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Author Topic: Light switches with a split outlet  (Read 23205 times)

chewie8han

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Light switches with a split outlet
« on: August 01, 2007, 03:25:44 PM »

I recently purchased a couple of the X10 Pro switches, XPD3-IW and XPSS-IW for both single and 3-way use.  I have been able to wire a standard overhead light with both the 3 way and the single switch wiring.  However, I was wondering if it is possible to use these switches for outlets that have 1 outlet controlled by the switch (for incandescent lamps) and one outlet that is always on.  Will this scenario blow the switch, or is it able to handle the always on outlet?  If it can not, which switch (decorator style) would you recommend?

Also, as a side note, is it normal for these to make a buzzing sound?  Is that a bad thing?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Brian H

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 04:14:49 PM »

Most outlets have a break away tab between the top and bottom outlet on the line side. So in theory you could wire one to line all the time and the other to the load side of the switch. Leaving the neutral bar between the outlets intact.
That said. You would have to be careful to not get a load; that does not work properly with a dimmer; in the wrong outlet.

Can't say about that model switch, but I have seen some buzz. Most have a coil in them that sometimes is not wound tightly and buzzes.
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chewie8han

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2007, 04:30:27 PM »

I am not very electrically savvy (my father is, but he's not X10 savvy at all).  I currently have an outlet that the top outlet is controlled by the switch and the bottom one is always hot.  I was hoping that I could somehow use these XPD3-IW switches (and if not the XPD3-IW, which one) to continue to control the outlet the same way (one switched, one always on) but add X10 to the light that the switch is controlling.

So I don't think I should have to do anything with the outlet itself, correct?  I'm more worried about blowing the switch by plugging in anything else into the bottom (always on) outlet.

Kevin
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Walt2

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2007, 05:53:50 PM »

So I don't think I should have to do anything with the outlet itself, correct?  I'm more worried about blowing the switch by plugging in anything else into the bottom (always on) outlet.

If I am reading your description correctly, the constant-on outlet has no power routed thru the X10 switch.  Therefore, nothing that is plugged into that constant-on outlet could affect the X10 switch.

However, as already mentioned, one has to be extremely careful about what one plugs into the switched outlet since that does go thru the X10 switch.  While you might, today, only plan on plugging in an incandescent bulb, there is no protection at all if you, or anyone else (spouse, guest, etc), ever plugs something else in.  Even an innocent change from an incandescent bulb to a compact fluorescent might cause major damage to the X10 switch.
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chewie8han

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2007, 08:32:45 PM »

Walt,
So if I'm reading your response correctly, I should be more worried about someone mistakenly plugging something into the X10 controlled outlet than anything plugged into the always on outlet.  I wasn't sure because I think that the always on outlet does pass through the switch (any electrician might correct me).

Has anyone used these switches before?

Kevin
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-Bill- (of wgjohns.com)

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2007, 10:00:23 PM »

Walt,
So if I'm reading your response correctly, I should be more worried about someone mistakenly plugging something into the X10 controlled outlet than anything plugged into the always on outlet.  I wasn't sure because I think that the always on outlet does pass through the switch (any electrician might correct me).

Has anyone used these switches before?

Kevin

If current to the always on half of the outlet passed through the switch, it would be controlled by the switch and would not be "always on".   ;)

That said, using a dimming X10 switch to control the other half of the outlet could be BAD for a number of reasons.  For instance what happens if someone plugs a vaccuum cleaner into the switch controlled outlet?  If the switch is in "full on" mode (i.e. not dimmed) it still might be blown by the high current required by the vaccuum cleaner.  Almost any other appliance or AC (wall wart) adapter, etc. would not like it if the wall switch was "dimming".   :o

Please explain a little more about how you would like this setup to work:   ???
  • Do you want to continue to be able to use the switch to control the lamp?
  • Do you want dimming control of the llamp?
  • Do you want X10 remote control of the lamp?
  • Any other expectations?

We'll sort it out!   ;D
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Oldtimer

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2007, 10:56:10 PM »


For instance what happens if someone plugs a vacuum cleaner into the switch controlled outlet?  If the switch is in "full on" mode (i.e. not dimmed) it still might be blown by the high current required by the vacuum cleaner.  Almost any other appliance or AC (wall wart) adapter, etc. would not like it if the wall switch was "dimming".   :o


There are several outlets in our house where this is a problem.  My wife knows to be careful but other family members who only visit on occasion aren't.  What I did was to get a package of molded plastic dummy "kid protection" plugs and put them into the half of the outlets controlled by the X10 switches.  So far this has successfully kept vacuum cleaners, irons, etc. from being plugged into them and burning out the X10 switch.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2007, 12:31:57 AM »

The electrical code does not allow using dimmer switches to control receptacles due to the obvious safety issue:

404.14(E) Dimmer Switches. General use dimmer switches shall be used only to control permanently installed incandescent luminaries (lighting fixtures) unless listed for the control of other loads and installed accordingly.

Jeff
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chewie8han

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2007, 08:21:51 AM »

The electrical code does not allow using dimmer switches to control receptacles due to the obvious safety issue:

Jeff, is this true for everywhere or just your location?



Please explain a little more about how you would like this setup to work:   ???
  • Do you want to continue to be able to use the switch to control the lamp?
  • Do you want dimming control of the llamp?
  • Do you want X10 remote control of the lamp?
  • Any other expectations?

We'll sort it out!   ;D

Bill,
I have a switch that controls the top outlet of a receptacle that always has an incandescent lamp plugged into it.  I would like to continue to use the switch to control the lamp. I would like to have dimmer control of it, because it is in the entertainment room.  I would also like to control it with X10 remotes and use it with macros.  It is controlled by a single switch (it is not a 3-way).  The items that I currently have that can be used (I'm willing to buy other ones as long as they're reasonably priced) are: XPD3-IW, XPSS-IW, LM465(lamp module), LM15A(socket rocket), AM466(3 pin appliance), AM486(2-pin appliance), and a PLM01(Pro Lamp module).

I think I might be able to just use a standard lamp module, but I was trying to streamline this into the switch.  Plus the lamp modules block off the lower outlet.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Walt2

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2007, 08:45:44 AM »

Borrowing from what I just learned myself from another thread, how about replacing the wall switch with a single decora style controller, HCC10-1TW ? ? ?  That would give you local switch-like control of an X10 module.

I would wire the outlet so that both top and bottom are always 'on'.  This would be code compliant, and have no worries about anyone ever plugging in something they shouldn't.

Then use a lamp module, plugged into the bottom outlet, to control your lamp.  I would suggest either a LM14A or a new LM465, to get that "nice" soft-start feature. 

The HCC10-1TW could then turn the lamp module 'on' or 'off' locally, plus you would still have full remote X10 control over it.

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chewie8han

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2007, 09:49:56 AM »

Wow $80 for a wall switch?  I definitely can't justify that.  Plus I'd have to use a Lamp module in addition?  Also, how does that switch work if it's not controlling the outlet at all (you said they'd be always on).  What is the switch wired to if it's not wired to the outlet anymore?

If current to the always on half of the outlet passed through the switch, it would be controlled by the switch and would not be "always on".   ;)

Bill, This is what I would think too, but if that's the case, I don't know what the other wires to the switch would be for.  I'd have to look again tonight, but if I'm remembering properly, I have 2 red wires and 2 black wires running to the switch.  I'm positive that this switch doesn't control anything else, so what would the other 2 wires be for?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Walt2

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2007, 10:38:27 AM »

Wow $80 for a wall switch?  I definitely can't justify that.  Plus I'd have to use a Lamp module in addition?  Also, how does that switch work if it's not controlling the outlet at all (you said they'd be always on).  What is the switch wired to if it's not wired to the outlet anymore?

Well, $80 full retail.  About $30 if you shop around.  :D

Yea, it looks like a plain old decora wall switch.  However, it doesn't, itself, turn power 'on' or 'off'.  It only sends out standard X10 powerline commands.  This way, actually, it can control an X10 module located anywhere in the room (or other room for that matter).   I plan on using them, just for that.  To be able to control a lamp that is on the completely other side of the room. 

Originally, my wall switch controlled an outlet right next to the wall switch.  That is kind of like gluing one's TV remote onto the TV itself.  It isn't of much convenience.

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JeffVolp

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2007, 11:49:48 AM »

Quote
"The electrical code does not allow using dimmer switches to control receptacles due to the obvious safety issue:"

Jeff, is this true for everywhere or just your location?

That quote was from the 2002 National Electrical Code.  The NEC is pretty much the standard used by building codes throughout the country.  However, there may still be areas where there are no formal building codes.

Jeff
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KDR

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2007, 03:07:19 PM »

Quote
"The electrical code does not allow using dimmer switches to control receptacles due to the obvious safety issue:"

Jeff, is this true for everywhere or just your location?

That quote was from the 2002 National Electrical Code.  The NEC is pretty much the standard used by building codes throughout the country.  However, there may still be areas where there are no formal building codes.

Jeff

Also keep in mind that the National Electrical Code is the overall standard and many local building codes add to that or modify the standards for their locality. I once did some wiring that passed the National code but was not allowed in that municipality. I have also had to meet some local standards that didn't agree with NEC.  ???

Walt2 has a great idea to solve your problem. The switch will send out the House/Unit code that you set it to, to match any Lamp or Appliance module plugged in anywhere basically. (Baring any phase problems) This way if you want 2 lights to come on all you have to do is set 2 lamp modules to the same House/Unit codes.
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chewie8han

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Re: Light switches with a split outlet
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2007, 03:18:53 PM »

Walt,
How would I have to rewire everything to get this working?  Would I be able to use existing wiring (my hope) or would I have to rewire everything? 


Bill,
Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks,
Kevin
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