The right tools and products to help insure a more reliable installation.
Coupling repeater. This device couples the phases in the home, and repeats the command on both phases at 5 volts. This effectively eliminates the problem of phases. Leviton and SmartHome make several different styles of coupler repeaters. Leviton\’s product has to be installed next to the circuit breaker panel, by an electrician. Typically, this is the better product to use, as it is more powerful due to the proximity of the circuit breaker panel. The SmartHome product is ideal because it simply plugs into the dryer or stove outlet, and does not require a licensed electrician. If you have a larger home and have multiple main breaker panels, you still only use one coupler repeater, but you also need additional passive couplers to couple all the other phases in the home.
Whole home surge suppressor. This product not only helps for lighting protection but also cleans up any noise from the power company. Leviton, Cutler Hammer, and other electrical manufacturers make PLC (power line control) compatible surge suppressor. Ensure your whole home surge suppressor is PLC compliant or it may kill your X-10 signal before it even gets to the light switch.
Noise filters. These plug-in and wire-in devices eliminate noise from various devices that produce the noise. Common noise producers are wall transformers like laptop power cords, and power supplies for small electronics. Other noise culpritsâ€” some lines of Sony TV\’s and Maytag washer and dryers.
The proper tools for troubleshooting.
Troubleshooting X-10 problems can be touch and frustrating if you do not have the proper tools. The problem is you have no way to know if your problem is due to phase issues, noise, or signal strength. Two companies make signal analyzers for troubleshooting X-10 problems. In my opinion the best is Monterey Instruments\’ Power Line Signal Analyzer. This tool typically runs about $300 and gives you actual values in mille-volts and volts for your noise and signal strength. As a former electronic technician, I personally like the detail this device gives you. SmartHome has manufactured a tester called the Testerlinc. The Testerlinc is a bit less expensive at $100. It is useful for determining signal strength, and noise, but they use a proprietary method of determining the values. If you are looking for a less technical option, you may find this is a good trade off for the price.