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Old 10-14-2012, 12:47 PM   #1
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


First post and I need some help.....

About 6 months ago, I put in 6 recessed lights in my living room. They each have a 60 watt halogen bulb in them. They are on their own 20 amp circuit with nothing else at all. I had a 600 watt dimmer controlling them without any issues all that time. Yesterday, the breaker tripped and resetting it led to it tripping again and after a couple times the dimmer fried. I went a bought a 1000 watt dimmer just to be clear it wasnt an issue and put it in. Breaker kept tripping again. I then put in a new breaker I had and after staying on for while it tripped again. I have no clue what else to try. Any suggestions?

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Old 10-14-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Sounds like it is time to start checking the connections in the recessed.

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Old 10-14-2012, 01:23 PM   #3
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Sounds like you have a short in the wires. Most common place would be a connector that was tighten too tight and is pinching the wires.
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:34 PM   #4
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Thanks guys.

What exactly would i be looking for in the connections in the recessed lights?

Not sure if the connections would be too tight as they are the quick connect ones that you just puch the wires in to. Or are you saying in the connections behind the dimmer?
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Old 10-14-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


I would look for a short from the hot side (black wire usually) to ground.

Also there is a LOT of heat in those type of fixtures. So look for melted insulation on wiring - there should not be any melted insulation if this is a new install and new wire was used - new fixtures, etc. But these days with things made in China, things are not as they should be. Possible the wire insulation is not what it should be and possible the wire used in the fixtures (by the fixture manufacturer) is not heat rated like it should be.

FYI - In old ceiling and wall fixtures, the wire becomes brittle from the heat. If you move a wire, the insulation falls off. And that was wire which was not heat rated like new wire used these days. Like this...
http://www.thewoodnerd.com/blog/wp-c...12/DSC6415.jpg

Also check for recalls. Search google.com for the brand name of your light fixture along with the word recall.
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Old 10-14-2012, 03:27 PM   #6
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


May I ask why you're using halogen bulbs in these fixtures? It would seem common sense to seek a more efficient and thus much less heat-generating bulb type. Has anyone introduced an LED alternative for the special halogen socket types yet?

Another thought would be to eliminate the dimmer for a moment by hotwiring around it - thus confirming that it is in the recessed sockets before tearing into things.

If I were you, I'd also remove each bulb one by one to see if the circuit still kicks the breaker. If you're lucky, the short is in one of the bulb circuits and you can avoid taking all the recessed fixtures apart one by one.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:27 PM   #7
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Removing the bulbs is a waste of time if the hot is shorted. It will still trip the breaker. A quick inspection of the wiring is the first thing to do.

If that doesn't yield results, your break the connections and then add the cans back one at a time. The one that trips it, is the problem. Then you replace the romex leading to that can, unless you see a different problem with the can.

I believe that when JOED said "connector too tight" he was refering to an overtight romex clamp where the cable enters the box. Not the push in wire connector.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:48 PM   #8
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


First of all Im using halogen bulbs because I want to and they can be used according to the manufacturer. If changing to a different bulb would fix my problem then I would, otherwise why even discuss it?

I did pull all the bulbs one by one and it is still tripping.

What the last poster said about the clamp where the wire enters the box makes sense, thank you. I guess what I dont understand is why would it take varying amounts of time for the breaker to trip if it is a short, wouldnt it just trip right away?
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Old 10-14-2012, 05:11 PM   #9
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by nickpez View Post
What the last poster said about the clamp where the wire enters the box makes sense, thank you. I guess what I dont understand is why would it take varying amounts of time for the breaker to trip if it is a short, wouldnt it just trip right away?
The suggestion about halogen was just in case you find that heat is an issue. If you find evidence of melting, I don't know that you want to fight for justice from the manufacturer.

The variation in time to trip likely indicates that heat is possibly a factor - metals generally expand when heated, and that is working like an on-off switch for your short. The short circuit itself can also act like a variable load... heating up for a few minutes until the load exceeds your circuit breaker.

Last edited by imautoparts; 10-14-2012 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:49 PM   #10
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


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Originally Posted by imautoparts View Post
The suggestion about halogen was just in case you find that heat is an issue. If you find evidence of melting, I don't know that you want to fight for justice from the manufacturer.

The variation in time to trip likely indicates that heat is possibly a factor - metals generally expand when heated, and that is working like an on-off switch for your short. The short circuit itself can also act like a variable load... heating up for a few minutes until the load exceeds your circuit breaker.

Thanks that makes sense. When I was going through and removing each bulb it tripped everytime until the last one which is closest to the switch. I figured that that was the faulty lamp and put the bulb back in thinking it would trip. It didnt. The lights have now been on for two hours with no issues. I have noticed that the bulbs are very hot so I think I will swap them out tomorrow anyway. Not sure if I still have a problem or not, I will get in the attic tomorrow and check the wiring.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:29 PM   #11
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Recessed lights tripping breaker


Could have been a pinched wire that you wiggled enough when removing the bulb. I would closely inspect all the connections and cable entries in the boxes especially at the first fixture.

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