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I installed a GE digital smart timer at a customer. It disregards…

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I installed a GE digital...
I installed a GE digital smart timer at a customer. It disregards XXXXX XXXXX and turns on and off with a mind of its own. I also saw it exhibit this behavior while wired into the house with the breaker off. The unit has a battery so you can program and read the display with no line AC. I connected the same timer to a 3 prong plug and a light socket at home and it worked fine. I brought this same configuration to the customer's house and plugged it in while I worked on something else. It worked fine for about 3 hours but then started turning on and off every minute or so like it had done previously. I saw the same behavior from another unit.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Electrical
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Answered in 1 hour by:
6/30/2010
Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 8,426
Experience: Proven Professional 49 years Experience
Verified
Hi, I'm Mike and I'll be glad to assist you. Two things come to mind with regard to your problem,

1) Possibly the feed hot and the switched hot wires are reversed.
2) or, your neutral is making and breaking.

Check and advise
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
1) Hot and switched are not reversed. I have been told by Jasco (tech support for GE) that this is the only known cause of the problem that I describe. I reversed hot and switched to see if it would behave in a similar manner. It did not. It simply did not work. It returned to normal operation when I connected hot and switched correctly.

2) Maybe neutral is making and breaking. If so then it is not enough to visibly affect the light when a normal switch is used. Also I saw this problem on 2 different circuits.
One cirucit was the original light cirucit. This circuit seems to affected all the time
The other circuit was a garage plug circuit into which I pluged my test set up. This circuit seems affected intermittently.


My theory is that there is noise on either ground or neutral that is scramblig the smart timer processor. Since I saw the problem with the CB off, I am inclinded to think the problem is not on the hot but I cannot discard that possibility.

I also asked the homeowner if there were any signal over the powerline devices in the house and he said there were none.
Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
The only thing I could suggest due to the situation, is that you replace the timer with an Intermatic Timer not requiring a neutral. That would eliminate one possible cause and end the problem.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Mike,

The Intermattic 2 wire timer suggestion is something I can try among several other things.
If the problem is noise on the hot then this won't solve my problem.
I assumed that I wasn't the 1st person to run encounter this problem.
I may put a scope on line, neutural and ground. If I see funny stuff in the panel then I can call the power company.

As work arounds, I can use the timer you suggested or another that works on the old fashioned turning wheel principle.

I have seen other references to this problem on the internet. If you find why this has happened to someone else (and it's not wrong connections) then I will be happy to accept the answer.
Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
The only other suggestion I can offer is that you check to see if the wiring is switching the neutral. If it has reversed polarity, this could be the cause of the malfunction.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Line and neutral are OK. I've checked on several outlets including the one where I saw the peculiar behavior with my test setup. This is going to be a tough one. I used to work in tech support. It happens sometimes. However, I'm pretty sure the answer is out there somewhere. I just can't find it with Google.
Electrician: Mike G., Master Electrician replied 8 years ago
I've done a fair amount of work with Leviton Intelesense Controls. So I know what your concern is with noise on the line and signal at zero. I don't think that either are pertinent to your problem. I'd try the intermatic timer if it were my job.
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