Review: HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler

Review: HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler

“Are X10-controlled lights or appliances in one area of your house having trouble receiving signals from X10 transmitters in another area of the house? This common problem is easily correctable with Smarthome’s SignaLinc phase couplers (also called signal bridges).”

At least that’s what the description of the product is. Unfortunately for our test house, the phase-coupler did not work.

You have two separate lines (phases) of 110VAC coming in to your house. In order for the X10 signal to get from one to the other, it needs to go through everything on the first phase, leave the house, travel to the transformer (which you’re sharing with your neighbors), jump to the other leg, and then go through everything on the second leg. This is a rather rough journey for a little 4 volt signal.

To credit, their technical support staff recommended SignaLinc Plug-In Coupler-Repeater (read the review) due to issues with X10 signal strength in the house, and that product worked like a charm when I installed it. Also, the site actually recommends the SignaLinc Plug-In Coupler-Repeater (read the review) if you have a home with a 220V outlet, like the one powering electric dryers.

The HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler costs only $19.99 because the electronics are rather simple as it is a passive phase-coupler that does not amplify the signal but simply passes the X10 traffic from one phase to another.

The installation process is kind of a pain because you must hard wire the device into the breaker box which means all power to your house must be disconnected at the main breaker box. My wife did NOT appreciate that!

The steps involved are not too difficult but if you’ve never really worked with your home’s electrical system you might want to hire an electrician or simply get the SignaLinc Plug-In Coupler-Repeater (read the review). Here are the steps:

1) Disconnect the main power before installing or making connections (like I mentioned, my wife really liked that!);
2) Open up the circuit breaker box and make sure there is no power on using a voltmeter;
3)Wire the HardWired SignaLinc to two circuit breakers. Install a new 220-volt 15-amp (double-pole) circuit breaker. These breakers have a bar between the paddles so that if one breaker detects an overleaded condition, both will trip;
4) Install a single-gang electrical box near the breaker box;
5) Run a cable from the circuit breaker panel to the box using 14/3 electrical wire;
6) Connect the wires together from the HardWired SignaLinc with the electrical wire you ran (black to black, red to red and neutral to neutral – cap off the white wire if you have one);
7) Connect the wire into the breaker box;
8) Check to make sure all wires are connected properly, replace the panel and restore power!

The entire process should take less than ten minutes to do.

Unfortunately, the geeks at Gizmos for Geeks cannot recommend the HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler because we simply could not get it to work. We do believe the device works, but only on smaller homes and not on houses larger than 2,000 to 2,500 square feet. We recommend just going with the SignaLinc Plug-In Coupler-Repeater (read the review) to begin with as it is easier to install and amplifies the X10 signal as the signal is passed from one phase to the next.

What’s Groovy and What’s Sucky

What’s Groovy: The quality of SignaLinc products is evident in this HardWired phase coupler.

What’s Sucky: The HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler did not work in the test 4,000 square foot house.

Features Performance Quality Value
3 Stars 1 Stars 5 Stars 3 Stars
There are no diagnostic features included but the new design apparently improves the signal. Since the coupler did not work for me, I cannot confirm. The HardWired SignaLinc Phase Coupler simply did nothing to fix my ailing X10 network. I believe the product would work for a smaller home. SignaLinc makes quality home automation products and this is obviously no exception. For the price, if the HardWired SignaLinc had worked in my house the value would be rated much higher.
3 Stars
I simply do not see why someone would buy this product over the SignaLinc Plug-In Coupler-Repeater! Well, there would be one reason, the HardWired SignaLinc is $70 cheaper, but if your house is larger than 2,000 to 2,500 square feet… you should really spend the extra money.