Powerline Control Systems, (PCS), pcslighting.com, is a California corporation in the business of designing, developing and manufacturing advanced powerline carrier based lighting controls. PCS has developed a new proprietary powerline communication technology, the Universal Powerline Bus (UPB). The UPB provides an incredibly reliable and inexpensive solution for residential and commercial powerline communications applications. While other powerline technologies exist, none compare to the UPB in cost per node, reliability and functionality.
The most commonly used lighting control protocol, X-10, suffers from a number of problems that make it’s utility less than optimal:
Here’s how UPB compares with X-10 and other common home control protocols:
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. Reliability is defined as the percentage of transmitter/receiver pairs that correctly operate upon initial installation. In a large-scale field test, UPB test units were randomly installed in the environment typical of the target market, defined as the single-family residential market in the US. This environment is defined to be the existing base of homes, without any modifications. This means there should be no “fixing” the electrical system of the residence by adding couplers, repeaters or filtering. The massive UPB test showed reliability to be over 99.9% (>100 times X-10). Current X-10 is around 70%~80%.
No New Wires – 100% powerline communication, no new wires.
Affordable – The newest generation of UPB products are roughly comparable to higher-end X-10 products.
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 .1 second.
Two Way Communications – Hardware, software and protocol design allow for two-way communication in all products.
House Separation – Multiple houses on one transformer are separated by means of an addressing scheme allowing for at least 256 systems (houses) on each transformer. The UPB system incorporates over 64,000 total address space vs. 256 for conventional X-10.
Interaction – UPB communication can be used in the presence of all X-10, CEBus, or LonWorks compatible equipment with no interference amongst the various types of devices. 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 from the modulation-demodulation techniques of all X-10, CEBus, and LonWorks equipment.
Peer to Peer – No central controller necessary for single point-to-point control or group (scene) control.
Simplicity – The UPB solution uses “off the shelf” components for transmission, receiving and control circuits, including standard microprocessors. No ASIC’s (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) are necessary.
Signal Strength - UPB’s higher signal strength, coupled with its lower frequency, dramatically reduces the attenuation of the UPB signal over long runs of wire. X-10 starts with a lower signal level at a higher frequency leading to much greater attenuation. PCS has run tests indicating acceptable performance of UPB devices over devicesover greater than one mile of AC wiring.
Device Flexibility – UPB devices have tremendous flexibility and can be programmed for significant features:
With all these advantages, UPB is the technology of choice for affordable home control applications. Many UPB devices are on the market today, with additional devices expected as the protocol gains traction. By the end of 2004, the following UPB devices are expected to be readily available:
Comparison of various home control technologies
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