The use of the term "controller" above means the the switch will
respond to commands on the AC line from any "controller" that issues a
command. In your case that command comes from the wireless motion
sensor you will be using. The transceiver receives the command
wirelessly and puts it onto the AC line. So, it's passing it along
and I guess you could consider the transceiver as a type of
Basicly, the transceiver unit just passes along what it receives.
But it also has an X10 outlet that responds to commands as any other
one would. The only difference is that it is hard-wired as Unit #1.
In your application you don't need the outlet so you could ignore it.
So, you just set the motion sensor, transceiver and wall switch to the
same house code. Then you set the motion sensor to any unit # and
the wall switch to the same unit #. If you select unit #1, the
outlet on the transceiver will go on and off at the same time as the
wall switch. If you select any other unit #, only the wall switch
will be activated.
You can also set the light on time, dusk to dawn, etc on the motion
sensor as well.
I don;t know of any way to make it work as a parallel type
arrangement. The only way I can see it working would be to convert it
to 2 of the X10 motion sensors, make the light so it's always on ie
disable the motion sensor on it, replace the switch with an X10 switch
and use the transceiver.
I received my X10 order yesterday and started playing around with the
devices. Pretty cool!
In a matter of minutes I was turning on lights in my living room by
walking across the back yard. Drove SWMBO nuts!
I'll be installing the switches and other items for my entry and
driveway lights this weekend.
I love new toys!
Good to hear it's working for you. The only problem I have seen is
the outdoor motion sensor needed new batteries once and then failed at
about 2 years. You could see that moisture rusted the battery
connections. But, given that they only cost $10 or so, still OK by
me. Also, only have experience with the one, other ones may last
longer. I used double sided velcro tape to mount it so it's easy to
remove to change batteries, etc.
On Sep 16, 12:02 pm, email@example.com wrote:
Yeah, the one thing I noticed about the motion sensors is the little
rubber plug over the delay setting screw.
If this were to disappear or lose its flexibilty and no longer seal
the opening, I can imagine the device failing soon after. *Maybe*
they've accounted for that but I doubt it, especially at < $10.
X10 RECEPTICLE modules don't have the current sense "feature" but for
some strange reason still have the trickle current. A CFL won't be
completely off unless you have some other load connected too.
108 days until The winter celebration (Saturday December 25, 2010
Some new points:
I just checked an X10 appliance module that plugs into the wall and
has a mechanical relay. Using a high impedance voltmeter, it showed
110V with the module off. So, Mark is correct, they do pass some
current even when off. However, the AC circuit voltage measured at
the outlet is 120, so even the high impedance meter is enough to
substantially decrease the voltage, meaning whatever current there is
when it's off, it's very small.
That X10 module is hooked up to a 100W CFL and with the module off,
the CFL does not show any light in a completely dark room. Its
I have another X10 wall switch that is the type that will work with
any load, not just resistive. It's been connected for a couple years
now to small CFLs that are at the front door. They are the candle
type, there are 4 of them and are maybe 25W light output each, meaning
it wouldn't take much to light them up. They too are totally out at
Prior to using that X10 switch with neutral, I had used a regular X10
switch. With that, I did experience the phenomenon where the CFLs
lit at a very low levels from the pass through current. I replaced it
with the X10 switch for any load and as described above, it works
From all that, I concluded that with the mechanical relay type X10s
there would be no current flowing with it off. Having tested the
plug-in one, it's clear that as Mark pointed out, there is still some
current flowing. But, from a practical standpoint it doesn't appear
to matter as both of these applications using CFLs work perfectly.
The mystery remains as to why any current is still being passed in the
modules that use a neutral. I can't conceive of why they would
design it that way. With the modules that don't have a neutral, it
makes sense. They power the X10 electronics off the current in the
circuit, making it unnecessary to have a neutral, which in turn makes
it installable anywhere whether you have a neutral or not.
The key point is that for the application Derby is looking at, if he
want to use CFL, he needs to get the wall switch that will work any
load, which is the one that also has a neutral. I have exactly what
he is trying to do working here. But the whole thing is largely a
moot point, because I don't think CFLs for an outside motion light is
But not another CFL load! I just tried running two CFLs from a splitter
plugged into an appliance module and "bang-bang" both turn themselves back
on, in serial order. The load has to be something that absorbs the trickle
current completely, and that's usually a tungsten lamp, although it can be a
non-PS power supply or other type of device.
While there are many "mods" listed for turning off local current sense, I've
found that they don't eliminate the flow of trickle current into a CFL and
thus, they still flash but at least they won't spontaneously relight. It's
such a bummer that X-10 should really come out with a CFL-friendly control
module. I am surprised they haven't, given the potential scope of the
problem with the phase out of tungsten bulbs. Hmmm. Years of Usenet have
taught me to Google before bashing.
OK - just checked with X-10's live support. They are still pushing AM466
modules which flash and relight like crazy! The actually called me on the
phone (sales, not techie) sent me three useless links, said it was "noise on
the line" (tell that to three different X-10 meters I own that say "no
noise") and were pleasant, friendly and yet totally unhelpful in solving the
flashing problem. Google seemed to intimate there was a new, CFL-friendly
module, but it had actually done the annoying trick of turning my search
words into a mis-labeling of a link to the plain old
flash-like-a-turn-signal AM466 appliance mod.
Right. The setup in my bedroom is a lamp with 100W CFL and a TV (I got a
small Visio LCD TV that is not "power amnesiac" (comes on with power))
connected to a receptacle module (SR227) which does not have "local
control" and the TV provides enough load.
I seldom find "customer service" to be helpful, but at least you got
someone you could talk to. I just had a really bad experience with a
wireless (CDMA) broadband carrier, where the person ignored 90% of what I
108 days until The winter celebration (Saturday December 25, 2010
The Green Police are making those non-amnesiac devices harder to find. My
RCA TV is one, and when you turn it back on with the IR after shutting it
down via X-10 it covers the lower half of the screen with a whiny warning
about the clock losing its settings. Hey, you're a TV, not a clock!!!!
"Flashing" is also dependent on the type of lamp. I have some GE's that
don't flash but that are X-10 signal suckers and some N:Vision (HD brand)
bulbs that flash like demented fireflies. X-10 needs to make a CFL friendly
I've found if you're even moderately knowledgeable about a product it takes
two escalations to get someone who's not reading from an IF THEN ELSE chart
and who can actually troubleshoot. X-10's tech support came in as "Unknown
name/Unknown number" on caller ID, FWIW. Once I heard her speaking I knew I
was not going to get a good answer. I hope I don't regret giving them my
And I have two settups using X10 with CFL and both work perfectly.
One uses the plug-in appliance module with a 100W CFL in a desktop
light. The other is the X10 wall switch that powers 4 small candle
type CFLs, maybe 25W each at the front door. Both go totally out when
I guess it could depend on the design of the CFLs.
Two possibilities here:
I have a whole load of the Universal
Modules, which I used in a previous
life, for Halloween animation. I
modified the UM to remove the screw
terminals and I then added a 1 foot
pigtail with a female receptacle.
Actually, it was cut off from an
extension cord, so there were 3 outlets.
The wire went into the place where the
screws were, formerly. I've read that
the contacts are rated for line voltage,
but because of the exposed screw
terminals, the unit was only rated for
low voltage. Anyway, as this is just a
plain make contact in series with the
load, it works good on the CFLs that
where blinking with the module off. I
am now presently using this on in my
living room. One sort-of problem, these
modules click REAL LOUD.
The 2nd possibility is regular
lamp/appliance module modification. I
have seen modifications that make a lamp
module into a click-free appliance
module. One uses a solid state relay.
The other uses some other parts. These
modification eliminate the sense current
completely. Google click free or quiet
I have a bunch of UM's, and they do indeed clack, but I am too much of a
pussy to pass 110VAC through a contact spec'ed for 33VAC. You're proving
that it can be done. I'm saying "Hey, X-10, why are you forcing people like
Art to do your design engineering for you?"
The SSR mode looked interesting, but I am reluctant to do much more than
snip a wire or cut a surface trace. X-10's final solution was to use a 7W
nightlight to counteract the flashback of a bulb I am using to saving
electricity. Add in the 4 watts for the X-10 module and another 4 watts for
the controller and the economics start to sour. A fully equipped X-10 house
draws considerable standby current. I remember measuring mine at close to
400 watts. In a lot of places, the flashing hardly matters and it's
actually the most efficient low leveling night lighting you can get (if
you're not epileptic). I''ve tried a lot of the mods, and while they do
eliminate the local control, they don't stop the current trickle!!!!!
The twin bulb 40W fixture in the workshop finally failed so I replaced it
with a new, high eff. unit. Now it flashes with the same intensity as
nearby lightning does. Surprisingly, you can navigate quite easily if you
move slowly. More than enough light to see a black cat sleeping on a dark
rug. Seeing a white dog is no problem. Low SAF and neighbor approval
factor, though. Went back to a manual switch (shudder) for the time being.
As for the UM, yes the click is horrible
... worse than the generic appliance
module. I'm not sure where I found it,
but, someone reported that the relay
contacts were actually rated at line
voltage. The exposed screw terminal are
what actually made them put a spec of
33VAC on the module. As you said, I'm
proof that it works but I don't have any
hard documentation showing the contact
Also, when you said your house had an
X10 standby load of 400 watts, I can't
see how. I am assuming you mean from
modules and such. Today I connected 8
generic lamp modules to a Kill-A-Watt
unit. The 8th module made the display
go from 1 watt to 2 watts.
Nope. I screwed up. I was comparing the appliance and lamp modules and
thought I had an appliance module (which can handle 15A) in my test box when
in fact, it was a lamp module which is limited to 300W. Interestingly,
there's different wattage rating for incandescent and resistive loads on
appliance modules due to the inrush current of incandescent lamps compared
to the load presented by a space heater.
Fortunately, every "X-10 Super Deal" I have ever bought into came with free
lamp modules, so it wasn't an expensive mistake, just an impressive one.
The plastic melted around the internal components and smoked quite a bit,
but did not catch fire. I was surprised that the module didn't have a fuse
in it and melted down, but at the price they charge for lamp modules, a fuse
would probably be overkill.
I recall at the time there was a lot of discussion in Comp.Home.Automation
about how dimming modules had to be "derated" if run in the same wall box
and I was curious to see just how much heat the modules generated. I can
see why X-10 (and probably the NEC) doesn't want dimming switches
controlling switched wall outlets. Too easy to do what I did by accident
with a vacuum cleaner or some other high wattage load.
Yes and no. It doesn't indicate fractional watts so you need to use the kWh
mode and measure over a long time frame. I measured several X10 modules this
way for ~100 hour periods. See...
NOTE: The readings were under no load conditions but I doubt that the
trickle current will be that significant.
In-line amperage measurements are worse than useless with non-linear loads
like these. The Kill-A-Watt takes thousands of instantaneous readings of
both voltage and curreny each second and then averages them to get a very
accurate reading. The kWh mode has 30ppm accuracy.
I've neen dealing with major health issues (and have additional surgery
scheduled). As for my measurements, I did exactly the opposite, refuting
numerous people who were claiming X10 modules used 5-10W based on ammeter
Don't waste your time - this method is, as noted above, worse than useless -
worse because it is extremely misleading.
Yes, senility strikes again. But I demand half credit - I remembered that
it happened and that you were involved and believe me, like the Langoliers,
things out beyond a certain distance are getting all dark and hazy and a
little bit scary.
I did recall the most important result of your research to me, at least
concerning the Kill-a-Watt. For low end reading to be accurate, low power
loads needed to be measured over time and there was a reason that you
couldn't just take the Kill-a-Watt's low current, instant readings as
gospel. Thanks for correcting my "holey" memory. One hole filled means
something else just leaked out, though.
The amount of trickle current - do you think it varies in some way with the
nature of the load connected to it? Does the current that causes CFL's to
flash also heat a tungsten filament slightly or does the differing nature of
the load affect how much current is passing?
I get some pretty serious flashing of two hi-eff 34W fluorescent tubes in
the workshop - enough to see by if you move very slowly (-; It would be
easy enough to first to compare an appliance module's power consumption
without such a load and then with. In about 200 hours or about 8 days from
So, 100 hours reading an appliance module, no load v. 100 hours reading
appliance module with the two bulb shoplite that flashes more brightly than
any other fluorescent in the house. I can even supplement those with
readings of an appliance module with a small CFL and another with a 100W
tungsten bulb. I also want to see what it costs to run a 7W nitelight with
a CFL load since it's now X-10's tech support recommendation to cure the
flashing problem. No wires monsters, no lights in boxes - it should get
The issue I ran into was the limit imposed on the plug in outlet on Jeff's
XTB. It's got a wattage limit for plug in devices, I believe it's either 10
or 15W, but I could be wrong. I measured the devices with a Kill-a-Watt (2
Maxi's, 1 ControlLinc Maxi, 1 Mini controller and a Mini Timer that uses a
wall wart transformer and not the standard X-10 type power supply). The
Kill-a-Watt gave me a very low number that was below the limit imposed by
the XTB, and so I plugged them all into one unit and it worked. I did not
measure it using the accumulation kWh mode because waiting around for 100
hours to get a reading is not very practical, but alas, seems necessary when
dealing with low wattage items using the Kill-a-Watt. FWIW, the
ControlincMaxi's nameplate lists 100mA, the X-10 lamp and appliances modules
list no wattage information, and the X-10 Mini lists 2 watts.
The XTB operated quite well with 5 units plugged into the amplification
outlet UNTIL I removed the Mini-timer with the wall wart. Then, it fried.
When it happened, I got into a discussion with Jeff Volp who immediately
went over my admittedly low altitude head with discussions of mixed reactive
and inductive loads on both his circuit and the metering methods I was using
to make sure I was within the wattage range specified on the XTB label. It
was, as they say in the Army, above my pay grade.
Welcome back! Been a while since we last heard form you. Sorry that you're
still having health issues. I hope all goes well with your medical
figures were .4 and .5 and not 4 and 5. I hopefully still have my notes
around, but I distinctly recall a metric you used was that they were much
cooler to the touch than a 7W nightlight, giving a "rough" reading that said
common sense dictated it had to be below 7W. That's when I decided that
under careful enough controls, the relative amount of heat output between a
module and a 7W night lite could be used to verify readings with meters,
that for whatever reason, gave erroneous readings at the low end as when
used in a typical way. (Like me!)
IIRC, and it's clear I don't "Recall Correctly" anymore, they did make the
heat in a closed, insulated box rise respectfully. They were clearly
drawing power that could be measured as heat output. I recall they differed
from your readings, but I also recall the experiment being shut down by the
resident safety engineer, Ms. Swmbo. The idea of enclosing electronic gear
(especially lamps) in wooden boxes lined with Styrofoam did not pass muster,
even though it was "unlikely but not impossible" to start a fire. I might e
ven have the readings saved in a draft message.
I believe the modules I was running were running under load because I wanted
to know the effect and size of the trickle current flow. That was when
CFL's had just gone mainstream and I first noticed the flashing problem. I
began delving deeper into how to measure the trickle current flow, but
someone, I think it might have been Dan L. advised against it, charitably
citing safety concerns but more likely having to do with the primitive
equipment and skills I possess. (-:
Certainly when using X-10 modules and their linear power supplies. Am I
right to assume an in-line ammeter would be much more accurate with
inductive and purely resistive type loads? I would assume by the short
time between the posts that Art took an instantaneous measure, and not an
averaged one. But I'm Often Wrong, so only he say for sure.
At least all this is what I recall when I insisted to an incredulous Jeff
that the XTB had been running with no incident with all five X-10 items
listed above plugged in via power strip. I am sure he'll be around to
correct me shortly as well. As I said, this is really outside my bubble.
The XTB problem occurred AFTER I REMOVED the sole inductive load (a
wall-wart powered Mini-timer) from the powerstrip with the other four
components. It seems quite counterintuitive that reducing the overall load
caused the XTB to burn up, but apparently the combination of inductive and
linear loads on the XTB was preventing the load from burning up the XTBs
input circuitry. I won't paraphrase Jeff's explanation and embarrass myself
further. Maybe he can reiterate for us.
I should note that Jeff both offered to repair the unit free and changed the
labels and instructions to accommodate the unusual results I discovered by
flagrantly disregarding the label warning. Now, in addition to the wattage
limit, he indicates that no more than two X-10 devices be plugged into the
XTB's amplification outlet. I think a lot of non-engineers and techies have
real problems understanding the intricacies of the different types of
devices as well as other concepts, like the PF (power factor), phase angles
and so on. I know I do!
If reactive and inductive loads can interact as they apparently did with the
XTB, is it possible that measuring multiple modules and dividing that
outcome as both you and Art did is not actually equivalent to reading a
single unit? I assume you did that because reading single units that draw
under a watt is problematical for the KaW, even in the kWh "accumulation"
Good to here from you again, Dave, even if you're still correcting the
living hell out of me and shaming my Mad Cow brain - that has to be it - Mad
Cow. Anyway, that's how we learn, even if the ego gets a little burned
around the edges.
And again, here's to a good surgical outcome.
P.S. to Art. Glad you asked this question, nothing at all's changed but I
feel alot better that X-10's not eating 400 watts just "being there." I
feel a lot worse though, about where all those extra watts are going. A
while back someone suggested that the older the house wiring, the more
likely substantial amount of juice are going up in heat in the wires. That
would not be good. )-:
Rather than further spaghetti-ize things by trying to respond inline to your
inline comments, I'll just p*ss off all the anti-top-posters and try to
respond to your major points here.
Inline ammeters only work for purely resistive loads where voltage and
current always remain in phase with each other. With reactive loads
(inductive or capacitive), voltage and current are 90° out of phase,
requiring multiple, simultaneous measurements. Power=Voltage*Current so
averaging each doesn't work. You have to average the products of the many
Non-linear loads are usually those related to power suplies with diodes that
tend to draw current only at certain points in the voltage sine wave. These
also require multiple, simultaneous measurements.
I'll leave it to Jeff Volt to explain why you had the problem with the XTB.
CFLs have non-linear power supplies which cause (small) surges, triggering
the X10 flashes.
You really don't need the closed box. Just put your hand on the 7W
nightlight. It should be hot enough to be quite uncomfortable. IIRC, I used
3W which was still uncomfortable. X10 modules (with no load) have to
dissipate the heat associated with the idle load they represent. They never
get too warm to touch (unless defective) so this is a quick and dirty sanity
check whenever someone suggests they waste significant power.
Most inexpensive X10 devices have transformerless power supplies, which use
a capacitor to drop the line voltage to the low level needed by their
electronic circuitry. The charging current is reactive, which is not
in-phase with the applied voltage. The Kill-a-Watt has two ways to measure
power consumption - watts and VA.
Watts is the "real" power that you pay the electric company for. VA (volt
amperes) is the average of the real-time multiplication of voltage and
current over the entire AC cycle. Purely reactive loads will draw current
charging up at one point in the AC cycle, and dump that energy back to the
poweline elsewhere in the cycle, resulting in no "net" power consumption.
However significant current can be drawn during the charge and discharge.
The amount that VA differs from watts is a function of the power factor of
the device. When the power factor is 1.0, the VA and watts will be
essentially the same. At lower power factors, the numbers can differ by
large amount. For a Maxi Controller, the Kill-a-Watt reads 1.0 and 10 for
watts and VA respectively. Even though the Maxi Controller label says it
only consumes 2.5W, the low pass filter in the XTB must deliver the same
current as if a 10W load was plugged in.
You can think about this in another way. If you stick a big capacitor - say
2.2uF - into an AC socket, it will pull about the same current as a 1200 ohm
resistor. If that were "real" power (watts), the capacitor would dissipate
about 12 watts. However, the capacitor won't even warm up because the
current is "imaginary" (90 degrees out of phase with the applied voltage).
I just verified this with my own Kill-a-Watt. It measured 0 for watts, and
11 for VA with a 2.2uF capacitor.
The power supply in a X10 transmitter functions a lot like that capacitor.
The only "real power" that the Kill-a-Watt measures is that actually
consumed by the module electronics.
It the case cited earlier wherein the XTB low pass filter was overloading by
removing one of the 5 loads, that one load had a power transformer. So, its
"imaginary" inductive current was opposite that of the other X10
transmitters, partially canceling out their effect. When that load was
removed, the current pulled by the 4 remaining capacitive loads (about 40VA)
exceeded the rating on the XTB low-pass filter inductors. This is similar
to the issue that the power company deals with by placing capacitors in
their distribution network to balance out the inductive reactance from the
various motor loads.
I realize that this may be a difficult concept for some. Hopefully, the
capacitor example above will help you understand the issue.
Which is why the power companies charge industrial and other customers, with
large reactive loads, a premium. They have to supply (and have the
infrastructure for) the higher current even though it does no work.
It is also why CFLs may not bring about as big a reduction in power usage as
claimed by those who foisted them on us. Instead of merely banning
(effectively) incandescents, they should also have mandated that CFLs have a
high power factor or, at least, require the manufacturers to put the PF on
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