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#75455 - 02/25/07 01:37 PM Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
JJM  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 100
I recently upgraded all my X-10 wall switches to Insteon. I have approximately 35 installed throughout, a combination of SwitchLinc V2, RelayLink V2, and KeyPad Linc V2.

I have a major problem with them when the standby generator does its scheduled exercise and switches over to generator power: All of the Insteon controlled lights go absolutely nuts! They randomly blink and flicker wildly. When turning on an Insteon controlled light, a bunch of the other Insteon controlled blink and flicker wildly (apparently in tandem) and the LED's flash very rapidly then go back to normal. But it gets better... after the generator switches back to utility power and the generator shuts down, the Insteon controlled lights STILL continue to randomly blink and flicker - though not as severely as while on generator power.

After several hours of the Insteon controlled lights randomly flickering and blinking on normal utility, not having an idea of what the heck to do, I decided to just shut down the power to the entire house for one minute. After that, everything seemed to return back to normal.

The power from the generator appears clean: 120-121VAC / 240-242VAC, 60Hz... which is better than the utilities 109-121VAC / 198-218VAC power. None of the numerous UPS kick on or boost while on generator power, and computers and other electronics do not act erratically - only the Insteon switches. The main panel has a whole house surge suppressor.

Everything looks OK in the ATS:

[Linked Image]

I never had this problem with the X-10 switches. Can't imagine going through this everytime the genset excercises.

Generator is an Onan RS12000 and transfer switch is a GE ZTX RM4. Whole house is energized.

I'm at real loss on this one... anyone else run into anything like this? Most of the folks I know only dealt with Lutron and X-10 for home automation.

Thanks in advance!


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#75456 - 02/25/07 02:03 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
JoeTestingEngr  Offline
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 790
Chicago, Il.
I wonder if the Insteon gets confused with the non-synchronous switching. I'm sure your Onan isn't phase locked to the utility and maybe the ATS switches to emergency so fast that the power loss isn't seen by the Insteon. Do you do your test with a "Test Transfer" switch or by interrupting the Normal source? If everything critical is backed up with UPS, I would try that. We know that in the real world case, the Insteon will have a few seconds of outage and a "Power On Reset" after the genset spins up and the ATS throws over to Emergency.

#75457 - 02/25/07 02:04 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
Tesla  Offline
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
Sacramento, CA
You make it sound like you've accidentally created a multivibrator... with high frequency resonance ringing through the capacitors in the logic chips.

Ferrite chokes to dampen it?

I'd target the excitation circuit first. Purhaps the excitation logic is punching back against the neutral harmonics in your light circuits.


#75458 - 02/25/07 02:12 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
SolarPowered  Offline
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 625
Palo Alto, CA, USA
I suggest contacting SmartHome/SmartLabs about this problem. My sense is that they are quite motivated to make Insteon a success, and I suspect that they would want to find out why this is happening, and figure out how to keep it from happening in future installations.

Hooking up a DSO with a nice long memory would tell them exactly what's going on during an event.

[This message has been edited by SolarPowered (edited 02-25-2007).]

#75459 - 02/25/07 04:21 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
hbiss  Offline
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Hawthorne, NY USA
Quite obviously there is crap on the power from the generator that the Insteon controller doesn't like. After a session it needs to be rebooted to clear it and that's what you are doing when you shut it down then power it up again.

Yup, only way is to get with the manufacturer on this. I'm sure you are not the only one having this problem.


#75460 - 02/25/07 07:07 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
LarryC  Offline
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
Winchester, NH, US
It is also quite possible that the generator plus whole house wiring is inadvertently tuned to a resonant frequency that the Insteon units don't like. When the house is attached to the grid, the "tuned" network is swamped by the grid.

Like Tesla suggested, perhaps some snap on ferrites at or near the transfer switch. Do you have any LARGE loads that utilize power factor correction circuits? Perhaps large UPS's, battery chargers, serious audio equipment, etc. The PFC circuits and the surge suppresors may create the resonate conditions.

One way to test this idea is to unplug the PFC units before transfering to generator power. If the Insteon issue stops, then determine what combination causes the problem.

Good Luck.

Larry C

#75461 - 02/27/07 01:52 PM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
JJM  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 100
Thanks so much for the quick replies! I appreciate it!

My educated guess is leaning towards a phase alignment issue. Yes, the genset excercise includes excercise WITH transfer, and the transfer is so fast the lights (not controlled) barely blink, clocks don't lose time, TV's and computer's (not on UPS) keep going, etc.

I could change the excercise to excercise WITHOUT transfer, but I never thought that was a good idea. Testing is clearly best done under load.

I also took the advice and contacted Insteon. They have replied, noting this is being referred to their engineers. I'll follow-up with their response.

I tried several manual excercises with transfer since. The problem didn't occur after the genset was switched back to utility power this time, but the lights still flicker and flash while on generator power... mostly when being turned on or off. Once on though, they're usually pretty steady. The flicker and flashing is almost like a neon or flourescent tube going bad... very annoying!

I guess it would be a lot more annoying sitting in total darkness.

I wonder if the switched neutral has anything to do with it.

Aside from the whole house surge supressor, I do have a lot of surge outlets installed. ALL lighting however, is installed on a number of dedicated circuits - so I could kill all the other circuits and just test the lighting. Nothing big in terms of UPS' though... just standard consumer grade stuff.

I like the idea of ferrites... I don't want to sound stupid, but I've never seen anything large enough, snap-on type, for service entrance equipment though. Could you point me in the right direction? Sounds easy enough to try.

Many thanks again!


#75462 - 02/28/07 01:34 AM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
Tesla  Offline
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,273
Sacramento, CA
Ferrite Cores might be achieved by current transformers (E-Mon D-Mon? IIRC) or what not.

You'd short out the leads and let them behave as a poor man's ferro-resonant transformer all choked up.


#75463 - 02/28/07 04:45 AM Re: Insteon Going NUTS On/After Generator Power  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
Why is there such a large difference in the incoming and outgoing conductors from that device?.

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