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UPB Noise Troubleshooting

Philament

Member
I installed some switches and started testing out them with the UPstart.  Initially, some of my LED lights that weren't connected to UPB dimmers ( on a non-upb, LED specific Dimmer) would flicker upon signal transmission of a controller or PIM. I re-arranged some of the circuits in the breaker panel to make all my UPB controlled lighting on the same phase and get better signal strength and by happy accident this fixed my flickering.  (Eventually I will put in a repeater or coupler, but just getting acquainted with it for now)
 
Anyways, I am getting excellent signal strength, but I am getting high-severe noise readings according to UPStart (the upstart # ranges from 6-10) between everything (devices and controllers and the ELK PIM and the PCS PIM - no matter which ones I test between on UPStart).  Everything has been very reliable (100%) so far, but regardless I would like to try to filter out some of the noise but was hoping for suggestions on some common culprits.  Initially I turned off all lighting in the house and the refrigerator to see if that fixed the noise, but it hasn't.
 
I have some audio equipment hooked up to a UPS that I am thinking may be the cause, but are there common culprits to the noise?  Do arc-faults or anything of that nature add to the noise?  Is the noise even a concern? If I do find the culprit(s), I assume I should use a filter with it.
 
Also, I do not like the ELK M1 lighting interface.  What do people tend to use for automation device or program that interfaces with the ELK M1 and UPB lighting and whatever else I eventually automate (thermostats, blinds, etc)?
 

ano

Senior Member
I think the true test is everything reliable?  I highly recommend a repeater as long as you DON'T have Simply Automated switch, which generally don't support them.  The HAI/Leviton switches do support repeaters, as do the PCS switches.  Do you have the Leviton LED switches?  The funny thing is, from my experience, their OTHER switches work better for LEDs than their LED switches, go figure. Its not the end-of-the-world. 
 
By-the-way, PCS has just come out with these devices they claim reduces or eliminates LED flicker. http://www.pcslighting.com/pulseworx/products/tools/lds
I have NOT tried it so see if it works, but I believe its nothing more than a 10K, 2 watt resistor. 
 
On noise, yes somethings are known for noise, and if you can filter HIGH noise things, its best, but often not required.  Panasonic microwave ovens, some plasma TVs, and a few other odds-and-ends. I had one of those microwaves, and the noise was so bad, nothing would work in the area.
 
Arc-fault breakers have come up before, but I believe they are NOT a problem.
 

RAL

Senior Member
Switching power supplies can be a source of power line noise if they are not properly designed.  Unfortunately, lots of them use bad designs to reduce cost, and you are likely to have them in more places than you realize.
 
So check things like cell phone chargers, especially aftermarket ones.  Also, any other wall warts that might be used by electronic equipment.
 
Another source is LED and CFL bulbs.  They all have power supplies built into the bulbs.   If you've already turned off all the lighting, you've probably eliminated them as suspects.
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
It was a coffee pot in my house. You could try walking around the house with a laptop and PIM and plugging into wall outlets watching the noise level. It should get noisier as you near the source.
 
Mike.
 

Philament

Member
ano said:
I think the true test is everything reliable?  I highly recommend a repeater as long as you DON'T have Simply Automated switch, which generally don't support them.  The HAI/Leviton switches do support repeaters, as do the PCS switches.  Do you have the Leviton LED switches?  The funny thing is, from my experience, their OTHER switches work better for LEDs than their LED switches, go figure. Its not the end-of-the-world. 
 
By-the-way, PCS has just come out with these devices they claim reduces or eliminates LED flicker. http://www.pcslighting.com/pulseworx/products/tools/lds
I have NOT tried it so see if it works, but I believe its nothing more than a 10K, 2 watt resistor. 
 
On noise, yes somethings are known for noise, and if you can filter HIGH noise things, its best, but often not required.  Panasonic microwave ovens, some plasma TVs, and a few other odds-and-ends. I had one of those microwaves, and the noise was so bad, nothing would work in the area.
 
Arc-fault breakers have come up before, but I believe they are NOT a problem.
 
All my dimmers are PCS or Leviton, but a few weeks ago I got just a single dimmer, the elk pim and the PCS PIM to test it out.  I am pretty sure I was getting very little noise between all devices and excellent signal strength a few weeks ago but I didn't do much with it for a couple of weeks.  Now this week I started getting into some of the three/four way switches and swapping those out and also I installed a 7 button controller.  I went to configure it all on upstart and my signal was excellent on most devices (now excellent on all devices due to rearranging circuits to be on same phase) but now I have the noise.
 
 
RAL said:
Switching power supplies can be a source of power line noise if they are not properly designed.  Unfortunately, lots of them use bad designs to reduce cost, and you are likely to have them in more places than you realize.
 
So check things like cell phone chargers, especially aftermarket ones.  Also, any other wall warts that might be used by electronic equipment.
 
Another source is LED and CFL bulbs.  They all have power supplies built into the bulbs.   If you've already turned off all the lighting, you've probably eliminated them as suspects.
 
Initially I was positive it was the refrigerator compressor and/or the LED lights, but I eliminated those as the problem.
 
I am trying to think about what has changed in the past few weeks that would have led to the noise.  I am going to test out a few things out and worst case scenario, I will go breaker by breaker as mikefamig said.  It hasn't affected the reliability at all so far, but the UPB network is pretty simplistic so far and I would still rather not have as much noise.
 
 
Thanks all for the help!
 

ano

Senior Member
Philament said:
All my dimmers are PCS or Leviton, but a few weeks ago I got just a single dimmer, the elk pim and the PCS PIM to test it out.  I am pretty sure I was getting very little noise between all devices and excellent signal strength a few weeks ago but I didn't do much with it for a couple of weeks.  Now this week I started getting into some of the three/four way switches and swapping those out and also I installed a 7 button controller.  I went to configure it all on upstart and my signal was excellent on most devices (now excellent on all devices due to rearranging circuits to be on same phase) but now I have the noise.
The only thing that matters is the  signal/noise (s/n) ratio, so you can decrease noise OR increase signal, with a repeater.
 
On 3-way and 4-way switches, be careful.  Remote switches are junk, in my opinion. Try some and you will see. The alternative is to use regular switches but just not hook them up to a load.  You can also use the spaces for Leviton Room and Leviton House controllers.  These go together with HLC, which is a "mode" that the Omni controller supports. I use it in my house and everyone loves it.  It works out-of-the-box with Leviton switches, and is a bit more work with PCS switches. Anyway HLC was designed for installers to set up easy. It has a very high-end feel. You control lights with "scenes" using room controllers.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
One time while doing some diagnostics, I rearranged some breakers in my box and in doing so, I created a ton of noise.  I put things back and the noise went away 100%.  I wondered if this would clear up in time or if some sort of At the same time, I noticed that my DirecTV components were causing a ton of signal loss, and by putting them on a noise filtering (audio grade) power strip, that signal suck disappeared too.  UPS's, Panasonic Microwaves (as mentioned above, the inverter style), and variable speed pool pumps are also notorious.
 
The flickering is definitely something I've noticed with all LEDs while the switches are communicating - but I found it didn't bother any of us much unless we were specifically paying attention to it.
 
I've apparently had much better luck with the remote switches than @ano - I use the Simply Automated ones and while I don't like the plastic body, I prefer the fact that all the components work as one switch vs. having to talk to each other via links.
 

ano

Senior Member
Work2Play said:
I've apparently had much better luck with the remote switches than @ano - I use the Simply Automated ones and while I don't like the plastic body, I prefer the fact that all the components work as one switch vs. having to talk to each other via links.
Here is the pro and con of each:
 
Remote Switches - Con
Doesn't feel like a real switch
Indicator Light doesn't operate like a real switch.
Indicator light is usually a slightly different color than a real switch and can't be changed. (Or mine always were)
Can only use if existing wiring exists for 3-way
Remote Switches - Pro
Cheaper
 
Real Switch - Con
Cost
Real Switch - Pro
Feels like a real switch
Light can operate like a real switch
No special wiring needed
Any switch can control any other UPB switch in your house without changing a single wire Anytime (Using links)
 
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