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Old 03-03-2010, 11:39 AM   #1
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


I know enough about electrical to change fixtures, switches and install car radios or home theatre, but don't understand this particular issue so apologies in advance if this seems like a ridiculous question.

I have porch & outdoor garage lights attached to one switch that runs from the porch to a light at the door, and carries onto the garage outdoor fixtures. I recently changed the three outdoor fixtures which work fine, plus I replaced the porch hanging fixture with a recessed pot light. I also have the indoor light switch changed to a built-in digital timer. The pot light does not light up. Strangely, when the light bulb to the GU10 recessed light is removed, none of the fixtures including the built-in digital timer receive power. When the bulb is replaced, everything comes on but the light itself. I've tested the bulb.

I'm not sure if this is some sort of 'serial' electrical issue and if so, why does the bulb not work? Wattage issue..?

confused...?
Thanks for any thoughts ?

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Old 03-03-2010, 01:42 PM   #2
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


You or the previous homeowner must have made a mistake with the wiring. Can you draw a diagram of each box that you did work in?

Did everything work correctly before you started? Were any lights unusually dim either before or after you did your work?

As far as series circuits go, if two bulbs of different wattages are connected in series, the one with the greater wattage will usually be dim and may be barely glowing if the wattage difference is very great.

Lights (other than Christmas lights) connected in series are almost never found in household wiring.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-03-2010 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:02 PM   #3
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


The only thing I noticed was that the bulb in the fixture in question was burned out. Otherwise, nothing has changed as far as wiring. I've only replaced the fixtures, not the wiring. Wondering if a quick change on the switch to a regular pole would help troubleshoot...

anyway, I hope this quick sketch doesn't get flamed ;-)
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:19 PM   #4
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


How many wires do you have in the switch box? I can't tell where the power comes into your diagram.
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:31 PM   #5
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


In your diagram where would the power come in to feed the lights?

Also what you have drawn looks like it would blow the breaker (and perhaps also destroy the switch) when you flip the switch on. Somehow I cannot relate what you drew to the behavior of unscrewing the bulb in the first fixture and the other three fixtures go out.

Since you say you have worked on automotive and audio wiring, let me suggest this.

After drawing the diagram you should be able to trace (on the paper) a path from the breaker panel to the switch box, through the switch, to the light box, through the light, and (through the neutral) back to the panel. A separate path (can share some of the wires with other paths) for each light. There should be no path from the panel, through the switch only, and back to the panel. There should be a path for each light that does not have to go through another light although it may go through other light boxes.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-03-2010 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:53 PM   #6
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


I had some input from another post:
"Timers require a certain amount of 'draw' in order for them to work. I had a similar situation at my old house (one light at porch and two at garage - total of three on the single circuit) and the timer would not turn on the lights unless one of the three bulbs was not a CFL.

I learned that this was because the timer required a certain amount of draw to engage.

What is the total wattage of the bulbs your are running on that circuit? If it is under approx 60 watts (guessed amount) then my experience says the timer wouldn't work.

I'm interested to hear what others say given I didn't have a GU10 bulb involved in my circuit."

Does that trigger anything?
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:19 PM   #7
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MooF View Post
The only thing I noticed was that the bulb in the fixture in question was burned out. Otherwise, nothing has changed as far as wiring. I've only replaced the fixtures, not the wiring. Wondering if a quick change on the switch to a regular pole would help troubleshoot...

anyway, I hope this quick sketch doesn't get flamed ;-)
well i can see one thing wrong with this picture...why is your neutral terminated at the switch? It should be tied into the incoming neutral that supplies power to the switch...the hots should be connected to the switch

see here
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switc...-at-switch.php
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:57 AM   #8
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Joseph2293, you're right its not terminated there.. my diagram was a quick sketch to get the layout, but the wire is not technically accurate at all. The switch is as you described in the link
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:14 AM   #9
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


With the power coming into the switch box all your connections at the fixtures should just be color to color.
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:34 AM   #10
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Thanks for the responses.. I was unable to troubleshoot last night since it was too late once I arrived home. First thing, quadruple check all the wiring. Next, swap out the digital-timer switch. If that doesn't work, I'll remove the potlight and replace with a pig-tail. Then I'd be out of ideas at that point.

I'll report back my findings... Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:46 PM   #11
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MooF View Post
Thanks for the responses.. I was unable to troubleshoot last night since it was too late once I arrived home. First thing, quadruple check all the wiring. Next, swap out the digital-timer switch. If that doesn't work, I'll remove the potlight and replace with a pig-tail. Then I'd be out of ideas at that point.

I'll report back my findings... Thanks.
what do u mean by potlight? do you mean dimmer?
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:52 PM   #12
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Potlight is a term commonly used in Canada to refer to a recessed light here in the US.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:58 PM   #13
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


Quote:
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Potlight is a term commonly used in Canada to refer to a recessed light here in the US.
damn canadians...and that damn crosby! haha
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:48 AM   #14
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lighting question - porch lights / serial.?


well I'll be damned, there's even a wiki on it that it IS a Canadian term..No idea?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recessed_light

Interesting though since we use recessed light interchangeably - the origin was likely someone got frustrated installing a recessed light and decided to spark one up, and called it a pot light -

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