UPB Noise Solutions


Senior Member
I've started to make the jump to UPB because everyone says its so reliable, but my experiences so far have not been good.

I installed a few UPB switches, but UPStart doesn't seem to see any of them unless they are installed on the same circuit as the PIM. My noise levels can be severe (about 6) but on occasions with no noise, I still can't communicate with most switches. I DON'T have a coupler yet, but I ordered one and should have one in a few days.

Some background, I presently have MANY X-10 switches, many X-10 filters, and a Leviton X-10 repeater. Its taken a few years, but my X-10 system has been very reliable but switches are old and wearing out, and I didn't want to spend a chunk of money on more X-10 switches.

So, could my X-10 setup be negatively impacting my UPB? Do UPB filters exist? I haven't tracked down the source of my noise yet, but when I do, how do I fix it? I do have many compact flourescent lights which I know can cause noise, but hopefully I can get around this. Is any brand of compact flourescent better than any other brand?

Thanks in advance.

I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I also use a lot of CFL's to save energy, and my UPB install is working flawlessly, so by power of deduction (the only power I have, seemingly), I'm guessing the X-10 is interfering somehow, even though UPB claims to work in parallel with X-10.

Sounds like the coupler will help. Is your PIM attached to a laptop or a desktop? As a test, if you can move the PIM to the other leg you will probably see those switches.

I just talked to Technical Support at Simply Automated. They will have 5amp and 15amp wired in and plug in filters for UPB shortly. For now they suggested the Leviton 6287 and 6288 5amp filters.

A few months ago I installed a UPB system (80 devices) in a home that was x-10 before. The circuit that I had the PIM plugged into had a noise level of 4 sometimes. I never had a problem programming devices even though the noise was there. ( your experience may differ )
It is likely that you need a phase coupler, if you do not have one already. What are your signal levels on the phase you can see?

Noise is a touchy subject in UPB land. UPB was originally purported to be noise immune... and it is very robust... it just depends on where the noise is and the amplitude. Communications are in a small window on the AC wave, but any device that puts out a frequency between 4-40 k Hz at an amplitude of 1 V or greater can create interference. UPB devices are very polite. When noise is in the UPB window they wait for their turn to communicate.

Noise that affects UPB communications can come from an X10 switch. I was once in a house that has 110 X10 switches that are being controlled by 106 UPB switches (SAI). There was "severe" noise on the powerline. With careful, step by step troubleshooting... only changing one variable at a time... we found one X10 switch that was dimming into the UPB window. Luckily we had an oscilloscope and noticed the waveform looked to be a triac dimmer... and luckily it was the 8th switch we tried.

The first thing is to find out what is creating the noise. Poor connections can create noise. Electronic ballasts can be noise emitters. The quickest way is to have the Signal and Noise Meter up in UPStart and start cycling breakers one by one. Once you determine the circuit then you determine the offender(s). In a recent, local installation we found the circuit on the 5th breaker. The meter dropped to zero. There were 8 switches and one receptacle on the circuit. We pulled the air gap on all the switches before re-energizing the breaker. One by one we reconnected the air gaps... one switch was creating the noise and it turned out to be a poor connection. The switch was rewired and has since been quiet.

Simply Automated has filters for UPB coming out soon. We will offer a 5 A and 15 A filters in plug-in and wired-in packages... for stubborn noise emitting devices.
UPB does work in parallel with X-10 from a protocol standpoint. That is X-10 transmits info on a carrier and UPB uses pulse position to encode data. It is however posible with enough filters (i.e. various caps across the AC line and to ground) to attenuate the 40 volt UPB pulses. It also sounds like the the noise level in your setup is on the high side, maybe the CFL's or maybe something else (start powering down/disconnecting things to isolate). If the noise is constant there's the posibility that it is interfering with the pulse position decoding circuits/firmware in the UPB devices (I would put this higher on the probibility list).

I have a combo X-10/UPB setup and it is working well (on the way to complete UPB). The noise levels reported by UPstart were low as I was doing the configuration. I have an X-10 coupler but no UPB specific coupler. My guess is that the passive X-10 couplers (i.e. cap from leg to leg) will also couple UPB pulses to some degree.

Just a data point. Happy UPBing!
Thanks. Thats very helpful. I will do some debugging of the noise, to isolate that, and its nice to know that UPB filters are on the way. For X-10 I must have 6 or 8 filters on everything from my refridgerator to several large TVs, a laser printer, and UPS power supplies. These were all major signal suckers. Even though UPB is claimed to be better, with the loads of electronics that people use now, its a tough world out there. About 6 months ago I bought a Ricoh CL4000DN color laser printer for my home office/spare bedroom. Upon turning it on, the breaker immediatly tripped. I checked the current needs and they were well within what the circuit could support. Turns out it was the Arc Fault breaker tripping, and the only solution was to remove the breaker, or send back the printer.

Anyway, I think the plan is to bite the bullet, remove all the X-10, install all UPB, and hope for the best. I will take everyone's word that it can work reliably, and I really like all the neat features. I have a HAI Omni II and Homeseer that will both communicate with UPB in tandom. I'll report back when I pin down the noise problem, and install the coupler.