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Author Topic: what do I need to accomplish this?  (Read 9214 times)

rootsman

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what do I need to accomplish this?
« on: July 06, 2007, 03:27:45 AM »

Hi all,

I have a walk in closet that has the light switch on the inside in a very inconvenient spot.  What I want to do is have the switch on the outside of the closet.  I have a double gang box that has a single dimming switch for the room you enter the closet from so I'd like to use the open spot there to put a basic on/off switch to control the closet lights. The closet lights are fluorescent.

What products do I need to buy to make this work. I'm a newby to x10 and suffering from a little information overload.

Thanks,
Steve
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2007, 08:19:30 AM »

Hi all,

I have a walk in closet that has the light switch on the inside in a very inconvenient spot.  What I want to do is have the switch on the outside of the closet.  I have a double gang box that has a single dimming switch for the room you enter the closet from so I'd like to use the open spot there to put a basic on/off switch to control the closet lights. The closet lights are fluorescent.

What products do I need to buy to make this work. I'm a newby to x10 and suffering from a little information overload.

Thanks,
Steve


The first thing you'll need to do is determine whether or not there are neutral wires available in the two switch boxes.  (Many older installations will have just the hot wire and the wire to the light.)

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rootsman

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2007, 11:24:46 AM »

Thanks for the reply.  By neutral do you mean the ground wire?  I have 3 wires, two hot leads plus the ground.

Steve
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KDR

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2007, 11:40:03 AM »

The neutral wire will be a white wire. The ground wire in typical home wiring is a bare copper wire and sometimes may be a green insulated wire. This bare or green insulated wire can not be used as a neutral conductor.

----------------KDR
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2007, 12:06:12 PM »

Thanks for the reply.  By neutral do you mean the ground wire?  I have 3 wires, two hot leads plus the ground.

Steve

As KDR has mentioned, the neutral will be one or more white wires, and in a switch box used only for a light switch will normally be capped off.

Presumably the two "hot" wires in your boxes are both connected to the switch.  This represents a problem with the fluorescent lights because, as far as I am aware, X10 controlled switches for fluorescent lights all require a neutral connection.  (Switches for incandescent lights are available that will work without a neutral.)

Unless someone else is aware of an X10 fluorescent light  module which will work with just the two wires you have, I'm afraid I have no solution for you other than running new wires or changing the light fixture to incandescent.

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KDR

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2007, 12:43:45 PM »

You may want to look into the XPFM "In-line Fixture Module". It is part of the X10Pro line. This would depend on whether you have enough room inside the light fixture to wire this in. It does need a neutral but there should be one up there in the fixture somewhere. It is rated at 15 amps inductive or resistive load. I have never used one before but maybe someone who has can chime in  ;D.

http://www.x10pro.com/pro/catalog/receivers.html#wire Its the third item down.

----------------KDR
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rootsman

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2007, 04:12:23 PM »

The neutral wire will be a white wire. The ground wire in typical home wiring is a bare copper wire and sometimes may be a green insulated wire. This bare or green insulated wire can not be used as a neutral conductor.

----------------KDR

Thanks for the clarification.  What I have @ the existing switches are actually white neutral wire rather than a bare or green ground wire (plus the 2 live leads).

Steve
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rootsman

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2007, 05:56:30 PM »

You may want to look into the XPFM "In-line Fixture Module". It is part of the X10Pro line. This would depend on whether you have enough room inside the light fixture to wire this in. It does need a neutral but there should be one up there in the fixture somewhere. It is rated at 15 amps inductive or resistive load. I have never used one before but maybe someone who has can chime in  ;D.

http://www.x10pro.com/pro/catalog/receivers.html#wire Its the third item down.

----------------KDR

Ok, so I think the xpfm will fit inside the switch box where the existing switch is.  Would I then use the xps3 switch @ the new switch location?  Thanks.
Steve
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KDR

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2007, 06:16:40 PM »

Quote
Thanks for the clarification.  What I have @ the existing switches are actually white neutral wire rather than a bare or green ground wire (plus the 2 live leads).

Couple of more questions then I think we can sort this out.

1 - Is the white neutral wire connected to another white wire? If not where is it attached?

2 - What other X10 hardware and/or software and/or controllers do you have?

----------------KDR


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rootsman

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2007, 07:07:13 PM »

Quote

Couple of more questions then I think we can sort this out.

1 - Is the white neutral wire connected to another white wire? If not where is it attached?

2 - What other X10 hardware and/or software and/or controllers do you have?

----------------KDR
Quote

In the new switch location where there is an existing switch for the room lights the white wires are connected only to the white wires and nothing else.  In the existing switch location in the closet the white wires are not connected to the light switch but are connected to the plug in receptacle that shares the double gang box (1 switch and 1 plug).

I have no other x10 equipment.

Thanks,
Steve
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Boiler

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2007, 12:48:51 AM »

In the new switch location where there is an existing switch for the room lights the white wires are connected only to the white wires and nothing else.  In the existing switch location in the closet the white wires are not connected to the light switch but are connected to the plug in receptacle that shares the double gang box (1 switch and 1 plug).

I have no other x10 equipment.

OK Rootsman, you've got a two receptacles with common wires (white) in both and no other X10 equipment.  I'm not sure if you're intending to "dive into Home automation" or just solve your closet switch problem. 

If you are not interested in automating your house a simple solution might be a wired in occupancy sensor in the place of your existing closet switch (this assumes that the switch location has a view of the door).  I have a number of Leviton occupancy sensors in hallways and bathrooms where I don't really want to monitor things with X10.  They have adjustable light sensitivity and "on times".

If you are set on automating other things in your house you have a number of options.  Your options will be narrowed down depending on the the following:
  • Type of switches (toggle or rocker)
  • Color of your switches (mine are almond - that severely limits my options).
  • Whether your closet lamp and your desired switch location are on the same phase.  Your breaker box is divided into two sides (or phases).  Determining whether your breakers are on a same phase can be a bit tricky without a diagram or opening the panel to see the internal routing (see attached).  Typically, the phases alternate as you go down one side of the panel.  If your breakers are not on the same phase you may need and additional coupler (these can be plug in or wire in) to allow the signals to pass across
  • Other equipment in your house (Computers, TV's, stereo equipment,  etc).  These devices will absorb X10 signals.  If you have too many you may need to add filters to the offending devices to eliminate the absorption
  • Noise generators - specifically compact fluorescent bulbs that can "obscure" X10 transmissions and make the unreliable

So, If I haven't scared you off yet, allow me to say that I have over 50 X10 devices in my house and they operate reliably.  I won't say it was easy, but if you're into automation it can certainly be done.  If you're still interested in X10 - read on

For your closet you will need an X10 "receiver" that is capable of operating the fluorescent.  Your options include:
  • The XPFM in-line module (recommend by Brian)
  • A X10 WS13a relay wall switch (in your existing box)
  • Leviton HCS10 relay wall switch (includes automatic gain control - more expensive)
  • Smarthome Switchlinc relay wall switch - I would not recommend the Switchlinc V2 relays at this time due to a unresolved switch contact issue)

Configuration 1 - Simple small, reliable (RF).
  • Slimfire RF Switch - Thin 4 contact RF switch that can be "attached" (adhesive strips on the back) where you want it
  • TM751 Transceiver - Unit will plugs into existing wall outlets.  It will receive the RF transmission from the Slimfire switch and communicate it to your closet switch

The advantages of the above are that you can place the slimfire switch wherever you need it and you can plug the TM751 Transceiver into the same power line phase as your closet switch..  This would eliminate the need for a coupler (mentioned above).  If your really lucky, you may be able to plug the TM751 into the same feed (circuit breaker) as your closet switch.  This should significantly cut down on absorption from other devices in your house. 


If you prefer a "wired in" solution in your second switch location you'll need to implement a "virtual 3-way configuration".  In order to do this the second switch needs to be X10-2way (most X10 switches are 1way or receivers).  A X10 2Way switch communicates on/off commands in response to toggles (or presses).  In your application the switch (or controller) would be wired into the hot (black) and common (white) power line leads and the controlled output would be capped.  The switch doesn't actually control a load, it just communicates over your power line (i.e. virtual).  My experience with X10 2 way switches is limited to paddle style decora switches.  If you have a toggle installation you'll need to consult the other forum members.
  • X10 - I'm not well versed on the X10 2way line (forum members?)
  • Smarthome Switchlinc V2 relay (Insteon).  This would normally be my first suggestion.  However, there have been many reports of switch contact failures that have not been resolved.  I have a number of these switches (really nice features) but until the complaints are resolved I can't recommend them
  • Smarhome Icon dimmer.  Again, nice features without the reported contact failures.  The down side is that they are dimmers.  If you simply tap them on or off they will send a X10 On/Off command.  If you press and hold them (on/off) they will send brighten/dim commands that will NOT be recognized by your closet switch
  • Smarthome KeypadLinc V2 (Insteon) - Can be configured to control 6 or 8 virtual devices (one local load - which you don't require)
  • Leviton Single address transmitter (HCC10-1TW) - Haven't personally used on of these

Let us know which direction you're heading,
The Boiler

Edited 7/8/07 to correct major screw up on the breaker panel description (and provide diagram).
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 09:48:50 AM by Boiler »
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rootsman

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2007, 11:42:44 AM »

I'm really only interested in getting the light switch for the closet in a more convenient location rather than going down the road of full home automation at this point. So I'm looking for whatever is the simplest and most reliable solution, not necessarily the cheapest.

Unfortunately the motion sensors will not work in this situation.  It's actually 2 small walk-in closets that share a single bank of overhead fluorescent lights and with a set of cabinets between them that open into the room.

The new switch location is only about 10 feet from the existing location so a basic RF device would probably work fine.  Although I am familiar with RF remote controls for entertainment systems I don't know specific products in the lighting department.

I am going to need an almond color switch to match the existing ones. The existing switch for the room lights is a Lutron decora style dimmer.  I don't mind using either decora or toggle style beside it for the closet lights.

The breakers for the existing switch and the new location (with room lights switch) are directly opposite each other in the 2 columns of the breaker panel.

Thanks for the help.

Steve
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2007, 12:37:18 PM »

Unless you want to go the whole X10 route, you might want to look at the WireMold line, sold at Home Depot and Lowe's.  You simply use the WireMold componets to move the inside hard to access switch to a convient location. WireMold uses straight AC house wiring.
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Boiler

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2007, 04:09:28 PM »

I'm really only interested in getting the light switch for the closet in a more convenient location rather than going down the road of full home automation at this point. So I'm looking for whatever is the simplest and most reliable solution, not necessarily the cheapest.

Unfortunately the motion sensors will not work in this situation.  It's actually 2 small walk-in closets that share a single bank of overhead fluorescent lights and with a set of cabinets between them that open into the room.

The new switch location is only about 10 feet from the existing location so a basic RF device would probably work fine.  Although I am familiar with RF remote controls for entertainment systems I don't know specific products in the lighting department.

I am going to need an almond color switch to match the existing ones. The existing switch for the room lights is a Lutron decora style dimmer.  I don't mind using either decora or toggle style beside it for the closet lights.

The breakers for the existing switch and the new location (with room lights switch) are directly opposite each other in the 2 columns of the breaker panel.

Thanks for the help.

Steve

Two linked closets with a set of cabinets between - oh well, so much for the easy solution.

From your description of the breakers, your closet and 2nd switch location are on opposite phases.  From your description your breakers May be on the same phases (see previous diagram). You might be able to get away without a X10 coupler wired across the phases.  To be honest, since you're only interested in this one application, it's probably not worth the risk.  You don't want to install a X10 switch and then have to troubleshoot and buy additional hardware to make this one application work.

I've been trying to come up with a RF solution to your problem.  The easiest I've come up with is the original configuration (Configuration 1 in my previous post) with a Slimfire RF switch (SS13A), Transceiver (TM751 - Receives RF from the Slimfire and communicates the information on the powerline), Relay wall switch for your closet (WS13a - will receive the power line signals from the TM751 and activate your Fluorescent).

Slimfire switch description:
http://www.x10.com/automation/x10_ss13a.htm
Unfortunately these are only available in white.  They can be "stuck" anywhere using the adhesive strips on the back.  These don't have the greatest range, but should work for your small application.  I have used these in my previous home.  I don't have them in my current home (I hung, finished, and painted the drywall in my current home - can't bring myself to stick anything on the walls).

TM751 description -
http://www.x10wirelesshome.com/modules/x10_wireless_transceiver_tm751.html
This should be install in an outlet on the same power line phase as your closet light (same side of your breaker box).  Ideally, you would install this on the same electrical line (same breaker) as your closet switch.

XPFM Inline module (per KDR's suggestion) or a WS13 relay switch (XPS3 in the X10 Pro line).
http://www.x10pro.com/pro/catalog/receivers.html#wire
Unfortunately, The WS13a is only available in white or ivory.  If you can't stand ivory in the closet, I'd suggest the Leviton HCS10 (you can purchase color change kits for these to change to almond).  Actually, the color change kit is what drove me to use the Leviton switches in my house.  I got tired of painting my X10 switches to get them to match the rest of my house.

If you're really set on a "wired in" look in your second box location, I'm out of suggestions.  I wouldn't advise X10 because of the different phases between the two locations.  I initially thought Leviton ZWave might work (RF communicating switches - expensive) but I believe you have to buy a Leviton ZWave remote in order to program these (more expensive).

Sorry, but I just don't know of any other box mountable RF solutions.

Dan Lawrence's suggestion of using WireMold might be a good (low cost) way to go. 

Corrected (7/8/07) -
« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 09:56:33 AM by Boiler »
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steven r

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Re: what do I need to accomplish this?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2007, 05:13:21 PM »

I'm really only interested in getting the light switch for the closet in a more convenient location rather than going down the road of full home automation at this point. So I'm looking for whatever is the simplest and most reliable solution, not necessarily the cheapest....
Wow, lots of great suggestions.
It's looking more and more like moving the switch would be be the best idea if possible. Is the current switch on a wall that has it's other side outside the room say near the door by any chance? If so, I'd mount a new switch and run a wire from the old switch.
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