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Author Topic: X10 Modules and surge protection  (Read 10438 times)

LittleLarry

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X10 Modules and surge protection
« on: August 27, 2008, 10:05:33 PM »

 I was just wondering if the x10 modules have any sort of surge protection built in or not?

I currently have a nice expensive light and would hate to lose it due to an electrical storm. Currently its on a decent surge protector, but if I plug it into the x10 module instead, I don't think it will be as protected, and it would look totally stupid if I plugged the x10 module into the surge protector, and I don't even know if surge protectors are designed to protect x10 modules or not. Even if they could, it would just look bad and very unprofessional. Any thoughts?
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2008, 10:33:31 PM »

The plug-in X10 modules I am familiar with all have MOVs to protect their internal circuitry.  That will be effective for normal line transients, but a whole-house surge protector is a good idea if you are concerned about major transients.  Of course, all bets are off in event of a lightning strike.

Jeff
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LittleLarry

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2008, 10:51:16 PM »

 Yeah, I've taken a look at those whole house protectors, I think Leviton has one for around $200, that's pretty steep, plus the cost of the electrician to install it. (I'm paranoid of electrical maintenance, which is one of the reasons I have hesitated with x10 for so long), but I feel I am being sucked into home automation because it is pretty nice, all the options you can have, etc.

I mean, if all my computer equipment is hooked up to a really nice APC UPS (including the cable modem line), and then I go and hook up a CM15A up to an unprotected outlet, then I've just compromised everything it would seem.

But from what I have read, it may not make sense to plug the CM15A into the UPS because ups units are known to eat x10 signals (not to mention it would look weird and not right, (cumbersome is the word I would choose). Perhaps I could plug an x10 line filter into the UPS and then plug the CM15A into the filter? That seems cumbersome, or hodge podge though.

hmm. Kinda curious as to what most pc techs think about this scenario. I try to keep everything hooked up to the network on a ups but with x10, it seems that is not always possible or perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps the Leviton protector is what I really will need to get if I want to purchase the CM15A as I do not want an unprotected ac line into the network. I lost a few network units 1 year that came through the cablemodem line when lightning hit in the back yard. That was before I was running the cable line through a server grade ups.


« Last Edit: August 27, 2008, 11:21:55 PM by LittleLarry »
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Brian H

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 06:50:59 AM »

X10 filters are made to Block noise on the X10 line signals frequency; and the AC filter on the UPS Input would almost guarantee no signals get back on the  line. I have my APC BX1000 UPS. AC Line Input on a filter to stop it from absorbing X10 signals and my interface in the front mounted pass through outlet of the Smarthome Filter.

Now SOME surge strips have nothing but MOV's in them and most likely would not absorb the X10 Line Signals.
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2008, 10:48:19 AM »

I mean, if all my computer equipment is hooked up to a really nice APC UPS (including the cable modem line), and then I go and hook up a CM15A up to an unprotected outlet, then I've just compromised everything it would seem.

But from what I have read, it may not make sense to plug the CM15A into the UPS because ups units are known to eat x10 signals (not to mention it would look weird and not right, (cumbersome is the word I would choose). Perhaps I could plug an x10 line filter into the UPS and then plug the CM15A into the filter? That seems cumbersome, or hodge podge though.

With your computer behind your UPS surge protection, I think you are concerned about a surge coming in through the CM15A USB port.

The CM15A is transformer powered.  Unless a surge has tremendous energy, it won't make it through the power supply to the USB port.  Only a nearby lightning strike coming into your house through the powerline would have that kind of energy.  With all the electronics we now have in our homes, a good whole-house surge protector may be worth the investment.  However, I doubt that even the big Leviton surge protector will be enough to stop a direct lightning strike.

My APC UPS severely loaded down the X10 signal on that circuit.  It is a good idea to isolate your UPS from the powerline with a X10 filter to prevent it from loading down the X10 signal.  Be sure to choose a filter rated for the maximum current the UPS can draw from the powerline.  The CM15A must plug directly into the powerline to transmit its signals over the house wiring.

Jeff
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LittleLarry

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2008, 12:59:06 AM »


With your computer behind your UPS surge protection, I think you are concerned about a surge coming in through the CM15A USB port.

The CM15A is transformer powered.  Unless a surge has tremendous energy, it won't make it through the power supply to the USB port.  Only a nearby lightning strike coming into your house through the powerline would have that kind of energy. 


This is exactly what I am concerned about. I do not like having anything that is plugged into my home network unprotected.

Now I know they say that UPS's are supposed to be able to protect from lightning and they use that reasoning to guarantee your equipment up to $50,000, etc., but I also constantly hear the argument that lightning that close will still fry everything anyway through a top of the line APC UPS.

I guess that may be a whole other debate, I dunno. I know next to nothing about electricity except that I like to have every networking component protected by a UPS, perhaps it gives me a false sense of security, and to this day, I still wonder if I would have lost a cable modem, network switch, a few nics, and a couple other items one day from a storm while having just 1 unprotected item at the time (cable modem was plugged directly into the cable line coming into the house instead of going through the UPS's coax cable protector first). I can only wonder at this point. Now of course, I run the incoming cable line through the UPS before it goes into the cable modem.

So this CM15a being on an outlet and then going directly into the USB port is disconcerting. Sure, I could throw in a wireless USB component into the mix I suppose (and then add wireless usb functionality to my system). Maybe that would be an option, wonder if that would slow anything down or not.

I just really hate not having things go through the UPS first due to my past nearby lightning strike encounters.

Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness.

I just had to say that. It's from an old Stephen King movie, great oneliner, but also very meaningful. I try to live by it, but sometimes, it's just not possible and I go overboard. :)










« Last Edit: August 29, 2008, 01:21:14 AM by LittleLarry »
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Brian H

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2008, 06:54:22 AM »

The cable should have had a lightning arrester on it at the homes entry point. That said a real close strike may still cause a problem. Also how well the cable was grounded makes a big difference.

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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2008, 10:07:23 AM »

Now I know they say that UPS's are supposed to be able to protect from lightning and they use that reasoning to guarantee your equipment up to $50,000, etc., but I also constantly hear the argument that lightning that close will still fry everything anyway through a top of the line APC UPS.

There are really three kinds of transients.  Little ones are caused by electrical equipment, such dimmers or some switch-mode power supplies.  Other than possibly causing buzz or clicking in AM radios, they are not a problem.  We have one of those that sits squarely in the middle of the X10 transmission window. 

Larger surges are caused by a major electrical event, such as a lightning strike somewhere on the transmission line.  This is where a surge protector can really help.  The voltage spike can be high enough to exceed the rating on some semiconductor devices, causing their failure.  I remember as a kid having lightbulbs burn out during a thunderstorm on several occasions.  Those were obviously caused by this kind of line surge.

Then there is the nearby lightning strike that gets directly into your power feed.  The magnitude of the voltage and current are incredible.  Whatever path it takes, it will leave a path of destruction behind.  A Lightning arrester or whole-house surge protector will suggest a path to ground, but nothing guarantees the electrical surge will actually take that path.  The energy in a nearby lightning strike is so high that direct coupling is not necessary to cause damage.  We have some experience with that kind of event at our last house too.

Jeff
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Re: X10 Modules and surge protection
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2008, 04:52:43 PM »


There are really three kinds of transients. 


Jeff: Excellent summary of the three you mention, but I'd like to add two more to the list that are very common here in the Northeast.

The first is a load switching transient courtesy of the power company.  Usually they don't produce dangerous spikes but they do drop the line voltage to zero and back up again in a fraction of a second.  Usually you'll see non-incandescent lamps blink but the clock in your stove or microwave won't usually go to "0", but lights on X10 appliance modules may be turned on the same way they would be if you switched the load manually. we have one that did it all the time before we put in a whole house surge surpessor but now only does it rarely.

The second occurs when the power fails for an extended period of time, usually because of heavy rain, an ice storm or wet snow.  When the power comes back on it may not stay on and I've seen some wierd switching transients in conjunction with it.  We keep a list of breakers in our breaker box with instructions to the family to turn them off when the power fails and to not turn them back on until the power has been on for a few minutes to prevent any damage.  In our case the list includes the refrigerator, the oil burner and the hot tub.  Include anything in the house that might be damaged by being turned on and off quickly 2 or 3 times in a row.

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