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What looks like a #18-stranded copper wire was attached to the left circuit breaker lug, and was then spliced at the bottom of the panelboard with those yellow wire nuts to another piece of such wire, and the end of this wire attached to the lower right-side circuit breaker lug. Any clue what's going on here?

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What looks like a #18-stranded copper wire was attached to the left circuit breaker lug, and was then spliced at the bottom of the panelboard with those yellow wire nuts to another piece of such wire, and the end of this wire attached to the lower right-side circuit breaker lug. Any clue what's going on here?

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Wiring.pdf

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If there's a capacitor in there, someone was trying to make their own phase coupler.

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What looks like a #18-stranded copper wire was attached to the left circuit breaker lug, and was then spliced at the bottom of the panelboard with those yellow wire nuts to another piece of such wire, and the end of this wire attached to the lower right-side circuit breaker lug. Any clue what's going on here?

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Wiring.pdf

206.41?KB

If there's a capacitor in there, someone was trying to make their own phase coupler.

That crossed my mind- why isn't it blowing up now?

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What looks like a #18-stranded copper wire was attached to the left circuit breaker lug, and was then spliced at the bottom of the panelboard with those yellow wire nuts to another piece of such wire, and the end of this wire attached to the lower right-side circuit breaker lug. Any clue what's going on here?

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Wiring.pdf

206.41?KB

If there's a capacitor in there, someone was trying to make their own phase coupler.

That crossed my mind- why isn't it blowing up now?

The right capacitor won't blow up and it might even work pretty well.

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The right capacitor won't blow up and it might even work pretty well.

All I see is the two wires tied together in the nut. I don't see a capacitor.

Yeah, and come to think of it, I don't think the wires were actually spliced together at the nuts, thus two nuts, not just one, though I didn't look that close. Maybe where the capacitor was removed?

Aren't four-wire phase couplers more common?

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What looks like a #18-stranded copper wire was attached to the left circuit breaker lug, and was then spliced at the bottom of the panelboard with those yellow wire nuts to another piece of such wire, and the end of this wire attached to the lower right-side circuit breaker lug. Any clue what's going on here?

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Wiring.pdf

206.41?KB

If there's a capacitor in there, someone was trying to make their own phase coupler.

That crossed my mind- why isn't it blowing up now?

The cap is there. It is a shiny red square between the yellow wire nuts. He's wrapped the leads with black tape, too. If the cap is rated for 400 volts or so, it can easily handle 240 vac. Thanks, Jim.

Now, can you tell us why?

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. . . Now, can you tell us why?

Probably because, at some point in the past, someone had an X-10 system installed in the house.

I've also heard that ham radio operators used them, but I can't imagine why.

We discussed this a few times before. Here's one old discussion:

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... IC_ID=9304

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Marc, if it is was done to clean up ham radio reception, I would just call it quackery. [:)] If it was needed for one of Jim's X-10 remote control systems, it couples the two phases, right?

In 1939, Philco came out with a remote controller that looked like a telephone base. It used a vacuum tube to transmit to a radio to change stations, but it could be adapted to control other devices as well (and even your neighbor's radio).

On the same page, the Toastalator! I can't invent one now, cuz it's been done already.

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Marc, if it is was done to clean up ham radio reception, I would just call it quackery. [:)] If it was needed for one of Jim's X-10 remote control systems, it couples the two phases, right?

Except that on most single family houses, there's only one "phase."

It's more of a pole coupler.

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Anyone want to define 'phase' and 'pole' as used in this thread?

Capacitors allow alternating currents to pass, with an attenuation that is in inverse proportion to the frequency (less attenuation for higher frequencies). Direct currents are blocked.

I've never heard of this X-10 system but my guess is that it uses the house's electrical wiring installation to conduct high frequencies control signals to different points around the house. The coil within circuit breakers that's responsible for its short-circuit magnetic trip properties, is an obstacle to the control signals because of it's inductive reactance, so the capacitor is used to shunt the signals around them.

'Phase' coupler? Someone's been watching a little too much Star Trek.

Marc

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Anyone want to define 'phase' and 'pole' as used in this thread?

Capacitors allow alternating currents to pass, with an attenuation that is in inverse proportion to the frequency (less attenuation for higher frequencies). Direct currents are blocked.

I've never heard of this X-10 system but my guess is that it uses the house's electrical wiring installation to conduct high frequencies control signals to different points around the house. The coil within circuit breakers that's responsible for its short-circuit magnetic trip properties, is an obstacle to the control signals because of it's inductive reactance, so the capacitor is used to shunt the signals around them.

'Phase' coupler? Someone's been watching a little too much Star Trek.

Marc

I think household wiring has two phases, but we call it single phase.

Marc, Star Trek is real. You haven't watched enough TV, that's what. [:)]

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. . . I think household wiring has two phases, but we call it single phase.

That's a common belief but it's wrong. The transformer supplying the house has only a single secondary coil and supplies only one phase of power. Just because we stick a neutral in the middle of the coil, it doesn't somehow generate another phase.

There are such things as two-phase systems, but my understanding is that they're exceedingly rare and have applications in industrial power systems and railroads.

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I've never heard of this X-10 system but my guess is that it uses the house's electrical wiring installation to conduct high frequencies control signals to different points around the house.

Marc

That's right. X10 used the house wiring for the control of remote components. They were one of the early generation "smart house" systems, usually for cameras and remote control of lighting.

Total pain in the butt to install, marginally successful in operation. That's why you don't see them anymore.

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. . . I think household wiring has two phases, but we call it single phase.

That's a common belief but it's wrong. The transformer supplying the house has only a single secondary coil and supplies only one phase of power. Just because we stick a neutral in the middle of the coil, it doesn't somehow generate another phase.

There are such things as two-phase systems, but my understanding is that they're exceedingly rare and have applications in industrial power systems and railroads.

Acknowledged. Spock out.

The electric cradle went the way of the conveyor belt toaster. WW II.

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. . . I think household wiring has two phases, but we call it single phase.

That's a common belief but it's wrong. The transformer supplying the house has only a single secondary coil and supplies only one phase of power. Just because we stick a neutral in the middle of the coil, it doesn't somehow generate another phase.

There are such things as two-phase systems, but my understanding is that they're exceedingly rare and have applications in industrial power systems and railroads.

Mine is that they were an early competitor to 3 phase systems but lost out with just minimal applications for several reasons, one of which was because they're not as efficient in regard to power transmitted versus lbs of copper used. 2 phase systems have vectors at 0 and 90 degrees, 3 phase at 0, 120 and 240 degrees.

'Course, it could be another myth of mine. Bust it.

Marc

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X10 is still widely available and easy to install. Most commonly a home owner installed system comprises of simple plug in units, no wiring necessary.

For the more advanced, switches and outlets can be wired directly and fit under standard wall plates.

Fairly simple carrier current system that assigns a 'code' to each of the remote units.

Biggest problem was line interference which either falsely triggered a remote unit or prevented triggering. A common dimmer switch could 'mimick' an x10 signal and cause triggering without the proper isolation.

I believe Radio Shack still sells them or:

http://www.smarthome.com/_/X10_USA/_/1y ... 4AodC34_Lw

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Still readily available, super easy to install, affordable, everything one would want in a retrofit system, except they rarely, if ever, worked ok due to the previously noted line interference.

I'm sure, someone, somewhere, is a devoted X10 advocate.

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. . . The power transformer takes single phase power from the wall socket. The secondary is center-tapped so that the output is split between the two power stages. If you look at those waves on an oscilloscope screen, they will be 180 degrees out of phase with each other.

So transformers can produce multi phase power, or combine two phases into one.

No. The transformer is still only producing single phase power. You could put more taps on the secondary and split the voltage several ways. It's still just a single phase. New phases don't magically appear.

What you see on the scope is a property of single phase power. There's still just one phase. You're seeing is different ends of the same wave (or phase). In order to get more than one phase, the waves would have to vary in sequence, not in unison.

Here's another thought.

If an apartment building has 3-phase power going to it, there are 3 hot wires and one neutral. Power is taken from two of those wires to provide power to a subpanel in a single unit. The two legs are 120 degrees out of phase, so we only get 208 vac when we combine them. I think we can call that a two phase power supply, no?

Each apartment is only using two of the phases, but it's still a three-phase system. If you're sitting on a three-legged stool and you lean forward, does it become a two-legged stool?

I understand your points. You're trying to apply the common definition of "phase" as an event that's shifted in time. But in the world of electrical wiring, phase is a term of art with a limited meaning.

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Convention is to describe standard residential service as single phase but there are certainly legitimate arguments in calling it either single or two phase.

If one looks at the waveforms with a dual-trace oscilloscope, with the probe grounds on electrical ground and one probe on each hot, the oscilloscope will display two phases.

The obsolete system known as "two phase", which was used in the subway system in Philadelphia among other places, might more accurately be called a degenerate 4-phase system. It is really two independent "single phase" circuits with a relative phase of 90 degrees.

I recently went through this argument with one of my company's electricians. He was mocking the company RF circuit design engineers for their terminology. I explained to him that his terminology, while the convention among electricians, was entirely arbitrary.

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Convention is to describe standard residential service as single phase but there are certainly legitimate arguments in calling it either single or two phase.

If one looks at the waveforms with a dual-trace oscilloscope, with the probe grounds on electrical ground and one probe on each hot, the oscilloscope will display two phases.

Those waves will occur in unison. It's still only one phase. One scope is looking at it head-first, the other ass-first.

The obsolete system known as "two phase", which was used in the subway system in Philadelphia among other places, might more accurately be called a degenerate 4-phase system. It is really two independent "single phase" circuits with a relative phase of 90 degrees.

I recently went through this argument with one of my company's electricians. He was mocking the company RF circuit design engineers for their terminology. I explained to him that his terminology, while the convention among electricians, was entirely arbitrary.

I could use that argument to justify pretty much anything in life. Good & bad are really arbitrary. Legal and illegal. Male & female. It's all just convention.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, our houses are wired with single phase systems.

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