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DIY'er
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Discussion Starter #1
A friend is having a weird breaker trip issue. Sometimes it happens when a light on that breaker is turned on, but sometimes it happens when one of the lights is turned off. This all started after a new dining room chandelier was installed. The chandelier has a 120V to 12V transformer inside the ceiling base with tiny little two prong 12V bulbs stuck into some of the chandelier branches. I did double check the wiring connections in the ceiling and in both wall switch boxes. I did find a loose wire to one switch, fixed that, but that did not solve the problem. I assume that it is a problem with the transformer or the chandelier's internal wiring. I don't have an amp meter to see how much current it is pulling. What puzzles me is with the breaker tripping when one of the lights gets turned off. As long as the dining room chandelier is kept off, no tripping happens.
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DIY'er
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72 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
It is normal to blame the new fixture but you know it could be anywhere.
True, but the problem started the same day that the chandelier was installed. So, the chandelier seems like the most likely culprit. I installed the chandelier and later that day went to turn off a light in the study and the breaker tripped. My friend had no tripping issues prior.
 

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retired framer
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True, but the problem started the same day that the chandelier was installed. So, the chandelier seems like the most likely culprit.
How often does it happen. Disconnect the wires for a few days and make sure it is not something else.
 

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DIY'er
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Discussion Starter #9
so this was incorrect "but sometimes it happens when one of the lights is turned off"
No, it was correct. If the chandelier is on, turning on or off some other light on that circuit can sometimes cause the breaker to trip. If the chandelier is kept off, you can turn on/off other lights all you want and no tripping.
 

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Not sure. I'd have to check. The house is only about 6 years old, if that matters any.
It matters. Some arc-fault breakers don't play nice with some loads. A lot of 3rd rate electrical devices are flooding into the US and Canada thanks to Esty, AliExpress, and independent Amazon sellers and they're hawking products from China that no reputable chain would carry, as nobody in the middle is checking the validity of their fake UL or ETL listings.
 

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Does the tripping occur when the transformer is cold or warm? In other words can you make the breaker trip immediately?

Swap breaker either top or bottom and see if problem persists.
 

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DIY'er
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Discussion Starter #17
Does the tripping occur when the transformer is cold or warm? In other words can you make the breaker trip immediately?

Swap breaker either top or bottom and see if problem persists.
In some cases, it has tripped as soon as the dining room chandelier is turned on. So, cold transformer in that case.
 

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In some cases, it has tripped as soon as the dining room chandelier is turned on. So, cold transformer in that case.
Does this chandelier have a UL listing? Where was it purchased? It may have a defect, something could be shorting or arcing, and the breaker is just doing it's job.

When everything is fine and has always worked and you make an electrical change, 99% of the time it is the change you made that is the problem, not some fault of the breaker. Ditch the chandelier and exchange it for one that isn't an arc-fault hazard.
 

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Without knowing the amperage on the circuit, I'd be suspicious of the breaker being overly sensitive to arc faults. That's the only logical explanation for an arc fault breaker tripping when a switch is turned off. Obviously a tiny spark is created at that time, even more so if it's switching a transformer since inductive reactance is involved. The loading on the circuit may affect how sensitive the arc detection is even though it shouldn't in a well designed breaker.

Swap the breaker with one of the others for starters. If that doesn't help, you'll need to check the amps being drawn to be sure you're not overloading the circuit. If you're not comfortable working inside the panel or don't want to buy the necessary meter, call an electrician.

FYI, Per the NEC, A 15 amp circuit breaker should not be loaded any higher than 12 amps unless it is rated for 100% duty and marked as such on the housing.
 
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