Below is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions we recieve about UPB.
If you don't see the answer you are looking for, please contact us directly.
- What is Universal Powerline
- What are the technical
differences between UPB™ and X10?
- Do these technical differences
make UPB™ better than X10?
- Why is UPB™ better than RF-based communication?
- Do all UPB™ products require
a Neutral wire?
- What are "Scenes" and how does UPB™
- What are "Links"?
- How many devices can be used in a single system
and will my neighbor's UPB™ devices interfere
with my system?
- Who invented UPB™?
- How long has UPB™ been
What is Universal Powerline Bus (UPB™)?
UPB™ is a highly reliable, cost effective, 2-way communications
technology that enables lighting control products to utilize
existing powerlines to communicate for both residential and
2. What are the technical
differences between UPB™ and X10?
Although both technologies use standard powerlines to communicate,
the technical approaches are significantly different. Compare
UPB™ and X10™ yourself.
First, X10 uses a single fixed frequency to communicate, which
means if there's noise on the line at that specific frequency,
you'll have intermittent reliability issues, because the signal
has to fight the noise to get to its destination. UPB™ utilizes
a Pulse-based communications method called Pulse Position Modulation
(PPM) that has a range of frequencies to communicate with, which
means it can select the cleanest path to send the signal across
the powerlines. The end result is much faster and reliable communications.
In addition, there is a difference in voltage strength: X10
is 4volts at its strongest level; UPB™ is 40 volts - 10 times
stronger. This additional strength provides a bigger pulse on
the powerline, which results in better reliability (especially
when the signal is communicating over longer distances.) The
bigger the wave, the longer it can travel.
Another difference between the two technologies is that the
length of the transmission packet is longer for UPB™, which allows
for more data to be communicated over the same pulse. The UPB™
packet is 4-times longer than the X10 and is generated 5 times
faster. The increase in speed will make UPB™ installations more
responsive than X10, which results in better reliability and
a better overall user experience.
Last, UPB™ is a 2-way communication protocol, whereas X10 is
primarily one-way. 2-way communication allows for the system
to verify that that the communication has been successfully
received, which significantly increases the reliability.
Do these technical differences make UPB™ better than X10?
UPB™'s communications over the powerline are much more reliable
than X10. Because UPB™ uses Pulse Position Modulation (PPM),
it can choose the clearest path of communications. This reduces
the total cost of deploying a controlled lighting system, because
it works after the first installation. This decreases the number
of service calls, and eliminates intermittent reliability issues.
Most X10 installations require the use of filters and repeaters
to address intermittent communications and reliability issues.
Why is UPB™ better than RF-based communication?
Although very reliable, RF-based automation has certain limitations.
First, the radio waves are easily obstructed by physical structures
i.e. radio waves do not travel through brick or steel. This
can be compensated for, but requires multiple repeaters throughout
the structure to assure reliable signal strength, which can
make an RF system very expensive. Second, radio transmitters
must be placed in plain site for optimal signal strength. Unfortunately,
they are not always aesthetically pleasing, and often conflict
with the décor of the home.
Do all UPB™ products require a Neutral wire?
Yes. The Wall Mount Dimmers and
Keypad Controllers require a Neutral wire for normal operation.
The plug in modules plug into a standard wall outlet which automatically
has the ground connection.
What are "Scenes" and how does UPB™ address them?
"Scene" is a term used in the lighting control industry
to describe specific lighting events. For example you can create
a 'movie scene' in your home theater or a 'dining scene' in
your dining room. When the appropriate scene is programmed and
selected, UPB™ transmits the scene command on the powerline and
has the appropriate lights respond by going to proper level.
No central controller is required (X10 requires a central controller.)
What are "Links"?
"Links" is a UPB™ term to describe the channel of communications
that 'link' transmitters and receivers in a lighting communications
system. Once one or more Links have been opened, the device
listens for an action that is acted upon based on the system
program (i.e. dim the room, turn the lights on or off, etc.)
the resulting program. Because of the 'link' structure of UPB™,
no controller is required.
How many devices can be used in a single system and will my
neighbor's UPB™ devices interfere with my system?
During the UPB™ system setup a unique network address is assigned
per home. This network address is specific to the home assigned
and keeps outside systems from conflicting. UPB™ can support
up to 250 loads per network address and up to 250 network addresses
per power transformer. This compares to X10, which can support
a total of 256 loads per transformer.
Who invented UPB™?
Powerline Control Systems (PCS) has been developing UPB™ for
over seven years. PCS has been awarded a total of two patents
for their innovation, and have three additional patents pending.
Prior to releasing its first product line incorporating UPB™,
PCS performed a two-year, real world residential customer trial.
This trial uncovered opportunities for product and reliability
improvements, which were incorporated into the final product
designs. The resulting product line, PulseWorx, is the most
robust, reliable powerline communications product available
How long has UPB™ been available?
UPB™ has been in development since 1999, but has been deployed in commercially available products