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Author Topic: 5 out of 9 modules failed  (Read 47139 times)

Saber Dog

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2007, 09:29:40 AM »

This weekend I went to install a new three way switch only to realize that it was a two way. I got out an old X10 two way switch I had removed (probably from the same location) 15 years or so ago (I substituted a stand alone switch with it's own timer that was easier for Mom to program - it repeated what you did). It worked fine! All those years in a drawer on the screened porch and it worked fine.

I have a question though. I put in a brand new three way in another location. It controls a table lamp, an exterior light with a full size bulb, and two small exterior built in lights. It works fine, but after being on for a few minutes there is a slight buzz similar to some florescents. Is that normal?
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Boiler

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2007, 10:41:07 AM »

Saber Dog,

This is probably due to the Triac output "chopping" the 60 Hz sine wave.  I could hear some of my incandescents "sing" softly when they were dimmed.  I solved this problem by growing older (can't hear as well).

Try increasing the output to "full level".  If the noise goes away I'd say it's the dimming function of the Triac and completely normal.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2007, 02:04:57 PM by Boiler »
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JeffVolp

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2007, 10:52:52 AM »

Most incandescent lamp filaments are actually a flimsily supported tiny coil of wire.  The rapid current risetime when the dimmer triac switches on induces a magnetic force in those coils.  Depending on the filament geometry and supporting structure, some lamps will buzz in response to the chopped waveform.  It has been reported that the heavy service bulbs which have a better supported filament are less prone to produce the noise.

Jeff
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Boiler

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2007, 02:48:39 PM »

Most incandescent lamp filaments are actually a flimsily supported tiny coil of wire.  The rapid current risetime when the dimmer triac switches on induces a magnetic force in those coils.  Depending on the filament geometry and supporting structure, some lamps will buzz in response to the chopped waveform.  It has been reported that the heavy service bulbs which have a better supported filament are less prone to produce the noise.

Now that's a great explanation.  I'd never thought to apply Maxwell's equations to a "singing" incandescent bulb.

The next question might be, are we wearing out incandescent bulbs by dimming them and inducing a resonance in the filament?  Not that this is not restricted to X10.  All electronic (not the old mechanical) dimmers use the same Triac output dimming technique. 

Thanks Jeff
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Saber Dog

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2007, 09:22:04 PM »

I should have been a bit more explicit. The buzz is coming from the switch not the bulbs it controls. It isn't very loud and it doesn't start immediately. It starts a minute or so after turning on the switch. I'll have to check to see if it is fully on or slightly dimmed.
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Brian H

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2007, 06:22:58 AM »

Part of the dimmers circuit has a coil in it. Sometimes the coil buzzes if it isn't wound tight enough or secured to the board.
Some lots of the Smarthome modules where known to buzz.
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LA Fred

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2007, 11:35:50 AM »

Boiler,

This has kinda gotten lost in this thread, but back to the 5 out of 9 modules that failed:

X-10 replaced the defective units.  They all worked, except two.  I later realized that the two that seemingly didn’t work were on the same circuit as a TrippLite Line Stabilizer/Conditioner LC1800.  When I unplugged the TrippLite unit, the modules worked as they were supposed to.

When I contacted TrippLite about their unit being the cause of the modules on that circuit not working, they first replied “No way” that their units could be causing the problem.

They went on to suggest that I put their isolation units on the X-10 products.  I explained that, because the X-10 units needed to talk over the line that I thought that isolation units would definitely cause them to not work.  I then asked if there was any way I could test the TrippLite unit to see if it was, in fact putting out a disturbance – something it shouldn’t do.  I also wanted to check to see if it might be fouled upon the output side.

They replied that it would take training and expensive equipment to test the unit – and what did I expect from a unit almost 12 years old, anyway.  They then offered to sell me a new unit at the discounted price of $129.60.

I had thought highly of TrippLite up until now.

I need a unit similar to the TrippLite because the power here fluctuates a lot.   Would you think that 12 years is a reasonable life expectancy for such a unit or should be looking at another brand?

Thank you,

Fred
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Brian H

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2007, 12:58:54 PM »

You may want to isolate the TrippLite with an X10 band power line filter with a sufficient rating for its AC input. They have 5; 10; 15 and 20 amp filters if memory serves me. I have a 10 Amp one on my APC BX1000 UPS.
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JeffVolp

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2007, 03:10:45 PM »

When I contacted TrippLite about their unit being the cause of the modules on that circuit not working, they first replied “No way” that their units could be causing the problem.

All UPS contain high-power switching circuits.  Many contain line filters to meet the FCC limits on conducted radiation.  Obviously, all manufacturers try to meet the requirements as economically as possible.  The result is that they usually place a capacitor directly across the power input to shunt internally generated noise to neutral.  Unfortunately, that also shunts any X10 signal appearing on that circuit to neutral.  It would cost maybe buck more to add an inductor that would isolate the unit from the powerline at higher frequencies.  Since most consumers make their decision based on lowest price, the increased cost might result in lost sales and less profit.

Since the Tripplite obviously contains a line filter, that's why they said it could not be causing problems with anyting else.  I doubt that many people who design this equipment even consider that the powerline may be used for anything other than providing raw AC power.

As others have said, a X10 filter that adds the missing inductor will fix the problem.

Jeff
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zach1234

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2007, 07:50:25 PM »

I just had that problem today. It caused by line noice. Try getting a filter. Call x10 at 18006753044 they will explan it all to you.
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Boiler

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2008, 12:41:43 PM »

X-10 replaced the defective units.  They all worked, except two.  I later realized that the two that seemingly didn’t work were on the same circuit as a TrippLite Line Stabilizer/Conditioner LC1800.  When I unplugged the TrippLite unit, the modules worked as they were supposed to.

When I contacted TrippLite about their unit being the cause of the modules on that circuit not working, they first replied “No way” that their units could be causing the problem.

They went on to suggest that I put their isolation units on the X-10 products.  I explained that, because the X-10 units needed to talk over the line that I thought that isolation units would definitely cause them to not work.  I then asked if there was any way I could test the TrippLite unit to see if it was, in fact putting out a disturbance – something it shouldn’t do.  I also wanted to check to see if it might be fouled upon the output side.

They replied that it would take training and expensive equipment to test the unit – and what did I expect from a unit almost 12 years old, anyway.  They then offered to sell me a new unit at the discounted price of $129.60.

I had thought highly of TrippLite up until now.

I need a unit similar to the TrippLite because the power here fluctuates a lot.   Would you think that 12 years is a reasonable life expectancy for such a unit or should be looking at another brand?

Fred,
I did a little research on your LC1800.  It's an interesting device.  Not a UPS at all in the conventional sense (no battery circuit).  It uses a stepped transformer to "adjust" and condition the input voltage to 120V nominal (+10/-12%) over an input voltage range of 89 to 147Vac.  As Jeff Volp indicated, I would consider this to be a heavy X10 signal load (not a noise generator). 

Although this appears to be an "old school" design, I've never used a device like this before and don't know how the input stage is configured.  In short, I don't know what it will take to isolate this unit from your X10 system.  Perhaps another forum member has direct experience with this configuration.  The unit itself is rated for 15A peak current, so you'll need a rather capable isolator.

Link: TripLite LC1800 Specs

From the few reviews that I have seen, I would say that your high opinion of this device was not misplaced (very positive reviews).  I'm not sure that I would put too much weight on your call to Tripplite.  Is sounds as if you were dealing with "non-technical" support staff.

I am a bit curious what you are protecting with this device (high end A/V system?) and what you are protecting against (brownouts or spikes?).  If you are curious how the device is performing you could try monitoring the output stage with a power meter.  I recently (~2 months ago) purchased a UPM EM100 power meter.  Nice little device.  It can log max/instantaneous  current and power and cumulative power consumption.  Unfortunately the voltage logging is instantaneous only (you would need to watch the meter during a voltage sag/surge to see if the TrippLite were operating properly).  You may want to look around the LA area for a voltage monitoring device.  I would think that devices of this type would be in demand in your area.

Bottom line here is, your LC1800 has protected your equipment for 12 years.  I wouldn't scrap the unit based on a phone call to a support person that was motivated to sell you a new unit.

Keep us posted,
Boiler
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ArtClark

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2008, 02:18:36 AM »

I don't usually comment very much any more, but I have used Many of the Tripp-Lite type units and they are actually MUCH better than a battery back-up for filtering.  (They are really known as "Line Conditioners" and are used in many forms in almost every CNC machine made.

It is VERY rare for one of these units to fail, however, I have seen their filtering level drop due to the Caps used decreasing in value over the years.  I have 5 operating in my house right now and would never even think about running ANY modern electronic equipment without one.  I actually have been using them for more than 25 years and I thank them for the fact of never having any device fail that was attached.  My average life for an old TV was 10 years and then I only replaced the set for new features.

TO get back to the reason I am commenting.  The main filtering on these units is USUALLY on the output side, NOT the input side.  With the 5 different units I have now, of which 2 are Tripp-Lite and one of those is an LC-1800, I have never lost any signal from plugging them into the wall.  Of course, no X-10 units will run on the output of one of these.  If the unit you have is sucking out the x-10 signals, then one of the X-10 filters should clear it up but you must take into account how these work.  If you were to have a low voltage input and were drawing the full output, the darn thing WILL draw a LOT more amperage to keep the output voltage constant.  I have run an air conditioner on a long extension cord with the 1800 unit at the end of the cord just before the AC and it works great, but can draw 15-18 amps on my current meter (Basic clamp-on) for a 12 amp AC load.  I never measured the start-up surge, but I'm sure that doesn't apply here anyway.  Just be sure to add around 25% to the current value you expect to draw, and be sure the filter you get is rated for that.

I wouldn't recommend ever getting rid of those Tripp-Lite units, unless they die, and I have never yet seen one give out.  OF course the best units ever are the old "SOLA" units, but they consume too much power for any homeowner to even think of using one.  Imagine proper voltage regulation with  NO electronics.  Those units used core saturation to limit the output to the desired level and dissipated the rest as heat. 

Hope I haven't bored too many with the rehashing of history, but these "Conditioners" have always been my favorite things for power line clear-up, and for a real history trivia, the resonant ones could keep cycling for long enough for old mainframes to have time for an emergency power down if main power was lost.  Try that today...
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Boiler

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2008, 07:57:22 PM »

Art,
Great to hear from you again.  And even better to hear from someone with first hand experience with the Tripp-lite. 

I was impressed with what I had read about the unit but was unsure as to the input configuration.  Excellent point regarding the increase current draw during periods of "low input voltage operation".   Out of curiosity, what is the unloaded power consumption of one of these units? 

You also reminded me about the old saturation mode "solas".  These were standard equipment in our production test stands throughout the 70's and 80's (I've been out of that field since the late 80's).  You also mentioned the power consumption - I had forgotten about that.  I can think of at least 50 of these units that are still operating in our plant (probably many more buried in floors and ceilings with no loads connected).  I may have to mention something to our facilities person...  At least they're helping to supplement the boilers this time of year (no pun intended).

Don't feel that you need to wait another 7 months to "chime in".

Boiler
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ArtClark

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Re: 5 out of 9 modules failed
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2008, 11:52:54 PM »

I'm afraid I'm not sure on the power consumption of the tripp-lite units.  They don't usually run very hot in normal (Not low voltage) mode, so I don't think they can draw too much.

As for the Sola's, forget it.  They draw a LOT of power unless the line input is below the saturation voltage.  (Around 80-85 VAC).  I have seen some versions that pull 200 watts, idle, with no load attached.  (Probably why they aren't around much anymore.)

As for chiming in, I have seen that there are so many qualified people talking (posting?) here that I try to keep up, but unless I am involved in that specific problem or area at the time, I know someone with better experience in that area will chime in with a better answer.  I know I tend to be wordy (Use too many words?) and get off topic too much for the benefit of the information, which is why people come here.  The old phrase in reverse.  If your not part of the solution, don't be part of the problem.  If I can offer an interesting tidbit, I will try, but I really try to stay in the background as much as possible.  Now that I am completely off-topic, I'll shut up and read the 8 pages of posts that I missed in the last couple weeks.  Maybe there will be something there I can offer USEFUL information to.
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