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Reviews => X10 Hardware => Home Automation Reviews => Topic started by: AzCoronaDog on June 30, 2006, 06:48:20 PM

Title: Wall Switches
Post by: AzCoronaDog on June 30, 2006, 06:48:20 PM
I've used both the WS467 toggle switches and the WS12A decora style switches.

Both types have a mushy feel, and often require more than one push to operate.  When you're used to quickly hitting a switch when coming into a room, having to stop and press it again is a major annoyance.  Also, on the decora style WS12A, always having to push the bottom of the switch is a tough habit to form.

They also both have a slight delay after pushing before the light goes on or off.  Not a big deal there, but again, not what you're used to with a conventional switch.

I had a WS467 controlling my pool light, and it was erratic at best from remote control. It worked fine when used directly, but the whole point was not to have to walk all the way to the side yard to turn the light on.  Granted, the light is 400w, and the switch is the farthest away from my transceiver, so it was pushing the limits.

I added a coupler / repeater to my system, and things got a little better for the pool light, but it was still annoyingly erratic.

After some research, I've discovered one of the main reasons the X10 switches have reliability problems is the lack of a neutral wire hookup.  This means the X10 signal must travel through the load, which in the most common case of a light bulb, presents considerable resistance.

I've switched to another brand of wall switches, that are only slightly more expensive ($20 - $25 each), but are far superior and have much greater capabilities.  I won't name the company, but I think I now have a smarter home.

I have a lot of other X10 gear, and to their credit, the X10 brand plug in modules work great.  The only failure I've ever had with one was a lamp module that I inadvertently severely overloaded with Christmas lights.  All my other lamp and appliance modules have worked flawlessly for years.


Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Charles Sullivan on September 03, 2006, 04:11:19 PM
My Reliability Report:

I have thirteen WS467 Wall Switches installed in my home.  Ten  of these are operated on a daily schedule via CM11A timers, the others only on demand via an X10 remote and transceiver.  The switches have been installed for between 7 to 9 years and in all that time I've had only one failure.  (Which is better than I can say about the mechanical light switches elswhere in the house.)

There are reports of the push-buttons on WS467 switches  wearing out or breaking, but that hasn't been a problem with my usage  - manual operation is very rare for any of them.

I also have five AM486 Appliance Modules (running landscape lighting transformers) and three LM465 Lamp Modules installed for the same period of time and operated daily, and have had no failures with these.  The one plug-in module failure I experienced was an X10Pro PAM22 2-way Appliance Module, which died a week or so after installation.

Other failures I have experienced are one RR501 Transceiver,  one TM751 transceiver,  one IBM-branded MiniController, and one CP290 (which remained plugged in but mostly unused after its timing function was replaced with the CM11A).


Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Brian H on September 04, 2006, 08:30:48 AM
You may also have been pushing the wattage limit with a 400 watt load on X10 switches.
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Charles Sullivan on September 04, 2006, 10:06:08 AM
You may also have been pushing the wattage limit with a 400 watt load on X10 switches.

How so?  The WS467 Wall Switches are rated for 500 Watts.  Running at 80% of rating seems relatively conservative.

Granted, the switch will run cooler with a smaller load and probably have a lower failure rate as a result (as with any electronic device), but that wasn't the OP's concern.

Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: rhea on November 13, 2006, 01:26:39 PM
What is the difference ---not design wise, but technically(electrical).. WS467 and all those Decorator Dimmer types?  I am concerned about them getting quite hot when operating..    Also, which wall switch should I use if I want it to ONLY --ON - OFF.. not dimming option.  I installed WS 467 today and  am running it on full load..(my chandelier is  5   60 Watt bulbs)   When it's heating up most..whem the lights are on Max or in an dimming option (30-50%)?  What about those Leviton Wall Swithces?   Are they performing the same way as WS467 and etc?

Thanx in advance 
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: HA Dave on November 13, 2006, 02:03:24 PM
I am concerned about them getting quite hot when operating..   

Not to say this IS the cause. But one (very dangerous) cause of any switch getting hot, is poor connection (loose wire). I would double check the wire nuts 1st.
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: rhea on November 16, 2006, 07:41:43 PM
"HUMMER " IN MY WALL JUNCTION BOX???

HI FOLKS.... New here  but with some observation on  x10.com products.. just recently wrote about  my WS467 "warming up" when operating..  just found an article about that... just "cooled me down".....

But.. again... the humming when the light is on? And particularly strong when light is on 50%....? Normal? Acceptable?

I have really good wire conection.. so what? Any ideas?
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Puck on November 16, 2006, 11:16:09 PM
Check out this thread and it's link:

WS12A Decora Dimmers buzzing (http://www.x10community.com/forums/index.php?topic=10515.0)
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: gil shultz on August 07, 2007, 08:47:06 PM
Good Evening,

I tend to disagree that the switch gets hot with loose wire nuts, that heat is remote from the switch and lowers the power in the switch, the wires that is a different point. 

I have about thirty of those switches in my home and I do not have problems with them, they are never cycled with the buttons, those are all in the basement but are controlled with the remote control stuff.  I also mounted mine in metal boxes, they will dissipate a lot more heat then a plastic one will and they have metal covers..  I had one in a plastic box and it got much hotter with a 450 watt load then it did when I put it in a metal box.  Watts is watts and watts equate to heat which has to be dissipated else it gets hotter and hotter until equilibrium point is reached.

Good Luck
Gil Shultz
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: HA Dave on August 08, 2007, 07:17:21 PM

I tend to disagree that the switch gets hot with loose wire nuts, that heat is remote from the switch and lowers the power in the switch, the wires that is a different point. 


Your right... the heat will be generated at the loose wire nut. However, copper is a pretty good conductor of heat, try heating up one end a six inch length of wire, while holding the other end.

Lowering the power to the switch? I don't know? Doesn't the load actually pull?
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Walt2 on August 09, 2007, 07:26:48 AM

Both types have a mushy feel, and often require more than one push to operate. 


From my experience, that comes from "switch abuse" (pipe organ plays ominous bass cord here). 

If one always just lightly taps the button/rocker, one will always need to just lightly tap the button/rocker for the switch to operate.

If one likes to, even occasionally, smash the button/rocker, one will bend the little metal plate inside the switch, and from then on, the switch will have that mushy feel that often requires more than one smash to operate.
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: JeffVolp on August 09, 2007, 12:09:03 PM
Heat is generated by voltage drop in the triac.  A triac drops approximately 1 volt when conducting.  That will result in almost 1 watt of dissipation per 100 watts of load.  Most electrical boxes today are plastic, and do not radiate heat very well.  All that heat must come out through the faceplate.  Metal switchplates will help the dissipation somewhat.

Think about how hot a 4 watt nightlight would get if sealed inside a plastic box.  A dimmer switch powering a 400 watt load has to get rid of the same amount of heat.

Jeff
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Oldtimer on August 09, 2007, 04:09:55 PM
Heat is generated by voltage drop in the triac.  A triac drops approximately 1 volt when conducting.  That will result in almost 1 watt of dissipation per 100 watts of load.  Most electrical boxes today are plastic, and do not radiate heat very well.  All that heat must come out through the faceplate.  Metal switchplates will help the dissipation somewhat.

Think about how hot a 4 watt nightlight would get if sealed inside a plastic box.  A dimmer switch powering a 400 watt load has to get rid of the same amount of heat.

Jeff

Jeff: I'm confused.  I thought triacs controlled the voltage to the load by switching on and off in synch with the power line frequency but delayed in such a way that only a controlled part of the voltage rise on each cycle was allowed to pass through.  If that in fact is the case there is only the much smaller 1 W per 100 W heat to dissipate that you describe not the 400 watts you'd have to dissipate if you were using a variable resistor.
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: dave w on August 09, 2007, 04:32:13 PM
I'm out of turn here, but I believe Jeff was referring to the 4W nite light when he said a 400W dimmer would have to dissipate the same amount of heat.
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: Oldtimer on August 09, 2007, 04:40:42 PM
I'm out of turn here, but I believe Jeff was referring to the 4W nite light when he said a 400W dimmer would have to dissipate the same amount of heat.

Thanks.  Now that you've mentioned it, that is exactly how it could also be interpreted. 
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: JeffVolp on August 09, 2007, 04:44:34 PM
Quote
I thought triacs controlled the voltage to the load by switching on and off in synch with the power line frequency but delayed in such a way that only a controlled part of the voltage rise on each cycle was allowed to pass through.
A triac works exactly as you describe.  However, when it is "on" there is still a voltage drop across it, which must be dissipated as waste heat.  The amount of dissipation depends on the current supplied to the load.  (power = voltage x current)  About 1% of the energy supplied to the load must be dissipated as waste heat in the triac.  And yes, a dimmer supplying 400 watts to a load will dissipate about the same amount of heat as a 4-watt nightlight sealed inside a similar enclosure.

Jeff
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: gil shultz on September 05, 2007, 11:49:24 PM
Good Evening,

My answer stands.  Open one of the units up and see the thermal path to the face plate, there is virtually none hence once inside the module it has to radiate to the innards and face plate so it can be dissipated, not a very effective path.  If you look at connections that were loose the wire is normally not damaged much beyond a inch or two from the problem.  The amount of damage will be in direct proportion to the load, this is in series with it, not parallel across the power supply. A piece of wire the size used in the modules will have a very hard time conduction one watt from the fault area.

Have Fun
Gil
Title: Re: Wall Switches
Post by: DeltaNu1142 on February 14, 2008, 09:11:51 AM
In the spirit of the OP, I'm actually interested in responses by anyone who is using/has tried dimmer switches other than the WS12A or WS14A switches, for the same reasons in the OP--mushy feel, imprecise function, etc...  I have probably 10 - 12 of these installed.  I may or may not be "too rough" with my switches from time to time, and as any forum members in the married sector can attest, I can't control what my wife does.  So I'm looking for a more robust replacement to these dimmers...

The Smarthome SwitchLinc #2380W looks good, but I've never tried one--and they seem to be pretty pricey.  I like the "brightness LED" as a gimmick and I love the programmable soft-start which means I don't have to handle that function in ActiveHome.

Has anyone tried this, or can recommend any other switches?