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 Identifying phases - bridging multiple subpanels
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icerabbit
Average Member

USA
71 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  04:10:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have an ISY994 kit. After sketching out which items I want controlled outside via ApplianceLincs and In-LineLinc Relays; I am now at the point where I need to figure out my needs for Access Points.

The house is all elongated 4000 sqft and was designed to run on all-electric heating which caused it to be designed with an 800A master panel on which there are no conventional breakers; but four over sized 200Amp ones running feeder lines to different sub panels.

You can visualize it as each running 25-50ft farther in line length than the next.

[ master ] --15ft-- [ garage ]
           ----40ft--- [kitchen]
           ------75ft----- [main floor] --- 100ft--- [pool shed sub-panel]
           ------ ? ---- [2nd floor]


Of course the various exterior outlets for landscape lighting and functions come off any of those panels.

We don't have any particular plans to control interior lighting. A lot of it is CFL and now LED. We typically turn things on/off as needed.

I'm hoping to avoid needing a batch of access points (or whatever they called) and maybe install functional hardware strategically.

I do want a 220V controller on the pool pump. Primarily used in off-peak electric time, so normally open. Which is way downstream on one end, and will serve some landscape lighting in the back yard. So, that should be good.

Would a 220V controller for the electric water heater on the main floor panel, replacing an electromechanical timer, adequately bridge the signal upstream to the master & other sub-panels?

For a water heater, typically used in off-peak hours in the evening and early am, I would also get a normally open model. Yes?

Is there a way one can identify phases or legs of service?

As I could probably add a service outlet adjacent to the main floor panel and the kitchen panel, which I think would give the strongest service as it is adjacent to the panel. But I rather not put those service receptacles in, and then find that they are going to be on the same leg/phase.

Another thought is to for instance replace each of the three light switches for the three areas in the basement ...which I think are on different panels. But, they only have one wire into the single gang box (by which I mean hot incoming and white being switched load on the same wire to the lights)

As always I appreciate your insights and experience :)

oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
2501 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  07:12:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would not rely on an electric water heater to bridge the insteon signal across legs of your electrical system. I believe you would find that intermittent, at best.

Yes, one can identify legs of service. Pysical inspection of a panel can identify legs within that panel. I know of no convenient way to identify legs between panels. There are others around here, more knowledgeable than I, that could help, possibly. I believe you will find it easiest simply to purchase two access points and follow the included instructions to identify that one is on each leg.

I have installed two outlets, close to the panel, for use by access points. This works well for me and I agree that this offers good signal coupling. Fortunately, I don't have to be concerned with mulitple panels. If you are willing to add two outlets from the same panel, I believe you can identify (ahead of time) to circuit on opposite legs. My experience is that with most panels, adjacent (side-to-side) breakers are on opposite legs. It is also my understanding that, with multiple-panel houses), it is not necessary to concern oneself with having access points on each panel, assuming all are powered by the same, single feed from the utility supply.

Edited by - oberkc on 10/03/2012 07:13:49 AM
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piratacs
Senior Member

Guatemala
221 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  07:46:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit piratacs's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thats right. Phases in a breaker box are like this:

1 - 2
2 - 1
1 - 2
2 - 1
....

Sometimes, I identify a device on an opposite leg and simply move the breaker one position up or down.

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icerabbit
Average Member

USA
71 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  07:50:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks oberkc & piratacs.

You have confirmed a few things of my thinking. I also thought that on a residential panel one phase goes left and one goes right. Which made me wonder if could put an outlet + access point on "leg 1" at panel B and then an outlet on "leg 2" on panel C ... thus serving both legs with powerline and bridging via RF. I will stick my head in the basement again and see if I can live trace something.

But, yes, I should probably err on the cautious side and include two access points along with the other stuff.


Edited by - icerabbit on 10/03/2012 08:16:42 AM
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BLH
Advanced Member

4460 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:09:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Most panels alternate full sized spaces between the phases. So you can get 220 volts across breakers adjacent to each other.
Look at the breaker boxes cover. Many times they have a connection map on them.

One exception I have seen is some old Federal Pacific breaker boxes. They had a set of breakers on one phase then the next set on the other phase. So only four positions had 220 volts on adjacent breakers.

Edited by - BLH on 10/03/2012 08:10:42 AM
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8571 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:10:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As oberkc wrote, all dual-band devices (including Access Points) have a built-in test feature that allows you to check if two units are located where they are a) communicating via radio, and b) on opposite sides of your split single-phase utility feed. When two units are installed where they do both, they provide a wireless pathway so devices served by one side of your utility's transformer can communicate reliably with devices served by the opposite side. My experience with circuit breaker placement is different--in the panels I've worked with, each full-size breaker down the line is on the *opposite* side, and a second, adjacent row of breakers is on the *same* side. Use the dual-band device's built-in test to be sure.

If you were posting this a few years ago, I'd be telling you AP location was critical. Today, with the proliferation of dual-band devices that do the same thing, *plus* switch a load, *plus* can't be accidentally moved or unplugged, you'll be less reliant on APs. Once you get all the hardwired gear and the ISY installed, you can use its built-in logging and scene test functions to test communications with everything and identify any 'weak spots' where you might want to plug in an AP to boost signals.

Your ISY's PLM interface placement may be the biggest factor in your success. Since the ISY uses the PLM to program, control and monitor all of your Insteon gear, anything that interferes with its communication will negatively impact your entire network. Avoid connecting the PLM to a signal-absorbing noise or surge arrestor or UPS, install it vertically so it shares the ground plane of switches and modules, avoid installing it near large, metal objects or furniture that can block or reflect RF signals, and be prepared to isolate nearby sources of interference with a FilterLinc. (UPS or surge protectors, electronic transformers supplying modems, routers and switches can ordinarily all be plugged into the same power strip and isolated from the rest of the power line with a single FilterLinc.)

Be sure to establish an account on the dedicated ISY forum to find programming tutorials, keep track of updates to its software, and to learn about all its troubleshooting features. See http://forum.universal-devices.com

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icerabbit
Average Member

USA
71 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:28:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks BLH & TFITZPATRICK,

You are probably all correct that the leg alternates between breakers as you do down the rows in most panels, like interlocking fingers. I don't look in a panel very often and when they're full, all you see is one leg wire going left and one right.

The ISY & PLM are currently connected to the main house panel, central to the house as that's close to the router in the basement totally opposite side of the house. Good for downstream to the pool shed & wires off the main house panel; but of course some of the signals need to travel to MAIN PANEL and then GARAGE for outside line.

I was thinking about 220V / 240V 30 AMP INSTEON Load Controller Normally Open Relay (Dual-Band) Item# 2477SA1 for the water heater ...
which I thought I read would send & receive powerline & RF and act as a phase coupler.

Does it not ? Or maybe I'm not fully understanding the description:

quote:
This switch also uses INSTEON Dual-Band technology, which sends and receives INSTEON powerline and wireless radio frequency (RF) signals. This allows it to work as a phase bridge for superior signal reliability and as an access point for INSTEON RF and battery powered devices.




Edited by - icerabbit on 10/03/2012 08:40:51 AM
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8571 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:42:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure a load controller will actually help as a wired coupler. It doesn't connect to neutral, so I'm not sure how the power line signals it broadcasts across hot to hot could be seen by devices attached to a single hot and neutral without the help of a couple more dual-band devices.

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icerabbit
Average Member

USA
71 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:55:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Excellent point, it doesn't have a neutral wire.

So, indeed it could only be a pass-through for powerline if it sends through over hot and then other devices take it from hot and re-broadcast over neutral?

Just when I thought I had it almost figured out ...

Guess I'll be needing some dual band devices to bridge things ;)
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
11399 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  12:49:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
With few exceptions, distribution panels alternate legs of the split, single-phase electric supply vertically. Full height circuit breakers at the same horizontal level are on the same leg as indicated below:
A-A
B-B
A-A
B-B
(Pairs of adjacent half-height breakers are on the same leg.)

By convention, the legs are labelled A and B, but that only indicates that they are different. It's not an identifier. Leg A in one panel can be leg B in another, because it doesn't matter to electric wiring.

If the opposite legs of the electric supply are coupled, then which leg, A or B, an Insteon device is on also doesn't matter. IMO, the best coupling can be achieved with a SignaLinc installed in or near the main panel. An Insteon signal travels in every wired direction. By installing the coupler in the main panel, the greatest portion remains within the premises. Additional dual-band devices can increase reliability and RF range. BTW, I installed a SignaLinc in each of our two panels, probably unneeded, but inexpensive as I did the installation

Tfitzpatri8 is correct. The INSTEON Load Controller is not a phase-coupler. It is dual-band, that is both powerline and RF.
quote:
Originally posted by icerabbit
Another thought is to for instance replace each of the three light switches for the three areas in the basement ...which I think are on different panels. But, they only have one wire into the single gang box (by which I mean hot incoming and white being switched load on the same wire to the lights)


Although the code is silent on this issue, by convention the white is line and the black is the switch return. That way, the fixture has one black (switched) and one white wire rather that two white wires.

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ELA
Senior Member

318 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  1:47:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
From Smarthome site:


2477SA1
Remote On/Off control of 220V / 240V, 60Hz devices via INSTEON
Economically priced solution for controlling heavy-duty appliances up to 30 AMPs
Dual-band device acts as Access Point for INSTEON RF only products
Easily installed between breaker panel and appliance - no neutral required
Acts as an active phase repeater for INSTEON signals


Insteon Test Data ->: http://www.elavenue.com/insteon_test_data.html
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8571 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  2:06:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It functions as a dual-band device to bridge RF signals from/to other devices on the same 220/240, and it repeats RF signals, but I don't see any way it could get a signal to directly communicate with single-band, 120 volt devices attached to only one hot and a neutral. I think someone made a mistake or was thinking of non-U.S. applications.
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
11399 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  2:20:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Repeater is not synonymous with coupler.

There is no mention in the Owner's Manual (nor QSG) about it being a phase-coupler. It is referenced as a repeater.

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ELA
Senior Member

318 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  2:48:33 PM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
From the manual:

"This switch also uses INSTEON Dual-Band technology, which sends and receives INSTEON powerline and wireless radio frequency (RF) signals. This allows it to work as a phase bridge for superior signal reliability and as an access point for INSTEON RF and battery powered devices."

Since it is a 240V device with no neutral which Phase/Leg do you think it does not transmit on?

Insteon Test Data ->: http://www.elavenue.com/insteon_test_data.html
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icerabbit
Average Member

USA
71 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  3:03:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So poor wording by SmartHome? RE: " This allows it to work as a phase bridge ... "

Bridging to me sounds like coupling.

Anyway, I will probably get a pair of those SignaLincs. Thanks Stu, those are a cheaper alternative than my idea! Wasn't aware of their existence :)

I actually don't know which way it is wired, just that it is the loop situation where only one 14-2 wire goes into the single gang switch box, and remember that one should be black and the other white marked black. Personally I consider any wire could be energized and assumed black-to black etc. :) But good to know or be reminded (may have forgotten) that the white one marked black should be carrying the line to the switch :)
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
11399 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  3:07:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by icerabbit
Would a 220V controller for the electric water heater on the main floor panel, replacing an electromechanical timer, adequately bridge the signal upstream to the master & other sub-panels?


quote:
Originally posted by ELA

From the manual:

"This switch also uses INSTEON Dual-Band technology, which sends and receives INSTEON powerline and wireless radio frequency (RF) signals. This allows it to work as a phase bridge for superior signal reliability and as an access point for INSTEON RF and battery powered devices."


Which manual? Not the 220V/240V 30 AMP INSTEON Load Controller's Owner's Manual that the OP referred to.

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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8571 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  3:23:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ELA
Since it is a 240V device with no neutral which Phase/Leg do you think it does not transmit on?



Why is it that two voltages can share the same neutral in a power supply?

Electricity needs a complete path to work. A device that connects to the two hot wires in a split-single phase system can generate voltage over those two wires relative to each other, but it won't be visible to devices attached to only one of the wires. 110/120 volt devices are only attached to one of the hots and neutral, whereas the load controller is connected to the two hots without a connection to neutral.

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ELA
Senior Member

318 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2012 :  07:09:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stu,
I should have said, " Under Essential information on the sales page".

Tfitzpatri8,
How does a 120V PLM turn this device on and off? The PLM sends from one leg to neutral yet the 240V device "hears" and "responds" without the use of the neutral. It is not as if the neutral is floating with respect to either phase/leg.

I do not have any 240V devices. If I did I would test and confirm for you.
I am only pointing out what Smarthome advertizes and it sure sounds like it actively couples between phases/legs to me.

Why do you both then say that it does not? I do not care to speculate. Can you test to confirm that it does not?
Maybe you know someone at Smartlabs that can confirm?

Insteon Test Data ->: http://www.elavenue.com/insteon_test_data.html
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