how can changing a 20 year old outdoor light timer be this compex

andrelaplume2August 19, 2012

You likely saw my prior post on the cfl bulb that fried either my outdoor light fixture and / or the 20

+ year old timer that controlled it in the garage.

I decided to replace the timer with a switch today and then see if the light fiture would work or not. I know the timer was fried because the red light was off.

My hopes were to remove the timer and find a black wire, a white wire and a copper ground wire. I did not!

I found the timer had only two black wires coming off it. The left black wire was connected to a single BLACK wire in the outlet box. The right black wire was connected to a pair of black wires in the outlet box. It does not seam the white wires (in the back of the box) come into play. There was also a copper ground wire in the outlet box...connected to NOTHING.

FYI...I have a similar time for my front door that appears to be wired in a similar way.

I brought my Dad and his meter over. We can't figure the thing out. We did determine that the pair of black wires in the outlet box (that had been connected to the timer's right black wire) seam to effect my kitchen if we untwist them, then my kitchen light goes off!

We tried a few things but never saw 110 v at the light fixture. (We thought the fixture might be fried so he put the meter right on the wires that feed the outside fixture)

We tried connecting the pair of wires to one brass screw on the new switch and the single wire to the other brass screw...we connected the copper ground...nothing ever gets power to the wires where the light is....

Any ideas...other than calling an electrician...which I will do Monday.

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Dad said to mention that he only ever go 50 volts with his meter in the outlet box. The only time he got 110 volts was when he touched the two paired black wires to the copper ground. He fears there may be a short or loose screw in some outlet smewhere that feeds the outdoor fixture.

We can try a new fixture tommorow but failing that or ideas from this forum... it hink I will need an electrician.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Sounds like a switch loop. That is, the device only switches the hot (black) side. The two blacks are the hot supply passing through the box.

The fixture should have both a black and white. The white should be tied in the back to the other whites.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 3:47PM
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Was the timer powered by the house power or by a spring-wind mechanism?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 5:16PM
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not sure...there was a little light indicating it was 'on' though

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 5:48PM
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weedmiester...original (now dead) timer had only two black white....left side to single blk in bos, right side to double blk in box...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 5:50PM
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It should work like this:

It appears that this box is upstream of your kitchen light.

Black and white come into the box from wherever the power is coming from. Black (hot) should be connected to another black wire that goes to the kitchen light. Black then goes to the timer, out the other side, and to the outside fixture. From there it comes back as white.

White (neutral) coming in from the supply does not need to go through the timer. It should be connected in to two other white wires, one coming from the outside fixture, and one to the kitchen light.

If you disconnect all the black wires from each other, make sure they are not touching anything, and turn the power on, you should be able to see 120V between one black wire (the incoming power) and either the ground wire or the white wire. If not, there is definitely a problem somewhere.

The bare ground wires should all be connected together. There should be 3, one for each cable coming into the box.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:06PM
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THANKS ALL. Here is what just worked. I completely removed the old fixture. Note there was a lot of corrosion present on the blk and white wires in the old fixture. Not we hooked up (temporarily) a $5 fixture from HD...bought for testing. Next we connected the single black wire to the top scrrew of the switch and the blk pair to the bottom screw. (I am not sure what Dad did with the single ground int he box hwa just 'hanging' there....maybe connected it to the green screw on the switch. After some checks with his meter, we turned the power on and works! So now I am going to look into rewiring my old fixture. If that fails I also bought a new motion fixture to install. Hopefully I am in the home stretch....of course it just started to rain....

So let me get this straight...DO NOT USE CFLS OUTSIDE with timers, ....motion lights etc etc unlessmarked acceptable..but LEDS are ok to use... the motion fixture does mention cfls or leds...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:47PM
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I got my old fixture apart and found the replacement socket at hd and put it back toegther. I am hoping the dusk to dawn thing works only the rain would let up...thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 9:53PM
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"but LEDS are ok to use."

I would be vary careful of LED fixtures also.

They commonly use an AC-DC power supply to create the low voltage DC for the LEDs and not all the power supply designs are compatible with the distorted waveform.

A big clue is if the item is suitable for dimming using a 'conventional' (TRIAC incandescent) dimmer).

The light manufacturer is the source of information, not a light or motion sensor manufacturer, unless they are claiming a contact closure and NOT a solid state switch.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:49AM
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