X10 Sundown Controller – Review


The PHC03/SD533 SunDowner controller is that venerable old trooper the MC460 mini-controller, but with one crucial difference – it’s had a light dependent resistor grafted on to it.

Like the mini-controller, the SunDowner has the irritating characteristic of only being able to control 8 of the available 16 unit codes on a given house code, without modification.

The raison d’etre for the SunDowner, however, is to provide X10 control based on ambient light levels. You can see from the photo that the SunDowner has a set of dip switches on its underbelly. These are used to choose which of unit codes 1,2,3 and 4 will receive an ON message at dusk and an OFF message at dawn.

There is also a small pot on the underside, which controls the sensitivity of the light dependent circuit. This controls the light level at which dawn is detected; it appears to have no influence over the dusk setting, which is fixed and frankly, a little too dark for my liking. The SunDowner takes about 4 seconds to react to a change in light levels.


It seems to me that packaging the SunDowner in the mini-controller housing and providing the mini-controller functionality is a bit of a waste of time and money – I’d have preferred a unit which simply did the light dependent stuff. As it is, the SunDowner is likely to be exiled to some lonely window sill ready to greet the morning sun, and it’s unlikely to be in a position where use of its buttons will be practical.

An alternative solution would be to knock up your own LDR circuit and use the X10 PowerFlash module.

Approximate Price £23.99.  Available From Lets Automate

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