Phase Coupler? WTF?

If you would have asked me what a phase coupler was last week I would have tried to quote and episode from Star Trek Voyager; but I found out with my new X-10 home automation system (yes- the company that had all those annoying pop-up webcam ads) that I may need one. (Manuals for various devices can be downloaded from their FTP Site)

Electricity is sent to ahouse over three wires (plus ground); two 110v 'hot' wires and a neutral wire (to allow the circuit to complete). Combining the two phases in an outlet gives 220v for devices such as dryers, ranges, A/C units, etc. The panel box in a house is configrued so the two 110v legs are balanced across the breakers- and isloated from each other (as far as the X10 system is concerned). To fix this I need to install a phase coupler- basically a capacitor that will let the higher frequency X10 commands pass between the two phases.

To compensate for this, there is the passive phase coupler and coupler-repeater; the one marketed by X10 must be installed across two 15A breakers while SignaLinc has made one that plugs into a 220V outlet.

So X10 is currently isoloated to my room (two outlets, wall switch, two plug-in adaptors and a few remotes) but I am planning on wirirng several rooms after I have the repeater-coupler. I also learned that X10 does not work at all on devices behind UPS systems and does not appear to work with certain surge supresors. I also may be having problems as my bedroom areas are behind Arc Fault Circuit Interupt (AFCI) breakers- and I cannot seem to connect to other segements (on the same phase) that are down-stream from the AFCI...

I have found some great deals on X10 hardware/software on ebay from The Home Automation Store and Digitronix Domain (as well as a few 'Lot of X10 hardware' auctions).

I will probably be writing about my X10 exploits for the next few posts... :o)

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