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Old 11-05-2010, 04:34 PM   #1
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


I have a circuit which feeds 2 fluorescent lights in my garage and a floodlight outside my garage. There's nothing else on the circuit. The fluorescents are switched with a 3-way switch on each end of the garage, and the floodlight with a standard switch next to one of the 3-way switches. The fluorescents and flood operate independently of one another.

I am not sure where the main hot comes in and branches off. What I do know is this: There are 2 wires coming from the interior wall where the first 3-way switch is, which is also the direction of the breaker box. One of these wires feeds the fluorescent, the other goes to the switch panel on the other side of the garage. A second line goes from that switch panel up to the floodlight, and a third line goes back to the fluorescent. The only lines I have un-capped and tested are the ones inside the box above the fluorescent. There's a bundle of hot, a bundle of neutral, and a 3rd bundle with 2 blacks and a white. I get voltage across the hot and neutral only when the switch is on, and across the neutral and mixed bundle whether the switch is on or off. This all makes sense, but what does NOT make sense is the fact that no matter whether the lights are on or off, and no matter which pair of bundles I'm testing, the voltage is 145-150. Both fluorescents and the floods function perfectly fine and I've never so much as blown a bulb in 3 years of using them daily.

What the heck is going on?

Last edited by Fulg; 11-05-2010 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:00 PM   #2
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


Check voltage at some other circuits, I bet you'll find it down around 90-100 volts. This would be a good sign of a loose main neutral. Unplug all your electronics so they don't get fried, and call the power company out to check the connections from the pole.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:02 PM   #3
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


Because.
.
.
.
.
OK, I got that out of my system.

-What kind of meter are you measuring with and between what points?
-What kind of light (incandescent, flourescent, ...)?
-Does the light burn unusually bright and/or have a very short life?
-Is the voltmeter reading steady or does it fluctuate wildly, especially if it's digital?
-Have you verified that the voltmeter is working correctly by taking the same measurement with a different instrument?
-How about measurements of other circuits in different parts of the house? Are they normal?
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:02 PM   #4
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


Actually I might be jumping the gun a bit here. Is this garage attached or detached? Does it have its own sub-panel? It's almost definitely a loose neutral somewhere, but not necessarily at the main service connections.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:07 PM   #5
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


McSteve,
Good call in your first reply except I would expect to find every GFI in the house has popped. Nothing was said about that. Not yet, anyway.

Last edited by tldoug; 11-05-2010 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Out of sequence thread
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:48 PM   #6
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


Sorry guys I posted that prematurely and then couldn't figure out how to delete it. I've got about 3 paragraphs of explanation coming...
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:15 PM   #7
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145-150 volts in my garage light circuit. Why?


Thanks for the quick responses guys. It was a DYING battery in my voltmeter causing it to read 30-35 volts high! I didn't even know that was possible! Anyhow after checking the rest of my house and seeing 150V+ everywhere and then going into semi-panic mode, I found a 9V for the meter and rechecked the circuit in the garage and elsewhere. Everything is good.
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