Buying 220-240V ready items in US.
Don't try any of my funny tricks without reading the warnings first!
Read my warnings!
Some items already exist in 220V versions. Even in United States so is 220V commonly used for what the call heavy duty appliances.
However, if the modules are available on the local market you will normally get the right plugs and outlets and get rid of extra hazzles. They might even be electrically approved etc. But you will normally pay a lot more in your country than in the US. You will usually also get warranties on the local market. You almost always also get warranties when importing from the US but the shipping costs might exceed the value of the product.
In the current release of the "Home Automation System's" catalog, there are a few 220V devices mentioned. I will try to give some comments about some of them. Note, that I have personally good experience with Home Automation Systems and I am not trying to misscredit them in any way. I bought BTW, a lot of my stuff from them. They probably just bought what was offered to them as 220V devices or versions. Prices are from mid 1996.
The Timecommander Plus controller in 220V version.
I have been using a 60 Hertz 110V TC+ on 50Hz single phase 220V for one year. To do this, just buy a new TW523 interface module or modify the 110V version (included) and change the 110V to 12V transformer to a 220V version. You could also use a 220V to 110V transformer to power the included 110V transformer.
If you buy the 220V version, you don't get a TW523, no 12V transformer and you pay 100 dollars more. For most people it would be wiser to buy the 110V version which includes a 110V transformer, a 110V TW523 and either modify the included 110V TW523 to 220V or buy a 220V TW523 for 59.95. A transformer/power supply from 220 to 12VDC should normally cost you less that $10-$15. As you can see, this is cheaper.
However, the three phase transmit has been modified to 50Hz. Personally, I think that it is better to use a three phase active repeater and disable this feature on the Timecommander Plus. Even minicontrollers and other transmitting devices would in this case work correctly. This feature is stored in the firmware and can be changed between 50 and 60Hz by bying a new EPROM from JDS technoligies
HAS-420XX, Wall Mounted Controllers
Nice units, but note that as with almost all other wall mounted devices, they are made for US style, rectangular wall switch boxes and will be difficult but not impossible to mount in the different European wall switch boxes. You could always buy US style wall boxes but it could be difficult to install in an existing house. And than we have as usual the question: Is it legal in your country to use US wall switch boxes? Many South American countries uses however, US style wall boxes both for switches and for outlets. If you buy these, consider buying trim plates at the same time!
5A Fixture Relay
Probably OK, but it is cheaper to use a heavy duty appliance module, see further down. Size, shape and connectors are of course different.
Passive Signal Coupler
Be careful with this one! It is designed by clever North Americans that believe that everybody in the world is using "split single phase" systems even on 220-240V. I have never seen a 220/440V or 240/480V distribution system! This would mean a system with 180 degrees between the two phases. Most countries would use either 127/220V, 220/380V or 240/415V with 120 degrees between the three phases. If you really have a 220/440V split phase system, buy this unit if you have problems to reach devices on the other branch. Also send me a email to tell me where such a system is used. Just curious!
X10 Coupler Repeater
Quoted from the online catalogue: "This unit will boost the outgoing signal to 5V across both phases of a 220V/440V system". Note that they say both phases! Will probably not work with real three phase systems. Same comment as above.
X10 "Specialty" Coupler Repeater
That's the way they spelled it in their online catalogue! Anyway, this is also a 220/440V unit with the same comment as for the passive signal coupler.
Interference filter 20A 220-240V - $76.50
Probably uses US connectors, both in and out. Otherwise probably OK. I will order a coupple of the 110V version ($22.95!) and check them out. They probably just changed the capacitors to a higher voltage rating. I have BTW, a Sony 36" TV that eats up roughly 75% of the X10 transmitted voltage. I don't have any problems yet but it destroys my safety margins. Also the power supply in my computer both eats up some X10 voltage and causes a little bit of interference.
Heavy duty 220V appliance module - $19.95
This module exist in two version, 15A and 20A but it is currently not mentioned in the 220V section. Works OK on 220V/50Hz. Both modules are internally identical but look carefully at the plugs. You can not use a normal "US adapter", neither in nor out. You either have to get correct US plugs or adapt something yourself.
Standard plug Grounded plug 15A/220V plug 20A/220V plug
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O O O Ground
It is however very easy to change at least the output on such a module to accept a US standard plug. The contacts inside the are universal to accept both 15A and 20A and will work quite OK also with US standard plug. However, the plastic in the cover plate is covering some areas of the contact. Just open the module and examine the cover plate. You will find they have used a universal mold for this part and only removed some areas where they wanted to add plastic. There are clear marks how to cut the cover plate for all three types of plugs. I don't recomend cutting away the plastic without opening the module. It is too easy to get some plastic pieces in some unwanted areas. It will be a little bit hard to push in the connector but it works quite good.
Now comes the funny part! This module is a box with the male connector inserted into the plastic body. Opposite the plug, their is a rectangular cutout with a "heavy duty wall receptacle module" inside the cutout and connected with simple "Apmhenol style" connectors to the male pins. They have put a little bit of solder on this connector, probably to avoid accidents. The "heavy duty wall receptacle" is currently listed for $54.30 and a complete HD244(5) for 19.95! Did somebody use politicians to set the prices or did I mess up different brand names?
What I have done, is to disassemble this module and use the inner part. You could also take a hacksaw and cut out the male connector from outer box. Together with some suitable insulating material (use your fantasy) you could make a male connector to connect to the female outlet in the "wall receptacle". The incoming side is as I said, three thick cables (including ground). This assembly can be used inside a US style wall mount box to control e.g. a some fluorescent lights or some other On/Off devices. It is probably very difficult to squeeze in a switch or a controller in the same box, so just cover it with a blind plate and control it from somewhere else. They might even fit in some European boxes and they do fit inside a UK-Australian-NZ box.
Another idea is that since the heavy duty modules uses 2 pole switching (normal appliance modules don't), one could isolate one of the switches and use it as a separate switch even for low voltage. Follow the circuit carefully. The output of one switch is needed for operation of the cam relay and is connected not only to the output but also to the cam relay and can therefore not be used. If you hold the module with the outlet up, this is the right side. The other switch, on the left side, only connects output to input and you can therefore disconect the wires to this switch, connect the wires to some kind of connector in order to control something like a 24V AC irrigation valve.
Well, what I have done, is to disconnect the original wires going to to the female 15A outlet and to connect the wires from the second unused half of the appliance module switch to these outlets pins, after of course, removing the old wires going to that switch. In this manner you have a 220V-appliance module with a separated switch which you can use for any low voltage or even 220V appliance which is not to inductive. With inductive I mean heavy duty motors, etc. In my opinion it is fairly safe to do this because where I live it is almost impossible to find a US 15A or 20A plug or outlet (See the drawing above) at least where I live. You could therefore consider that (weird) plug standard to be a new low voltage standard and you could perhaps use the hacksaw to cut out the male connector on the outer box and use it for something else, like a connector to connect to the output the original female output of the old internal part of the module. I have used 17 of these modified modules to control my 24V irrigation valves in three valve stations. The modification job should not take more than 3 minutes/module to do if you add an external connector. To use the internal connector it will take a little bit more time because you would have to cut the right fixed contact in two and glue back the two parts with a good safety distance.
The price of a four relay controller is BTW, $99.95 without the TW523 which cost $59.95 (220V), a total of $159.90. You don't even need a transformer as you would need for the "four relay controller" (a 110V tranformer is included). You would pay 4 x $19.95 = $79.80 for four heavy duty appliance modules. Remember that there is no momentary function on an appliance module unless you would modify it. You would then get two on pulses on each on or off command. See the X10 FAQ for this.
However, if you need 16 relays on the same place, the "16 relay controller" would cost you $199.95 (Special Low Price!) plus $59.95 for the TW523 a total of $259.90, where 16 appliance modules would cost you 16 x $19.95 = 319.20. The "16 relay controller" is also a lot smaller!
Other 220V items are probably OK as long as you look at plugs and wall box standards. Even when buying, be sure to read my warnings. Remember that most items that are supposed to be mounted in a wall mount box are usually delivered without trim plates so you should normally try to buy those at the same time.
Even if the items are UL/CSA/FCC approved, this usually means nothing outside US or Canada. I am not even sure that some of the items are UL approved for 220V! Is the 220V version of the TW523 really UL approved at 220V? Anyway, were I live, approvals don't mean a lot, in fact electrical approvals do not yet exist.
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