AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I installed 2 x-10 dimmers today. They both work but the lights on one of the dimmers flicker, kinda like a bad bulb. They never did that before I put the dimmer in. I even swapped the dimmers around and the same thing happens on both dimmers on the one set of lights. Anyone know whats causing this? I talked to Smarthome tech and he said it might be line noise. I thought this only affected the x10 signal transmission, my problem exists from the dimmer used locally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,642 Posts
Some really wild guesses?


There's a wire nut inside the switch box that came loose, perhaps on a common ground?


One of the wires has broke from bending too much, but it's not noticable because it's within the wire covering? Try the old switch to test for this.


It's a three way circuit and you're using the old slave?


It's not an incandencent light, or it's a low voltage system, or it has a motor on the same circuit?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I had the switch out 2-3 times and verified connections and such. This is new construction so I dont think bad wire is the case. I am going to put the old dimmer back in tommorrow to verify however. No fans or flouresents on this circuit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,642 Posts
Is this an X-10 brand dimmer, or another brand of dimmer that is X-10 compatible?


I've found the former to be junk. The only other brand I've tried is Leviton (sp?), but they are well worth it. The X-10 brand dimmers are too prone to interference, and the more X10 devices you add the worse it becomes. I know interference isn't your issue, but you might try another brand if you're after X10 compatibility.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,649 Posts
Well, if you swapped X-10 dimmers and nothing changed, I would say that the problem is not the specific dimmer. I guess it could be the dimmer design, but I have the cheap retail X-10 devices and have never had a flicker problem with either incandescent or dimmable compact fluorescent lamps. Franky, I don't think it is a problem with design. The part of the unit that does the dimming uses a triac just like the Leviton and more expensive brands. And although electrical noise can cause problems like lights turning on and off when you don't want them to, or not turning on or off when you do want them to, it doesn't cause lights to flicker.


Assuming you are using the device as intended, with incandescent (not low voltage) or dimmable compact fluorescent lamps, my guess is there is a poor connection or short somewhere. It could be at the switch. It could be at the fixture. It could be anywhere in the daisy chain of wiring from the panel to the last device on the circuit. New wiring doesn't mean it is free from problems. In fact, my experience is just the opposite.


Ofcourse, you could always try another brand and see if the problem goes away.


X-10 retail brand is certainly cheap. My biggest issues with it are mechanical. The dimmer switches as sloppy. The push button switch buttons break all by themselves (not when they are pushed, but in the middle of the night when no one is around). Other models also have mechanical parts that break. I like the lamp modules though. Never had a problem.


Leviton and other brands, even X-10 Pro have models that are less effected by electrical noise. But, in my case, I have found that eliminating the sources of noise makes them unnecessary. When I first installed X-10 devices, they seemed to have a mind of their own. Then I just happened to replace all the electrical receptacles in the house. They were old and barely held onto the plugs. The new ones hold tightly. Now I have no problems with X-10.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,642 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colm
Leviton and other brands, even X-10 Pro have models that are less effected by electrical noise. But, in my case, I have found that eliminating the sources of noise makes them unnecessary. When I first installed X-10 devices, they seemed to have a mind of their own. Then I just happened to replace all the electrical receptacles in the house. They were old and barely held onto the plugs. The new ones hold tightly. Now I have no problems with X-10.
Interesting, but my house was relatively new and I had those issues. I found certain devices that caused problems (e.g. electronic air cleaners), but really I think the switches themselves cause interference. When I replaced some X10 dimmers with Levitron units, the remaining X10 wall switches had fewer issues. So I'm assuming it's something like how a radar detector can cause another radar detector to go off.


As to X10 brand devices, I've had the best luck with the Super Socket wall outlets. Oh, and the little stick on 3 switch wall switch.


BTW, I've never had any brand physically break.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,649 Posts
Replacing cheap X-10 dimmers with Leviton reducing problems with the other devices can be explained fairly simply. The operation of the triac in the dimmer creates electrical noise that can interfere with X-10 signals. Better dimmers suppress this noise at the source better. It is also possible that the Leviton dimmers exhibit less capacitance. If so, they can make the whole system more reliable to some extent. But I don't think the difference in capacitance between brands is very big.


I think the key point to take from all this is that X-10 is not a plug and play system, at least not for a more than trivial one. It can be made to work. But it usually takes considerable effort to make it reliable.


FWIW the Super Socket is one of the devices people have had problems with breakage. Seems there is a plastic cam in it that can break. Don't know if it has been beefed up since I read about the problem a few years back. I would bet it hasn't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I tracked the source of the problem down to my PC powerstrip downstairs in my office!

I flipped breakers until the lights quit flickering, then tried everything plugged in one by one. Bypassing the powerstrip made the lights/dimmer work as it should.

I tried a new power strip and had the problem come back. I finally made sure the breakers for the switch, lights, and X10 controller were on the same phase leg in the breaker box and now everything works great, even with the powerstrip plugged in! Probabl could have used a Phaselinc, but wheres the fun in that.

Quirky stuff, doubt I'd count on this stuff for anything important.

These were the Togglelinc PLC from Smarthome.com by the way. Item 23894.

Thanks for the replys as it helps to brainstorm these issue out.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top