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Old 10-28-2010, 08:45 PM   #1
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Occupancy Sensor


I've wired a Leviton PR-180 (from Home Depot) occupancy sensor to a 4-bulb fluorescent light fixture. The fixture is using T12 bulbs, but I'd have to take it apart to see what kind of ballest it's using. If my information is correct, T12 bulbs should be a good indictor it's a magnetic ballest which is compatible with this switch.

I have three things going on with this and I'd love to find out why and how to resolve it.
  1. When on motion-activation, the light is dim and hums
  2. When at the standard "On" position, the light appears to be normal brightness but it continues to hum.
  3. The wiring in the house is a few years old and does not include a ground wire. So I taped off the ground wire and did not connected it to anything.
This is my first attempt at electrical DIY, so, I might have made some elementry error. Any insight into a cause and solution would be appreciated.

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Old 10-29-2010, 08:44 AM   #2
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Occupancy Sensor


Quote:
Originally Posted by clayman View Post
I've wired a Leviton PR-180 (from Home Depot) occupancy sensor to a 4-bulb fluorescent light fixture. The fixture is using T12 bulbs, but I'd have to take it apart to see what kind of ballest it's using. If my information is correct, T12 bulbs should be a good indictor it's a magnetic ballest which is compatible with this switch.

I have three things going on with this and I'd love to find out why and how to resolve it.
  1. When on motion-activation, the light is dim and hums
  2. When at the standard "On" position, the light appears to be normal brightness but it continues to hum.
  3. The wiring in the house is a few years old and does not include a ground wire. So I taped off the ground wire and did not connected it to anything.
This is my first attempt at electrical DIY, so, I might have made some elementry error. Any insight into a cause and solution would be appreciated.
May be a problem due to it not being grounded. Some fluorescent light fixtures can't even start without the ground connection. I know seems very weird, but there was a very complex very technical discussion about this I read a while back and I believe it is true of some fixtures.

Are you sure this switch is rated for this wattage fluorescent light fixture? (and that it is rated for use with a fluorescent light fixture, not all of them are).

Can you possibly run a new wire to it with ground?

Also, I would buy T-8's from now on. They are around 30% more efficient for close to the same price if you shop around a big. I just bought some fixtures 2 bulb T-8, from Walmart for $10 each. Bulbs are cheaper at Menards though. You will start to see more T-5 fixtures in the next couple years they are more efficient than T-8, but the cost is still high for the bulbs and the fixtures.

Jamie

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Old 10-29-2010, 09:32 AM   #3
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Occupancy Sensor


having t12's does not mean you have a magnetic or electronic ballast. It could be either. Manufacturers can no longer produce magnetic ballasts for t12's (don't remember when they had to stop, several years ago though) but anything already produced could still be sold and mag ballasts are still available for repair.

only way to know is to look.
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Old 10-29-2010, 02:38 PM   #4
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Occupancy Sensor


The switch is rated for rapid-start magnetic ballest fluorescent lights. The lights worked alright when it had a standard single-pole switch. I bought the house about a year ago and I'm still running on the original bulbs.

It sounds like I'll need to open up the light and check the ballest then possibly take a stab at running a ground wire. Or, swap back to a single-pole switch and return the sensor to Home Depot since it only works with incandescent (dying) and magnetic ballest (dead) technology.

I have to say, I'm disappointed with what HD is stocking in terms of occupancy and dimmer switches. They routinely carry switches that work with the old, dying technology and I have to go on-line to find the new stuff. Unfortunately, the local electrical supply company went under a few months ago.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:44 PM   #5
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Occupancy Sensor


I swapped out then sensor for a illuminated single pole switch. Unfortunately, the light continues to emit a slight hum. Hopefully this little adventure didn't damage the ballest or cause a bigger problem. Should I worry or do I just need to wait for the ballest to go out and then replace things as required?
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:15 AM   #6
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Occupancy Sensor


Quote:
Originally Posted by clayman View Post
I swapped out then sensor for a illuminated single pole switch. Unfortunately, the light continues to emit a slight hum. Hopefully this little adventure didn't damage the ballest or cause a bigger problem. Should I worry or do I just need to wait for the ballest to go out and then replace things as required?
With magatinc ballast it will genrally not affect the luminanted toggle switch but electronique ballast yeah it will cause flicker.

But I think it will be wise to plan to get T-8 Electronique ballast that is super quiet and use less power than T-12 ballast is But follow the wiring connection diagram very carefull due there is two verison of T-8 Ballast set up { some are wired for rapid start and some are wired for instat start }

Merci.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:14 AM   #7
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Occupancy Sensor


The illuminated switch won't hurt the ballast but will cause a small amount of current to flow through, thus the hum.

The occupancy sensor probably will not damage the light fixture or ballast.

There is a slight chance an occupancy sensor or dimmer can be damaged when used to control an incompatible magnetic ballast light, the damage most likely happening when the light clicks off.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 11-02-2010 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:32 AM   #8
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Occupancy Sensor


I have some experience with these motion switches. I am not sure about the humming nosie but know why you have the dim light. The electronics to run the motion switch draw current. The dim light is a visual representation of the amount of current that the electronics in the switch are drawing. If you look on the specs there is a minimum wattage that the switch has to run. If you use a relay based motion switch (expensive) your problems will be solved. The relay based ones can also run small motors. They run about 70-100 bucks.

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