X10 with ungrounded Shop Light...Bad idea?

I am trying to control an el-cheapo 2 bulb 4' florescent Shop Light with an MS16A Motion Sensor and an RR501 Transceiver.
The shop light has a 3 prong plug, but the Transceiver only has a 2 prong receptacle, so I used a 3 prong adapter to plug the shop light into the Transceiver.
What I'm finding is that (99% of the time) when the sensor sends the signal to turn off the Shop Light, it turns off and then immediately comes back on. The Transceiver goes click-off-click-on.
I'm pretty confident that it's the Shop Light that's causing the problem since I've tried it with 2 different Motion Sensors, 2 different Transceivers and 2 different circuits. I even used 2 different Transceivers on 2 different circuits, one with the Shop Light and the other with a regular incandescent table lamp. The incandescent turns off and stays off, the Shop Light comes right back on. I then swapped the incandescent and the Shop Light between the Transceivers and the problem followed the Shop Light. I've tested every possible configuration multiple times and the problem only occurs with the Shop Light.
Do you think it's the Shop Light itself that's confusing the Transceiver or the fact that it's not grounded?
Thanks!
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On 9/6/2011 17:31, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I've experienced this problem with modern fluorescent lights. My un-elegant solution was to have a plain old incandescent night light on the same load. As for grounding, in many cases it's important with shop lights. Run a jumper wire from the outlet ground to the pigtail on the adapter plug.
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On 09/06/11 8:51 PM, Bob wrote:

Thanks! I tried the incandescent lamp and it solved the problem.
re: "Run a jumper wire from the outlet ground to the pigtail on the adapter plug."
You are assuming there's an outlet ground. Bad assumption. :-(
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On 9/6/2011 9:32 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Your fluorescent shop light's starting circuit is probably getting tickled by the X10 "local ON" sensing current. Normally, if a lamp, say is off, and you want it on, you can either send the appropriate X10 command, or, using the lamp's switch, turn it off and then back on. The module will then turn on. CFLs and some fluorescent lamps will cause this problem. I had one CFL that wouldn't come on, but the lamp would flicker. Also, LED Christmas light will light dimly on the sense current. Google 'x10 local on sense current' for info on modifying appliance modules. I've disconnected the sense current on several lamp modules that I modified into click free appliance modules. No problems now with CFLs or LED Christmas lights.
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Newer appliance modules have a much lower sensing current and do not cause this problem. I just bought 10 3 prong appliance modules from Xten on Amazon for less than $9 each, shipping included. I replaced all the older modules controlling CFL's and fluorescents and voila, no more unintended "relights" or flickering CFLs. I don't know if they modified their other modules in the same way. I just know that I plugged in a "automatically relighting" fluorescent into the new modules at it stayed off. Same with CFLs that would flash when turned off remotely. No more flashing. Case closed!
Much easier and safer than modifying existing modules, at least for me - AND - you don't lose the "local sense" feature that allows you to turn on a lamp by using the switch on the lamp.
I only found out because I complained about the problem to Jeff Volp and he clued me in about the new appliance modules on the X-10 list. It's a win-win situation since you don't have to give up local sense to stop the flashing or "relighting." At under $10 a load (and with the retired "flashing" modules having use elsewhere) it was a no-brainer for me. Not sure when they changed over the design or what that translates into with the date stickers but IIRC, mine are date from earlier this year. Might even buy 10 more since someone told me X-10 is folding its tents and declaring bankruptcy and they might get hard to come by in the future. I'll look up the date stamp if anyone cares.
That reminds me. I bought a hybrid CFL/Halogen bulb to use with X-10 on circuits without neutrals at the wall switch. Unlike the regular CFL-only bulbs that flashed like disco lights the GE hybrid bulb turned on fine, but it could never be turned off remotely. Oh well.
-- Bobby G.
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On 09/07/11 9:51 AM, Robert Green wrote:

Thanks for the info on the newer appliance modules.
In my application "local sense" will never be required for this fixture.
I'm installing the shop light so that I can walk in the back-yard door of my basement and have a fixture come on. The basement lights only have a SPST switch up in the kitchen i.e. no switch in the basement. They are on an Edison circuit (shared neutral) so adding a 3-way switch would be a major pain.
By tucking the new shop light up into a joist bay, it's out of sight, out of mind, but will come on when I come in through the back door - as long as the main basement lights are off. I'll never be turning the light on or off via it's own switch.
The days of stumbling through a dark basement to pull the chain on the utility sink light or flip on the bathroom light should now be over!
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On 09/06/11 9:51 PM, Art Todesco wrote:

I looked at a bunch of sites related to modifying X10 transceivers to ignore "local on sense current" but I couldn't find any related to the RR501.
I found a few schematics for the RR501 including some that mention "mods" (jumpers to cut) but none of them specifically say "disable local on sense current".
Any idea where I can find info directly related to modifying the RR501?
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On 9/7/2011 5:04 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

transceiver, and, IIRC, there is no local on for the outlet at the bottom of the module. And, yes, I just went and verified it. The lamp wouldn't turn on by twiddling the lamp's on/off switch. You could always use a regular appliance module, modified as others have done, for the fluorescent lamp.
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On 09/07/11 7:35 PM, Art Todesco wrote:

Thing is, I have a RR501 (two, in fact) sitting around doing nothing.
I'm not looking to go out and buy an appliance module...I'm trying to use up stuff I've already paid for and have no other use for.
If I can't find the steps to modify the RR501, I'll just go with the nightlight solution, another item that I have lying around doing nothing.
Thanks anyway!
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I might try removing the 220K R44 which appears to be the sense resistor. I don't know if this would cause other problems. For all I know, it might need the feedback that the module is off or on in order to hold the relay, or something crazy like that. That said, I did a similar thing when modifying lamp modules into quiet appliance modules. But this was a lamp module, i.e. no relay. There are 2 such mods on line. One uses a solid state relay; the other uses a zero crossing detector opto isolator. Both seem to work well, but as I didn't want the sense current messing with CFLs or LED lights, I clipped one end of the resistor in the sense path and it worked. Of course, heed all the danger warnings you read about working in X10 modules.
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Thanks!
I had already found the mods that you are talking about, but since they didn't apply to the RR501, I didn't want to try them.
OK, so here's what happened last night:
As a reminder, a couple of nights ago, I ran a test with the RR501, the shop light and a lamp with an incandescent bulb. The setup was as follows:
RR501 plugged into an ungrounded receptacle, a 3-to-2 ground adapter plugged into the RR501, a 1-receptacle-to-3-receptacle 3 prong expander block plugged into the ground adapter and the 3-prong plug for the shop light and 2 prong plug for the incandescent lamp plugged into the expander block.
This set up worked fine. Both lights came on when the RR501 received the single to turn on and the shop light did not re-light after the RR501 received the single to turn off. If I removed the incandescent lamp, the shop light would relight.
Now last night, I tried this set up:
Before plugging the RR501 into the ungrounded receptacle I plugged a 1- receptacle-to-3-receptacle *2* prong expander block into the RR501. I plugged the 3-to-2 ground adapter into one of the receptacles on the block and then plugged the shop light into the adapter. Next, I plugged a switched 7W night light into another receptacle on the block, making sure the switch was set to On.
Finally, I plugged to the RR501 into the ungrounded receptacle. As soon as I plugged the RR501 in, the shop light attempted to start and the bulb in the night popped (loudly) and turned black.
I unplugged the RR501 and went upstairs to watch TV.
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wrote:

So run a wire from any screw on the florescent fixture to any metallic electrical conduit or any grounded metal electrical box or all the way to your breaker box. A ground is any metal item connected to the electrical system, not some mysterious thing only on the 3rd prong of outlets.
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On 09/07/11 1:53 AM, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

I was merely commenting on the suggestion to connect the outlet ground to the adapter, not on the "mysteries" of an electrical grounding system.
re: "A ground is any metal item connected to the electrical system..."
Really? You might want to rethink that statement.
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Ground required on flourescent lights. Read the ballast, most say bulb needs to be within 1/2" of a grounded metal fixture. It's part of the start up.
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On 09/07/11 8:30 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

I have indeed seen 4' fluorescent shop lights not start correctly when they are not grounded. (only one bulb comes on, both bulbs flicker.) In fact, I full expected that to be the case with the $10 fixture I recently purchased.
However, this one works fine on an ungrounded circuit. Starts every time at full brightness...even brighter than some of my existing fixtures.
Can't say why, but this one doesn't seem to care about not having a ground.
BTW I've proven that the lack of ground is not causing the X10 issue since the inclusion of an incandescent fixture on the same load eliminated the "relight" problem.
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