How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask AssuredElectrical Your Own Question
AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4241
Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
Type Your Electrical Question Here...
AssuredElectrical is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Got an outdoor lantern that won't light up. 2nd lantern on

Customer Question

Got an outdoor lantern that won't light up. 2nd lantern on Same circuit lights up fine. Checked the wiring with test light and it shows there is power to the problem lantern but very faint. Maybe low voltage. What's the solution please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.
Welcome. My name is ***** ***** would be glad to assist.

How does the wiring run form the house to the 2 outside lights?

Is the one not working the 2nd one in the line or first one?

Is there a junction box at each light?

By test light, do you mean a non contact tester?
Or it has 2 leads and a light?

Let me know and we can continue,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Tommy, both lights run from the same source and light switch. Switch is fine and as mentioned one

lantern works fine the other is not working. I've just checked the wiring and the light turns on when the ground wire is used instead of the White wire. I'm assuming we have a bad ground wire (white wire). Please advise

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My test light has 2 leads and a light. Not sure if there are junction boxes or which lamp is first in line as the wiring was done by someone else and it is under ground (lamp posts).

Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.
Ok, thanks.

Based on what you stated, you have lost your neutral wire connection.

It is not a ground. Neutral carries current the same as a hot wire, therefore it must be insulated.
Do not leave the ground connected as a neutral, that is extremely dangerous situation.

If post light, there should be a junction box mounted on the post where the cables are joined or if it is the type where the fixture is actually the cap on the post, you will have to slide it off the post and be very careful, as the wires and connections will slide out the top of the post.

The loose connection could be in either of the fixtures, as the cable will just loop between the two of them.

So, both will have to be examined.

I would also look around the outside of the house for a junction box mounted and maybe they ran a separate cable to each post and the loose connection may be in the box.

Has to be one of those scenarios.

Let me know anything else that may be needed,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK, thx for the clarification. I'll check the neutral wire on the lamp that is working in the morning. If that one is fine, I'll look around for the junction boxes as noted. Ill keep you posted on my finding. Thx

Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.
Ok, very good.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Why is the light working when the ground is being used as a neutral? Not understanding that part of the equation.

Thx for the help

Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.
The light will work when you "substitute" ground for the missing neutral, because they actually are connected together at the point of your utility company power at the service.

The ground will indeed provide the common side of power.

That is normal, nothing odd at all.

But, the problem is, you cannot use the ground as the common wire on the power other than a test

There is current that flows on the common side (neutral) and if you get between a connection, you can be electrocuted by the neutral the same as a hot 120 volt wire..

But the ground wire and the neutral wires have two different purposes.
Neutral is for power
Ground is for your safety

The ground makes the light work, the same way as if you are standing up and feet touching the ground, then touch a 120 volt wire, you will be electrocuted.

Ground will only complete the circuit, but it is returning the power to ground as opposed to a neutral returning it back to the source of power at the transformer.

What you are doing is actually making your ground system "HOT" and that is not what you want.

Power goes out on a transformer on the hot wires, returns on the neutral, that is the normal electricity cycle.
Hope that helps