How to use a computer to control household appliances

Written by larry amon
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How to use a computer to control household appliances
Entertainment systems can be controlled by your computer. (home sinema system image by Pavel Losevsky from

Turning on and off devices like fans, televisions and lights in a given room isn't really a hassle, even though we may forget to turn them off sometimes. Being able to control different appliances from one location, however, does have security and energy benefits. Whatever your reason for controlling your appliances from your computer, this is something almost anyone can learn to do.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • X10 modules
  • Computer interface module
  • Home automation software

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  1. 1

    Buy X10 modules. To control appliances, lights and electronics you'll need X10 hardware devices, which are a standard part of home automation. You can buy these devices through a commercial website such as or at places like Radio Shack. You'll need what are called appliance modules, which are suited to handle electronics. (Light modules are only good for lights.) You'll need one module for every appliance you wish to control.

  2. 2

    Connect the modules to each appliance. Plug the module into the wall and then plug the appliance into the module. Each module also has a code setting so you can choose which channel to work off of. This allows the control of more devices because each channel has a limited number of devices. One module will be a tranciever module to send signals to and from the other modules.

  3. 3

    Buy a computer interface module and home automation software. Usually you can buy this together in a package. Active Home Pro and Power Home are two commercial software programs that lets you control all of the modules from your computer. The required computer module usually just has a USB plug to connect to your PC.

  4. 4

    Control your appliances through the automation software. Each module is programmed to a different code that is physically set on the module. In the software, assign a name and location to each module. You can use the software to turn each appliance on and off or schedule the appliances to turn on and off at different times.

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