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Thread: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

  1. #1
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    Default Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    I invested a lot of money in X10 products 2-3 years ago. Despite very light use, Ive noticed that they have started to fail (i.e not responding, some with burnt smell). Not limited to a particular type: LD11, tranceivers, AMs etc.

    At first I replaced them but its just too expensive - gradually my home is less and less automated!

    Is this planned obsolescence? A surefire moneymaker for Marmitek et al? I think we should be told...

    Anyone else experiencing this? Is there a known cause?

    :x

  2. #2
    Automated Home Sr Member jon00's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    The only thing that regularly fails with me is the CM11/12 computer module. Normally lasts 1-2 years before a burn out. All the rest including LD11's (4 years) have never failed and used all the time.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    Likewise I've only had probs with CM12U. My LD10s are in 6 years without problem.

    M.

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    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    I had six LM12 dimming lamp modules fail within 12 months. All were used with only incandescent lamps of the recommended wattage. None of them had more than two on/off commands each 24 hours, and then only when we were on holiday. The six were variously sourced from three different suppliers.

    The first two I returned under warranty, but both replacements failed within six months. At that point I just dumped the lot.

    As all were bought to control lights used for security while we were away I judged them untrustworthy and replaced them with AM12 appliance modules which use relays rather than triacs/thyristors. These continue to perform flawlessly.

    Having opened up one of the failed LM12s I quickly formed a view that they were - on the inside at least - very cheaply and shoddily made. I was glad to be shot of them.

    GeoffT

  5. #5

    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    That's a pretty awful experience. X10 is the "el cheapo" end of HA, although that's still no excuse for that sort of performance.

    M.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    Quote Originally Posted by gtwibell
    I had six LM12 dimming lamp modules fail within 12 months. All were used with only incandescent lamps of the recommended wattage.

    I replaced them with AM12 appliance modules which use relays rather than triacs/thyristors. These continue to perform flawlessly.
    Hi Geoff

    I am guessing by fact you were using plug in modules, you were controlling table lamps. The vast majority of table lamps have the bulb with the base down. When the filament fails it drops across the lamp supports and shorts out momentarily becoming something like a 2kW bulb. This excess current will blow the fuse but the fuses arent fast enough to protect the triac so that also fails short circuit.

    If you use the lowest possible fuse you can find then it may offer slightly better protection. I had the triacs fail in a couple of mine and replaced them with higher rated ones and also lowered the fuse to 1A.

    Mine have been in use constantly for about 8 years turning on a couple of table lamps early in the morning. (Just realised that this is still happening even though I no longer get up at 05:45..... must change the HomeVision schedule!!!)

    They are also used when we go away and ironically, this is when the lamps tend to fail.

    Quote Originally Posted by gtwibell
    Having opened up one of the failed LM12s I quickly formed a view that they were - on the inside at least - very cheaply and shoddily made. I was glad to be shot of them.
    X10 is designed as a low cost home automation system (which in the US is what it is) unfortunately due to the much smaller market in Europe and the various different mains socket types, prices are much higher but it is a cheap and cheerful system which 90% of the time does the job.

    The fact that UK modules are relatively expensive is what hurts when a module dies.

    Dont foget that X10 is almost 30 years old, it was designed in 1978 and a look at the assembly methods reveals the same paper based PCB material and vertically mounted resistors that you would find in any cheap transistor radio from the 70's that was made in China.

    Redesigning the products using more modern materials and components would make them more reliable but more expensive. Given that RadioShack in the States are selling Lamp Modules at $11-50 or 6-55 then I doubt there is any incentive to make them better.

    Regards

    Keith
    KAT5.tv - affordable high quality AV Distribution
    http://www.kat5.tv

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    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    Hi Keith

    Thanks for the insight & information on X10. I heartily agree that if X10 modules could be replaced for 6.50 we wouldnt be so bothered. When they cost us 20 + P&P it stings like hell!

    :x

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Are X10 modules all destined to fail after 2-3 yrs?

    Keith:

    Thanks for your observations. It's funny - I almost mentioned the paper PCBs, sloppily fitted vertical resistors, poorly trimmed leads on the back of the boards and flux residues. As a sometime home constructor the quality really made me flinch: barely acceptable at 9 volts, let alone 240.

    I never had a module failure coincident with a lamp failure. In every case the lamp worked when plugged direct into the mains. The only thing I could link a couple of the failures to was power cuts, but not both modules during the same power cut.

    It's also instructive that I've had a couple of Lutron multi-channel dimming controllers installed for about three years now and they remain resolutely reliable despite feeding a hell's brew concoction of halogen (solid state, torroidal and iron-core transformers) and 240v incandescent lamps.

    And having opened one up and seen the quality of construction, I can quite understand why that is.....

    Geoff.

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