UPB and halogen noise

acheslow

Active Member
So after moving into my new house recently I took the first step in moving up from X10. After a lot of deliberation I decided that I was willing to pay higher prices for UPB devices since the consensus seemed to be that they work more reliably than anything else. I even decided I could live with the delay if it meant higher reliability in the end. So, I ordered the KPE-06 starter kit from Martin and was very excited to finally have near-100% reliability.

I installed the universal dimmer switch in the kitchen to control 3 halogen pendant lights (not low voltage -- there is no transformer) and installed the lamp module in the living room. At first I had a lot of problems with the lamp and realized that it had a CFL bulb in it, so I replaced that with an incandescent and it worked much better after that.

The pendants, however, seem to be causing some problems. It seems like I often have to repeat button presses in order for them to turn off or execute links -- and I'm sure I'm not confusing this behavior with the Super Toggle feature. When running a communications test from UPStart, the test will fail when the lights are on but the dimmer tests fine when the lights are off.

I thought UPB was supposed to work fine with halogen lights? Is there something I can try to get around what seems to be excessive noise from the halogen lights? If I can't get the reliability I was expecting I may as well just switch over to Insteon or Zwave...

Thanks!
 

Steve

Senior Member
Thats's strange. I have a house full of 75W halogen R-30's with no issues at all. Are you absolutely sure they are not low voltage? Sorry - had to ask. What if you configure the lights as non-dimmer in UPStart? Do they work in that mode? If UPStart shows noise on that circuit only when those lights are on, it really sounds like a transformer or something.
 

toymaster458

Active Member
I had a major issue in my house when I hooked up some low voltage halogen lights to a Lamp Module. Reacted the same way you are discribing. Changed the Lamp Module to Non-Dimming and everything is fine. One thing I want to try is putting a filter between the plug and Module and setting it back to Dimming.
 

az1324

Senior Member
Well I have insteon, but my only switch that showed the flicker problem was with a full load of halogen bulbs.
 

acheslow

Active Member
Steve said:
Thats's strange. I have a house full of 75W halogen R-30's with no issues at all. Are you absolutely sure they are not low voltage? Sorry - had to ask. What if you configure the lights as non-dimmer in UPStart? Do they work in that mode? If UPStart shows noise on that circuit only when those lights are on, it really sounds like a transformer or something.
I'm almost positive these aren't low voltage, unless there is a transformer hidden somewhere really well -- but I don't think that's the case since I visited the house almost every day while it was being built.

They work pretty much the same in non-dimming mode -- i.e. intermittent problems whenever the lights are full on. Today I was testing a link that turns both the pendant lights and the floor lamp off. 3 times in a row when the pendant lights were on, I had to transmit the link twice to get the floor lamp to turn off.

Is it possible to get a filter of some sort? Or does it sound like the dimmer may be bad?

Thanks,
 

acheslow

Active Member
I think I found a work-around. I ran a communications test on the pendant lights at various dim levels and found that the tests failed at 96-100% brightness. So I changed my links to turn the pendant lights on at 94% instead of at 100%. There is still some noise at 94% but the links seem to execute every time.

I'd still like figure out why these don't work at >95% brightness but I suppose I can live with the workaround.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Hmmm, still sounds like a transformer to me. Ok, are these hanging pendant lights? Are they individual or hang from a track? Most of the time you can look at the ceiling where they attach and tell - 120V ones will normally have a very shallow 'plate' like on a chandelier whereas the low voltage ones have a deeper plate where the transformer is. Ones on a track are normall LV with a transformer at some point where the AC comes in. But perhaps the easiest thing to do is take a bulb out of one of them and look for the markings - that will tell you for sure if it is 120 or LV. Is it like an MR30 or something?
 

acheslow

Active Member
Steve, you may be on to something there. The bulbs are too hot to take out right now but the ceiling plates are about 1 or 2 inches deep. It never occured to me that there could be individual transformers in there.

So I guess I'm SOL unless I stick with my workaround, huh? (and btw I found that even at 94% I was having some problems so have lowered the max on level to 90%)

Thanks,
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Is there some type of signal detector/tester for UPB (or Insteon) that will show noise and signal level (like the X-10 ones)?

That would be useful if such an item existed.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Yes BSR, there is signal and noise meter part of UPStart. I think that is where he is seeing his noise.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Steve said:
Yes BSR, there is signal and noise meter part of UPStart. I think that is where he is seeing his noise.
Ah, thanks for the info. I don't use UPB (or Insteon) right now so this is good to know for the future! :D
 

Steve

Senior Member
Alan,

Assuming they are LV, I'm surprised they did not work in non-dimming mode. When you had that mode enabled and turned the light on did they ramp up/down or snap on/off? In non dim mode they should snap on/off on a single keypress.

Another option would be the HAI relay switch. This is just a plain on/off relay and should work ok. We just need to make sure the transformers themsleves are not putting noise on the line like my cooktop does. SAI was supposed to have a filter out by now, I will check with Brad on the status.
 

acheslow

Active Member
The main problem seemed to be that the lamp module would not always execute links when the pendants were full on, and it didn't matter whether they dimmed up or snapped to full on. Now that I'm limiting the brightness to 90% it seems to work OK.
 
Maybe I missed this along the way in the thread, but do you have a phase coupler installed? Going outside the home is a usually where you pick up your noise.
 
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