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Old 08-29-2012, 09:08 PM   #1
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fixture lights partially


I recently bought a house and went to start replacing burnt out light bulbs. There are 2 outdoor fixtures above my garage which were both burnt out. I replaced those with 60 watt bulbs (max 100 fixtures) and they flashed brightly and then went to a dull orange. That is the most I can get out of these like they are at half power. I tried new fixtures with the same result and the fixtures measured 125 volts. These are on a 20 amp breaker with only the garage door opener and 2 indoor light fixtures. I also cannot find that these lights are on a switch so I think we can rule that out.


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Old 08-29-2012, 09:48 PM   #2
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fixture lights partially


Flourescent bulbs by chance? Is there a motion detector or photocell on the circuit or are they controlled by a photocell remotely? Perhaps a timer somewhere? They have to be controlled somehow...you are missing something. Post a picture.

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Old 08-29-2012, 10:05 PM   #3
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They are not flourescent bulbs. They are dull enough that i can see the filament glowing orange without it blinding me. Right now the concern is not with the switch, but with the reason they are not fully lighting. It ends up blowing the bulbs if left on for more than a few minutes, so i dont get to troubleshoot much. I am fairly certain there is no switch tied to the lights as well as i cannot find a photocell or motion detector. I do however plan on wiring a new switch in. Any other ideas? A picture of what?
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:09 PM   #4
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fixture lights partially


Quite odd. Bulbs that burn that dimly are symptoms of very low voltage...so they could last indefinetely. They usually don't burn out quickly. Any neutral problems? Are you saying that the lights are always on?...that seem a bit odd.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:20 PM   #5
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fixture lights partially


its possible that the reason the light bulb stopped working was because we shook it and the hot filament broke easily. It does seem that they are always on and i agree that it seems odd. I think im going to have a friend who knows more than I stop in and give me a hand with this. You said that the dimly lit bulb is usually a sign of low voltage but my multimeter read 125 volts... any suggestions for things to check? The ground is hooked to the metal mount/box.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:24 PM   #6
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Having someone who "knows more" than you is a smart thing to do. It's hard to diagnose online but someone hands on can do that for you. I'm thinking you may have a wire broken, but not clean through that offers up a minimal amount of voltage under a load or possible a neutral problem. Please post results when you figure it out.
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Old 08-30-2012, 05:58 AM   #7
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CAN you measure the voltage at the fixture at the same time the bulb is on (glowing orange)?

Looks like a broken neutral problem. So the light in question is splitting 240 volts unequally with something else, as opposed to having 120 volts all its own. The behavior of the something else causes the light in question to get somewhat more than 120 volts for the first half second and somewhat less than 120 volts thereafter. The more than 120 volts for the first half second can be enough to drastically shorten the life of the bulb.

ry turning off all of the breakers except for the breaker for the light in question. If the light does not come on now then try the other breakers to see which one makes the light come on. This way you will find the circuit sharing the neutral that is now broken. (If you took the inner cover off of the panel you can more quickly find the other breaker for the circuit sharing the neutral since both breaker wires will go into the same cable exiting the box.)
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:46 AM   #8
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fixture lights partially


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There are 2 outdoor fixtures above my garage which were both burnt out.
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Originally Posted by fromme87 View Post
I am fairly certain there is no switch tied to the lights as well as i cannot find a photocell or motion detector.
So with no switch, photocell or motion detectors, these 2 outdoor fixtures if they worked properly would remain lit 24 hours a day?
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:35 PM   #9
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I hope this helps, I measured the voltage with the light dimly lit. It measured 52 volts then...i unscrewed the bulb and and it jumped back to 125v. ideas?
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:47 PM   #10
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How many bulbs glow dim orange?

If you unscrewed one, does the other go out or get brighter or do anything different?

Are there other receptacles or lights on the same circuit? Does the voltage at those light fixtures (with the bulbs still screwed in) change when you unscrew the dim bulb?

You either have a loose connection or something incorrectly wired.
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:50 PM   #11
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there are 2 fixtures that both glow but i had the other fixture unhooked. Im going to get in the attic and check where those lights tie into the others because the rest of those have no problem.
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Old 08-30-2012, 07:06 PM   #12
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If you unscrewed one, does the other go out or get brighter or do anything different?

You either have a loose connection or something incorrectly wired.
Very astute observation.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:50 PM   #13
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fixture lights partially


i tried leaving the lights on and shutting off the other breakers one by one with no change in behavior. I also checked the connections all of which look good. I think my next step is to just run new wire from the junction to a test light and see if that light has the same behavior. I hate troubleshooting other peoples work!
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Old 09-03-2012, 10:40 AM   #14
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Well as it turns out, the lights were on a timer in the wall and it was not working. I replaced the timer and everything is working now.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:30 AM   #15
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Well as it turns out, the lights were on a timer
well go figure

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