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Need electrician's help. Stumped by home switch wiring issue.

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by F14Scott, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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    I just changed my house's front "up-lights" to LEDs. They sit in weatherproof, lens-covered cans. This is them:
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QH3NC4/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00"]Amazon.com: Dimmable 9W PAR20 LED Flood 45 Soft White Lamp ~ equiv. 50W: Home Improvement@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ci3NKDb7L.@@AMEPARAM@@51ci3NKDb7L[/ame]

    When installed with a normal rocker switch, they work great. However, I installed this timer:
    http://www.jascoproducts.com/timer/cat-in-wall/ge-in-wall-timer-15312.asp
    [​IMG]

    Now, when the timer activates and energizes the lights, they are very dim and flicker. The timer itself, whose clock and timing computer are driven by AC power, appears to be working normally, as do the other two lights on the same circuit breaker.

    Frankly, the single pole wiring was difficult for me, as the other two light switches were tied to the original switch for their power; once I disconnected it, they stopped working. This is a picture of my final solution, albeit the one that almost worked (except the lights are dim and flickering). For the record, I let it go for five minutes, and the LEDs didn't improve. On the plus side, nothing sparked, melted, or smoked. Either a) this switch doesn't work with these lights, or b) I've goobed up the wiring.

    [​IMG]

    Does anyone know if a switch that is rated for CFLs and incandescents would have a problem with LEDs? They only draw 9W each, but there are five of them on the circuit, so they should be pulling 45W total.

    Or, can anyone see where my problem is with the wiring?

    Six pack of your choice of beer to the poster who can fix me. :supergrin:
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
  2. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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  3. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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  4. Atlas

    Atlas transmogrifier

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    Can't really make anything from your pics, (great job documenting it though!) but my guess is the timer has a solid-state output rather than a contact..

    The LEDs don't react well to that because the triac output stage in the timer doesn't fully conduct (as it would with an incandescent load).

    That's why they worked fine with the rocker-switch.. it has an actual physical contact.

    Probably if you temporarily connect an incandescent lamp in parallel with the LED lamps they'll work fine. That will confirm the problem.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
  5. certifiedfunds

    certifiedfunds Tewwowist

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    (CF's college physics professor): "The wires do not know what color they are."

    That's all I have.
     
  6. Atlas

    Atlas transmogrifier

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    You'll have to stay late after school in detention for a week.
     
  7. certifiedfunds

    certifiedfunds Tewwowist

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    He was right, you know. They didn't.
     
  8. Cinic

    Cinic Spongy Member

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    I'll preface this by saying that I'm no electrician...

    And if Atlas' suggestion doesn't work..I offer below.

    But if the original rocker only had the two black wires connected to it there's no way your connection could be correct. You need to find common (usually white) to connect the switch's white wire. They're probably bundled up behind the other two switches.

    Having the blue and black essentially connected to each other can't be correct based on the diagram I found as well.

    http://www.jascoproducts.com/suppor...ibraryManager/upload/15312-Manual-eng-spn.pdf

    The dim/flickering could be this thing thinking it's off. But this kind of switch usually draws some power which could be enough to make the lights flicker. But the way it's wired I have no idea if that's the case or not.

    I think blue needs to go where white is. White needs to find another white. And black should be connected the other blacks that were twisted.

    Are the 5 outside lights all in a nice row? Or are they somewhat separated?

    AGAIN, I'm no electrician and this advice is likely worth less than you paid for it.

    Unrelated but similar story: I installed a timer switch similar to this one in a workshop at my parent's house. They would walk out there every night to turn a light on for security. And back out every morning to shut it off. It was in a box with 3 switches but more industrial wiring with only 4 distinct wires in the box. One inbound hot and 3 outbound. I had to fish a common from the nearest j-box thru the condiut in order to get the switch to operate.
     
  9. misunderestimated

    misunderestimated

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    This diagram shows that the timer needs a neutral to power it up,you dont always have a neutral available in a switch box

    you bring in a black and a white to power the switch up with 110 volts and then the blue leg is the switch leg going out to the lights
     
  10. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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    The black wires on the left, annotated with my yellow text, were not hot. I assumed (I know, I know) they were being used as the neutral wire going to the original switch and out to the up lights, which are four in a 40 foot row and then one over by the garage about fifty feet away.

    The more I look at it, the more I am convinced that the other switches' being powered by the other black twisted wires (annotated in purple, and one of them is hot) is the key, and my jumper/blue wire solution is where my problem is.

    I may have to get in there and just play with them. If I don't post for a few days, alert the authorities... :cool:
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  11. Cinic

    Cinic Spongy Member

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    The black ones (your yellow text) that weren't hot are hot when the switch makes them hot. Common is connected to the circuit somewhere else...for your sake hopefully it's in the box. The fact that it's two wires upholds the my thought that the lights are separated...like you said. Those two black wires should get the blue wire from your switch.

    And white needs to find common.

    Again...not an electrician. Don't kill yourself. yada yada
     
  12. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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    Makes sense. I'll give the blue a try and find the neutral. Will report on successes and failures.
     
  13. Rutha73

    Rutha73

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    I am not an electrician either, but, unscrew the other two switches and look behind them. It looks like there is a white wire leading over to the right from the Romex that is exposed. The white coming out of the switch should go to that white wire and the blue should go to the blacks that are "not hot". Those should be the wires leading to the lights. That's what it looked like when I wired up two of those timers for my parents, and their place hasn't burned down. Yet.
    ETA: check that other wirenut that is visible, it probably has the whites in it. And good luck with the hardest part, stuffing all that crap back into the box and getting the switch plate back on.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  14. F14Scott

    F14Scott Luggage CLM

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    I know, right? :supergrin:
     
  15. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

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    Scott,

    SHAME :) on you - for sleeping thru that class in F14 fighter pilot school.

    I would help you, but I am very tactile dependent (ie, I need to have the stupid thing in front of me).

    Good luck, and please let us know how it pans out.
     
  16. DaneA

    DaneA

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    This. Looking at your picture you have the white (neutral) wire of the switch hooked into a hot wire (or the wire going to the light, not sure). Either way you are missing your neutral which doesn't appear to be in the box. Connect the white and green wires together to the ground(not a great permanent solution, but will work for testing purposes), the blue should go to the light (where you have the white currently connected), and the black to the hot side (where you have the black and blue connected).

    **Take my advice at your own risk**
     
  17. johnd

    johnd

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    I had this problem too except with 3 outside lights and it turned out that one of the lights had a reversed "polarity" in the parallel wiring. They were all wired in parallel as they should be but one had the white as a neutral and another had the black. It was no deal to the lights at that time and it was still safe but it was reversed to convention. When I put the LED in they acted just like yours. I dont know why they did that as the logic board in the LED base is supposed to take care of that but reconnecting that light wiring the same as the others in that circuit did the trick.
     
  18. Droid noob

    Droid noob

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    Take white wire off and replace with blue wire.
    Black wire from new switch goes to where the blue was tied on.
    White wire goes with other white wires tucked in the box.
    Red wire stays by itself(don't need it)

    I'm guessing with the power turned on at breaker box, the black wires on the right are always Hot. The black wires on left are always dead(these go to the lights).

    So your putting the black wire on switch to your constant hot wires.
    Blue wire on switch to the constant dead black wires(lights).
    The white is your neutral that goes with other whites.
    Oh.... I'm an electrician. This will work assuming I'm right about which wires are feeding the switches and which go to the light fixtures.
    Sent from my ADR6350 using Tapatalk 2
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  19. byf43

    byf43 NRA Life Member

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    Scott:

    Without re-doing your photo, try this:

    • The WHITE wire on the switch, needs to connect to the WHITE wires inside the box, behind the other switches.
    (You have no "Common" connection, and I THINK the lights flickering is because you're using the timer's circuitry to make a 'common'!)
    The timer, itself, needs a 'complete circuit' for the internal 'clock' to operate. Right now, it appears that the only circuit being completed is through ground.

    • Check the "HOT" wires (BLACK).
    Use a voltmeter to determine which BLACK wires are "Hot" all the time.
    (The BLACK wire from the timer would connect to the 'supply' line - BLACK wires.)

    • The BLUE wire from the timer needs to go to the BLACK wires that you now have connected to the WHITE wire from the timer.
    (I'm fairly certain that the BLACK wires that you have connected to the WHITE timer wire, goes directly to the lights.


    I hope this helped.



    IF I were there, I could get this re-wired and working in a few minutes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  20. Peace Warrior

    Peace Warrior Am Yisrael Chai CLM

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    Bingo! (Just my $0.02 from the schematic, not an electrician, didn't read past this before posting)