Puck light problems - causes?

hill4February 27, 2013

We recently had a new kitchen installed, with halogen puck lights recessed under the cabinets. Within a couple of weeks 5 out of 11 were functioning intermittently or not at all. The electrician determined that the fault was inside of the light, not at his connection and replaced all 11 with a different brand (xenon this time). 2 of these failed within a month. I also noticed that the plastic trim had started to yellow already. He replaced the 2 failed units - however again one light has failed. It is not the bulb, but rather the internal wiring - sometimes a firm tap will get the light going.

Is it possible that the problem is with the small transformers supplied with the original lights? Could faulty transformers allow them to heat up too much and degrade the wiring? Should I require the electrician try changing these? It will be a pain to do as the garbage disposal is now in the way.

I would love to know if anyone has had similar issues, or has any suggestions. We did consider LED pucks at the time, but they were too dim for our needs, and I was not fond of the colours available.

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Ron Natalie

Heat is very much a possibility. Where are the transformers located?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:37PM
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Transformers are in a covered 6"x6"x4" electrical junction box, at the back of the sink cabinet. Wires (insulated, like lamp cords) come out of the bottom of the box and travel up behind the drywall, emerging again by the puck lights.
As i recall, the transformers are just small rectangles - I think each one runs three lights. One must be running 2 lights however so will be under utilized - I wondered if that might be an issue, but it wouldnt explain the death of 5 lights in the first place - and the failed lights have been randomly spaced so not likely on the same transformer.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 7:04PM
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Ron Natalie

This is most likely an illegal installation. Cordage is not designed to be run inside walls. Transformers for these LV lights are problematic. They aren't designed to be enclosed, they're expected most times to sit in free air. The sign of the overheating is them intermittently shutting off.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:45AM
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"They aren't designed to be enclosed ..."

Pegasus lighting sells small 60 W AC-DC power supplies that are designed to be installed inside boxes.

About $15 each.

If raping near the lights (and not near the power supplies or transformers) makes them light up it is not likely a supply problem.

The lights are probably just poorly made.

They need to tolerate the very high temperatures of halogen bulbs while still providing solid low impedance connections at low voltage.

The temperature swings are room to many hundreds of degrees.

There is a real reason the typical bi-pin base used is a ceramic block.

You may need to find out exactly what brand the lights are.

The only ones I have had bad experiences with have been 120 V pucks including short bulb life, bulbs welding to contacts, and generally poor quality.
Al l the LV ones i have (and have installed for others) are from Pegasus lighting and have been fine.

And to top it all of the idiot PO used the zip cord from the pucks inside walls through a tile back-splash and put the lights on the countertop circuits with 120 V snap switches in the back-splash.

At least one row of 3 lights had wire nuts on the zip-cord inside the wall.

I need to go through from the other side of the wall to access the wring and pull a new branch circuit to fix this (already done on one section), two more to go.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 11:34AM
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