An electrical challenge

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by cheapNdisgusting, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. cheapNdisgusting

    cheapNdisgusting Well-Known Member Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,181
    State:
    Yonder in Mo.
    Name:
    Russ
    A "lighted" toggle switch causes premature failure in lightbulbs.This is a conclusion I came to when I installed one of those new "energy saving" flourescent lightbulbs in the hallway. It causes the new lamp to blink slightly every two seconds when it is turned off. When it is ON, it works great. When it is OFF, it blinks.

    Right now, you are probably thinking "this guy is a crackpot" or "this guy if $%$%#$% nuts and you will continue to think this UNTIL you try it yourself.

    What I am talking about is the residential wall switch that has a little light in the toggle that glows reddish orange when the light is OFF, making it easier to find in the dark. Lots of people have them in dark areas. If you have one - temporarily replace the current lightbulb with an "energy saving" flourescent bulb. Size of the new lamp doesn't matter. Go to the lighted wall switch, turn it ON. As it warms up it does a good job. Now, turn the switch OFF. Watch carefully a few seconds and it will blink and a few seconds later it will blink again. Forever or until the starting circuit in the lamp fails. It won't be a big flash type blink but rather a small blink at the base. Just enough that it will get your attention.

    I am so sure of this that I will bet anybody that tries it a rep click and if it doesn't work - You name what you win just so it can be done here on the BOC.
    This has to be "normal" stuff like you get a Loews or Home Depot. You must have a "lighted" type wall switch that turns on - off the fixture that the new flourescent lamp screws in to. It also doesn't seem to matter if the bulb is up - down - or sideways, just screw it in. Done.
    Reply back if you give it a try. I have since found out why this happens and will explain after you try it.
     
  2. catoon

    catoon Board Clown!

    Messages:
    1,387
    State:
    whiteville
    i always thought that .but you are right about that it will short it out soon.watch the switch it will fluxuate about every 2 seconds slightly
     

  3. biga

    biga Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,112
    State:
    evansville
    residual voltage between switch and bulb?:confused2: hot and neutral crossed?:confused2: come on and let the cat out the bag!! :smile2:
     
  4. Philiagorillia

    Philiagorillia New Member

    Messages:
    296
    State:
    Missouri
    Well there could possibly be a wiring issue, who ever wired the home could have it so the neutral wire is being switched. If there is enough voltage going across them even when the switch is off it could still be enough to cause the bulb to partially energize the fluorescent light and make it flicker off and on.
     
  5. lendog

    lendog New Member

    Messages:
    2,141
    State:
    berks, PA
    i think every bulb in my house is now a energy saver flourescent bulb, but i don't have any of those glow switchs ta try it out, damn now i gotta get one ta test this out:confused2:
     
  6. brew1961

    brew1961 New Member

    Messages:
    182
    State:
    West Virgi
    It has to be faulty wiring or switch. Power to the fitting should be cut if the switch is off. However if there is a transceiver antenna close to the tubes it will glow or flicker. It's then caused by a signal transmitted witch in turn excites the powder inside the tube. weird but true! Thanks, Tim
    PS I know a guy who wired up a bilge pump wrong, it sucked water out of the lake and sank his boat! Could this really happen? To make the story really funny, he's an electrician where I work! LOL
     
  7. Snagged2

    Snagged2 New Member

    Messages:
    6,252
    State:
    Verde Valley AZ
    LOL, Man, that ain't even funny,LOL:smile2:
     
  8. psychomekanik

    psychomekanik New Member

    Messages:
    2,534
    State:
    Illinois
    It's true. Those energy saver flourescent bulbs shouldn't be used with anything other than just the standard on/off switch. If you use a rheostat "dimming switch" they will flicker and cause premature failure in the bulbs. voltage drop in the dimmer switch, and perhaps the diode in the lighted switches really mess with those things...
     
  9. olefin

    olefin New Member

    Messages:
    3,908
    State:
    Texas
    Humm.

    Stayed at a new Hampton Inn hotel in Corsicana, TX and another new Hilton at Branson... both had that type switch that caused the bathroom fluorescent light to blink. Asked the desk person, they said all the rooms were that way.
     
  10. cheapNdisgusting

    cheapNdisgusting Well-Known Member Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,181
    State:
    Yonder in Mo.
    Name:
    Russ
    No one seems to have tried it yet, so I will tell you what I have done. I am a retired electrician so I have a little experience with this.

    My wife wanted a "lighted toggle switch" for the hall light. I installed one. The new switch made her very happy. (a rare occurance)

    I first noticed it when my hall light seemed to burn out much faster than any others in the house. I had to change the bulb about every three months. My wife mentioned that I probably hooked the switch up wrong. I thought it was caused by vibration. I bought a "rough service" bulb. It lasted 3 months. When it burned out - my wife pointed out that something had to be wrong with the wiring because the switch handle didn't glow anymore. As I was changing the bulb, I could see the switch and noticed that when there was no lamp in the socket - the switch didn't glow. As I screwed the new lamp in - the switch glowed.

    I tore the switch apart and found that a small neon bulb in the handle was hooked across the line and load screws. If the switch was off (open) the neon lamp would glow because it was backfeeding from the fixture. When the switch was on (closed) the neon lamp was shorted out and therefore wouldn't glow. As an electrician - it made sense to me. I thought maybe it was a cheap switch and bought a comercial grade one. Same thing.

    I went to my workshop and made up two test lights. I used a normal switch on one and a lighted toggle type on the second. I put in two new lamps that were out of the same package and turned them on. Both worked perfectly. I turned them off. Both lamps went off. On - off, on - off and after a few days I lost interest in the whole thing. They sat for about a week in the off position. I started to tear up my test project and as I unscrewed the lamps - I noticed that the lamp that was connected to the lighted toggle was a little warmer than the other. This is when I realized the lighted toggle switch was causing a slight voltage to bleed thru the neon bulb to the lamp.

    I put everything back together. I decided to see how long the lamps would last so every day I would turn them on. Every night I would turn them off. After a couple weeks I lost interest again. 3 or 4 months went by and I turned them both on again. The lamp in the lighted toggle circuit flashed and was burned out. The unlighted toggle circuit worked perfectly. This is when I installed the "energy saving flourescent" bulb. It blinked when off and worked prefectly when on.

    I tested the voltage at the socket and found there was a slight voltage present when the switch was in the off position. Just enough to trigger the starting ckt. as its internal capacitors built up a charge in the flourescent lamp but not nearly enough to keep it lit. So It blinks - and blinks.

    Not exactly an earth shattering discovery but at least now I know why. There doesn't seem to be any danger with the blinking or warm lamp - just shorter lamp life.
     
  11. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    I’ve got a lighted push button switch to an attic fan, and it’s a Single Pole Double Throw, meaning that the switch is always sending power to one of two places. The fan is on one pole, and the light inside the switch is in the other. It cleanly kills one circuit before it ever makes the other, and there is no electrical path from the bulb to the fan.

    My thoughts on yours are that it’s designed differently from mine, and allows the light bulb in the switch to complete the circuit, sending just a little bit of current through. This would be a poor design, but it is certainly possible to do. If this is true, I would expect the light in the switch to go out when you removed the fluorescent lightbulb from the big fixture. It’s just a guess, but that might be an interesting test if you can do it without too much trouble.
     
  12. brew1961

    brew1961 New Member

    Messages:
    182
    State:
    West Virgi
    Russell, I take it that you are retired? LOL Peace, Tim
     
  13. GaryF

    GaryF New Member

    Messages:
    3,649
    State:
    O.P., KS
    I guess I didn't read closely enough - you already confirmed the switch light goes out when the bulb is removed. Obviously they have wired the bulb in parallel to the switch. When the switch is on, current travels the path of least resistance... through the switch. When it's off, current follows the remaining path, through the bulb. That's a very poor design for many reasons, one of which you have already discovered.
     
  14. cheapNdisgusting

    cheapNdisgusting Well-Known Member Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,181
    State:
    Yonder in Mo.
    Name:
    Russ
  15. bootshowl

    bootshowl New Member

    Messages:
    2,288
    State:
    Indiana, J
    Isn't stumbling round in the dark part of older age? I got some of them new photocell nightlights that turn on on a cloudy day...another great design.
    Getting old ain't for sissy's. Ya start out threading a needle in the dark and end up shooting pool with a rope. I got one of them girlie rugs goes round the base of the toilet just for the late night half wake pee runs.
    It doesn't matter if it's dark or not. I'd suggest getting a yellow one.
    :wink:
    They could put a zenier diode on that switch circut, but it'd probly cost 15 cents more.
     
  16. ozzy

    ozzy New Member

    Messages:
    3,936
    State:
    Lost Wages
    Sounds like something to do with the HZ. 50-60 cycle and not the motorcycle. :crazy:
     
  17. 20poundtest

    20poundtest New Member

    Messages:
    12
    State:
    indiana
    as an electrician by trade it is not the switch causing the problem test the switch in the off position on the pole that is to the light no voltage at all will pass unless the switch is faulty most and likely it is electrical current coming through a neutral wire bieng "backfed" some where in that circuit this could be do to a moron wiring your home i have seen many messed up jobs by jack legs if you have a pall that wires have him check it out for ya
     
  18. 20poundtest

    20poundtest New Member

    Messages:
    12
    State:
    indiana
    its not the diod because they have a ballast and a starter for one and it would take more voltage than bleed through to make the lamp flickersome one has probably wired a keyless lamp holder backwards or some other simple mistake
     
  19. cheapNdisgusting

    cheapNdisgusting Well-Known Member Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    18,181
    State:
    Yonder in Mo.
    Name:
    Russ
    20poundtest, Read my answer from a couple days ago. It explains everything.