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Author Topic: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.  (Read 11812 times)

ed3120

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I have a specific X10 project that I would like to start, but I just realized that I'm a bit confused as to which X10 products I would need to pull it off.  If anyone could read my explanation below and let me know what you think, I would really appreciate it.

I recently installed a pair of 3-way switches in my house to control some outlets, which worked out well, although it works differently than I originally thought.  I thought that the switches (WS12A and WS14A) were transmitters and that I would just set them to the same code as a couple of light modules (receivers) and it would be a basic transmitter controlling a receiver.  My logic was wrong.  Now I know, that those switches are technically X10 receivers, and that pushing the switch just controls whatever load is hooked up to it.  That project is done, but my next project will be a bit different.

The previous situation is fine when the switch and the object you want to control are connected, but that is not the case on my next project.  I have a ceiling fan that I would like to control.  My intent is to install a wall switch to control it, but I will not be able to run a direct line from the switch to the fan.  Instead, I would like the ceiling fan to be connected to an "in the wall" appliance module.  I would like to control that appliance module with a decora style wall switch that actually acts as an X10 transmitter. 

I know that I can use my IR543 Mini Controller (transmitter) to control and appliance or light locate in another room by sending signals to an appliance or light module (receiver).  That is exactly what I'm looking to do here, but I want a decora style wall switch to be the transmitter and some sort of box that I would wire into the ceiling (between the power source and the ceiling fan) to act as the receiver.

Can anyone please make a recommendation on the wall switch and the receiver module?  Thanks.
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dave w

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2007, 12:20:28 PM »

Leviton Wall-Mounted X10 Transmitter Base 16400
This transmitter needs a neutral line. There are other switches that send ON and OFF commands when they are toggled,  and look a little more "Decora" like. They also will need a nuetral line. "Surf" the X10 area of Smarthome.com you will find a bunch.

HomePro Fixture Relay Module 20A W. AGC
Leviton Fixture Relay 15A Resistive Or Inductive Load
etc. etc.


[TTA Edit: Added descriptions to LINKs.]
« Last Edit: March 19, 2007, 06:38:54 PM by TakeTheActive »
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ed3120

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2007, 04:48:47 PM »

Yeah, those wired in receivers are exactly what I am looking for.

As for the transmitter, I guess I buy the base and then I buy whatever face plate I want depending on what I want to use it for?

And by neutral wire, I assume you just mean a third ground wire, correct?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 05:06:44 PM by ed3120 »
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Brian H

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2007, 06:20:31 PM »

No the safety ground does not count.
You would need a Line and Neutral wiire for a separate transmitter mounted in a wall box alone.
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ed3120

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2007, 09:31:54 AM »

The wire I have has two wires + a ground.  So you are saying I need 3 wires, plus a ground?  Like in 14-3 Romex for a 3-way switch?
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TakeTheActive

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2007, 02:09:27 PM »

The wire I have has two wires + a ground.  So you are saying I need 3 wires, plus a ground?  Like in 14-3 Romex for a 3-way switch?

Sometimes, IMHO, folks that know thus stuff inside-and-out can communicate with others that also know it inside-and-out, but not with Newbies. Newbies, IMO, need a little more 'background' information to avoid becoming confused.

No. You do not need 14-3 Romex. But you need THREE 'FUNCTIONS' (for lack of a better term at the moment):

  • HOT: Usually black
  • NEUTRAL: Usually white
  • GROUND: Usually green

Sometimes, existing wall switches have THREE wires (black, white, green), but the black is the HOT from the fixture box in the ceiling and the white is the SWITCHED HOT returning to the fixture box in the ceiling, leaving you with no NEUTRAL for the X10 switches that need it. (The green is still GROUND.)

You need to test / trace the wires you have to see what 'FUNCTIONS' you have:

  • Black-to-Green: 120VAC -> HOT & GROUND
  • Black-to-White: 120VAC -> HOT & NEUTRAL
  • Black-to-White: 0VAC -> HOT & NOTHING

Home Depot, Lowes, Electrical Supply stores sell an Outlet Tester that makes this relationship clearer. It has THREE Neon lamps and the combination of results is explained in a table printed right on the Tester. Won't work with bare wires in a wall switch, but helps to solidify the theory in your brain.

Does that help?

Update: I just found my Outlet Tester, so I thought I'd 'try' to enter a table of the tested conditions to give you an idea:

|.... Lamp 1 ....|.... Lamp 2 ....|.... Lamp 3 ....|.... Meaning ....|
X
X
O
HOT/NEU REV
O
O
O
OPEN HOT
O
O
X
OPEN NEU
X
O
X
HOT/GRD REV
O
X
O
OPEN GRD
O
X
X
OK
« Last Edit: March 21, 2007, 08:23:17 PM by TakeTheActive »
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ed3120

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2007, 03:12:01 PM »

Yes that helps, but I am unfortunately still a bit confused.

My house wiring in that area consists of a black, a white, and a bare copper wire.  The bare copper is obviously the ground...so does that mean I definitely don't have a neutral, or should I still test my black and white wires?
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TakeTheActive

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2007, 03:54:58 PM »


...The bare copper is obviously the ground...so does that mean I definitely don't have a neutral, or should I still test my black and white wires?

How can I (or anyone else) answer that without going to your location with a voltmeter or test lamp? ??? ::) ;)

When folks (Newbies) ask these types of follow-up questions, I personally question whether or not they should even be touching their electrical wiring (no offense intended - SAFETY is the major concern).

Spend a little time reading about National Electrical Code (US) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and get yourself some foundation / fundamentals under your belt...
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KDR

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2007, 08:55:41 PM »

I have a ceiling fan that I would like to control.  My intent is to install a wall switch to control it, but I will not be able to run a direct line from the switch to the fan. 

ed3120: How is the fan controlled now? A pull chain on the fan? Any switches on any walls anywhere else in the house that controls it? The reason I ask is if there is no other control anywhere in the house for the fan except for a switch on the fan and the only wires going to the workbox that the fan is mounted in is 1 romex cable and nothing else then the cable is a feed line which means the black is hot, the white is neutral and the bare is ground. As TTA indicated you can test this with a neon test light. Black to white will be 120VAC, Black to bare copper (ground) will be 120VAC and white to bare copper (Ground) will be Zero.

Another good tip by TTA was the link to NEC. It will tell you how to do things right and safe but keep in mind that local codes can and do many times over ride national code. If someone in the past wired up something and did it wrong then sorting things out can become a real project sometimes.

In the case of wall switches if there is only one romex cable going to the box and the black wire is on one terminal and the white is on the other terminal then the feed line is going to be at the device the switch controls. As to what side of the load is being switched would be determined by how its wired in the workbox the load is connected to. In todays wiring its not common practice to wire a switch this way but it could be acceptable if the white wire is properly marked to indicate it is not a neutral anymore. (Don't always assume white is neutral)

Feel free to ask more questions if you don't understand something or are unsure or confused. You may need to have an electrician check it out.

----------------KDR
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glt

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2007, 09:04:09 AM »

The wire I have has two wires + a ground.  So you are saying I need 3 wires, plus a ground?  Like in 14-3 Romex for a 3-way switch?

Sometimes, IMHO, folks that know thus stuff inside-and-out can communicate with others that also know it inside-and-out, but not with Newbies. Newbies, IMO, need a little more 'background' information to avoid becoming confused.

No. You do not need 14-3 Romex. But you need THREE 'FUNCTIONS' (for lack of a better term at the moment):

  • HOT: Usually black
  • NEUTRAL: Usually white
  • GROUND: Usually green

Sometimes, existing wall switches have THREE wires (black, white, green), but the black is the HOT from the fixture box in the ceiling and the white is the SWITCHED HOT returning to the fixture box in the ceiling, leaving you with no NEUTRAL for the X10 switches that need it. (The green is still GROUND.)

You need to test / trace the wires you have to see what 'FUNCTIONS' you have:

  • Black-to-Green: 120VAC -> HOT & GROUND
  • Black-to-White: 120VAC -> HOT & NEUTRAL
  • Black-to-White: 0VAC -> HOT & NOTHING

Home Depot, Lowes, Electrical Supply stores sell an Outlet Tester that makes this relationship clearer. It has THREE Neon lamps and the combination of results is explained in a table printed right on the Tester. Won't work with bare wires in a wall switch, but helps to solidify the theory in your brain.

Does that help?

Update: I just found my Outlet Tester, so I thought I'd 'try' to enter a table of the tested conditions to give you an idea:

|.... Lamp 1 ....|.... Lamp 2 ....|.... Lamp 3 ....|.... Meaning ....|
X
X
O
HOT/NEU REV
O
O
O
OPEN HOT
O
O
X
OPEN NEU
X
O
X
HOT/GRD REV
O
X
O
OPEN GRD
O
X
X
OK

Wow , a great post. Earned a "helpful" from me (NOW almost up to 100 helpfuls.) Although I've dealt with neutrals for years, that really laid it out clearly for us non techs. (I use a volt/ohm meter and then GUESS what it means). Good job. (And with a minimum of fonts/colors) Feel free to move this post to an appropriate forum.

GLT

GLT
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Brian H

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Re: Controlling a Fan from a X10 transmitter switch on separate circuit.
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2007, 04:41:35 PM »

TTA; Good information and links. I bumped you to 100 helpful.
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