Signal Bridge?

I know I am years behind the times with this, but I just found this on the X-10 site (I know, that's probably forbidden..) and wondered if anyone had any luck w/ this?


1. Why do some modules work in some outlets and not in others?

If you are having difficulty controlling a particular module from a particular location, but can control this module from other locations, or if the ability to control a particular module is intermittent, it is possible that the module in question and your controller are on opposite phases of your house wiring.

Most houses are fed from a 220 volt service which is then split into two phases of 110 volts each in the circuit breaker panel. The X10 signals, which are transmitted onto the house wiring (onto one phase), will normally couple across to the other phase through the breaker panel, pole transformer etc. If however, due to loading, you do not have enough coupling, you may couple the signal from one phase to the other by having a qualified electrician install a 0.1 microfarad, 240V AC or 600V DC capacitor across your 220 volt line from hot to hot, i.e. across any 220 volt breaker. This will couple the signal from one phase to the other. The capacitor should be rated for "across the line connection" such as part number P4603 available from the Digi-Key catalog. This part can be purchased from Digi-Key by calling 1-800-344-4539.

I wish I had read this BEFORE I bought the Signalinc hardwired Signal Coupler from Smarthome (4816H). (As a comment, it hasn't seemed to have helped much).

I looked up the part number listed and this cap is less than $3.00. I am willing to try it, but I thought I would ask first. I can just imagine that if an inspector was to be snooping in my panel he wouldn't be too happy to see this addition...anyone tried this?


I'm not sure about inspectors it varies so widely with each person.

In the rare occurance that I did have a house fire it is something that could cause alot of grief.

The ACT coupler/repeater seems to work the best.
I also use such a capacitor to couple my phases and it works fine. I would not install it inside the electrical panel though, this is usually against electrical codes. Mine is installed inside a (metal) junction box serving a "shared neutral" circuit so it was an ideal place for it. I also put a 0.5 amp inline fuse in series with the cap to prevent anything bad from happening if the cap should blow and short out.
I use one and it works fine, as well. But my house is only in the 2000 square-foot range.

Mine is inside the breaker panel wired across the two legs of a 220 volt breaker.
I had one for over 2 years until it quit working.

I wired a split receptacle right at the panel and terminated the capacitor across the two screw lugs (hot side) with the tab removed.

I'm on my second one now about a year now with no problem.

The 4816H most likely has a set of tuned transformers in it to selectively pass the X10 signals from phase to phase. My Smarthome 4616B has the same cap in it with an added tuning coil and a protection fuse.
If the signals through the 4816H are not strong enough. The cap alone would not be much better. I ended up with a Coupler/repeater in my home. The cap can only couple what is at the connection while a repearter resends at full power. If the controllers signal at the cap is at a 1 Volt PP level that is all that is coupled back to the other phase. Whaie the repeater maybe back at 5 Volts PP on the other phase.
My thanks to everyone for replying....I really appreciate the help!

Brian - Thanks for the insight and the recommendation of the ACT unit...If I'm unable to do any better than I have, I'll take a look at it. Hopefully I never will have to deal with a home fire (although living in So Cal I see a LOT of fires!)

Guy - The fuse idea is an excellent one. I don't think I've ever seen a cap fail shorted, this is an outstanding way to cover any possibility - thanks!

rocco - Great feedback - thanks. The two 220 VAC circuits in my home are the A/C at 40 Amps and the Dryer at 30. Since the dryer outlet is never used (gas is cheaper!), maybe this is the better of the two to try it on. (As for the other, who can afford to run the A/C anyway? I just go to the casino down the street and enjoy their A/C - LOL).

Neil - Thanks! I like the idea of mounting it across the outlet - good protected place to have it and it's not mounted to the breakers (I found out from the electrical contractor I use at work that I'm not allowed to have anything in the breaker box but "breakers and wire" - guess I better get the dead bugs out...)

Martin - That's a great question! If I ever quit making changes to the layout, I'd probably be able to find out...(I'm about 80% done with a MAJOR change of living space). The house is about 2800 square feet. The breaker panel is FULL as I have added about 6 20 Amp Circuits with the changes (medical equipment DRINKS power!!). Most of the stuff I have communicates about 80% of the time, but I still have some issues with certain areas.

The addition of the Smarthome products has added some problems for me and I was hoping that the signal bridge would help. Performace is sporatic, so it makes it very difficult to troubleshoot (like I'm telling anyone something new).

BLH - Great point - if I'm trying to couple a signal that is too weak in the first place...I was hoping to avoid the cost of the repeater if at all possible (gotta love the Smarthome auctions), so I was curious to get everyone's feedback first. Hmmm...I guess I better start saving my more going to lunch for awhile!

I've been intrigued by the signal blaster that I can't seem to find the link to. This is the one that was developed by a user and amplifies the heck out of the signal...time to search the sites again...

Again, my thanks to everyone for is really appreciated...

My Best


Thank you very much! That is EACTLY the unit I had my eyes on. Between home and work, I'm never sure which links are saved where...LOL

My Best