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Old 10-28-2013, 06:42 PM   #1
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EE type question

Probably very basic but you won't get enough information for a solid answer, but here goes anyway -
History:
We bought a place with a pool in the front and the pump and electrical in the back yard. Never had dealt with a pool before, but found that the submerged pool light has a cord that goes to a stand by the front corner of the house, said stand powered from a switch back by the pool pump in the back yard. The switch was an X10 signal through the power line switch, and after reading about X10 I bought other X10 stuff (like a receiver/signaler and a little X10 remote so we could control and dim the pool lights from the pool area. I've been very unimpressed with X10 and this year the pool lights wouldn't turn on. Check continuity through the light cord, then wired around the X10 switch and confirmed working bulb. Remote causes receiver/signaler to click and turn on a light plugged into it. Replaced X10 switch with another loose on hand X10 switch, still didn't work, so I suspect two bad switches or a failure to signal the switches.

The gal wants a pool light remote and the ability to dim the light, though once at the desired dimness it doesn't have to be changed much. I've had great success with Superswitch Christmas tree light remotes and receivers - I code the receivers and use them to turn on a lamp here and strings of LEDs there in groups with one button push. I >think< the signal is RF rather than IR, in any case it penetrates walls well. Did a little experimenting with the Superswitch receiver wired in at the pool light stand and found that I could switch the pool light on and off with much better range than the X10 remote.

Went to Lowes and bought a toggle dimmer switch and mounted it back at the pool pump switch location. Gutted the Christmas light receiver so it would all fit and be sealed under the stand at the corner of the house. Remote works the switch and the light goes on and off - even when I have the dimmer switch set for very low light. Real surprised by that - thought that dimmers worked by limiting output voltage. So how is this receiver even working? Will getting lower voltage cause it to have early failure? I'm thinking of crunchy overheated light fixtures designed for 120V bulbs that have 130V bulbs used in them. How can this be done better ( bearing in mind: Superswitch with 3 receivers cost less than $20 and I like one remote controlling lots of stuff, toggle dimmer cost $14)?
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:48 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I follow the set-up. It sounds like you have a light dimmer wired to the source, then this 'superswitch' plugged into the output of the dimmer, and the pool light plugged into the output of the switch?

POWER >> DIMMER>> S-SWITCH>> Pool Light

Dimmers don't exactly lower the voltage, they 'chop' the signal, so it's only on for a portion of the full power cycle (1/60th second). So the 'superswtich' might work with a chopped signal, but it also could stress it - no way to tell. Why not wire the "superswitch' first?

POWER >> S-SWITCH>> DIMMER>> Pool Light


A 130V versus 120V light bulb has (almost*) nothing to do with heat - the wattage rating of the bulb will determine that.

* technical detail, 130V bulbs are slightly less efficient at 120, so a 60W 130V bulb will produce a negligibly greater amount of heat than a 60W 120V bulb on 120V.

-ERD50
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Old 10-28-2013, 09:07 PM   #3
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What ERD-50 said...

About the X10 not working, it could be because the pool light and your X10 transmitter are not plugged in or wired into the same 110V split-phase line. It works for me in my pool setup.

The X10 uses the AC line as the means of transmitting the control signal. To control the pool dimmer, this signal has to travel from the 110V receptacle where the transmitter is plugged in, through the house wiring to the main panel where the power meter is located, then down the wire to the pool. In my case, the signal is strong enough at the receiving end for it to work.

However, if the receptacle where the transmitter is plugged in is not the same 110V split-phase as the pool light, then the signal can only cross the two wires by stray coupling. This weak signal may work inside a home, but not over a long distance.

The above problem could be easily remedied. The wiring to the pool has both 110V split-phase lines because the pump is usually 220V. One can just change the pool light to the other 110V wire.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I'm not sure I follow the set-up. It sounds like you have a light dimmer wired to the source, then this 'superswitch' plugged into the output of the dimmer, and the pool light plugged into the output of the switch?

POWER >> DIMMER>> S-SWITCH>> Pool Light

Dimmers don't exactly lower the voltage, they 'chop' the signal, so it's only on for a portion of the full power cycle (1/60th second). So the 'superswtich' might work with a chopped signal, but it also could stress it - no way to tell. Why not wire the "superswitch' first?

POWER >> S-SWITCH>> DIMMER>> Pool Light


A 130V versus 120V light bulb has (almost*) nothing to do with heat - the wattage rating of the bulb will determine that.

* technical detail, 130V bulbs are slightly less efficient at 120, so a 60W 130V bulb will produce a negligibly greater amount of heat than a 60W 120V bulb on 120V.

-ERD50
Thanks for the explanation, and you are correct on the order of the setup. Dimmer is first because the Superswitch is controlled by a remote which doesn't have enough oomph to reach from the pool area to the back yard location through the extra walls - mounting the Superswitch receiver in the pool light connection stand out by the pool gets it close enough to be easily controlled by the remote.

So chopping the power cycle - wave still has full 120V amplitude and cycles/second but has portions of the wave between the peaks removed?

I know I've replaced light sockets with the fiber or plastic outer shells burned to fragments and taken out 130V bulbs with blued metal threads and thought it was a lower light/greater heat issue - maybe it was a matter of someone running higher wattage 130V bulbs to try and achieve equivalent lumens to the replaced 120V bulbs.
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Old 10-28-2013, 11:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
What ERD-50 said...

About the X10 not working, it could be because the pool light and your X10 transmitter are not plugged in or wired into the same 110V split-phase line. It works for me in my pool setup.

The X10 uses the AC line as the means of transmitting the control signal. To control the pool dimmer, this signal has to travel from the 110V receptacle where the transmitter is plugged in, through the house wiring to the main panel where the power meter is located, then down the wire to the pool. In my case, the signal is strong enough at the receiving end for it to work.

However, if the receptacle where the transmitter is plugged in is not the same 110V split-phase as the pool light, then the signal can only cross the two wires by stray coupling. This weak signal may work inside a home, but not over a long distance.

The above problem could be easily remedied. The wiring to the pool has both 110V split-phase lines because the pump is usually 220V. One can just change the pool light to the other 110V wire.

Ah, but you see it was a working X10 setup for several seasons, then wasn't working this season. Of course it could be that my experience of X10 as being pretty vague control-wise is that it's just had stray coupling, but I'm pretty sure I checked for that back when I learned about X10 and hooked it up. Worth checking though. And BTW - thanks for mentioning evaporative pool cooling some days back - hadn't even considered that as a cooling mechanism and have been amazed at how quickly the pool cools at the end of summer (just before we get here).
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