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🔌General Home Automation => Automating Your House => Topic started by: lviper on January 28, 2015, 11:37:34 AM

Title: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: lviper on January 28, 2015, 11:37:34 AM
Does anyone know if it would be safe t install an inline XPFM outdoors? It would be placed inside of a weather proof electrical box running a couple of flood lights. I was hoping to utilize an existing run that feeds an outdoor ceiling fan. Thought I could just branch off from there. Otherwise I will run a new feed directly to my panel.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: bkenobi on January 28, 2015, 01:10:55 PM
If the box is actually sealed, then it would be no more dangerous than actually having the wire run outside.  You can directly bury power wire if it's rated for it, but if it's in a water tight conduit then I believe you can use standard Romex (I'm not an electrician, so don't quote me on that).  I've installed indoor electronics in sealed outdoor boxes in the past and didn't have issues.  But, my installations were on walls or under cover as well so I don't know how "weatherproof" a buried box would be.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: lviper on January 28, 2015, 03:03:25 PM
If the box is actually sealed, then it would be no more dangerous than actually having the wire run outside.  You can directly bury power wire if it's rated for it, but if it's in a water tight conduit then I believe you can use standard Romex (I'm not an electrician, so don't quote me on that).  I've installed indoor electronics in sealed outdoor boxes in the past and didn't have issues.  But, my installations were on walls or under cover as well so I don't know how "weatherproof" a buried box would be.

I don't plan to bury any wire or boxes. I plan to branch off of an existing outdoor junction box that feeds a ceiling fan under my patio cover. From that box I will use conduit to another junction box that will feed two flood lights. I'm wanting to know if the XPFM can hold up to the outdoor temps if I place it in the weather proof junction box. All the specs on the unit say is the maximum operating temp of 140 degrees. It doesn't say how cold it can get and still work.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: bkenobi on January 28, 2015, 04:55:56 PM
I have an XPFM in an unheated attic.  I don't know how cold it gets, but the outside air temperature in my area gets down to 10-20F minimum (generally not colder than ~25F for very long though).  I've never seen an issue, but I have not done extensive testing.  People in other climates might have better input.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: lviper on January 28, 2015, 05:13:25 PM
I have an XPFM in an unheated attic.  I don't know how cold it gets, but the outside air temperature in my area gets down to 10-20F minimum (generally not colder than ~25F for very long though).  I've never seen an issue, but I have not done extensive testing.  People in other climates might have better input.

Thanks for the input. I'll give it a try. What's the worse that can happen? It gets too cold and it stops working? Maybe when it warms up I'll make a new run to the panel and move it inside.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: dave w on January 28, 2015, 08:50:08 PM
FWIW
Internally the XPFM is same as an Appliance Module and I have appliance module outside controlling Malibu transformer. Last winter temp lows was colder than minus 10 degrees for several nights and Malibus turned On and OFF without problem.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: beelocks on January 28, 2015, 09:36:16 PM
I also used to use appliance modules in a small unheated hut (read dog kennel) that ran my year round Christmas lights.
I got about 3 years out of the last one before the ratchet thingie broke - running high 90s in the summer and lows of around 0 in the winter - final breakdown was during an on cycle around -5 air temperature when the hut was below about 3 feet of snow.
Not exactly weatherproofed, more like weather protected - on twice a day and off twice a day so I would guess a life of about 2,000 cycles.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: JeffVolp on January 29, 2015, 01:24:02 AM
I installed the Leviton version of the XPFM in the transformer enclosure for our landscape lights almost a decade ago, and it has continued to work just fine.

Jeff
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: lviper on January 29, 2015, 08:49:49 AM
Thanks everyone. Less wiring = less time and money. Gotta love that. Time to get some more flood lights up.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: bkenobi on January 29, 2015, 10:31:26 AM
I actually was incorrect.  I HAD an XPFM installed, but it failed within a week (obviously some form of defect).  I replaced it with a XPDF since all other lights were dimming in the back yard anyway.  My XPDF is used for back yard lighting of the dog kennel.  It turns on automatically at dusk and off at 1030 automatically, but is cycled probably 4-5 times between them (depending on how much water the dogs drink).  It's been installed for 4 years without issue.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: joe s. on January 29, 2015, 12:19:52 PM
If it is the same as Appliance modules, I have climate info for ya!  I have used one on an outdoor CANADIAN auto block heater for about 3 years.  And two others running Xmas lights for better than 5 years (shorter service period obviously).

The block heater one was manual (palmpad) on/off until this year when its finally been programmed based on temperature.  None have failed - lowest temps have reached -30F for a few days or so at a time.  The block heater one sits outdoors (under eaves but not weatherproofed) pretty much from Nov thru Feb.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: toasterking on February 02, 2015, 08:37:54 PM
I have an XPFM in an unheated attic.  I don't know how cold it gets, but the outside air temperature in my area gets down to 10-20F minimum (generally not colder than ~25F for very long though).  I've never seen an issue, but I have not done extensive testing.  People in other climates might have better input.

I have about the same winter temperatures as bkenobi and I have 12 XPFM modules in my attic, also unheated.  They only switch once every few days, but they've been up there for about 3 years.  So far, only one has failed, and it was in the middle of summer.  The ratchet switch failed.  I'd send an ON command and get 2 fast clicks and no AC output.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: bkenobi on February 02, 2015, 09:02:12 PM
I have 2 WS13A modules in the attic also that I just remembered about.  They switch on/off my attic fans when an Arduino commands them (temperature/humidity controlled).  They have been working fine for the last year+ but only work in summer for the most part.  No issues yet.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: dave w on February 03, 2015, 08:28:15 PM
So far, only one has failed, and it was in the middle of summer.  The ratchet switch failed.  I'd send an ON command and get 2 fast clicks and no AC output.
If you still have the AM try cleaning/burnishing the switch contacts. If the AM controller chip does not see the change of state of thr relay contacts on the first solenoid firing, it will fire the solenoid  two more times (usually) to get the cam to open or close the contacts. I have to clean the contacts on a couple of appliance modules powering drape motors. The motors are AC motors driving a gear train, so the contacts get gunged up quickly from the starting current.  FWIW
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: toasterking on February 04, 2015, 08:16:29 AM
If you still have the AM try cleaning/burnishing the switch contacts.

I'm pretty sure that I discarded that one long ago, but thanks for the tip, dave w.  I will try that next time.

I replaced a pair of XPFMs, including the defective one, with a dual load appliance module like the one I mentioned here [http://forums.x10.com/index.php?topic=28949.msg162131#msg162131 (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?topic=28949.msg162131#msg162131)] about a year ago, and so far I've had no problems out of that one.  So I should also correct myself and say that I now have only 10 XPFMs in the attic.
Title: Re: XPFM outside in weather proof box
Post by: toasterking on February 04, 2015, 08:24:20 AM
Also, these XPFMs (and the dual load appliance module) are only driving relays with 110V coils, so the load is very light; probably less than 100 mA.  I don't expect that it's enough load to damage the contacts (unless possibly the back EMF from the coil is doing it) and I expect that this would be enough wetting current to keep the contacts clean.

BTW, if anyone is curious, these control the speed of ceiling fans.  The appliance modules control relays which switch run capacitors in/out of the circuit to vary the motor speed -- 2 appliance modules with 2 states each for a total of 4 states (low, medium, high, off) -- and this design has been working great for years.  Smartlabs has since come out with the FanLinc, but IIRC, X10 users only get on/off and no speed control.