Listed below are some frequently asked questions. If you have a question that you don't see below, please contact us.
- What is our return policy?
- How are shipping charges determined?
- What is the difference between the Standard and Deluxe Telephone Controllers?
- How does the Deluxe Telephone Controller connect to the devices it's controlling?
- What is Wireless ZigBee (802.15.4) technology?
- What is INSTEON technology?
- What are the differences between INSTEON and ZigBee wireless technologies?
- What is a whole-house automation system?
- How can I access my home automation system from the Internet?
- What is X10 technology?
- How can I improve my X10 signal strength?
What is our return policy?
Each product we offer on our site includes a manufacturer's warranty. If a product fails to operate properly out of the box or within the warranty period you can contact the manufacturer directly to request a replacement. In most cases a replacement will be shipped directly to you free of charge.
However, if you decide to return the item to us, at your cost, after talking to the manufacturer or because you are dis-satisfied with the product. We will issue you a store credit for the purchase amount less original shipping charges, if returned within the first 30 days after purchase. Providing the item is in working condition with no cosmetic damage and returned in the original packaging. If you have any doubt about the applicability of an item to your specific need please contact us before purchasing.
How are shipping charges determined?
We use PayPal for secure shopping cart checkout. We've eliminated shipping concerns for most orders. All you need to do is order at least $100 worth of merchandise to receive free 2-5 day shipping delivery. This offer is available to all customers from the lower 48 US states.
All other customers should contact us for a shipping quote, including expedited shipping to the lower 48 states.
Note: if your order item quantity is greater than one, use the quantity adjustment in the shopping cart to specify the quantity of each item rather than adding the item to the cart multiple times.
What is the difference between the Standard and Deluxe Telephone Controllers?
The Standard Telephone Controller connects directly to the 7-Day Programmable and Hot Water Heating Systems Thermostats from Aube Technologies. It also has a second relay output which can be used to connect to a non-Aube thermostat or any home device activated by a "dry-contact" relay input. For home devices requiring a signal input (e.g. 12VDC) a power adaptor will also be required.
The Deluxe Telephone Controller provides 4 general purpose relay outputs which can be used with any setback thermostat or any other home device activated by a "dry-contact" relay input. For home devices or thermostats requiring a signal input (e.g. 12VDC) a power adaptor will also be required.
How does the Deluxe Telephone Controller (CT241) connect to the devices it's controlling?
By example we will explain how to connect the Deluxe Telephone Controller to the 7-day Programmable Thermostat (TH141). Page 8 of the CT241 manual shows the connection to external devices. Note the L&N signal connections shown at the bottom left of the diagram. Those represent the signal voltage required to activate the TH141 vacation mode. A 12 VDC power adapter (purchased separately) plugs into a wall outlet and provides the 12 VDC signal. The positive lead from the adapter is the L signal (line voltage), and the N lead is the common or negative connection.
Note page 22 in the TH141 Thermostat manual section 6.2. The switch shown in this simple diagram represents a relay in the CT241. You will connect the L lead from the power adapter to a NO (normally open) contact of a relay output on the CT241. The other contact on the CT241 relay connects to the X terminal on the TH141 thermostat. The N lead from the power adapter connects to the C terminal on the thermostat via the common (negative) wire.
What is Wireless ZigBee (802.15.4) technology?
ZigBee is a wireless technology defined by the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. This standard uses the 2.4 GHz range for RF transmission and is well suited to the exchange of small packets of information between devices in a mesh network. Control4 is the first home automation company to use ZigBee to send commands from controllers to other devices in the home automation network. Note each device in this network re-transmits commands as received thus providing a robust communications mesh to ensure the commands reach the intended destination device. Response to commands is near instantaneous and highly reliable due to the wireless transmission within the mesh network of devices.
What is INSTEON technology?
INSTEON is also a wireless technology developed by SmartLabs Technologies. INSTEON uses the 900 MHz range for RF transmission as well as the home's electrical wiring for a dual mesh network between INSTEON-enabled devices. SmartHome is the first home automation company to use INSTEON in lighting products that previously used X10 signaling over the home power lines only. Response to commands with INSTEON is also near instantaneous and highly reliable due to the dual wireless and power line transmissions within the mesh network of devices. INSTEON products are a good upgrade choice for homes with X10 devices already installed. Note however it is possible for INSTEON to degrade X10 signal propagation over the home power lines which can negate the stated "dual" mesh benefit. This is typically not an issue when INSTEON devices are replacing X10 devices in the home rather than adding to them.
What are the differences between INSTEON and ZigBee wireless technologies?
INSTEON is used by SmartHome for lighting products only. Other manufacturers are incorporating INSTEON in a variety of products. By contrast Control4 has a complete line of products for whole-house automation solutions that all use ZigBee. INSTEON uses the 900 MHz range where ZigBee uses the 2.4 GHz range. INSTEON also transmits dual signals over the air and the home power lines. INSTEON can support a practical unlimited number of devices in the home (16,777,216 to be exact) whereas ZigBee supports 256 devices per controller. INSTEON supports X10 addresses, ZigBee does not. Both of these wireless technologies as implemented by SmartHome and Control4 support mesh networks that get stronger with each device added. All devices in both networks repeat each received command, and neither wireless network requires a router in the configuration.
What is a whole-house automation system?
A whole-house automation system integrates the operation of various subsystems in the house through a common user interface. Examples of "subsystems" in the home are: security and alarm systems, heating and cooling systems, lighting and appliance controls, home entertainment centers, video surveillance systems, and media device centers. The heart of the "system" is an integrated controller, either a standalone hardware device dedicated to home automation tasks or a software package running on a home PC. The controller coordinates the desired response or reaction of the various subsystems based on time of day or events like sunrise/sunset or alarm activation. The sequence of commands comprising this response may be called a "scene". Typical scenes include "good morning", "at work", "arrive home", "evening", "sleeping", "party", and so on. The commands that define a scene are programmed into the whole-house automation system by the installer or homeowner.
How can I access my home automation system from the Internet?
A pre-requisite for Internet access is an integrated home automation (HA) controller that satisfies the function of a "web server". Some standalone hardware controllers and several software packages running on a home PC provide this capability. Another requirement is an "always on" broadband connection to the Internet from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your HA controller or PC. If your ISP provides only a "dynamic" connection to the Internet, where your IP address can change without warning or blocks web server requests to TCP port 80, or if you just want to associate a name with your static IP address, you will need a dynamic domain name service (DDNS). DynDNS.org and No-IP.com are DDNS providers offering basic DDNS capability at no charge. For more detailed information on this topic see our article on Internet access to home automation devices.
What is X10 technology?
X10 technology was introduced in 1978, and X10-based home automation devices hit the market in 1980. The company behind the technology was X10 Ltd., who developed a simple Integrated Circuit technology to send high-frequency signals over the home power wiring that could carry data. The power line carrier technology was the foundation of a line of lighting control products that could remotely turn lights on, off, or brighten or dim them. The light control modules plugged in between a wall outlet and the light and were operated by simple remote controls. The X10 signaling protocol provides for 16 house codes. Each house code can address 16 unit codes, thus supporting 256 "addressable" devices per home.
How can I improve my X10 signal strength?
An X10 signal may encounter obstacles as it propagates throughout the electrical matrix in the home. Signal absorbers, noisy electronics, or just long-distances could keep a signal from getting to its destination. If you do not have a phase coupler already, we recommend using the 220V plug-in amplifier called SignaLinc Coupler/Repeater . This device plugs into a 220V outlet and will take any signal (as low as 50mV!) and increase it up to 4+V! This is a first-of-its-kind alternative to those hard to install coupler/repeaters that require a high level of expertise to install. It also couples your electrical phases which allows your X10 signals to pass from phase to phase. In a typical home you have 220 Volts that is split into two 110 Volt "legs" or phases. If you are sending commands to areas in the home that are on a different phase from your transmitting source, this signal must first travel outside the home to the neighborhood transformer and then come back on the opposite phase. By this time the signal may be too weak or simply non-existent to control your devices.
Your signal strength could also be affected by noisy electronics within the home. If you've tried to troubleshoot for noise and have found your noisy device, you can plug it into a FilterLinc. Home entertainment products and/or home computers are typical sources of noise
If after you have installed a coupler repeater and isolated noise but still have areas that are not responding, we recommend a BoosterLinc. The BoosterLinc plugs into an 110v outlet and increases reliability on circuits experiencing problems.
(SignaLinc, FilterLinc, and BoosterLinc are available from JCL Automation or can be directly ordered from Smarthome.com).