Need Help with X-10 Light Dimmers

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Tom Kay, May 13, 2003.

  1. Tom Kay

    Tom Kay Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2003
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello

    I am building my HT in my basement, and plan to dim a few separate light circuits remotely. I want a few different circuits, instead of just one, so I can add a bit of light at the back of the room, or the front, which ever makes it more comfortable on my eyes. I find that if the TV is the only light source, sometimes my eyes get a little sore, so I really want to fiddle with light settings at various locations in the room, hence the need for sepearte circuits.

    I'd like to minimize the number of remote controls, so can I have one X-10 control, which will separately dim 3, 4 or 5, independent 15 amp circuits? Is this do-able?

    On a related topic, can you dim halogen lights? I know you can dim basic incandescent, and cannot dim the new high-efficiency lights (flourescent bulbs that plug into ordinary sockets). But I'm not sure if you can dim halogen. And are halogens good for the ceiling in home theaters, or would you use something else?

    Thanks for any help. I'd like to glue my butt to the couch, and control my environment.

    Cheers, Tom.
     
  2. Tim K

    Tim K Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 1999
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My butt is glued...so I'll tell you what I did.

    Firstly, lets address the subject of eye strain. It is my understanding that eye strain is due to having one small, bright light source when your entire field of view is dark. If you are sitting in a totally dark room watching a TV from 10ft away, you will likely experience eye strain. This doesn't happen in a true movie theater b/c the screen is so large it fills most of your field of view, same with home projection systems.

    If you do some searching and reading you will find alot of information about backlighting tube and rear projection TVs. I've done this using a basic flourescent fixture (from an aquarium) and a daylight bulb. I placed it behind the TV and shine it on the wall behind the TV. Goodbye eye strain. So, for about $20 you can eliminate that problem without having to put lighting all over your room. Also, putting lights on in other parts of the room, especially with a RPTV, is a no-no. The glare will make it almost unwatchable.

    Now let's talk about x-10 lights. The answer to your question is yes, you can have one x-10 controller that controls multiple lights. In fact their firecracker starter pack comes with one remote, one lamp unit and one appliance unit. You can buy more of each pretty cheaply as well. Appliance units are not dimmable though. The x-10 controller they give you can control about 16 lights. They also sell packages with universal remotes as well which you can control both your HT and your lights. It is very inexpensive and very versatile.

    What I did was purchase the firecracker kit, an x-10 dimmer switch, and an x-10 IR->RF converter. The dimmer switch simply replaced the existing wall switch to control the recessed lights in the room. I then plugged the backlight into the appliance module (since flourescents aren't dimmable anyway). Then I plugged in the IR-RF converter. The converter allows me to use my existing remote to control my equiptment as well as my lighting. Granted I have a ProntoNeo and was able to download the IR codes to control X-10 equiptment. Your situation may be different. If you just want the easiest cheapest solution, I'd say get the X-10 SuperRemote kit ($29) and a dimmer switch. That should contain everything you need to control your HT, a backlight, and table or floor lamp, and any installed roomlighting from one device.

    I hope this helps, and I hope I didn't ramble on too much!

    -Tim
     
  3. Tim K

    Tim K Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 1999
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    oh, and as for halogen lights...

    In most cases I think you can dim halogens. I have halogen lighting (pre-installed track lights) in my kitchen and they are on a dimmer. As for using them in an HT, keep in mind that halogens tend to give off alot of heat, and also many dimmers and dimmed lights tend to buzz which can get annoying.
     
  4. Tom Kay

    Tom Kay Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2003
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi Tim

    Thanks for the very detailed answer, and hey, you can talk as long as you want, with that kind of help !

    I heard from an electrician who said that halogens and basic light bulbs give off the same heat, but halogens feel hotter because the filament is closer to your fingers????
    OK, he's the pro. But I can kind of see that total heat wattage would be similar, and since halogens are brighter, maybe we could get by with smaller wattage bulbs overall. A thought, anyway. Obviously with a well insulated HT, heat build up could make things hot and sticky. Air conditioning hasn't happened in my house yet. HT first !!

    So, I'll do some additional research on the whole x-10 thing and see what I need. Thanks for the info.

    Tom.
     

Share This Page