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Powerline adapters causing home breakers to trip?

miller351 428 62 August 13, 2014 at 10:49 AM More Newegg Deals
Power breakers intermittently trip in my home (happens in the upstairs bedrooms only) and I think it is attributed to the powerlines I have installed. The 2 powerlines are on the same circuit located in the downstairs living room. Power outages sometimes happen a few times over an hour or two or there are weeks in between the outages.

I live in a single family home built in 2011. Electrician came out a couple weeks ago and could not find any electrical issues and he said I have ARC breakers on my electrical panel. I was told that I am only allowed to have ARC breakers because of my area's code.

These are the powerlines I have:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Pro...6833704165

Does anyone (1) know if these powerlines have a history is causing breakers to trip and is there something I can do to them to help with this issue or (2) does anyone know of alternate powerline adapters that have much less of a chance of causing power breakers to trip?

Thank you in advance!

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#2
I have those same powerline adapters. ARC breakers are the most common type in the US today. I don't have any problems.

This should be pretty easy to test. Stop using your powerline adapters and see if things get better. Keep a log of your outages, and what circuit pops. Personally I don't the powerline adapters will make any difference.

Is it just one room tripping or many randomly? If I remember right an ARC breaker that has popped a lot does wear out over time. If it's one or two that goes out alot I would have the electrician replace it.

You could also start a support case with TP-Link. I had a set go bad (Offline and only briefly stay connected) and they were pretty good about replacing them.
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#3
These things draw next to nothing < 2 watts, so unless its defective it shouldn't cause any circuit breakers to trip. Make sure you not exceeding the 15 or 20 amp circuit with something else or a combination of other things on the circuit.
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#4
Quote from miller351 View Post :
Power breakers intermittently trip in my home (happens in the upstairs bedrooms only) and I think it is attributed to the powerlines I have installed. The 2 powerlines are on the same circuit located in the downstairs living room. Power outages sometimes happen a few times over an hour or two or there are weeks in between the outages.

I live in a single family home built in 2011. Electrician came out a couple weeks ago and could not find any electrical issues and he said I have ARC breakers on my electrical panel. I was told that I am only allowed to have ARC breakers because of my area's code.

These are the powerlines I have:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Pro...6833704165

Does anyone (1) know if these powerlines have a history is causing breakers to trip and is there something I can do to them to help with this issue or (2) does anyone know of alternate powerline adapters that have much less of a chance of causing power breakers to trip?

Thank you in advance!
What exactly do you mean by "power outages", do you mean some breakers are tripping?

I've never heard of powerline adapters tripping a CAFCI breaker, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility. You might try placing the two adapters on different circuits on the same phase or even removing them entirely for a few weeks. EDIT: Square D, a breaker mfg, specifically lists their breakers are compatible with various PLC home automation protocols. I suspect most are compatible, but none specifically mention powerline networking.

What brand are your electric panel and the CAFCI breakers (if you can't tell easily check the label on the inside of the door and/or post a pic)? I'd be concerned about the possibility of CAFCI tripping for some other reason.

For those of you who aren't familiar with CAFCI breakers: http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdi...8pager.pdf
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Last edited by jkee August 13, 2014 at 04:11 PM.
#5
I have these in a house built in 2009 and have yet to have an issue. As Liquid said try moving them on to different breakers and see if the other one start popping
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#6
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
I have those same powerline adapters. ARC breakers are the most common type in the US today. I don't have any problems.

This should be pretty easy to test. Stop using your powerline adapters and see if things get better. Keep a log of your outages, and what circuit pops. Personally I don't the powerline adapters will make any difference.

Is it just one room tripping or many randomly? If I remember right an ARC breaker that has popped a lot does wear out over time. If it's one or two that goes out alot I would have the electrician replace it.

You could also start a support case with TP-Link. I had a set go bad (Offline and only briefly stay connected) and they were pretty good about replacing them.
Thank you for the response. That is what I just started doing a couple weeks ago (I now have the modem physically connected to the wireless router via Ethernet cable (no powerline). so far, no power issues. It is not just one room, it is 2 different rooms (2 different breakers) that trips intermittently. When I first installed the powerlines, I put each one on a different circuit and breakers tripped all the time. I have since then put both of them on the same circuit and now it is just intermittent power breakers tripping in the upstairs bedrooms.

I did not think about a TP-Link support case, ill try that.
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#7
Quote from miller351 View Post :
Thank you for the response. That is what I just started doing a couple weeks ago (I now have the modem physically connected to the wireless router via Ethernet cable (no powerline). so far, no power issues. It is not just one room, it is 2 different rooms (2 different breakers) that trips intermittently. When I first installed the powerlines, I put each one on a different circuit and breakers tripped all the time. I have since then put both of them on the same circuit and now it is just intermittent power breakers tripping in the upstairs bedrooms.

I did not think about a TP-Link support case, ill try that.
I would not run your modem/router like that. Especially if you have more than one set. I would think you could potentially take a performance hit if your internet is pretty fast.

By the same circuit your talking about like in the same room or on the side of the breaker box? In my house I have about a circuit per room with exception of rooms like the kitchen, or large rooms. I know running across the sides of the breaker box can change performance but most people don't really have a choice. Or do you have different breaker boxes? Either way these power line adapters should not be causing a tripping problem. However if your convinced it's the adapters have TP link replace them. I think I paid $5 for advanced shipping and then they sent a return label. Easy enough.
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#8
Just found this: http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/la...ed?start=1
It doesn't mention nuisance tripping and homeplug at all. It does say some AFCIs are detrimental to the performance of powerline networks. It sounds like you'll have performance issues if you have a Siemens or GE (iirc siemens makes GE's AFCIs) panel / breakers.

Depending on the specific model of CAFCI you have, it may have some built in diagnostics that can help you identify the type of event that caused it to trip.
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Last edited by jkee August 13, 2014 at 04:15 PM.

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#9
What kind of performance and throughput you get with powerline adapers is irrelevant to whether they are the cause of your breakers tripping. Breakers will only trip if there is a short, overload or a ground fault.

So either you are running something on your line that is overloading the breaker or there is something defective in the powerline adapter causing a short in all liklihood (the liklihood of a ground fault is almost nil as that would not show itself only when something is plugged in).

The power consumption of powerline adapters is negligible so it is extremely unlikely to be an overload imo though it is possible if you are just on the line of the max rating of your breaker (15 Amps in all liklihood). The most likely cause is the unit is causing a short and is defective in some way imo. To test this, disconnect all devices and appliances on the breaker line. Then connect the device and see if it trips. This will ensure that it is the powerline device and not something else or an overload.

Though this is kind of weird, if you have isolated it down to the device, then I would return the powerline adapters as defective and get your money back. My 2 cents..
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Last edited by YanksIn2009 August 14, 2014 at 06:29 AM.
#10
Quote from YanksIn2009 View Post :
What kind of performance and throughput you get with powerline adapers is irrelevant to whether they are the cause of your breakers tripping.
Agreed. If nuisance tripping was a common problem with them I'd have expected it to have been mentioned in the article, but it could happen.
Quote from YanksIn2009 View Post :
Breakers will only trip if there is a short, overload or a ground fault.

So either you are running something on your line that is overloading the breaker or there is something defective in the powerline adapter causing a short in all liklihood (the liklihood of a ground fault is almost nil as that would not show itself only when something is plugged in).

The power consumption of powerline adapters is negligible so it is extremely unlikely to be an overload imo though it is possible if you are just on the line of the max rating of your breaker (15 Amps in all liklihood). The most likely cause is the unit is causing a short and is defective in some way imo. To test this, disconnect all devices and appliances on the breaker line. Then connect the device and see if it trips. This will ensure that it is the powerline device and not something else or an overload.

Though this is kind of weird, if you have isolated it down to the device, then I would return the powerline adapters as defective and get your money back. My 2 cents..
Not quite. A standard breaker will only trip for an overload (a true short would also cause an overload). A CAFCI, tries to detect series and parallel arcing in addition to an overload, they also detect leakage current at a much higher threshold than a gfci. There are lots of things that can cause a AFCI to trip, wires that were damaged during installation, damaged cords, loose connections, damaged to wire insulation, etc. Look at the PDF I linked to above -- The given link is broken --

A ground fault could show itself only when something specific is plugged in, but we're dealing with AFCI breakers not GFCI breakers. An arc fault somewhere in the from of a damaged wire or loose connection could show itself when nothing is connected, but it's more likely to show up (and trip the breaker) when a larger load is flowing through the circuit.

You're right about low power consumption, the waveform they impose on the lines is also low magnitude which is why they generally shouldn't trip a CAFCI, but they do alter the waveform the CAFCI sees and nuisance tripping is possible.

A defective or poorly designed CAFCI is probably just as likely as a bad powerline networking adapter. It makes sense to see if the OP's AFCIs can tell us the type of fault that's causing them to trip (many can)
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Last edited by jkee August 14, 2014 at 03:47 PM.
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#11
The breakers aren't tripping from excessive current draw by the powerline carrier adapters because that would require 15A - 20A and cause the adapters to burn up or melt.

It's got to be the arc fault detection circuitry in the breakers that's tripping, and that could be due to the adapters, namely the high voltage capacitor that couples the adapters to the power lines. Arc faults are high frequency, and data transmitted over power lines is high frequency. I would especially suspect a problem with that capacitor or the signal filtering, especially if your adapters are not safety certified by an organization like UL (USA), CSA (Canada), C-tick (Australia), or TUV (Germany), and I see only a "C E" certification, which is junk because it's largely voluntary -- no sample needs to be submitted for independent testing.

Try rotating each adapter 180 degrees to plug it in the other way. Sometimes that helps.
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Last edited by larrymoencurly August 17, 2014 at 11:57 PM.
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#12
Quote from jkee View Post :
What exactly do you mean by "power outages", do you mean some breakers are tripping?

I've never heard of powerline adapters tripping a CAFCI breaker, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility. You might try placing the two adapters on different circuits on the same phase or even removing them entirely for a few weeks. EDIT: Square D, a breaker mfg, specifically lists their breakers are compatible with various PLC home automation protocols. I suspect most are compatible, but none specifically mention powerline networking.

What brand are your electric panel and the CAFCI breakers (if you can't tell easily check the label on the inside of the door and/or post a pic)? I'd be concerned about the possibility of CAFCI tripping for some other reason.

For those of you who aren't familiar with CAFCI breakers: http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdi...8pager.pdf
Breaker pics attached. "Breaker2" are the ones upstairs and the type that trip when powerlines are installed. "breaker1" are the ones downstairs that has not experienced any issues.
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#13
Quote from larrymoencurly View Post :
The breakers aren't tripping from excessive current draw by the powerline carrier adapters because that would require 15A - 20A and cause the adapters to burn up or melt.

It's got to be the arc fault detection circuitry in the breakers that's tripping, and that could be due to the adapters, namely the high voltage capacitor that couples the adapters to the power lines. Arc faults are high frequency, and data transmitted over power lines is high frequency. I would especially suspect a problem with that capacitor or the signal filtering, especially if your adapters are not safety certified by an organization like UL (USA), CSA (Canada), C-tick (Australia), or TUV (Germany), and I see only a "C E" certification, which is junk because it's largely voluntary -- no sample needs to be submitted for independent testing.

Try rotating each adapter 180 degrees to plug it in the other way. Sometimes that helps.
That's an interesting idea to rotate the adapters 180 degrees.

The powerlines have been completely unplugged for about 1 month now and there have been zero power issues.
I did open a ticket with TPLINK to see what they say. Hopefully they will just provide a replacement.
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#14
Quote from miller351 View Post :
Breaker pics attached. "Breaker2" are the ones upstairs and the type that trip when powerlines are installed. "breaker1" are the ones downstairs that has not experienced any issues.
The breakers in the first picture are normal standard breakers, the breakers in the second picture are CAFCI breakers. As a result of the capacitive filtering found in Siemens, Murray, and GE CAFCI's and the high frequency waveforms the homeplug devices are imposing on your electrical circuits I'm really not too surprised this is happening.

It doesn't hurt to swap out the homeplug devices as you're trying to do. You could also try replacing the CAFCI breakers that are tripping. There may not be anything wrong with either one.

When you turn the breakers on, if they tripped as a result of an arc fault, one or both of the LEDs on the breaker should light continuously up for a few seconds. If the LEDs are blinking, that indicates sometging wrong with the breaker. Which if any LEDs are on right after you turn the breaker on? See: http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdi...-cafci.pdf

At some point it's probably easier to just run ethernet... any chance you have an unfinished basement?
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Last edited by jkee August 18, 2014 at 06:23 PM.
#15
If you search the product reviews on newegg for the product you linked to, somebody else had nuisance tripping problems with siemens CAFCIs & the mfg's response was lackluster. You might fair a little better with adapters that support HomePlug AV2 and have a ground prong, but you're probably better off running ethernet, or using wifi, or moca.
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