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Author Topic: Controlling LED lamps  (Read 4103 times)


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Controlling LED lamps
« on: May 05, 2019, 07:02:47 PM »

Here's an easy fix for LED lamp glow (and perhaps flicker) with X10 modules (AM466 appliance modules in particular).    Recently I replaced several outdoor halogen floodlights with LED units and was surprised to see that they remained ON (faintly but definitely) even when switched off.  I had assumed that the appliance modules, which click audibly when switched on or off and which have no dimming function, were simple relays  . . . but it turns out that, like the dimmable lamp modules, they emit a small current.  This doesn't make incandescent or halogen bulbs glow, but it does so with the efficient LED's.

X10 websites show many schemes for modifying the AM466 to defeat this; it relates to "local control" current, and it involves clipping resistor(s) and/or diodes.   Unfortunately, there are many different makes and models of the unit with different circuit board layouts, and the online plans don't distinguish among them. 

Fortunately, along the way, I saw mention of hooking a small load such as a night light in parallel with an LED lamp to draw away current and eliminate the glow.  This would of course just replace one glow with another, albeit the night lights could be tucked away in the cabinet with my X10 modules.  Then I saw mention of using a small AC adapter, e.g. a phone charger,  typically 1W or less, as the load.  One simply plugs a splitter/adapter into the X10 module and then plugs in the LED lamp and the dummy load in parallel.

I have a whole collection of AC power supplies in different sizes; I tried a couple of the 5V units, which are most plentiful, and mirabile dictu no more glow!  I ordered several inexpensive USB phone chargers, and alas these didn't solve the problem; they replaced the steady glow with an intermittent glow, flickering about 1/sec.  Perhaps these use solid state switching rather than good, old fashioned transformers . . .   In any event, I've gone back to the older power supplies, and these work very nicely.  It's a simple plug-and-play solution.

I wonder what principles are involved here, and what dummy load (resistive, inductive, etc.) would be ideal (lowest power, lowest cost)?   Would a similar approach work for dimmer modules?  I have some dimmer circuits with multiple lamps which will accept LED's as long as one halogen bulb (resistive load) remains.   In a dimmer circuit with a single lamp, I wonder what load might be plugged into a socket adapter, in parallel with the lamp?



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Re: Controlling LED lamps
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 12:06:17 AM »

I've never used an appliance module for controlling lamps.  I used the lamp modules but I assume the same kind of load would be needed. For several years I used the conventional bulb with 2 CFL yellow bug lights for the driveway circuit.

I've given up on the X10 stuff.  I'm going WiFi little by little. The 3 driveway bulbs are now WiFi bulbs (not rated for damp conditions - but I've been using them that way since last December) and the porch bulb will be the next one once i get the X10 light switch swapped out. I wish my house wiring was new enough that I could use the WiFi light switches thus I could save lots on using cheap LED bulbs.  But on the other hand I enjoy the ability to change the WiFi bulb color depending on the holiday.

Most all of my X10 appliance modules have been swapped to WiFi modules. And I have purchased a WiFi thermostat to replace my X10 thermostat that has been given me problems for 2 or 3 years.

Brian H

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Re: Controlling LED lamps
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2019, 06:18:58 AM »

33K 1 Watt resistors have been used by some here. With good results. That is about .47 watts. 1 Watt resistor has a fair safety margin.
With dimmer modules you have to take into consideration. The added load used to squelch the sensing current. Has to be OK on a dimmers modified AC waveform. Some of those small supplies with a real transformer not switching type. May burn out as time goes on. Even if you keep it at 100% On. There is still distortion of the AC waveform near the Zero Crossing of the AC. When the triac is not conducting.


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Re: Controlling LED lamps
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 09:59:53 AM »

I wish my house wiring was new enough that I could use the WiFi light switches thus I could save lots on using cheap LED bulbs. 

You could replace the X10 wall switches with simple on/off switches and leave them on or eliminate the switch altogether. Then the WiFi bulbs would be controlled directly.
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