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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1143
Experience:  27 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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I am trying to plug in a string of outdoor lights. THere are

Customer Question

I am trying to plug in a string of outdoor lights. THere are four outdoor fixtures on the circuit, each with a 60 wat incandescent bulb in it. When I remove one and plug in the light string, it does not illuminate. I have also plugged in another lamp. Also does not illuminate. I removed the fixture and took it to the hardware store and tested it, with the screw in bulb to plug adaptor, for continuity. IT showed OK. We hooked it to current at hardware store and tested it. It worked. Reinstalled at home. Does not work. attached bare wires of this circuit to the light string. Does not work. Reinstalled everything. Bulb works. I have tested every component in this line up and everything is fine, but I cant make it work. Its the most bizarre thing ever... Help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 1 year ago.

AssuredElectrical :

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.

AssuredElectrical :

When you say, light string, what exactly is the setup? wiring, lights etc?

AssuredElectrical :

If you can start at the beginnig of the circuit and move forward it will provide necessary information, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

when you return, post and it will notify me you are back, thanks

Customer :

Hi. It is a string of outdoor lights about 25 wats each that draw <5 amps and <600 watts. ITs brand new and I have tested it on a number of other outlets. They work. The light in the socket where I plug it in works, but when I put an adapter in to allow be to plug in the strong, they do not work. WHen I try it on another fixture on the same circuit, I get the same result. I have dismantled and taken the fixture to the hardware store. They have tested it, it works. One thing to not. QWHen I turn on the circuit, the lights seem to illuminate slowly, so I am wondering if there is low power to the socket or something... I have been trying to figure this out for two weeks and am at the end of my rope, or string if you prefer... THanks.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

Now, what exactly do you mean by string of lights? Are these christmas type lights? or something handmade?

Customer :

THey are outdoor lights like in an outdoor restaurant.

Customer :

Here is where you can see them:

Customer :

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Outdoor-Vintage-Patio-String-Lights-Black-Cord-Clear-Globe-Glass-Bulbs-50-L-/370827287585?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5657075c21

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, see them, know what you have now, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, lets start at the beginning of the circuit since that seems to be the problem

AssuredElectrical :

You say they work if you plug them into a standard receptacle, is that correct?

Customer :

Yes, that is correct.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, and you are using a socket adapter and it will not work?

AssuredElectrical :

Like this type?

Customer :

And when I put an adaptor into the bulb socket and plug them in, they do not work. Nor does another lamp that I brought out from the house. But when I take apart the whole apparatus and go to the hardware store, it passes the continuity test with flying colors and when they hook it all up, it works down there at the store...

AssuredElectrical :

Full Size Image

Customer :

Yep, thats what I am using. Bought two diferent kinds to ensure they were long enough and full contact was made. Neither of them work, both tested fine at the hardware store...

AssuredElectrical :

Need to turn off the light, then get a small screwdriver and in the back of the light socket there is a brass tab. Take the screw driver and lift that tab up another 1/4-1/2" and then try it again.

Customer :

Done. Did not work.

AssuredElectrical :

do you have a lamp?

Customer :

THats one of the first things the hardware guy had me do...

AssuredElectrical :

do you have a lamp or an appliance with a 2 prong plug?

Customer :

Yes, I have many. I have taken one outside which is usually by my bed and then plugged it in where I am tring to get the lights to work. It too will not illuminate... So the priblem is consistent...

AssuredElectrical :

ok, there is corrosion that is interfering with contact then with the screw in adapter. or the adapter center solder is not making contact with the tab. see this often with forgein made electrical components like today.

AssuredElectrical :

take a table lamp and plug it into the wall, then take your adapter and put into the table lamp and plug in your string, see if it works then.

Customer :

I have completely dismantled the ixture and taken it to the hardware store where they screwed in the adaptor, connected the fixture to a p[ower sup0ply and then plugged in the lights. It worked. But when I hook it all back up here at home, it does not. So we know as an absolute certainty that ewlectricity is conducted through the fixture, through the adaptor. ?????

AssuredElectrical :

can you put a light bulb in the fixture and turn it on?

AssuredElectrical :

where it is at the house?

Customer :

THis is why I am totally mystified; there is no apparent explanation. I wonder if there is just not eough juice. Everyone tells me thats not the problem, but what on earth else could it possibly be?

Customer :

Yes, when I put it all back together, the light bulb works.

Customer :

Its out on the patio.

AssuredElectrical :

so, it is not mounted now?

Customer :

THe fixture is mounted, the light bulb is in and it is all working. THe light string is strung through the arbor and ready to plug in. I just dont know where to go from here...

Customer :

THe fixture is an outdoor one, hanging from a post out on the patio....

AssuredElectrical :

ok, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

can you do this:take a lamp---plug it into a receptacle---then put your adapter into the lamp---then try the string lights in the lamp

Customer :

I like it. SOmething I have not tried. Give me five minutes...

AssuredElectrical :

ok, will do

Customer :

OK, Here is what I did:

Customer :

1) I ran an extension cord from the inside of the house out to where the string is hanging. I plugged a two prong lamp into the cord and switched it on, it worked.

Customer :

2) I took the bulb out of the lamp, inserted the adaptor and plugged in the light string. I turned on the lamp. The string did not illuminate.

Customer :

3) I brought out another working lamp and plugged it into the adaptor, it also did not illuminate.

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, the adapter is not making contact

Customer :

4) I removed the adaptor and inserted the other type I bought. A bit beefier and longer than the first one, but which also did not work... I plugged in the light string to the beefier adaptor in the lamp and it DID WORK.

Customer :

this verifies your theory...

AssuredElectrical :

I have seen so many of these things fail, it is amazing. They have very small wires that attach to the shell and tip and they constantly cause problems.

Customer :

5) I then inserted the beefier adaptor into the outdoor fixture, plugged in the light string and low and behold...it DID NOT WORK. Rats!

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, looks like maybe 2 issues.

AssuredElectrical :

The smaller adapter is a problem and the socket outside has an issue as well.

Customer :

6) I removed the adaptor, verified the circuit was off and with a pair od needle nosed pliers I pulled out the center tab as you had earlier suggested. I re-inserted the adaptor and plugged in the light stinrg. It did not work.

AssuredElectrical :

I know that a bulb worked, and understand

Customer :

7) I re-removed the adaptor and looked at the fixture, the tab was bent back down. SO I pulled it out again and then, before re-inserting the adaptor I plugged the light string in and then slowly screwed the adaptor in to see if I could find contact before pushing the brad back out of the way. Still no success...

Customer :

THen I came back to my keyboard...

AssuredElectrical :

but the sockets have very small rivets at the base to support contact. When using the single bulb it may make the contact, but when using the string it can easily miss the contact points on the rivets.

AssuredElectrical :

I think the beefier adapter is a good one

AssuredElectrical :

I think the socket outside needs replacing myself, but I can visually look at it \

AssuredElectrical :

cannot, sorry

AssuredElectrical :

I see outdoor sockets create a wide variety of issues

Customer :

I thought of replacing the socket, but before doing so tested the set up on another (also working) aoutdoor light. Same problem...

AssuredElectrical :

corrosion, loose rivets etc make them work and not work. Amount of solder on the tip of adapters and bulbs as well., the shells loosing contact with the rivets.

AssuredElectrical :

Dop you have a tester?

Customer :

Did I mention that when I disassembled the socket to take it in for testing I connected the two bare wires to the two pronged plug for the light circuit and flipped on the switch? Also did not illuminate...

Customer :

I dont have a tester, but did take the entire light fixture of of its mounting and into the hardware store where they tested it and all seemed in order...

AssuredElectrical :

Ok, thanks

AssuredElectrical :

I will not be able to give anything further. Let me pass this on to the board once more and let other experts look and post as they see they may be able to help

AssuredElectrical :

It is either/and the socket outside and the adapter, there is nothing else.

AssuredElectrical :

That is all I can provide since the string works

Customer :

OK, thanks. Tis one seems to have everyone stumped...

AssuredElectrical :

Let me pass this on to the board once more , depends on who is online as to how long before someone posts. So please wait for the syatem to notify you of a post.

Customer :

OK, will do. Meanwhile will kep tring on my own...

AssuredElectrical :

ok, I would change out the socket outside with a brand new one myself, but thats me

AssuredElectrical :

good luck, someone will be along before too long

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello.....my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!

 

1) I assume that you will still require the use of the (4) four existing 60 watt lighting fixtures in addition to the string lights? I assume that you were willing to remove one bulb for the screw-in adapter?

 

2) If swapping out the existing sockets is not an option, then leave the sockets "as-is" since they work with the bulbs and install an adjacent receptacle near each lighting fixture. You can add a metal outdoor rated metal extension box to the existing fixture box and install a receptacle and an "in-use" bubble cover. This will eliminate the need for the "screw-in" socket adapter and will also provide protection to the string plug and receptacle while using a "bubble cover". This solution allows you to use your existing lighting fixtures "as-is" plus using the plug-in string lights simultaneously.



Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.

 

Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.

The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:http://www.justanswer.com/home-improvement/expert-your-electrician
..........Thanks..............Kevin!



 

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My lights still do not work. THats the objective. NO NOT CHARGE MY CARD.

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

1) Your initial comment to the previous expert is as follows:

 

Customer :

Hi. It is a string of outdoor lights about 25 wats each that draw ITs brand new and I have tested it on a number of other outlets. They work. The light in the socket where I plug it in works, but when I put an adapter in to allow be to plug in the strong, they do not work. WHen I try it on another fixture on the same circuit, I get the same result. I have dismantled and taken the fixture to the hardware store. They have tested it, it works. One thing to not. QWHen I turn on the circuit, the lights seem to illuminate slowly, so I am wondering if there is low power to the socket or something... I have been trying to figure this out for two weeks and am at the end of my rope, or string if you prefer... THanks.

 

2) You mentioned that the string lights work on other receptacles when not using the screw-in adapter? Do they work plugged into other receptacles? Yes or No?

 

3) I will opt out of the question and perhaps another expert here has a better recommendation.

 

 

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