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 Use R-C Snubber to Filter Inductive Load Spikes
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/11/2013 :  11:55:20 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I had a problem in my home where two different inductive loads (a ceiling fan and a florescent light ballast) would cause Insteon ToggleLincs to turn their loads on and off. I had checked the wiring and tried swapping in known good switches to no avail. Then I found a thread that a user jbrusnak had initiated back in December where he had the exact same symptoms. This is just a follow-up to that thread plus my recent thread in which I posted similar symptoms. My hope is that the title and key words in this post will help others find and solve this problem in their homes.

http://www.smarthome.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=11875
http://www.smarthome.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=12826

The part I bought is a R-C Snubber and arc suppressor from red lion. I bought them from this vendor:
http://www.transcat.com/catalog/productdetail.aspx?itemnum=SNUB0000

It worked perfectly. I installed mine a little differently from jbrusnak (see the pictures below). I installed mine in parallel across the load instead of across the switch terminals.




Edited by - BriG on 05/18/2013 07:24:16 AM

stusviews
Advanced Member

USA
15854 Posts

Posted - 05/11/2013 :  12:29:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
In parallel with the line is actually the preferred wiring. Thanks for the info and pix.

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EVIL Teken
Advanced Member

Canada
2372 Posts

Posted - 05/11/2013 :  8:37:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you so much for sharing, and the links for the product.

Teken . . .

Teken . . .

Want to make a real difference? Cast your vote to make the PLM Pro a reality: http://forum.insteon.com/forum/main-category/new-insteon-device-wish-list/8221-plm-pro

Stusviews: This world is made less with out your presence. Your contributions in all things has helped inspire millions to succeed. You were a husband, teacher, mentor, a friend to all.

I will forever miss our chats, debates, and collaboration. I will not remember how you died but remember how you lived and what you left behind. The sky has another star in the Heavens where you reside but the Earth is much darker with out your light to lead the way.

Edited by - EVIL Teken on 05/11/2013 8:37:42 PM
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  08:12:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
More follow-up. One of the other symptoms that jbrusnak mentioned was that his switches would sometimes become unresponsive and lock up. I was having the same problem with two of my switches on the same circuits with ceiling fans. I have since installed another snubber on the second ceiling fan. Now, my switches are stable and do not lock up any more. These fans are totally different models and manufacturers, so I would say that the problem is within Insteon.

If anyone has a problem with an Insteon switch locking up, it may be on the same circuit with a switched inductive load. Based on my experience and a few other posts I have read, ceiling fans are particularly bad for Insteon. Consider installing an R-C snubber to solve a lock-up problem.

After a few weeks of Insteon and ISY experience, my initial impression is not very good. This stuff is fun at the hobbyist level, but it is definitely not prime time. Can you imagine if your Mac locked up after you turned on your ceiling fan?
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BLH
Advanced Member

6335 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  09:20:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Inductive spikes from a fan can mess up many things. Not just Insteon devices.
I have seen other protocols also messed up by an inductive spike.

One thing to consider. The Capacitor in the snubber network will absorb some of the power line signals. If the power line signal is marginal. You can get a I can turn it On but not Off situation. As the cap in the snubber is absorbing the signals when the device is On.

Edited by - BLH on 05/16/2013 09:21:03 AM
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  10:27:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree about signal absorption-- I have a general powerline signal problem, and I was concerned that the filters could make things worse. Since the wired-in Leviton filters are no longer available, I have not found a good alternative. Ideally, we need something that blocks signal suckers and absorbs reactive load transients. The R-C snubber will handle reactive load transients, but it also introduces some signal absorption. So, this solution should have that caveat emptor.

I not seen any degradation of powerline signal performance since the installation of the three filters. If anything, it is actually vastly improved. This is significant, because most of my Insteon modules are ToggleLincs and I/O Lincs. I have not empirically tested it yet... I may try turning on all of the filtered loads at the same time and see if things get worse.

Edited by - BriG on 05/18/2013 07:26:04 AM
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EVIL Teken
Advanced Member

Canada
2372 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  10:31:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This may not be an issue for you as some of the fans may be at a end of a run. If the fans are in the middle, or beginning I would suspect it would pose a problem for those with marginal signals to start with.

Teken . . .

Teken . . .

Want to make a real difference? Cast your vote to make the PLM Pro a reality: http://forum.insteon.com/forum/main-category/new-insteon-device-wish-list/8221-plm-pro

Stusviews: This world is made less with out your presence. Your contributions in all things has helped inspire millions to succeed. You were a husband, teacher, mentor, a friend to all.

I will forever miss our chats, debates, and collaboration. I will not remember how you died but remember how you lived and what you left behind. The sky has another star in the Heavens where you reside but the Earth is much darker with out your light to lead the way.
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  10:38:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have no idea where these fans are positioned in their respective circuits. But, the affected switches are physically near the fans. Same with the florescent light ballasts that affect another switch-- the light load is physically near the affected Insteon switch. One of them is in the same room and wiring box with the offensive load, and the other two are in adjacent rooms. So, maybe the inductive transient gets absorbed at the breaker box. I had not done an exhaustive test to see if these loads affect other switches on other circuits. Given that an entire home is wired in parallel, location shouldn't matter. But I have seen stranger things occur in circuits.

Edited by - BriG on 05/16/2013 10:42:46 AM
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ELA
Senior Member

320 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  11:34:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Brig,
Here is another post on snubber use. A simple search for snubber provides plenty of experience on the subject.

http://www.smarthome.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=10170&SearchTerms=snubber

In the second post from the bottom I addressed possible concerns over signal absorption.

Snubbers can be bought in differing valued components.
The unit you linked to was 0.1uf & 47 ohms. A total of about ~ 48ohms at 131Khz. Should not be a concern.
The unit I used was 0.1uf & 120 ohm resistor for even less of an absorption concern.

Consider that a typical EMI filtered Surge Suppressor may contain a 0.1uf cap with no resistor! That is only a 12 ohm load at 131Khz and it is well known to be at issue for Insteon.

Yes Insteon is no doubt for hobbyists.

Inductive transients are a big issue for many devices other than Insteon as well. A very common problem is GFCI devices tripping on bathroom fan turn off.

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

Edited by - ELA on 05/16/2013 7:27:12 PM
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  12:22:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Excellent post. Thanks for adding it to this thread. I wish I had seen that one earlier too. One comment about "simple search," though; when I was initially searching, I was using the keywords for the symptoms, not the solution. I was not looking for the term "snubber," and that post came up as one of hundreds when using terms about filters. However, when I started to zero-in my search on ceiling fans, very few posts came up. When I wrote this post, I tried to include as many of the keywords related to the symptoms so it might lead people to snubbers quickly.

I like the impedance of your snubber more than mine. I may refit mine with yours.
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ELA
Senior Member

320 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  3:12:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Agreed that it is sometimes difficult to know what keywords to use in a search.

Your inclusion of several relevant terms in the subject line is great.

Your picture of the Fluorescent light is a little blurry. Can you confirm it is a magnetic ballast?

in your original post you said this:
quote:
I have a ceiling fan in another room (on the same circuit) that is not Insteon-controlled. When I turn on the ceiling fan, the light on the Insteon switch in the bathroom will turn off and back on.

When I read that description it lead to a suspicion & thus mention of the Inrush topic. I take it you meant when you turn the fan off? While it is possible for inductive kick to occur due to contact bounce at turn on, it is far more common at turn off.

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

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  3:24:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can't tell exactly. I suspect it is a bounce at turn-on, as you suspect. The Hunter three-speed switch in the wall causes it most easily, and that is easy to bounce on/off when switching between speeds. It still does it when I change speeds with the chain, but not as frequently as with the wall switch.

I will take a look at that ballast again. I did try to look to see if it was magnetic when I was up there, but the ladder was a hassle, and I lost patience.

As a total aside, I graduated as an EE near the top of my class, so all this circuit speak and oscilloscope stuff was my life for a while. But, that has been a very long time, and I can't even figure out the impedance of a simple circuit like you did above. You and a few others on this site really get what is going on and do a good job translating that into layman's terms.
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10926 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2013 :  4:49:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BriG

After a few weeks of Insteon and ISY experience, my initial impression is not very good. This stuff is fun at the hobbyist level, but it is definitely not prime time. Can you imagine if your Mac locked up after you turned on your ceiling fan?



[soapbox]

I respect your opinion, but I draw different conclusions.

Insteon equipment is really available for all levels of expertise. Beginners with no experience can tap-link a Mini Remote or a Hub to several LampLincs to create impressive lighting scenes in just a couple of minutes with no computer or other equipment required; people with some wiring skills can replace wall switches and create powerful multi-way lighting circuits without opening up walls or adding new wiring; folks with more advanced skills can start adding sophisticated automation with conditional logic gear like the ISY; and hobbyists can easily integrate other electronics using IOLincs, IRLincs and TriggerLincs.

This forum chronicles the experiences of real Insteon users since the technology hit the market several years ago. The fact that you had to search a bit to find answers relevant to your problem actually means something important--your issue is the exception, not the rule, the same way that it is the exception (but not unheard of) that you can plug a problematic accessory into the USB of a Mac and make it crash.

That ISY is probably the *least* intuitive of the equipment you mentioned, but that's only because it offers so many features jammed into one device. Keep reading over on the ISY forum and you'll be an expert with it in no time!

[/soapbox]

quote:
As a total aside, I graduated as an EE near the top of my class, so all this circuit speak and oscilloscope stuff was my life for a while. But, that has been a very long time, and I can't even figure out the impedance of a simple circuit like you did above. You and a few others on this site really get what is going on and do a good job translating that into layman's terms.


Now there we agree. This site has attracted some seriously talented people who are remarkably generous with their time!
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  06:17:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ELA

Your picture of the Fluorescent light is a little blurry. Can you confirm it is a magnetic ballast?


Here's a picture of the ballast. I don't think it is a magnetic ballast; at least I assume that "electronic ballast" means it is not magnetic.


quote:
Originally posted by Tfitzpatri8

I respect your opinion, but I draw different conclusions...


My comment was probably out of place in this thread; I was venting over 2-1/2 frustrations I encountered within a short timeframe. I agree with you that it is very cool and is capable of amazing things with relatively little sophistication and cost. My beef is what I consider to be table stakes for a mature technology. I am OK with communication issues between components and prepared to deal with that. (Though I had hoped that "dual band" would have solved it /not.) But, when normal household loads disable Insteon devices, that is unacceptable. (I had a fourth switch that controls a bathroom ventilation fan lock up since I started this thread.) X10 has been around for something like 30 years, and designers should have figured out how to create devices that can withstand reactive load switching without failures during that time. I bet Crestron and Lutron figured it out. To the neophyte like me, it appears that SmartLabs chose not to apply decades of engineering progress. I spoke with a couple levels of Insteon support people through this, and I was stunned at their absolute ignorance of basic household electrical wiring concepts and terminology. It appeared that they were not sufficiently trained to assist customers with anything beyond "air gap it; if that does not work, then try a factory reset." I do not expect them to be licensed electricians, but they should at least use the words correctly.
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10926 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  12:13:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of the benefits of this forum is that real-life customer experiences are here for all to see.

With your experience, I understand why you would be frustrated. Despite the trouble you are having, incompatibility with inductive loads still appears to be an uncommon issue. Insteon has been in widespread use in North America since 2005, but the subject comes up rarely.

In terms of personal experience, I have seen both communications difficulties and trouble with motors emitting noise that can lock up nearby Insteon gear. Both are pretty easily resolved by relocating something, replacing an inexpensive load, or installing the proper filter. With the millions of electric and electronic components people use every day, I'm not surprised that a few of them can cause some kind of conflict.

Buy a professional installer of that other equipment you mentioned a few beers and you'll learn that they, too, encounter device limitations. A skilled integrator/installer of any technology has simply learned an approach to system design and installation that leverages the strengths and works around the weaknesses. Remember the Golden Mean? The perfect is the enemy of the good.
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  12:53:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't know that I would necessarily conclude that this is an uncommon issue. I have found hundreds of references on this forum and the ISY forum related to Insteon devices that have locked up and needed to be air gapped. Most of those were not resolved in the threads I read. Therefore, it is possible that many of those were attributable to reactive load switching, but we do not have the data to know. What may be uncommon is the direct association to and solution to reactive loads documented in these few threads.

In my home, I have had three fan motors from three different manufacturers on three different circuits lock up three different switches. And, the fourth is a florescent light that freaks out out a switch. These are all high-end fans and fixtures. I even swapped-in different Insteon switches and got the same symptoms. I am batting 1,000. Granted, I fixed them all, but this is not the type of thing I would have expected from a mature technology.
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10926 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  1:27:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've been using this technology for several years, and in my experience, one-time lockups can nearly always be traced to anomalies in the utility power feed. Power cycling the device resolves the trouble when that's the case, and people generally won't follow up on threads where the issue has been resolved. In cases where lockups occur repeatedly, there's either been power line noise or a failing device.

That your experience is with three different motors is a new and unique data point. (The typical home has the same make/model exhaust fan installed in multiple locations.) Can you provide more detail about the inductive load, the switch powering that load, and the devices and loads experiencing difficulty?
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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  5:26:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
All of these are on different circuits

#1:
Load = NuTone QTXEN110 bathroom ventilation fan
Load's & affected switch = Insteon ToggleLinc controlling the fan
Symptom = Insteon switch locks up periodically and requires air gap

#2:
Load = Hunter Original ceiling fan
Load's switch = Standard mechanical switch; fan speed preset and never changed
Affected switch = Insteon ToggleLinc controlling separate light on the same circuit
Symptom = Insteon switch locks up periodically and requires air gap

#3:
Load = Hampton Bay ceiling fan
Load's switch = Hunter 3-speed fan switch; also tested with fan's internal speed switch
Affected switch = Insteon ToggleLinc Dimmer controlling separate light on the same circuit
Symptoms = Insteon's load switches off & on when fan is switched; Insteon switch locks up periodically and requires air gap

#4:
Load = 2 T8, Dual-bulb, 4' florescent fixtures with electronic ballasts wired in parallel
Load's switch = Insteon ToggleLinc
Affected switch = Insteon ToggleLinc controlling separate light on the same circuit
Symptoms = Insteon's load switches off & on when fan is switched

Solution: All symptoms eliminated by the installation of a R-C snubber across the load

Edited by - BriG on 05/17/2013 5:27:29 PM
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10926 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  10:07:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
ToggleLincs? That may explain it. It may also make the conversation moot. ToggleLincs aren't exactly 'mature', they're old--they use single voltage/single band hardware which is generations behind current-vintage SwitchLinc designs. Based on Smarthome statements about moving the product line to dual-band, I expect to see ToggleLincs phased out once they sell through existing stocks. (You can use a Micro Module with a mechanical toggle switch if you want to keep the old fashioned toggle-style interface for design reasons.)

I'm not sure it matters for you, since you found a work-around that works, but have you tried a current model SwitchLinc or Micro Module with these loads?
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stusviews
Advanced Member

USA
15854 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2013 :  10:44:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
IMO, even the oldest of ToggleLinc ON/Off switches as wall as older SwitchLinc relay should not exhibit that behavior. Dimmers are different.

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BriG
Junior Member

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2013 :  02:51:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stusviews

IMO, even the oldest of ToggleLinc ON/Off switches as wall as older SwitchLinc relay should not exhibit that behavior. Dimmers are different.


+1, this is unacceptable.

The ToggleLincs are all new-- purchased from SmartHome within the past month. Even though the designs may be older than SwitchLincs, they are still mature technology. And the ToggleLinc internals also highlight my other disappointment with SmartHome/SmartLabs. When I bought them, I thought they were dual band; I learned later they were not. Their description says "Same great features as the award-winning INSTEON SwitchLinc but with a familiar toggle control." It is irrelevant, because I do not want Decora-styled switches in my home. However, had I known they were not dual band, I might have bought some access points while SmartHome had the 20% sale.
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vallemail
Starting Member

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2021 :  7:13:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi All - I know this is an old thread but rather than start a new one I thought I'd try this. Back in April I installed a RC-Snubber .1uf, 100 Ohm, in parallel with the line (across the hot and neutral wires) right at the ceiling fan motor connection just like OP to absorb the inductive spike showing up on my recessed lights when the motor turned on/off. (I have a picture of the snubber but I can't figure out how to attach it.) Anyway, it worked perfectly until last week. The the exact same flash in the lights came back. I'm wondering if it's possible that my RC-snubber has been "consumed", or was it faulty? So I wanted to post here to find out if OP's snubber is still working after 8 years? Mine only lasted 5 months! Thanks!
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