amount of room required in the wall box … especially multi gang situations. It can get pretty crowded behind the switches as they are larger in themselves (added circuitry) and for some reason the manufacturers choose to have you use wire nuts to make the connections rather than have screw connections on the switches themselves. Fitting 3 larger switches and possible 12 wire nuts into a 3 gang box can be a bit of a task.

These units are designed to control incandescent and low-voltage lighting loads in any DHC-equipped home in single-pole (one location) or 3-way (multi-location) applications when used with the Multi-Remote Unit. They offer manual and remote ON/OFF switching and full range dimming for larger incandescent and magnetic low-voltage lighting loads. They feature Leviton’s new Intellisense(tm) advanced circuitry for increased reliability, even where electrical “noise” exists on the power line. The modules also provide Scene Control capability when used with DHC Scene Controller HCCS7-10W (this I have not tested yet).

Nobu In Wall PCs
Here is a list of Features:

* Soft ON/Fade OFF feature for smooth increasing and lowering of brightness levels; extended bulb life
* Preset feature turns lights ON at last selected brightness level; eliminates the need to readjust settings each time dimmer is switched ON
* Fit in standard wall boxes and replace regular switches to provide manual and remote ON/OFF switching, full range dimming and Scene Lighting Control
* Protected memory maintains light levels during minor power fluctuations
* Features Leviton’s Intellisense(tm) (gated automatic gain control) which adjusts receiver sensitivity to help eliminate signal problems due to line noise
* Modules are backward compatible with 16400/450-S and 16400/450-SD DHC Scene Controllers
* Double tap to top of rocker switch brings light to full output without affecting preset levels
* Can be used for single-pole as well as three-way applications, reducing inventory needs
* True Decora-style operation — push top of rocker to brighten; bottom to dim
* Programmable in 1% increments to customize any number of lighting scenes*
* Packed with Ivory and White snap-on rocker/frame kit; optional snap-on rocker/frame color kits sold separately

I’m excited to have these new switches in our home for several reasons. I must admit that I have been holding off on the upgrade for a long time now … waiting for advances in the industry … and expecting that CEBus systems and equipment would be available and affordable by now. Advances in the reliability and quality of powerline products as well as the plethora of control options (I upgraded from an Enerlogic to a HomeVision system) has convinced me to move ahead and do the upgrade now rather than wait any longer. I’m sure the technology will continue to advance and improve … but for now I’m thrilled to be able to control the lighting (and many other systems) in our home to the level that I can within a reasonable budget. When I click the switch and watch the lights ramp up to illuminate the garden … it just feels nice. Now all we need is for spring to arrive in the Pacific Northwest 🙂