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Author Topic: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights  (Read 6671 times)

Gilbert

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XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« on: September 14, 2007, 11:22:28 PM »

Hi Folks !

I need to control an incandescent light, but I don't need a dimming device. I want a decorator style switch to match my other switches.
Is it possible to use the XPS3 (but I have only two wires + sometimes ground = very old house) to do that task ?

If I need to control fluorescent and incandescent lights in the same circuit (first one : incandescent, second one : fluo), may I use the XPS3 also or a ws12a ? Does the incandescent wire provide a way to control them or could the fluo corrupt the signal even there is an incandescent on the same circuit ?

Thank you
Gilbert
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2007, 11:45:24 PM »

Hi Folks !

I need to control an incandescent light, but I don't need a dimming device. I want a decorator style switch to match my other switches.
Is it possible to use the XPS3 (but I have only two wires + sometimes ground = very old house) to do that task ?

If I need to control fluorescent and incandescent lights in the same circuit (first one : incandescent, second one : fluo), may I use the XPS3 also or a ws12a ? Does the incandescent wire provide a way to control them or could the fluo corrupt the signal even there is an incandescent on the same circuit ?

Thank you
Gilbert

The XPS3 (or any module for controlling fluorescents or non-incandescent loads) requires a neutral wire in the switch box. 

(Incandescent controllers like the XPD3 get the power to drive their electronic circuitry from the current through the filament, so can get away with just the two wires in older boxes.)

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Oldtimer

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2007, 08:36:14 AM »

Hi Folks !

I need to control an incandescent light, but I don't need a dimming device. I want a decorator style switch to match my other switches.
Is it possible to use the XPS3 (but I have only two wires + sometimes ground = very old house) to do that task ?

If I need to control fluorescent and incandescent lights in the same circuit (first one : incandescent, second one : fluo), may I use the XPS3 also or a ws12a ? Does the incandescent wire provide a way to control them or could the fluo corrupt the signal even there is an incandescent on the same circuit ?

Thank you
Gilbert

The XPS3 (or any module for controlling fluorescents or non-incandescent loads) requires a neutral wire in the switch box. 

(Incandescent controllers like the XPD3 get the power to drive their electronic circuitry from the current through the filament, so can get away with just the two wires in older boxes.)



For clarification I'd like to expand a little on Charles Sullivan's response to Gilbert's question.

All you need, at most, in any box to make these devices work is two wires, with one being HOT and the other NEUTRAL, which it sounds like you do have.  The lack of a ground is a potential safety issue but not a functional one, and the safety issue is no different for X10 then for any regular switch or outlet, i.e. you have nothing to connect to the ground screw on the device.  In my experience most of the times I've run into a single wire in a box (HOT only) was if the house still had some left over knob and tube circuits, or BX add ons to knob and tube circuits. If that is the case you won't be able to use X10's Decora devices since there won't be a NEUTRAL available to power them.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 08:40:35 AM by Oldtimer »
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2007, 09:29:30 AM »

For clarification I'd like to expand a little on Charles Sullivan's response to Gilbert's question.

All you need, at most, in any box to make these devices work is two wires, with one being HOT and the other NEUTRAL, which it sounds like you do have.  The lack of a ground is a potential safety issue but not a functional one, and the safety issue is no different for X10 then for any regular switch or outlet, i.e. you have nothing to connect to the ground screw on the device.  In my experience most of the times I've run into a single wire in a box (HOT only) was if the house still had some left over knob and tube circuits, or BX add ons to knob and tube circuits. If that is the case you won't be able to use X10's Decora devices since there won't be a NEUTRAL available to power them.


Oldtimer:
I believe Gilbert's description of "two wires" means the situation where the box has one wire which connects to the lamp and a second wire which is HOT.  The NEUTRAL is connected only at the lamp and not brought out to the box.  With this situation, only the 2-wire incandescent dimmer switches can be used.

When a NEUTRAL is brought out to the box it will normally be capped off since it's not needed for mechanical light switches.

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JeffVolp

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2007, 10:00:44 AM »

Quote
I believe Gilbert's description of "two wires" means the situation where the box has one wire which connects to the lamp and a second wire which is HOT.

The problem arises when the power feed is brought first into the light fixture itself.  In that case there is just a 2-wire run to the switch (plus ground in newer homes).  One lead might be either hot or neutral, depending on how the electrician spliced it in.  The other lead goes directly to the second terminal on the light.

When the power feed comes into the switch first, there is always neutral available.  I believe this configuration is now required by the code.

Jeff
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2007, 10:43:58 AM »

Quote
I believe Gilbert's description of "two wires" means the situation where the box has one wire which connects to the lamp and a second wire which is HOT.

The problem arises when the power feed is brought first into the light fixture itself.  In that case there is just a 2-wire run to the switch (plus ground in newer homes).  One lead might be either hot or neutral, depending on how the electrician spliced it in.  The other lead goes directly to the second terminal on the light.

When the power feed comes into the switch first, there is always neutral available.  I believe this configuration is now required by the code.

Jeff

What's required by today's code and what's actually installed in yesterday's house is not necessarily the same.  In any event, with only two wires in the box (disregarding a possible ground wire), the OP is limited to a 2-wire incandescent dimmer.

About a year ago I  checked with building code enforcement in two cities (Greensboro NC and Plano TX)  regarding any requirement for a neutral, i.e., 3 wires + ground, in switch boxes, and there were none.  An electrical contractor told me that it is current practice to run both hot and neutral into the box when wired from below, as in most modern multistory dwellings.  But for older ranch style dwellings where the wiring runs are overhead, it was common to drop only the hot and the lamp return to the box.

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Oldtimer

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2007, 03:34:40 PM »

Okay, let me try again.  I was counting the number of wires in the circuit running THROUGH  the box not the total number of wires coming into the box.  With with that in mind I hope it's clear to GILBERT that we're all talking about the same thing, which I think we are.
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Gilbert

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2007, 07:06:41 PM »

Thank you to all of us for your replies.

BTW, my house is an old (aka 1956) canadian house. What cables are coming from the box ?
a black one (hot), a white one and sometimes a ground...  ::)

If I want to rewire or to add new circuits, I need obligatory a ground cable. But if I keep the older ones, I can keep them as they are. I don't want to destroy the entire house for one x10 switch (because it seems that electricians in the years 50 were making their circuits straight from one point to another one, regardless of other rules...

So, I have (for older circuits) those 2 cables, that's it ! Surprisingly, my X10 system is working normally, without anything special (filters and so), but the installation is simple.

Gilbert
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2007, 08:30:38 PM »

Thank you to all of us for your replies.

BTW, my house is an old (aka 1956) canadian house. What cables are coming from the box ?
a black one (hot), a white one and sometimes a ground...  ::)

If I want to rewire or to add new circuits, I need obligatory a ground cable. But if I keep the older ones, I can keep them as they are. I don't want to destroy the entire house for one x10 switch (because it seems that electricians in the years 50 were making their circuits straight from one point to another one, regardless of other rules...

So, I have (for older circuits) those 2 cables, that's it ! Surprisingly, my X10 system is working normally, without anything special (filters and so), but the installation is simple.

Gilbert


There's another option for the fluorescent although it doesn't match your Decora scheme:  Install an XPFM inline module (http://www.x10pro.com/pro/pdf/xpfm.pdf) within the housing of your fluorescent fixture.  Remove the mechanical switch,  connect together the two wires to it, and cover the switchbox with a blank plate.  Use a TM751 Transceiver and a RF transmitter like a SS13A "Stick-A-Switch" (or one of the older two-button wall switches) to control the light.

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Gilbert

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights (strange)
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2007, 08:32:45 PM »

When watching the spfm doc (thank you), I tried the same idea with a ws13a :

I connected the hot (black) wire to the Line,
I connected both white (from the box and to the fluo lamp) to the neutral,
I connected the last (black) wire from the lamp to the load,

... and it works perfectly !
I can control the lamp manually and through AWP. How is it possible ?

Thank you
Gilbert
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights (strange)
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2007, 09:36:54 PM »

When watching the spfm doc (thank you), I tried the same idea with a ws13a :

I connected the hot (black) wire to the Line,
I connected both white (from the box and to the fluo lamp) to the neutral,
I connected the last (black) wire from the lamp to the load,

... and it works perfectly !
I can control the lamp manually and through AWP. How is it possible ?

Thank you
Gilbert

I'm afraid I don't understand your circuit.  I thought you had a switch box with two wires which were previously connected to a mechanical switch.  But now it appears from your description that you have three wires in the switch box - one wire to the line and two wires to the lamp.

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Gilbert

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2007, 10:57:47 PM »

You don't understand ? So I don't...

To make it simple :
from the main box (in the garage), I have some breaker with a black cable going to the wire, a second white one from a common metal bar on the box, and generally nothing else. The black and the white are going together, that's my wire... travelling along the house.

In my desk switch (this example), I had this in the box (where the switch is located) : one black cable coming (I suppose) from the garage, connected to one side of the switch, and going (from the other side of the switch) to the lamp.
The white cable is coming (I suppose) from the box, connected through a round plug to a white wire going to the lamp.
That's it !

I disconnected eveything and connected the ws13, like explained in my previous message.
So for me, no third cable or whatever...

BTW, If I can't explain the case (...), the system is functionning (the black box mystery), and that's ok for me  :D

Gilbert
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2007, 11:41:28 PM »

You don't understand ? So I don't...

To make it simple :
from the main box (in the garage), I have some breaker with a black cable going to the wire, a second white one from a common metal bar on the box, and generally nothing else. The black and the white are going together, that's my wire... travelling along the house.

In my desk switch (this example), I had this in the box (where the switch is located) : one black cable coming (I suppose) from the garage, connected to one side of the switch, and going (from the other side of the switch) to the lamp.
The white cable is coming (I suppose) from the box, connected through a round plug to a white wire going to the lamp.
That's it !

I disconnected eveything and connected the ws13, like explained in my previous message.
So for me, no third cable or whatever...

BTW, If I can't explain the case (...), the system is functionning (the black box mystery), and that's ok for me  :D

Gilbert


OK, now it's clear.  You have a neutral wire (the white wire) after all.   So the mystery is solved.

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Gilbert

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2007, 11:41:02 PM »

The story of XPS3/WS13A is almost finished : some switches have neutral wires, some not...

But, related to that story, I installed a WS13A and I have a new problem, never occured before : this switch has some erratic activity :

during the day, this switch randomly switch itself on. Is it noise ? But is this common noise not seen before (I have ws12a without any random activity) or is the ws13a very sensitive to this noise ?

Gilbert
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: XPS3 and non dimmed to control incandescent lights
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2007, 12:59:51 PM »

The story of XPS3/WS13A is almost finished : some switches have neutral wires, some not...

But, related to that story, I installed a WS13A and I have a new problem, never occured before : this switch has some erratic activity :

during the day, this switch randomly switch itself on. Is it noise ? But is this common noise not seen before (I have ws12a without any random activity) or is the ws13a very sensitive to this noise ?

Gilbert

There are instances where noise or voltage spikes can turn on a module.  If you're using ActiveHome Pro, start the Activity Monitor and see whether incidents of the WS13A turning on by itself are matched by entries in the Activity Monitor log.  Noise or spikes will generally not appear in the log.

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