MY UPB Noise is Gone!

pjpete

Member
I have had UPB for about 9 months now and have been very happy with it after switching from x-10, which I have previously used for seven years. However, I did have a problem with severe noise. It first showed up about four months ago and was so bad I had very limited control with switches on one phase. After playing around with turning breakers on and off, I determined it was not originating from my house. I then loaded up a laptop, a lamp module and some beer and did some door to door testing on my cul-de-sac. In addition, to finding out my neighbors enjoy beer (actually already knew this), I discovered that half the homes on the cul-de-sac are on one transformer and the other half are on the one servicing my home. With the first transformer there was no noise and it also gave very strong signals on both phases. However, the other three homes sharing my transformer showed the same severe noise I was experiencing.

At this time I called Brad from Simply Automated and he was very helpful explaining some possible causes. I then called the Hydro Company to come and take a look at the transformer. The guy that came had no testing equipment and just looked to see if he could see anything wrong which he didn’t. I then set things up for them to send a technician, but then subsequently cancelled it as the noise disappeared after two weeks. After that it would appear randomly and only for about a day at time for the next three months.

The most recent time it showed up was a couple of Saturdays ago. At that time I saw one of my neighbors was on the street. He has a large workshop so I thought I would ask to see if he was currently trying out any new equipment. He indicated he had bought a new fan so he unplugged it but this made no change. After some more discussion, he volunteered to turn off his main breaker and boom the noise was gone! We then went breaker by breaker (definition of a great neighbor) and we isolated it to a new remote controlled dimmer switch he installed, guess what about four months ago. We discovered that simply turning it on, dimming it, or when it was completely off was no problem. However, when it was just almost turned off so there was no light coming from the fixture and the dimmer switch was just barely on, (one light bar on the switch) it would cause the interference.

The happy ending is nothing has to be replaced or changed as he just indicated they would always make sure the light is fully turned off and I now have zero noise again. It is a little disheartening though that something simple like this from a house about 75 feet away was causing limited control on one phase of my house. However, not disheartening enough that I just placed another order from Martin for another 13 SA switches. :blink:

Thought I would share this in case someone finds it helpful in tracking down noise that they might have.

Pete
 

Digger

Senior Member
I have had UPB for about 9 months now and have been very happy with it after switching from x-10, which I have previously used for seven years. However, I did have a problem with severe noise. It first showed up about four months ago and was so bad I had very limited control with switches on one phase. After playing around with turning breakers on and off, I determined it was not originating from my house. I then loaded up a laptop, a lamp module and some beer and did some door to door testing on my cul-de-sac. In addition, to finding out my neighbors enjoy beer (actually already knew this), I discovered that half the homes on the cul-de-sac are on one transformer and the other half are on the one servicing my home. With the first transformer there was no noise and it also gave very strong signals on both phases. However, the other three homes sharing my transformer showed the same severe noise I was experiencing.

At this time I called Brad from Simply Automated and he was very helpful explaining some possible causes. I then called the Hydro Company to come and take a look at the transformer. The guy that came had no testing equipment and just looked to see if he could see anything wrong which he didn’t. I then set things up for them to send a technician, but then subsequently cancelled it as the noise disappeared after two weeks. After that it would appear randomly and only for about a day at time for the next three months.

The most recent time it showed up was a couple of Saturdays ago. At that time I saw one of my neighbors was on the street. He has a large workshop so I thought I would ask to see if he was currently trying out any new equipment. He indicated he had bought a new fan so he unplugged it but this made no change. After some more discussion, he volunteered to turn off his main breaker and boom the noise was gone! We then went breaker by breaker (definition of a great neighbor) and we isolated it to a new remote controlled dimmer switch he installed, guess what about four months ago. We discovered that simply turning it on, dimming it, or when it was completely off was no problem. However, when it was just almost turned off so there was no light coming from the fixture and the dimmer switch was just barely on, (one light bar on the switch) it would cause the interference.

The happy ending is nothing has to be replaced or changed as he just indicated they would always make sure the light is fully turned off and I now have zero noise again. It is a little disheartening though that something simple like this from a house about 75 feet away was causing limited control on one phase of my house. However, not disheartening enough that I just placed another order from Martin for another 13 SA switches. :blink:

Thought I would share this in case someone finds it helpful in tracking down noise that they might have.

Pete

You know this never would have happened if you had convinced all of your neighbors to go UPB instead of cheap Home Depot dimmers :) Just kidding.

NICE job troubleshooting!
 

hucker

Active Member
That is really scary. I hope SA is in the loop on this. That will make a perfect UPB install go foobar and really make unhappy users....
 

Captain Caveman

Active Member
Are filters available for interference from outside of your home? I would not have that kind of time and enough beer to work through it all.
 

rocco

Active Member
. . . when it was just almost turned off so there was no light coming from the fixture and the dimmer switch was just barely on, (one light bar on the switch) it would cause the interference.
There was a thread similar to this a year or two ago. In that case, it was a Lutron dimmer, dimmed down to about 20% that caused the noise, if I recall correctly.

This was always known to be a potential problem. When a dimmer's triac fires, it can't help but create a spike. UPB's pulses were purposely placed toward the end the AC half cycle, where dimmers are typically not firing. Typically is the operative word here.

Filters are a problem for UPB. How do you filter the pulses from a dimmer without filtering the UPB pulses? How would a filter tell the difference? It's not at a specific frequency, like X10 or Insteon.
 
UPB is the most feature rich system that I have seen to date and the power of upstart is wonderful, but as soon as we have an upstart for zwave, life will be so much better. It's to the point that I run a noise test before ever proposal and with all the unknowns it's just not worth it anymore if your business is on the line. The noise issues must be fixed without filters for UPB to stay on top my list. Also many times signals do not go across the coupler well for reasons that no one seems to be able to fix. No I haven’t used any of the new repeaters, but I have used every coupler that I could find. If signals are 80-90 on one phase why can't we have signals close that on the other phase with a coupler?????? Most of my real problems have revolved around noise and with the push toward more and more fluorescents in the home things just don't look that bright for UPB. I still am a big fan, but I am looking for a better mouse trap.
 

Steve

Senior Member
and the power of upstart is wonderful, but as soon as we have an upstart for zwave, life will be so much better.
Do you really believe that? IMHO I think you are fooling yourself and you will just trade one set of problems for another. If you want 100% reliability, you need to hardwire.
 
and the power of upstart is wonderful, but as soon as we have an upstart for zwave, life will be so much better.
Do you really believe that? IMHO I think you are fooling yourself and you will just trade one set of problems for another. If you want 100% reliability, you need to hardwire.


Yes I would agree that hardwire is the only way to go on new construction, but that is not always possible on existing homes. That is also the advice I give all my customers. UPB is also solid in new construction when you design all the electrical circuits for maxium signal and minium possible noise makers close by. Last week I had to install a inline noise filter for a new light fixture on a existing job, I had to move two breakers to the opposite phase due to poor coupler performance on a new install, and I had to cut drywall and run a fresh circuit to a dimmer because of a power conditioner was cleaning the circuit it was on. Maybe this week will be better, but I not feeling alot of love for the old upb at the moment! I also scheduled time in the shop to study my Zwave trial stuff that I installed about a month ago. I hope I am wrong, but I think if nothing changes with the UPB protocol we will be talking about it like we do X10 within the next 2-3 years.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Yes, I am not disagreeing with you and it is disheartening and frustrating that UPB has issues with powerline noise. My only point is that don't think that Z-Ware will be trouble free either. You're just trading wireless (and harder to identify) noise for powerline noise. And if you don't have it now it does not mean you won't at some point. Weren't cordless phones not supposed to interfere with wireless routers? You probably want to have several of these technologies in your toolbox and use the best one in each scenario.
 

DeLicious

Active Member
yes, I am also growing more frustrated with UPB... more noise for 2 hours last night preventing me from turning off the lights to go to bed.
 

LightenUP

Active Member
Oh my gosh and here I thought I was alone in asking about serious noise improvements fro SA. However I can't put the owness on them solely. Apparently data transfer is going to be a huge avenue for the powerline industry with Homeplug technologies and electric service providers sending information via the powerline. FCC may be the answer which could change things for the Chinese made electronics.

I think the filtrations per house need to be acknowledged. I mean don't we have to in good faith protect their networks with whole home surge protection devices. Now we'll need whole home filteration even though it seems dawnting, siily neighbors. The above report is what worries me, the customer, or neighbor will add things to their home and then I may have issues with the network? I have also found a dimmer out of 50 in a home that caused problems once it was replaced no more noise. So when the other dimmers get old will they to produce noise or would they have noise from the very beginning?

I refuse to except other technologies as an alternative. For the price, availability, stability, and flexible features, I'm sold on UPB.

I simply want us to make demands to improve upon what is there already...If I'm wrong then something new will happen on it's own, (market correction). Then I'll do alot more research before I believe again in other technologies.

My world is retro-fit so new construction isn't available for me.....yet.

Anyway I appreciate the sharing of info here and will keep reading.
 

deranged

Active Member
While I have no experience with noise and UPB, I can say from several issues of my own that Z-wave is not immune to noise.

I have had 3 very new ACT dimmers that just did not function well, of course the culprit was the CFL bulbs in the house. Contacted ACT and thier only response was they don't support Dimming CFL bulbs.

I also had an ACT relay switch that was in the same box as the switch above that behaved badly with the ACT Dimming switch.

For a short while I suddenly had severe Z-wave issues and found a neighbor had put really cheap wireless cameras on his workshed ( very close to my house ). These cameras worked on 900 MHZ, turned the cameras off and problems went away. I since have helped him with a wired solution since he wasn't happy with the wireless video anyway.

Just my humble thoughts..

StevenE
 

UPBseer

Member
FYI...There has been development on making UPB more noise tolerant. Testing continues before global acceptance by all manufacturers... We don't want to trade one problem for another. PCS, the inventor of UPB, has been working very hard to make UPB more tolerant of certain types of noise.

I believe that dimmer noise is what spawned the idea of UPB. PCS worked with X10 (and still does) long enough to see that they could find dimmer noise throughout the hosue... from a single dimmer! (and apparently from the neighbor's house too)... UPB looks a lot like a pulse from a dimmer. The firmware I have tested works very well in the presence of "dimmer" noise.

A whole house filter for UPB would have to be physically large (due to the frequency range UPB uses) and located either between the meter and the main breaker or in front of the meter. Possible but not very practical. There are some companies that will custom build such a "filter". I would provide a name but my hard drived died last week and I have to rebuild my bookmarks... :ph34r:

Noise filters for noise producing devices will be available commercially soon. By October we will have 15A wired in and plug in style filters avaiable. They are inductive and will not attenuate UPB signals. Typically they are installed on the load side of the UPB device, not the Line side.

Brad
 

DeLicious

Active Member
physically large, or whatever... there are obviously people for whom outside noise is a particular problem, and i think for everyone of us that posts, there may be two or three who don't, so you probably have a handful of people needing this type. admittedly, not a huge sample size, but i would be willing to pay some money to perfect my network.
 
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