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Author Topic: Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights  (Read 1019 times)


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Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights
« on: December 14, 2019, 12:12:36 PM »

I have purchased over 50 different types of units from X-10 (and Radio Shack before X-10) going back over 30 years.
I use the mini-timers to control Christmas lights.
We have over 12 appliance controller units connected around the windows/porch to control several different Christmas light sets.
I have checked my amperage/wattage on all of the circuits with a Kill-a-Watt tester and are well below the capacity of all of the switch units, even on our longest strings of lights on our porch.
I find that the X-10 mini-timer unit (MT13A) only turns on SOME of the appliance units, BUT if I use my mobile remote battery operated controllers (X-10 models HR12A), ALL the switch units work properly, EVERY TIME, which doesn't make sense to me, especially since the MT13A is directly connected to the house grid.
ALL of them are on the SAME identification, House Code "C" and number 6 for Christmas Lights AND they're all on the same phase of power in the house.
I've swapped switches around and find the same performance problem with different switch units on different strings of lights.
I'm wondering why the mobile pad controller seems to be working much more reliably than the plugged-in mini-timer units, and what I can do to get our lights to work reliably when we're not around and want them to work in our absence.
I have 2 different "transceiver" modules (X-10 TM751) plugged in at two different locations.
All of my devices (except maybe some recent switch units) are over 2 years old, so out of warranty, but I'm just wondering if this is a common problem with the X-10 mini-timer controller units and whether they've fixed that problem in the current model (14) of this same device.
I have two different mini-timers: one of the X-10 MT-13A units and a late-model (before they went out of business) Radio Shack model 61-2470.
Both of these controllers have worked properly in years' past for both appliance AND lamp modules, but this year they both seem to be working erratically.
ALL my lighting is on the same phase of power coming into the house, so this is NOT a phase-difference issue, and we have very stable line power coming into our home.
I actually purchased one of the X-10 phase "bridge" units some years back to address that issue, but even that expensive device didn't fix the phase issue, so I re-wired some circuits so all the Christmas light controllers would be on the same phase.
Bottom line is whether the newer model MT14A minitimer would work any better than my MT13A, and if so, why.
If anyone has any suggestions about other things to try to get my timer/controller/transceiver units to work properly together, that would be helpful.
I hesitate buying a MT14A at $50 just to see if that would have a stronger signal that might trip these appliance switches any more reliably, but if anyone knows whether it might put out a stronger signal, I might buy another one.

Thanks in advance for any help figuring out why this equipment has stopped working.

Chas Pearson


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Re: Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2019, 01:32:27 PM »

The newer mini timers do have a bit stronger signal out put.Authinx started to improve signal strength on all transmitters shortly after taking over X10WTI. However I suspect the issue is not signal strength issue but a signal sucker issue or noise take note what else is plugged in at the times your timers fail to turn on.
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Re: Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2019, 01:41:07 PM »

You may want to look at some of Jeff's great troubleshooting tutorials.

It does sound like you may have some power line signal issues. Like noise makers or signal suckers.


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Re: Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2019, 09:48:31 PM »

Try plugging the mini timer into the same outlet as one of the transceivers and see if that helps.  Things like cellphone chargers can mess up X10 signals.


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Re: Inconsistent operation of switches for Christmas Lights
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2019, 07:20:10 AM »

I suspect brobin is right. While I don't have the MT13A, my MT14A outputs 10Vpp PLC or about the same as older TM751s and RR501s.

PS: X10 PLC transmitters themselves can be signal suckers so putting both on the same circuit may attenuate the signals from both but this is likely to be minor. In a test the output of a TM751 dropped 20% when on the same powerstrip as a TW523.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 07:56:58 AM by dhouston »
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