Casablanca wireless transmitter too weak to reach fan through wall

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Old 09-03-14, 10:43 AM
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Casablanca wireless transmitter too weak to reach fan through wall

This past June, I installed 2 identical Casablanca "Isotope" model 59020 fans in 2 bedrooms of my home. One works, the other doesn't.

The difference is that the working fan's wireless in-wall controller faces the fan. The transmitter's rear-mounted antenna only has to penetrate the plastic of the controller itself. (These are 3v battery-powered transmitters; there is no actual wiring from the controller to the fan.)

The non-working fan has its in-wall transmitter at a 90 degree angle to the fan. Thus the signal must penetrate the electrical box and the wall before reaching the fan (which is in the same room, only 7 feet away). I guess I have an old metal electrical box, which is blocking the fan controller's weak signal. Removing the controller from the wall and operating it in open air works fine.

Casablanca fan company is no help. No one answers their phone. Their replies on Facebook are boilerplate and direct you to an email black hole.

How hard would it be to cut one side from a metal electrical box to allow the signal to pass? Any other suggestions?
 
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Old 09-03-14, 02:33 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

A metal box should not block the signal of the transmitter. It is a radio signal, not line of sight, so position should not matter. At 7' away it should have no problem.

First, I suggest starting with a new battery. Even though the battery should be new, I have found ones that come with products are not the best. Does it work better without the cover plate? Is the cover plate metal? Have you tried flip/flopping the transmitters (changing the dip switches) and see if that changes anything?

Is there existing wires in the box? If so you may not cut off a side of the box.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 02:53 PM
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Weeeelllllll....a grounded metal box could impede the signal quite a bit depending on type of signal and orientation of the transmitting and receiving antennas. Some RF is indeed line of sight and the smallest obstruction can cause non-reception. We had times on my ships where they were transmitting from an antenna on the opposite side of the mast to a ship in company, no joy. Switch to an antenna with clear LOS, no problem.

I do agree with all the suggestions given, but if there is no live 120V AC in the box, you could cut it out and replace with a quality fiberglass or PVC old work box. I WOULD NOT try to just cut out one side of the box.

If you take it out and place it beside the box against the wall in the same orientation, then I would blame the box or the cover plate. Some wooden plates have a metal reinforcement inside to prevent splitting from over-tightening.

You might also try rotating the fan 180 degrees so the receiver is oriented differently.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 03:28 PM
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Thanks for the quick replies, guys!

It was a Casablanca staff person who told me
Normally when the wall control is not working in the electrical box it's due to it being a metal box. So if yours is metal it's not going to work, and there is no other control you can use other than the handheld remote.
Since that e-mail, I have not been able to re-establish contact with Casablanca via any media.

Gunguy45, you think it's possible the receiving antenna is 180 degrees away from the transmitter? Sounds plausible, as I think this transmitter/receiver is just on the edge of working or not working. Any idea how much I have to disassemble the fan to find the antenna and turn it around?

There is live 120v in the electrical box. It's where the overhead light's switch used to be. Now the black wires are spliced together so the fan has power all the time and only the RF remotes control it.

There are no DIP switches. This Tx/Rx pairs with a special button press soon after power-on. Sort of like a Bluetooth pairing or WPS router pairing. And changing to a new battery was the first thing I tried. If only it were that simple.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 03:44 PM
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You'd probably have to take the fan completely down. The ones I've installed have a hook on the mounting plate to allow you to hang the motor while you connect the electrical. Can't move that, would have to rotate the mounting plate.

Live AC isn't a deal breaker, you'd just have to cut power and re-route the wires into the new box.

I know this seems silly, but take out the control and hold it against the wall as close as possible to the original position, wrap it in a couple of strips of aluminum foil with the foil touching the metal box.

Turn the control 90 degrees to the wall and repeat.

I've done crazier things trying to track down this kind of stuff.

These are very low power transmitters and all sorts of things can interfere. Cordless or cell phones, CFL's, routers, all sort of stuff.
 
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Old 09-03-14, 04:17 PM
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Some remote receivers have a little wire tail (receiving antenna) that can be re-routed outside the metal canopy.
 
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Old 09-04-14, 02:36 PM
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Depending on the wiring method, the box could be changed to a plastic box.
 
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Old 09-20-14, 03:27 PM
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OP here to wrap up this thread. I opted for the easiest solution, which was to replace the in-wall controller with an on-wall controller. The latter is simply one of their hand-held transmitters affixed to the wall with plastic mount which covers the old electrical box.

It works, but I think Hunter/Casablanca should be ashamed how weak their in-wall transmitters are.
 
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