Electrical Questions? Ask an Electrician Online.
Hi, Welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.
Where is the photocell sensor located that is controlling the coach lights?
about two feet away from the coach lights away from the rain
so it is mounted in a box?
and the 2 lights use standard bulbs?
the breaker, what color button does it have?
black with 15 written on it
its a Cutler Hammer with a white ground
the test button is black?
is it a square one or a small dot type?
small dot type
Does the breaker have a gray/beige color handle for turning on and off?
no sir it's a black switch
ok, so solid black
i wish i had the breaker with me but i'm at work right now
no, thats ok
I asked questions to identify
i'm trying to find the breaker on google under cutler hammer
I know what it is now
thats the one
That is an AFCI breaker
yes sir, arc flash
special arc fault detection system
Have you tried installing one bulb ata time on the coach lights?
yes sir, this was the weird part
i installed it on the west one first, this is the original light that i though that was giving me the trouble and it tripped
i took the bulb out and installed it on the east light and it worked
now i installed another bulb on the west light and it stayed on this time
i turned the switch off and back on and the lights did not trip the breaker
however when i did some more trouble shooting, i turned off the laundry room lights and the kitchen lights and the coach lights worked fine
but than i left my laundry room lights on and kitchen lights on and turned my coach lights on and it tripped the breaker
i checked the coach lights for moisture, there was none
two months ago an electrician replaced the breaker because i was having the same issue
what's your opinion
with AFCI breakers, normally if you disconnect them from the circuit and they do not trip, then the breaker is fine
They are very sensitive
Sometimes too much so
the gentlemen at lowe's said the same thing
I have seen them trip on circuits and take me 30 minutes or so get it reset and never trip again
he recommended i change to flourescent bulbs but that didn't work
One thing to look at: Find every light and outlet on that breaker
make a little list
is it possible that for some reason the breaker is not able to handle the surge when the sensor gives the signal to turn on
Arc faults can be sensitive to a lot of plug in items
thats the thing there is no electronics plugged in
No outlets are on that breaker?
the electronics that are plugged in continue to work when the breaker trips, so that's how i know that they are not on the breaker
yes sir, their probably is but there is nothing connected to them
i have even thought of replacing the coach lights with new ones
too see if maybe it's one of the coach lights
but the house is only two years old
There could be a loose connection in the photo cell
That appears to be a common item in the scenario
what is a photo cell
the dusk to dawn
oh ok, i thought about replacing that also
so i disconnected it also to see if the lights would work
but i guess there is some kind of wiring that would not allow the lights to come on
so i just put it back together and left it alone for now
Arc faults measure the difference between the black and white wires, if it sees too much difference, it trips
the difference is very small
but that is their design
Arc Fault Info
Good reading above
I suspect something in the photo cell wiring. That is where I would start.
so you recommend replacing it
Possibly remove it for a short while and see if the lights work off the switch without any problems
That would help narrow down the problem
how do i get the lights to work w/out the photo cell
You have a wall switch too? or not?
should be somewhere?
Ok, you just change the wires where the photocell is located.
ok on the photo cell there was a black on black
three whites put together
and a red cable that was tied to a lighter black wire, i think
i disconnected all of those wires....
Yes , take the black connected to the photocell black and move it to the black that is connected to the red on the phot cell.
this bypasses the photo cell
So the switch will contraol the lights
oh ok, got ya
i've been wathcing youtube videos for troubleshooting info, is it possible that the switch can be bad
Look at the wires in the box with the photo cell while you are there and be sure all looks well and no water or anything
yes sir everything was nice and tight and dry
the photo cell looks down towards the ground
did the phot0c ell have a white wire?
yes sir, a white, a red and a black
the photo cell white was connected to TWO other white wires coming from the house
Ok, remove the photo cell wire from the the whites also and leave the other whites connected together
i guess from the two coach lights
All the whites are together
In and out plus the photo cell
just remove the 1 photo cell white from the group
and i put them back that way
ok, remove white photo cell wire
remove red and black photo cell and connect both black wires that come from the house
Correct. this will take it out of the loop for testing the Arc Fault breaker
now everthing should be connected leaving the photo cell out, correct
what if that test trips the breaker
If no problems, we will know it is the issue
that would mean that there is nothing wrong with the photo cell
I would look hard at the coach lights to start
it becomes an issue of what item is next
thats the hard part of troubleshooting AFCI breakers
Each connection must be looked at
is it possible that their is too much load on the breaker, or their is no such thing
I dont htink it is tripping on too much current
15 amps is a lot
ok, so i can rule that out
i definetely don't need to replace the 15 w/ a 20
That is approx 1800 watts
thats a lot of bulbs to be on
Cant change breakers to higher ones, that is illegal
breakers are based on the wire size
Thats what the electrician should have done when he replaced the breaker
look at everything
so if it's for 1800watts, that means it can handle 30 -- 60watt bulbs correct
give or take depending on what the voltage actually is on the house
he kind of did, but he only looked at the coach lights and the photo cell
Thats where to start. Never know wher it leads
he did find water from a heavy rainstorm on the east coach light
Moisture will do it alone
so when he dried it out and checked everything else, he replaced the breaker and called it good
but now i'm in the same spot two months later but with no moisture in the coach lights
i do understand
start with the photo cell test, if have to, next is the coach lights
ok so lets say it was the sensor......i replace it and everything works fine
that's were i was going, how do i troubleshoot the coach lights
do i disconnect them completely
you have to remove them and look at the wiring. make sure all is dry and looks good
I would disconnect them 1 at a time for testing, just like the photocell
ok i did do that today before i came to work and the wires looked good except the ground wire, it looked a little dirty, almost rusty color
Look in the sockets too, where the bulb screws in
many times there is corrosion
i did that also, i got a toothbrush and cleaned out all the dead bugs
i'll put a small wire brush on them tomorrow
it is time consuming
but, only way
i just want to get it done correctly and be done with this headache, kind of fun though
you will master it quickly I am sure
w/out paying an electrician 90.00 to just come out and 100.00/hr
what if it's not the lights and it's not the sensor
Then you have to pick from the list on whats on the breaker
1 by 1
i guess that's when i'll call the electrician
I think you may find the photo cell or one of the lights
give them a good test, not just they work and move on... Couple days etc
i really think it has to be between the switch to the sensor to the coach lights, gut feeling
what does it really mean when people say "make sure the wires are not touching"
Well, when they are insulated and wire nuts, they really cant be touching
mostly in switches and outlets
where the ground can touch a hot wire
ok, that's what i thought...
if the wires are taped or wrapped they can touch correct
insulated between each other
do you think it's possible that it could be the breaker
when the electrician checked on the photo cell he went into the attic and looked at the are were the photo cell hangs, what was he looking at/for
I dont know on that, have to see it all in person to figure that out
sometimes it is difficult to envision
should there or could there be any wiring connected up there or is all the connections gonna be in the box where photo cell sits
c'mon, it says that you are an expert
I would not suspect any connections up there. Check the lights in the attic when you have the breaker off to be sure
well, i can't think of anymore questions, is there something i'm missing or not asking?
no, I think you have the tools now to start troubleshooting
what would cause the lights to dimm low and than back to normal and than dim again and so on
Thats a loose connection normally somewhere in the circuit
coach light connection maybe
or something more in depth
No, that would only affect the coach light
Much more in depth
affect the individual coach light or both coach lights since they are on the same circuit
What is dimming?
a single light will not dim another light
the coach lights
if they are the only ones, then the problem will be in the connections at the lights or photo cell or at the switch
so the night the breaker tripped, i reset the breakere and knew for a fact the coach lights tripped the breaker so i kind of tapped on both coach lights and they stayed on for a while but they were dimming....
i thought it could be a bulb but when i changed it out....
thats when the breaker tripped again and have not come back on since until i've been troubleshooting here and there
Look hard at those lights, they sound like the problem
what causes the lights in a house to dim when the A/C kicks on or a vacuum is turned on
usually a voltage drain. May to check that sometime
i guess that's a whole new different 15.00 dollars, :)
but remember what the electrician charged,lol
well i appreciate it, you have been a big help and it has been a good learning experience for me, I'm only 26 and don't have a lot of knowledge
You are very welcome. Been a pleasure.
is there any way that you take tips, or how does this thing work
yes, it will ask later if you accept for my time
ok, just real quick, it will tell me how much i will pay for your services
it is half of the total i believe
ok, well i appreciate everything, how do i log off, just hit the accept button or what
yes, thats it
ok, have a good night