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Living Room Light Goes On When PW Starts Charging

SD Solarguy

New Member
Jul 19, 2020
4
1
Oceanside, CA
I've noticed an odd thing with my new PW (2, powered up this week). When the PW switches from powering overnight loads to being charged by my solar in the morning, one of the lights in our living room turns itself on. The light has an electronic dimmer switch. I'm thinking the PW sends some sort of ripple through the AC that triggers the dimmer to turn on. I've also noticed that my solar monitoring system has gone haywire since the PW were powered up. I have been monitoring my PV system for over a decade using a simple circuit with an AC current sensor and an op-amp set up as a lossless rectifier so I get a DC voltage. The DC is monitored by a WEL unit (see welserver.com/WEL0526 for live data).

Does anyone have info about what noise/signals/ripples PW may send through the AC?
 

Silicon Desert

Active Member
Oct 1, 2018
3,598
3,493
Sparks NV / GF 1
Sounds like your dimmer(s) might be sensitive to minor surges. That's all I can think of. Have you considered a different dimmer? Also some dimmers work more reliably with a ground wire, yet ground wires are not always available at a light switch.
 

vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,146
502
az
Sounds like your dimmer(s) might be sensitive to minor surges. That's all I can think of. Have you considered a different dimmer? Also some dimmers work more reliably with a ground wire, yet ground wires are not always available at a light switch.

i have a bulb in the kitchen that's like that. Also when my kids are jumping upstairs it goes off/on
 

charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,230
267
Monterey, CA
I had older Leviton decora type dimmers do that when power went on after a short outage, never a decora rocker on/off type switch.
I have one new dimmer that handles LED bulb dimming, that does not have that issue either so all my older style dimmers are replaced with just rocker 3/4 way switches, no more dimmers especially when some in the family have yet to learn how it operates.;)
 

sleevemedia

Member
Jul 1, 2020
56
41
Orlando
Philips Hue bulbs default to on when they regain power after losing it. Others do too, it's intended to be a safety thing. Any chance there's enough of a blip to trigger a sorta smart bulb to turn on?
 
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SD Solarguy

New Member
Jul 19, 2020
4
1
Oceanside, CA
Thanks to all. It was an older dimmer, and Decora (if that matters) so I just went ahead and replaced it with an on-off switch so the problem is taken care of... While I was at it, I also changed out another dimmer in the same room that was not giving problems but was the same vintage and probably prone to it. No use having lights turn on and waste the hard-won solar electricity, or worse, the stored energy in the PW!

Cheers!
 
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sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,241
6,013
Merced, CA
Really hoping PW's don't mess with home automation lighting powerline signals. I've got 200+ Insteon devices (lights and sensors) and having PWs either put noise on the line or sucking up the signal would be a non starter for me.
 

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,477
6,225
Los Altos, CA
Really hoping PW's don't mess with home automation lighting powerline signals. I've got 200+ Insteon devices (lights and sensors) and having PWs either put noise on the line or sucking up the signal would be a non starter for me.
People have said that the Insteon devices are sensitive to the default high frequency that the Powerwalls use when off-grid with full batteries. You should be able to get Tesla to reduce that frequency below 63 Hz for compatibility with your UPS units and Insteon gear.
 
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sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,241
6,013
Merced, CA
People have said that the Insteon devices are sensitive to the default high frequency that the Powerwalls use when off-grid with full batteries. You should be able to get Tesla to reduce that frequency below 63 Hz for compatibility with your UPS units and Insteon gear.

Having it happen when only off grid wouldn't be a deal killer. What would be is PWs sucking the signal when loading shifting as that's likely to happen every day.

What's this frequency that you're talking about and how can tesla change it and does it effect the operation?
 

charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,230
267
Monterey, CA
Thanks to all. It was an older dimmer, and Decora (if that matters) so I just went ahead and replaced it with an on-off switch so the problem is taken care of... While I was at it, I also changed out another dimmer in the same room that was not giving problems but was the same vintage and probably prone to it. No use having lights turn on and waste the hard-won solar electricity, or worse, the stored energy in the PW!

Cheers!
Yep, when I built this house I used those light light touch dimmers. After power came back on, most, not all lights with them were on. I went around to reset them. Then, some family members also had hard time using them. Noe I am almost finished in replacing them with decora rocker switches, tired of misuse, not working with LEDs and new dimmers for LEDs are expensive. I thought dimmers were great but hardly used them and the downside; wish I have replaced them a long time ago.
I think I have 3 sets of 3-ways left.
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,128
2,537
Orlando, FL
What's this frequency that you're talking about and how can tesla change it and does it effect the operation?

So if the power fails so you are off grid, and it’s a bright sunny day and your powerwalls are fully charged, then your solar system would be producing more power than your house can use. Normally any excess solar production would be sent to charge your powerwalls, or sent back to the grid. But in this particular case, that can’t happen because you are off grid and the powerwalls are charged. So to prevent back things from happening the powerwalls will raise the power frequency from the standard 60Hz to 65Hz. The frequency change is detected by the inverters as a signal to shut off.

At that point, even if it’s a bright sunny day, the inverters will be turned off and the house will be running on the powerwalls. Once the powerwalls get down to about 97% the frequency will go back to 60Hz and the inverters will come on again. If there is enough solar power that the powerwalls become fully charged again, the frequency will go back up to 65Hz. This cycle will continue until the grid comes back online (at which point any excess power can be sent back to the grid) or until the sun goes down (at which point there won’t be excess solar power).

People have discovered that when the frequency is raised to 65Hz that a number of devices can have problems with it because it’s so far from the standard 60Hz. After your powerwalls have been installed you can call Tesla and they will change this max frequency to around 62.5Hz. This is still enough to shut down the inverters, which is the important thing, while also having less of an impact on sensitive devices.

Again, though, this is not a very common occurrence and will only happen when your house is off grid *and* your powerwalls are fully charged.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,241
6,013
Merced, CA
That totally makes sense. I think this will be a rare enough occurrence that I'm not going to worry about it especially given that I'm most concerned with automation lighting working at night in response to security events at which point the inverter won't be an issue.
 

woferry

Member
Mar 4, 2019
406
478
San Jose, CA
Really hoping PW's don't mess with home automation lighting powerline signals. I've got 200+ Insteon devices (lights and sensors) and having PWs either put noise on the line or sucking up the signal would be a non starter for me.

I generally have around 2 dozen Insteon devices, so not nearly as many as you. I've never found Smarthome/Insteon products to be reliable in general, but I feel like I've seen more fail since going solar+PW. Could be that they're all just reaching their end of life, and my plan is to look to move to something else like zwave or whatever (haven't really started researching yet). I feel like most things that are failing now are failing in a different way than in the past. I have a PLM, Hub Pro, 2 KeypadLincs and 3 LampLincs that have failed in the past year or so, all but one can only receive messages now, they can't send anything (which obviously makes them pretty useless). One LL was just freaking out, and turning off/back on randomly whenever it should have been on (off it stays off). So it doesn't seem like the classic 'C7 failure', and it leaves me wondering if the transmit circuit is burning out faster trying to drive a signal when the Powerwall (or perhaps inverters) is powering the house. Mind you I haven't had a grid outage this December, so it's definitely not the 65Hz issue, this is just everything working normally, but my house effectively powered by the PW any time the sun isn't up (and the inverters when the sun is up).

When I get the replacement PLM (shipping right now) I plan to take the old one apart and see if I can scope the transmit circuit lines to see what's wrong, and perhaps try replacing a part or two in the circuit to see if it revives the unit at least temporarily.

With so many devices I'd definitely be curious to hear if you see an uptick in failure rates. I don't know what your luck has been, I feel like I'd have never made it to 200+, and would be seeing a unit fail every second or third day (even before solar+PW) by the time I had that many deployed. :p
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,128
2,537
Orlando, FL
For what it’s worth, I’ve got a large number of z-wave devices (64, to be exact) and I’ve been quite happy with z-wave. They use RF communication instead of powerline, so there’s no need to worry about noise on the powerline. Before z-wave I had used X10 for quite a while and I briefly considered Insteon as I was switching away from X10, but after dealing with lots of powerline noise and communication issues with X10 I wanted something that didn’t use the powerline for communication.
 

aesculus

Still Trying to Figure This All Out
May 31, 2015
4,515
2,570
Northern California
From my experience lowering the frequency to 62.5 Hz (Tesla's new low limit) does not eliminate the Insteon problem. But as @BrettS points out, it's only when your PWs are almost fully charged and off line. Since that happens so rarely I can live with the handful of times in my life that is going to happen.
 

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,477
6,225
Los Altos, CA
For what it’s worth, I’ve got a large number of z-wave devices (64, to be exact) and I’ve been quite happy with z-wave. They use RF communication instead of powerline, so there’s no need to worry about noise on the powerline. Before z-wave I had used X10 for quite a while and I briefly considered Insteon as I was switching away from X10, but after dealing with lots of powerline noise and communication issues with X10 I wanted something that didn’t use the powerline for communication.
All of my Insteon devices are the newer ones that have redundant powerline and RF mesh.
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,128
2,537
Orlando, FL
All of my Insteon devices are the newer ones that have redundant powerline and RF mesh.

Oh, that’s cool. I wouldn’t think you would have any problems then, unless the Insteon devices just plain don’t like the higher frequency. I didn’t even realize that Insteon did that now, but the last time I seriously looked at Insteon was a good 10 or 15 years ago when I was moving away from X10. I’m sure there have been a few changes since then:)
 

woferry

Member
Mar 4, 2019
406
478
San Jose, CA
Strangely, my dual-band devices are also failing. So it seems like it's killing ALL ability to transmit, wasn't sure whether a failure to transmit on the power line causes it to not even try to send via RF or something, or if the failure has nothing to do with the power line and it's just ongoing poor-quality of SH/Insteon things in general. My experience has been if you only go with the 2-year warranty you shouldn't expect them to last much more than 2 years, but even when I went with the 7-year warranty things generally wouldn't last more than 2-3 years, I'd just be able to get SH to replace the device once it dies. This is different than for example HDDs, where the drive manufacturers can predict pretty well just when a drive will die these days, so if a vendor offers 2-year and 5-year warranty options, the 2-year warranty drive is basically expected not to last 5 years, where the 5-year warranty drive is expected to last longer than that.
 
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sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,241
6,013
Merced, CA
With so many devices I'd definitely be curious to hear if you see an uptick in failure rates. I don't know what your luck has been, I feel like I'd have never made it to 200+, and would be seeing a unit fail every second or third day (even before solar+PW) by the time I had that many deployed. :p

I have had an uptick but not in rate. It's simply because I have so many devices and the oldest ones are failing. But it's acceptable. I'm replacing about 4 or 5 / year. I still have 2/3rds of the original devices after 15 years.

My communication reliability is rock solid but then half of them are dual band. But I don't think they'd be perfectly reliable with wireless only. I think wireless really is the backup mode.
 

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