Jump to content
Did you know?
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.
Husker13

House Lights Flashing

Recommended Posts

Hi,

I am running 1 LOR 16 channel unit, it is plugged into two 20 amp dedicated circuits on separate phases from a 200 amp panel, all the wiring is under 10 years old.  The problem I am having is that the lights inside my house flicker/flash/dim for a sec or 2 when show outside flashes.  When I first started running a show years ago the lights would dim slightly but it was hardly noticeable. That was with Incudecent bulbs, now that I have switched out to all LED in the house the issue is really noticeable.  I’m running mostly LED outside, but it was doing this also when I ran my Halloween show which is maybe 500 watts of incudecent light strings.  I checked all the circuit breakers and made sure the wires were tight to the breaker along with the neutral and ground wires

Are others seeing the same thing with LED house lights?   Any suggestions?

Thanks 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

certainly not a expert here ,but did retire from the power company after 38 years, been retired 5 years, so the world of LED lighting is a little new to me.  I did deal with power quality, metering problems etc.

Of particular interest tom me would be exactly what is the load on each circuit, or in other works how many amps are on each circuit. a good clamp on amp meter will tell you that.  

That would be there first place I would start.

Our display pulls almost 200 amps, but it has a dedicated  panel and meter so if there are any things like you are having , I never notice since it would only affect our display

One place most people never check is the meter base, the lugs in the meter base where are incoming wires are attached.  This does require cutting your meter seal and getting into our meter base.  Cutting a seal with our permission may get you a meter tampering fine.  I would call our power company and see if they can inspect and check your connections in the meter base.  With the wiring being less than 10 year old, there may not be a problem there, but it does not hurt to check.

I would also check the voltage in a outlet or on a circuit in your house.  check before your show is running and when your show is running.

 

would like to hear how tis works out for you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had something like that happen to my LOR controller. I found out that under certain timing issues and phase issues I would get flicker or a humming. I would try to have both plugs put into the same outlet. I ended up moving breakers around so that the outdoor controller and MP3 director are on same phase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It almost seems that your problem may be either caused by a poor connection in your electrical service or an excessively long or too small a Gage drop wire between the transformer on your street and your house. If the problem seems to be getting progressively more noticeable it leans toward the poor connection theory. A good quality old school RMS analogue meter such as a Viz power line monitor or a Simpson or Triplett connected to your line should help you "see" how much the voltage is actually fluctuating. If you do have a bad service connection, any heavy inductive loads like a washing machine motor kicking in would also cause large voltage fluctuations. Besides the obvious bad or corroded connections in your meter base or breaker panel one frequent point of failure is where the main breaker in some panels mechanically and electrically connects to the panels bus bar assembly. In my career as an electrician I've had to replace a few main breakers and bus bar assemblies with burnt or corroded connection stabs including the one in my garage service panel that supplied the power to my LOR  controllers and garage heat and lights several years ago! Not all main breakers are the "push on" stab type, some manufacturers use bolted connections to attach the main breaker to the panel bus bars which rarely give any problems as long as the bolts are torqued tight and the threads aren't stripped. Over the years I have also encountered a few bad outdoor crimp connections  where the copper wires coming out of a service mast were joined to the aluminum utility drop wires. Usually the techs at your local power utility can come and hook up some monitoring equipment to check your service if the problem seems to be really serious.

Hopefully this helps. Curious what is causing the problem...

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions, I tested some values using my kill a watt meter (not super accurate but should be good enough).   I made a simple show with all the lights coming on.

Circuit 1

Volts - 119.7V before all lights on, and after all the lights are on 111.2V

Amp - 18.42

Watts - 2056

Circuit 2

Volts - 119.4V before all lights on, and after all the lights are on 113.7V

Amp - 15.56

Watts - 1760 

On other circuits in the house that the lights are not plugged into the voltage fluctuates slowly between 118.3 and 119.3 volts, when all the lights are on.

So I'm guess that much of a voltage drop is not normal.  The wires running to the outlets are 35 feet at most of 12 gauge copper wire, each circuit  pass through one 20 amp outlet and a 20 amp switch (controls the outside outlet)  before reaching the 20amp outside outlets.  At the outlets in between I measure the same voltage drop. 

The house was rewired about 10 years ago to upgrade wire from AL to CU and upgrade from a 100 amp meter main combo to a 200 amp.  When the power company came out they said the existing wire from the street big green box was adequate ( I assume that is a transformer).  This box is at the corner of my property and about 150 ft away from my panel.

    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would call the power company and let them know you have low voltage. Let them know you want to be there to have all the lights on. I work for power company for over decade and it normal to get those request. You should be getting around 120V with it loaded up. They can check it at the meter box and transformer. Most place have Aluminum going from transformer to the meter box. If the aluminum gets hot it will deform under the lugs in the transformer or meter box. So your connect might act up when you add load to your service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi I just dug out my old textbook from when I used to teach electrical at our local college and did some calculations using your readings. First of all your NEC (national electrical code) Section 210.19 (A) states that the maximum voltage drop in a branch circuit should not exceed 3% at the furthest outlet of power, heating, and lighting loads, and the total voltage drop on your main feeders and branch circuits should not exceed 5%.

-On the other circuits in your house you are measuring a voltage drop of 1 volt when your lights are on. This equates to 0.84% voltage drop on both your feeders and branch circuit which is well within NEC limits and appears to be normal. This tends to rule out any big problems with your service conductors, main breaker or meter base.

-In circuit 1 that supplies your lights you are measuring a voltage drop of 8.5 volts which equates to a 7.14% voltage drop which exceeds NEC limits and indicates a problem with  that branch circuit. Theoretically with 35 feet of 12 gauge copper wire and your measured load of 18.42 amps your voltage drop should ideally be around 2.05 volts.

If we changed the wire type to 35 feet of #12 Aluminum wire, with the same amount of amps the voltage drop would increase to 3.36 volts and if we changed the wire type to 35 feet of #14 Copper the voltage drop would be 3.27 volts, both pushing the NEC limits for a branch circuit but still nowhere near what you measured.

-Circuit 2 that also supplies your lights is showing a drop of 5.7 volts which equates to a 4.77% voltage drop which is also high. Just out of curiosity do circuits 1 and 2 share a common neutral (white wire)? If they do and the two 20 amp breakers are on the same "leg" or bus of your panel you would be running around 34 amps through that poor neutral wire which would explain the large voltage drop that you are measuring. The solution would be to move one of your breakers to the other "leg" or bus of the panel to balance the load or to run a second neutral wire for your second circuit.

To troubleshoot the problem you need to start at the branch circuit breaker and measure the voltage drop there and then move on and measure the drop going into and out of your outlet, switch and any splices along the way. As soon as you notice a significant difference check the device , wire or connection that supplies power to your test point. I realize that this is a bit complicated but hopefully it will help you solve your problem

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found the culprit, short answer: it was the Feit dimmers I bought from Costco.   I had the power company come out and check connections, he said every thing was good.  He said the voltage drop I was seeing was normal for the load I was applying.  I did try other circuits in my house with a load from a space heater and a heat and got about the same voltage drop.  Apparently my house is on the furthest transformer away from the main line feeding my city and he said that when everyone gets home and starts using power my group of houses is usually at 118v.

I started to think what else I had changed and it dawned on my that the only lights flashing where the ones that had the these dimmers installed, 4 in total.  So I bought a Lutron Diva CF/LED dimmer and installed it yesterday.  That room is no longer flashing, so now I just need to buy 3 more $23 dimmers.  I guess when you buy 2 dimmers for $15 you can't expect much.    Now if I can just figure out how to get the GFCIs to stop tripping in the rain.

Thanks for all the help.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

awesome, a lesson learned for this old dog,  glad you got it solved

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there a tutorial on how to use grease with Christmas lights?  It seems like a dumb question, but I started applying it and there was a lot that oozed out when I pressed in the plug, so then I had to wipe it all off.  Just seeing if thee are any tricks.  Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×