I finally did it - I installed my first UPB switches!!


Senior Member
I'll apologize in advance - this is long reading. Hopefully it won't turn you off.

OK - I finally took the plunge and installed a couple UPB switches I bought over a year ago. I was a little scared of them given my past with X10 and my "noisy" houses. I've been wanting to go all out, but I have all the red flags.. 5 UPS's, an LED Walkway light; low voltage lighting transformers, fluorescent tubes in 5 places; CFL's everywhere but the 2 ceiling fans that need dimming. I was worried about line noise, phase coupling, etc. And then there's cost.

I'm using Simply Automated US240's with different multi-rocker configurations. I had also bought 2 CIM's. One USB (for the computer programming) and one Serial (for the Elk) - both Simply Automated.

Here's the scenario - first install was the Master BR. There's a switch just inside the door that goes to an outlet behind the bed. Never used it (in fact, it was plastered over when the room was retextured - I had to dig it out to replace the receptacle today). There's a ceiling fan with lights (I just replaced it with a new one today). The switch for the ceiling fan/lights is across the room in the bathroom. This is a special fan control - wired, but single gang control of fan and light. Added challenge - the MBR entry switch is what's called an End Of Line switch (google for more info). Basically, it means that there's 2 wires in the box... the load comes in on the black and goes back to the outlet on the white - there's no actual common because it's a loop back to the outlet.

Challenge/solution: No available neutral
So - I asked this question a while ago here - about what to do... and proposed the idea of going to the outlet where it's sending the load over black to the switch, which returns it on white to the outlet. Again - google end of line circuits if this doesn't make sense... I proposed just disconnecting the switch and putting in the SAI switch, wired black to black, white to white, and not hooking up a load - making it transmit only. Then at the outlet, just hooking up all the whites and all the blacks like you normally would. I didn't explain myself well and nobody understood what I was talking about, so I didn't get an answer... but later, I browsed SAI's website and found this article which explains my exact situation and confirms my solution (albeit indirectly) http://www.simply-automated.com/products/faqs.htm#SB11 - so, that's what I did to get neutral in a box that didn't previously have it. Note - if you do this, it needs to be clearly marked and/or you need to fully understand that if anyone ever puts a regular switch back there without rewiring the receptacle, you WILL have a DIRECT SHORT!. Electricians probably won't understand this either if they're not familiar with UPB or other switches.

Challenge/solution: Different fade rates
So, I'm a simplist. I love everything you can do with the SAI switches - but I want them to look like normal switches to a layman so they're not intimidated. It should function like they're used to, while giving me advanced functionality. I got attached to the idea of having a slow off. I'm not sure where I had this or heard about it, but it's been stuck in my head a long time. Normally, I want the lights soft on; soft off... but quick. However, as you're climbing into bed, it's really nice to hit "off" on a 30 second timer (also bonus when waking the wife up nicely - fewer "you're number 1!" signs from her). It gives you time to climb into bed before the lights go off. If you're keeping up, the bathroom switch controls the load, and the entry switch is transmit only - controlling the load. Both are multi-rockers. As I found out, the fade rate is set on the load when configuring the switch; so trying to set 1.6 seconds on one switch and 30 seconds on the entry switch didn't work - it did what the load controller was set for. Discussed this with another UPB user - and we weren't coming up with anything. Finally I noticed that UPB can receive up to 16 results from the looks of things... soooo - I created a second link that's MBR Lights Slow Fade. On a dual rocker, I set main rocker as normal - load controller; 1.6 second fade. 2nd switch controls this with the same 1.6 second fade. The twist - I set it to also respond to the Master Bedroom Slow Fade - with a 30-second fade. Now on the bathroom switch, switch 1 is the normal one, and switch 2 is the slow fade - on or off. Wife got the training in about 10 seconds and is ecstatic with me right now for all the hard work.

Challenge/Question: USB CIM not working
I couldn't get my SAI USB CIM to work for the life of me. I tried multiple computers with varied, but poor results. On the first computer, XP based - running upstart (latest download today) - during connection, would pull accurate stats, like firmware (4.??) and other stuff, but at the end would say disconnected and want me to deal with it. Once in a while I got a connection but it failed every time. Tried another computer - always successfully connected - but everything came up blue check marks but all zeros - including firmware. Unusable. finally I found a computer in the house with Serial and stole the serial CIM from the Elk and plugged it in - and it worked flawlessly - and I got everything set. Problem is, that CIM is for the Elk - and there's no way I'm going to steal it out every time... and most of my computers don't have serial (this one is on its way out). I know this has been discussed previously - anyone know what i need to do to make this thing work? I'll never be able to call tech support while in front of the controller with my work hours...

Conclusion:This is going to be expensive
I checked noise and signal, and they were great. No noise, and signal was acceptable across phases (though dryer was running - need to check again later). This means I'll have to order many more, along with the W800RF32. I already stocked up on x10 keychain remotes and DS10A's a while back in preparation... those will replace our traditional bedside remotes. Then there's the garage light, the 2 hall lights, the rear patio light; the front patio light; the driveway lights; the low voltage lights; the kitchen lights; etc... I'll be trying out the USR's (slave 3-way switches) because I'm cheap - despite many people saying they suck for various reasons... in my scenario i'm just not sure, so I'll try them first for my rear porch light. If they work well, they'll save me a fortune on my 3-way and 4-way hallway lights, and several other 3-way lights throughout the house.

Thanks to everyone for all the info I've gained here. Though I don't remember all the reasons now why I chose UPB, when I researched it 18 months ago (through extensive CT reading), it was a clear winner. I was scared of it with past X10 experience, but now that I took the plunge today, I wish I'd gotten off my ass a year ago and dealt with this (and so does my wife). We need time to confirm everything - but I'm ecstatic, and now pretty familiar with upstart. Combined with the M1 integration which I haven't even tested yet, I know this will be a clear winner and an awesome solution. In fact, I'm ordering a few more things tonight to make life easier for the people who'll be housesitting for me while I'm on vacation very soon.

One last important question: non-dimmable loads
Last one... as mentioned, I have all CFL's in my house. I know people say don't dim and they'll be fine... are we completely sure? I've had a lot of issues with motion sensors on CFL's so I don't want to screw around. Part 2 - the ceiling fans... I know the USR240's can't handle motors without unpleasant side effects... but are we all positive they can control a ceiling fan in 100% snap mode (non dimmable)? I have no problem using the chain to select speed - it very rarely changes... as long as I can get it on UPB so we can control it from our x10 remotes via the W800RF32. Are we all sure that's safe? If so, I'll do it - but would otherwise choose SAI relay switches if they were available. In fact, I'd prefer them for all my non-dimmable loads, but they just don't offer them. Do any other makers have one that'd match an SAI switch side-by-side, but be a relay switch?

Thanks all!


Senior Member
I have had all UPB devices since August 08 in my house. I also use mostly the SAI US-240's and mostly all CFL's. For the non dimming CFL's I just use the Snap function. I had one maybe two CFL's die since I put UPB in, however, many of the CFL's are older than 5 years (some may be closer to 8 years). I think it all depends on the CFL, frequency of use etc. It also depends on power surges etc in your area (I know I lost 3 CFL's a years ago at the same instant in a surge). I am also using CFL's that I bought cases of 100 for $85 shipped years ago from a wholesaler I deal with (Luxlite Model 1215 15 watt equivalent to a 60 and look like a real bulb). I sold hundreds of them for $3 before he ran out and that was paying in part for the other lighting system money pit before I switched to UPB. They are elcheapo bulbs but they work.

I have two ceiling fans that I use US240's for the fan function. So far no issues if I set them to snap and control the speed by the pull chain. The other ceiling fans I am using the SAI Inline relays (since I had replaced Insteon relaylinc) and they work perfectly. The only real disadvantage of the SAI relays over Insteon are that you can hear the relays change state. Since mine are in the attic (except for one) its a non issue for me but can be an issue for others.

Some people have had some problems with UPB I think but not nearly as many as with some other lighting systems. You many want to wait a week or two before you go all out just to make sure you like it and that there are no issues in your case. Personally I have not had a UPB device fail yet and I even put one switch outside where the other lighting system switch failed in a matter of 2 months.

I have not seen the situation you have with the CIM sorry.

FYI HAI makes a relay switch (40A00-1) and I am going to buy a few and use them for some Xmas decoration circuits instead of the US240's since I need more headroom (I use LED lights but a friend gave us some blow up decorations that will exceed the 900 watts). I probably wont get to that for 2 or 3 weeks so I cant tell you how they look side by side as I did not even order them yet.


Active Member
I've never used the USB CIM, but have frequently used serial CIMs with a USB adapter. The Keyspan (now owned by Tripp-Lite) USA-19HS is a popular model that has worked with every serial device I've thrown at it. You'd have to purchase another serial CIM of course, but that's the method I use.


I've been using UPB since about 2003, and have approx 50 devices, both from PCS and SA. I've found them all to be extremely reliable. I've only had one PCS USB PIM fail. I have a number of CFLs and other fluorescents on both PCS and SA devices. When you set up both mfrs. devices in UPStart, there is a "Non-dimmable" setting, which is what should be used if you are using a fluorescent lamp. That way, there's no chance of someone trying to dim the lamp.

Note that there are two types of USB PIM/CIMs. The original PCS USB PIM, and I think the one SA still sells, are native USB devices. The newer PCS USB PIM looks like a serial device and is assigned a COM port, and requires a software driver to be installed. You might want to try the current PCS USB PIM.

The only issue I have with PCS slave/remote switches is the LED is always on, (or always off if you don't run both neutral and hot to it). Otherwise, it controls the load just like the UPB switch...works great.


Senior Member
Thx for the tips guys. I actually emailed SAI that night and about 24 hours later got a response with the following instructions:
It sounds like the USB CIM got it’s little brains scrambled. Tap the button next to the led 5 times, the unit should blink, now tap it 10 times, the unit should blink the other color, now tap it 2 times, the led should go solid, now try to connect via upstart and see if all is OK.

You may have to perform this same operation on the serial CIM to make it work properly on the ELK after using it with upstart.
Worked like a champ. Ironically, I just read where AnthonyZ gave these same instructions to someone with PCS CIM's - guess it was a big secret I didn't know!

Anyway - all seems well. Now that I have USB, I can give the serial one to the Elk and try my next challenge.