X10 Community Forum

🔌General Home Automation => Automating Your House => Topic started by: whitenack on July 27, 2011, 08:23:58 AM

Title: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on July 27, 2011, 08:23:58 AM
First post.  Just started looking into x10 stuff this week and have a big sticking point I need clarification on...

I have just built a detached garage about 100 ft from my home.  My current home's electrical service was just about maxed out, so the GC decided to run a separate elecrical service from the pole to the garage. 

Does this make x10 functionality impossible, or is there some sort of bridge or solution that can allow me to control things in the garage from my home?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dave w on July 27, 2011, 09:02:19 AM
The feeds for both panels are common at the pole transformer, so the signal has a complete path from either panel to the other. However the path length will attenuate the signal so plan on needing a repeater, possibly even two. If you should happen to need a repeater at each panel (if you want to control house from garage),  your repeater choice should be one that can be configured to NOT "repeat a repeat". That eliminates the cheapo X10 unit (XPCR) but it has problems anyway.

My $0.02 would be to buy a cheapie starter kit from X10 (i.e. http://www.x10.com/promotions/hr12a_lighting_si.html) and just start testing. If the items you intend on controlling just happen to be on the same phase, you *might* not need a repeater (which, besides boosting the X10 signal, also couples the signal to the opposite phase). If you do need a repeater,  look at the XTBIIR by JV Digital Engineering, which has the highest output on the market (and IMHO the best unit). Second choice would be the CR234 by ACT which I have, and it too is a great unit but does not have as much oomph as the XTBIIR.

If you are an X10 newbie, you might want to search "phase coupling", "noise", "signal suckers" on this forum. Or go here:
http://jvde.us/x10_troubleshooting.htm
http://www.x10.com/support/x10trou.htm#on

or look at the "Uncle Phil" tutorials:
http://www.act-remote.com/PCC/uncle.htm
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: Dave4720 on July 27, 2011, 10:42:07 AM
Just my 1/50th of a semitone 

I have two houses powered by two separate lines from the same pole.  I get fine communication from house1-to-pole-to-house2.  Granted, I have an XTB-IIR in one house, but I can control all with a Maxi Controller, for instance, from house2 and that has to get to the XTB-IIR in house1 via the pole without any boost help.

In other words, I am doing kinda what you want to do albeit two houses on same pole, not house and garage on same pole.

I agree with testing.  It may just work.  Of course, a X10 signal meter from JV Digital would show you definitive signal levels at the target garage.

No, we are not shills for JV Digital his stuff is just that good.
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: Noam on July 27, 2011, 01:06:01 PM
Depending on what you want to control in the garage and how you want to control it, you might be able to get away with using RF control.
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dbemowsk on July 28, 2011, 11:23:04 PM

No, we are not shills for JV Digital his stuff is just that good.


 >! I'll second that.  Jeff makes an awesome product.
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: Noam on July 29, 2011, 08:59:51 AM

No, we are not shills for JV Digital his stuff is just that good.


 >! I'll second that.  Jeff makes an awesome product.

I disagree. Jeff makes SEVERAL awesome products! ;)
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: JeffVolp on July 29, 2011, 01:50:23 PM

No, we are not shills for JV Digital his stuff is just that good.


 >! I'll second that.  Jeff makes an awesome product.

I disagree. Jeff makes SEVERAL awesome products! ;)

Gee, thanks fellows.  I really appreciate the support.

I wanted to let you know that I just switched to XTBM firmware 1.06.  It now correctly reports the signal level for 31-bit extended codes.  And it also displays the signal level for potential X10 commands that were not validly decoded.  That should help tracking down intermittent noise sources that look like X10 commands.

Anyone who has purchased an XTBM firmware update in the past can have this new version for free.  Just send me an email with your current address and I will ship it off to you.

Jeff
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on July 31, 2011, 03:35:24 PM
Thanks for all the replies.  Just to update everyone, I borrowed an appliance module and a mini plugin remote from a friend and had no problems getting the remote to control the light in the garage while in the house.  So, looks like I am off the the races!
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on August 30, 2011, 10:16:37 PM
UPDATE:

I have finished the wiring, and currently have a problem with the x10 signal from the house to the garage.  The signal is able to reach the garage from my house, but when I turn on the garage interior lights (which are several flourescent fixtures), I guess this puts too much interference on the line because I am no longer able to control the fixtures from a remote.  I have to go out and turn the lights off manually at the switch for them to work again.  I am able to operate the exterior flood lights (500w halogen) with no problems, and I am also able to operate everything remotely if the remote is plugged into an outlet in the garage.  But if I hit the switch for the flourescents from the house, that is all she wrote.

One option is, obviously, to not operate the interior lights on x10, because the exterior lights will probably be the most used anyway.  I wondered if there was a quick and easy solution, because there may be times when I forget to turn off a light and won't feel like walking back out there.
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: Tuicemen on August 31, 2011, 08:45:05 AM
Most garages have old fixtures in them.
Old fluorescent fixtures were very noisy. Some you didn't need any special equipment to hear it.
Try replacing the fixture or go to a different type of light.
 >!
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on August 31, 2011, 08:48:39 AM
Most garages have old fixtures in them.
Old fluorescent fixtures were very noisy. Some you didn't need any special equipment to hear it.
Try replacing the fixture or go to a different type of light.
 >!

Thanks for the reply.  This is a brand new garage with new fixtures.
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dhouston on August 31, 2011, 09:12:04 AM
Are these straightline fluorescents controlled by a wall switch? If so, what model?

See...

If CFLs, some of these have been known to output just enough noise to block turning them off while not enough noise to cause other problems.
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on August 31, 2011, 09:25:56 AM
Are these straightline fluorescents controlled by a wall switch? If so, what model?

See...
  • http://kbase.x10.com/wiki/Fluorescent_Lights

If CFLs, some of these have been known to output just enough noise to block turning them off while not enough noise to cause other problems.

Thanks for the reply.  These are 4 foot T8 bulbs, controlled by WS13A switches.  I thought the WS13A would allow me to operate these fixtures?
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dave w on August 31, 2011, 09:56:59 AM
But if I hit the switch for the flourescents from the house, that is all she wrote.
I think a repeater, installed at the house panel, would solve your problem. As Dave pointed out, you might be right on the cusp, where noise from the lights (probably electronic ballasts?) blocks the X10 command from the house.

The XTBIIR is the best repeater, but just to test to see if a repeater would solve your problem, you could get a 20 buck XPCR off eBay. An alternative is to add a 20amp filter on the fluorescent circuit, past the WS13 switch. But a repeater will boost your signals all through your power distribution network.
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: JeffVolp on August 31, 2011, 10:01:20 AM

New fluorescent lights probably have electronic ballasts, which can generate a LOT of noise.  The fix is to put a X10 filter in-line between the switch and the lights.  Depending on the total current drawn by the lights, you could use either the 5 amp Leviton 6287 or the 20 amp X10 XPF.  Note that the XPF is quite large, and requires a triple-gang electrical box.  The 6287 can usually fit behind the switch in a deep electrical box or in the junction box for the first light in the string.

Jeff
Title: Re: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dhouston on August 31, 2011, 10:13:35 AM
I borrowed an appliance module and a mini plugin remote from a friend and had no problems getting the remote to control the light in the garage while in the house.

I'm not familiar with the terminology plugin remote. Can you provide the model number? Did it turn the lights on and off from the house?
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: dave w on August 31, 2011, 10:21:51 AM
Probably the X10 "Mini Controller".

 http://www.x10.com/automation/x10_mc460.htm
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: whitenack on August 31, 2011, 02:14:53 PM

New fluorescent lights probably have electronic ballasts, which can generate a LOT of noise.  The fix is to put a X10 filter in-line between the switch and the lights.  Depending on the total current drawn by the lights, you could use either the 5 amp Leviton 6287 or the 20 amp X10 XPF.  Note that the XPF is quite large, and requires a triple-gang electrical box.  The 6287 can usually fit behind the switch in a deep electrical box or in the junction box for the first light in the string.

Jeff

Thanks a lot Jeff.  I have two separate lines I'd need to filter.  One runs to two fixtures, both with 4 32 watt bulbs each (256 total watts), and the other runs to 5 fixtures, all with 4 32 watt bulbs each (640 total watts).  Did I see somewhere that I needed to figure amps by watts/120 volts?  If that is the case, I believe I need the XPF because I'm over 5 amps on the 5 fixture line.  And all I have to do is splice the filter into the line somewhere between the fixture(s) and the switch?
Title: Re: UPDATE: Bridge across a separate electrical service?
Post by: JeffVolp on August 31, 2011, 06:32:31 PM
I have two separate lines I'd need to filter.  One runs to two fixtures, both with 4 32 watt bulbs each (256 total watts), and the other runs to 5 fixtures, all with 4 32 watt bulbs each (640 total watts).  Did I see somewhere that I needed to figure amps by watts/120 volts?  If that is the case, I believe I need the XPF because I'm over 5 amps on the 5 fixture line.  And all I have to do is splice the filter into the line somewhere between the fixture(s) and the switch?

Yes that is correct.  The big XPF is usually cheaper than the Leviton 6287.

Jeff