BUILDERS LOOKING FOR A LOWER-COST ALTERNATIVE to hard-wired and radio frequency lighting systems from Lutron, LiteTouch, or Vantage can now opt for wall-mount dimmers and controllers from Powerline Control Systems that have its new Universal Powerline Bus (UPB) technology.

UPB products let users turn off all the lights in a house or groups of lights with a single switch. Marshall Lester, CEO of Powerline, says UPB offers increased speed and reliability because, unlike the old X10 standard for automated lighting, it is two-way, and UPB operates similar to packet-based data networks such as the Internet. Lester says Powerline started shipping UPB-based products in February.

“What we're trying to do is drive a new standard by setting up partnerships with the home control companies,” Lester says, pointing out that Home Automation, ELK Products, and HomeVision now support UPB.

The wall-mount dimmers are available in 600, 1,000, 1,200, and 2,000 watts. Lighting designers can install 16 preset scenes and more than 250 scenes per house. The dimmers sell for $100 per switch; the controllers cost $200 each.