Puzzling Electrical Fault

OK guys, having a puzzling electrical fault, and it's a strange one (to me).

A number of my Zigbee and Zwave Plus SMART outlets (All GE/Enbrighten) stopped working last night. Light switches and Hue lights are unaffected.

The controlled outlet of perhaps 5 or 6 of my outlets is uncontrollable, either from the button, or through hubitat. A circuit tester plugged into them confirms no power in the controlled outlet, however all of them have power in the uncontrolled outlet, and the circuit tester indicates the circuit to be good (that is, power present, ground present and common present, and the terminals aren't reversed).

I beleive all these circuits to be on one breaker, but it's possible they are on 2. I haven't yet confirmed that, as my panel is poorly marked, and I haven't traced all circuits yet.

Given the odd behavior, I'm thinking it has to be one of two things (both speculative).

  1. Loose common or ground wire someplace (probably common).

  2. Bad controlled outlet, but I'm not sure how it could affect outlets down/up chain of it.

Right now, I have two things to start with, but I'm looking for suggestions.
First is to try to isolate the breakers this is occuring on (validate 1 or more)

Second thing is to open all the boxes that have failed smart switches and confirm the wires are tight.

Beyond that, the only thing I can think of is to replace all the smart outlets one at a time, and test them in my plug in harness...

Other ideas?

S.

Make sure it is not an issue like a floating neutral that has just developed.

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Did you try turning the circuit off at the breaker and then back on? Possible some odd power glitch confused the Z-Wave modules, and they need to be rebooted. Hard to imagine separate circuits wired to the different outlets.

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That's what I'm thinking is the problem. My circuit tester doesn't indicate any neutral probs...but...

I did. No joy though. Thanks!

I have confirmed that all but one of the outlets are on a single circuit...so I'm leaning towards the floating neutral right now.

S.

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One thing to try would be to take one of the non-functioning outlets, put it on a different circuit, then see if it can be controlled. That would at least provide evidence that it’s a wiring problem.

Took the GE Zwave plus outlet out, connected it to a harness, plugged it in, and no control.

Put a brand new Zwave Plus socket in its old location, joined it, and it works fine, however the Zigbee devices connected further down the circuit do not work.

I checked the connections in 4 of 7 outlets on the same circuit so far, (all the ones I've touched in the last year or so) and they are all solid.

I'm really puzzled. Need to do some reading, perhaps as noted, something glitches, and these devices are in some sort of fail safe mode....

S

Could these have been subjected to a voltage spike of some sort? Lightning perhaps.

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I'm beginning to lean that way. I'm not sure how just that circuit was affected, as the house is on a Tesla Solar Power system, and I would think I was pretty protected from Line surges...but something went wrong for sure. The Zwave Plus controlled portion of the outlet is completely unresponsive, and the relay appears to be in the "off" position permanently.

I haven't tried resetting any of the Zigbee outlets yet, but based on their behavior, they appear to be fried as well.

If they are, well, they did their job, as none of the devices connected to them appear to be harmed, but it was an expensive surge if indeed that was what it was. 1 Zwave Plus switch, and perhaps 3 Zigbees. I haven't checked any of the plugin modules yet...

S

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If you don't have one of these, I would recommend installing it at the main panel. It won't help with lightning, but will definitely protect against spikes in the supply and surges generated by malfunctioning devices.

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I thought we had one of those, but it looks to have been removed during one of the remodels.....

Don't know the source yet, but I lost 3 Zigbee outlets, one Zwave+ outlet, and I think both HBFC's in the family rooom. Those mighte just be off net due to the loss of all the Zigbee repeating outlets in the room though (fingers crossed).

S

UPDATE: I managed to recover the two HBFCs. Turns out they were orphaned because they were both routed through the zigbeeb outlets that fried! So my total loss appears to be 3 Zigbee & 1 Zwave outlet. Could have been a lot worse!

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I've learned it is unlikely one could predict (or "postdict") the path a lightning path would take. My dad's house was affected by lightning once. He lost the on/off switch on a portable TV and a lightbulb. Nothing else was effected.

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i had 3 switches go out at once.. i assume from lightening.. the switches themselves worked but the zwave radio circuits were boinked..

the also were in the same area of the house/circuit box and we had a storm..

at our cottage we had a little more excitement. we were in the house for one time and the oven sparked and the tv also blew out..

another time we were not at the house and lucky the place didnt burn down. lightening came up the inground dog fence wire melted the outlet and singed the wall .. off course this is ancient wiring with asbestos and no grounds..
we have since put in a newer circuit breaker and a few modern grounded circuits.. due to the asbestos they just leave the old circuits in place and replace the outlets.

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I'm definitely replacing the whole house surge suppressor. This was a relatively expensive lesson! :slight_smile:

S.

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