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Lite4
11-26-2009, 11:04 PM
OK, here is my situation. I have 2 Unique H-force 1838 transformers that are blowing their primary fuses every night. I installed them in July and they were working flawlessly until Haloween, then mysteriously they both started to randomly blow primary fuses. Here is the info I have on these:

Both transformers are equipped with 16 amp fuses.
Primary voltage readings:
Transformer 1 - 12.87 amps
Transformer 2 - 13.6 amps

All of the secondary amperages are ranging between 3.3 amps up to 13.2 amps on the individual runs and I have not had any issue with any of the secondary fuses blowing at all. So, I am not recording any shorts in the secondary side at all. All the amperage is as it should be.

Both of these units are wired directly into the panel, and we had maybe thought we had a problem with inrush current because the length of wire between the panel and transformer was about 5'- So we added new 20 amp heating and air conditioning rated breakers and replaced the 5' wire with a 50' roll of romex between the panel and the transformer. Still blowing fuses.

After talking to Unique about this they decided to send me two new transformers thinking there may have been an internal issue with the wiring around the primary fusing. Replaced those last week and added full panel surge protection to elimate the possibility of spikes and surges, but after 4 days I had a primary blow again. All the amp reading on the primary and secondaries are still normal- no detectable shorts.

When we replace the fuse the units will run all night and go off at dawn with the photocell, but come the next evening they don't come on because the fuse is blown. Sometimes it will go two evenings before it blows.

The units have the 16 amp slow blow glass fuses that come with them. We were even substituting 20 amp fuses and they were getting fryed also. I have never run into any problems like this where all the amp readings and loads on the primary and secondary sides were well within range and still have some gremlin killing my fuses.

I will also add that these two transformers are completely isolated from each other. Each transformer is at a different entryway and on its on panel (power supply)

Any advice here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys

JimLewis
11-27-2009, 04:36 AM
Well, Tim. You know a boat load more about lighting than I do. So I probably can't be giving you advice. But here are just a few thoughts. (I'm interested to see where this goes anyway);

When I have issues that don't make any sense I just try to begin isolating things. That is, removing parts of the system. If the part I removed leads to stability, then there's a problem with that part.

So first thing I'd try is to run just one of the transformers by itself. Leave the other one off. It doesn't make any sense why 2 on at the same time should be a problem. But I'd just do that as a test. Who knows?

Next, I'd try to use another power source. That is, get a 20w or more extension cord and plug them into a power outlet somewhere around the house, rather then hard-wiring them. I'd be sure the outlet I wired them into wasn't on a circuit that was being used - or instruct the homeowners to keep whatever else is on that circuit "off" during my test.

I'd keep thinking of things like this in an effort to try to isolate something that leads me closer to the culprit. So like if the extension cord trick worked then I'd suspect something was still wrong with my hard wiring.

The other thing I wonder about is if you are overloading the circuit. I don't know much about electrical, outside of low-voltage. But I do have an electrician we use as a sub-contractor from time to time. I know he's told me that with a 20a curcuit you really got to keep the load under like 16 amps. So I wonder with a 16 amp circuit maybe the limit is more like 12. The problem with that theory is you said you replaced them with 20a fuses and are still having the problem. So then I am baffled again.

I don't know. I just thought I'd share a few of my thoughts. I am anxious to hear with this problem is, though.

JimLewis
11-27-2009, 04:46 AM
I was just reading up online to see what the max. rating for a 20a and 16a circuit was. The info. I found just on a quick cursory search said that the general rule of thumb is no more than 80% of the breaker (fuse) for a constant load for 3 or more hours. So if you have a 16a breaker, then following this rule, your max on each circuit would be only 12.8 amps. 16 x .80 = 12.8. So that would explain the occasional tripping of the fuse.

Still baffled about why it would trip a 20a fuse, though. Unless the wiring from the transformer to the panel isn't sufficient for 20a.

p.s. they call this the "derating factor". On a continuous load (e.g. constant, more than 3 hours) you have to account for this "derating factor" of 80% max.

JimLewis
11-27-2009, 05:08 AM
What gauge wire is the Romex?

Is the Romex going through a conduit at any point? If so, what size conduit and does each run of Romex go through it's own conduit or are they sharing the same conduit.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-27-2009, 06:28 AM
Baffling and no doubt frustrating. It might take some time but a process of elimination is probably best. Start with running both trans unloaded. Then load one up. Then load the second and not the first. Etc etc. Move through all the components this way until the issue is found.

I hope the site is close to home.

Let us know what you discover.
Posted via Mobile Device

Lite4
11-27-2009, 07:26 AM
Thanks guys,

These transformers are in different locations (2 different entryways about a 1/2 mile away from each other on their own dedicated power source. The problem with running the transformers unloaded is that their are a few people in the community that absolutely freak out and threaten to sue and demand refund if the lights are not on, so the only unloaded test I can do is a short one during the day.
If I am not mistaken the whole purpose of derating is to only load a transformer to 80% of it's capacity since the other 20% will be figuired in wire resistance.

The next trick I am going to try is to perhaps buy 4 transformers and try to split the loads down even more. I can't think of anything else to try, even though I am below the rated amp ratings of the 1838 watt transformers.

Just looking for something I may have missed.

RLI Electric
11-27-2009, 07:36 AM
Frustrating for sure, I have had defective cable with a high resistant short circuit in it. Interior wiring (mc cable) and it was tough to find out. Only shorted when under load. Time for some detective work. Try taking the loads off and simply have 1 fixture wired to the secondary on each. Run that if it holds, continue the troubleshooting. Place one xfmr back on and run that if it trips go to your hub or distribution point and isolate one leg at a time. If you can, see if you can use a resistance meter and look out at the legs (with the fixtures) disconnected and see if there is a resistance. If it is happening on both, sounds as if it can be a cable issue or better would be if you have a couple of faulty fixtures or lamps. Time consuming and frustrating but at this point necessary. If you have a friend that works for a phone company as an install or repair guy, have them throw on the meter they use to check lines. They can look for high resistance shorts from leg to leg and leg to ground and they can also "stress" the line which can bring the trouble out if it is hiding. Just a thought.

RLI Electric
11-27-2009, 07:39 AM
One more thought, check you line side power. If it is "browned out" meaning down this would raise your amperage and throw you over if you are at the limit.

RLI Electric
11-27-2009, 07:42 AM
One more thought and I will stop. Any other issues in the house? They may have a loose neutral and the power company can help with that. If the neutral is loose your A and B phase voltages can spike and cause all sorts of troubles. Bad things happen when a neutral is compomised.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks Bobby,
I have metered everything on the primary and secondary and all of my amp loads are dead on where they are supposed to be. I was hoping to find a reading on my secondary side that would indicate a short so I could isolate it and repair it boom, problem solved. However, this is not the case. Furthermore, in the H-force all of the secondaries are individually fused for their different loads, so even if I did have a random short in my secondary runs it should show up by blowing a secondary fuse which would leave only that run dark and not kill the primary fuse and all of the power.
From my assesment and that of two electricians on my crew we are scratching our head. We have isolated the secondary side with individual, inline secondary fusing which is not blowing any fuses, and we have added full panel surge protection, a new HACer rated breaker and a 50' spool of romex between the panel and the tranx for inrush, and yet they still keep blowing.......? What am I missing here?

Just seems odd that they would work great for 3 months and then both of them start going at the same time within a couple of days of each other. Oh, we thought the local energy company may have kicked up the voltage in the area to compensate for the increased winter loads but the primary at the panels are 122 and 123 volts respectively.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 07:58 AM
One more thought and I will stop. Any other issues in the house? They may have a loose neutral and the power company can help with that. If the neutral is loose your A and B phase voltages can spike and cause all sorts of troubles. Bad things happen when a neutral is compomised.

This is not a house, they are entryways to a development. Plus I have full panel surge protection.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 08:00 AM
One more thought, check you line side power. If it is "browned out" meaning down this would raise your amperage and throw you over if you are at the limit.

volts are good, 122 and 123 respectively at the panel. Amp loads check out good at the breaker too. One of the first things we checked as we knew it would have a negative effect on our load.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 08:02 AM
Frustrating for sure, I have had defective cable with a high resistant short circuit in it. Interior wiring (mc cable) and it was tough to find out. Only shorted when under load. Time for some detective work. Try taking the loads off and simply have 1 fixture wired to the secondary on each. Run that if it holds, continue the troubleshooting. Place one xfmr back on and run that if it trips go to your hub or distribution point and isolate one leg at a time. If you can, see if you can use a resistance meter and look out at the legs (with the fixtures) disconnected and see if there is a resistance. If it is happening on both, sounds as if it can be a cable issue or better would be if you have a couple of faulty fixtures or lamps. Time consuming and frustrating but at this point necessary. If you have a friend that works for a phone company as an install or repair guy, have them throw on the meter they use to check lines. They can look for high resistance shorts from leg to leg and leg to ground and they can also "stress" the line which can bring the trouble out if it is hiding. Just a thought.

If I have a high resistance short, wouldn't this show up as in increase in my total secondary amp load? And wouldn't it also kill the secondary fuse 1st since it has to go there first before it could even get to the primary fuse?

RLI Electric
11-27-2009, 08:22 AM
The fact that it is a development leads me to believe that this will be powered off an owners panel. Therefore it is even more likely that no one would notice other issues such as lights dimming or blowing out. What else would be on the owners panel, site lighting 120 volt, smoke detectors? Can't hurt to call your local power company as it should be a free service call. You probably wont see the surge in current as the trouble appears while you are not there. The amperage readings you are measuring do not seem to be the issue, it is what happens when you dont have the amprobe on the line. A dead short on a secondary can sometime trip the main breaker of a panel. I have never seen this in landscape lighting but I did see a short on a switch take out a wing of a hospital. THAT was exciting and those generators really do fire up within 10 seconds.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 08:44 AM
The fact that it is a development leads me to believe that this will be powered off an owners panel. Therefore it is even more likely that no one would notice other issues such as lights dimming or blowing out. What else would be on the owners panel, site lighting 120 volt, smoke detectors? Can't hurt to call your local power company as it should be a free service call. You probably wont see the surge in current as the trouble appears while you are not there. The amperage readings you are measuring do not seem to be the issue, it is what happens when you dont have the amprobe on the line. A dead short on a secondary can sometime trip the main breaker of a panel. I have never seen this in landscape lighting but I did see a short on a switch take out a wing of a hospital. THAT was exciting and those generators really do fire up within 10 seconds.

These panels are fully dedicated to the entryways and no other buildings. 2 street lights and an irrigation controller are the only other things on this line. The panel surge protection we put in should protect us from any transients or spikes from the main power supply.

kelectric
11-27-2009, 08:56 AM
Tim - I think the primary fuse needs to be increased. Look at article 450 table 450.3 (B). You need to be 125% on the over current protection so if the transformer is 1800w that's 15 amp. 125% = 18.75amps. Do not excel 20amps.

John

cody417
11-27-2009, 04:13 PM
I had a recent job have similar problems. Found that the Apollo lights that I used would fill up with water during heavy rains and cause the fuse to blow. The property had heavy clay soil and did not allow drainage. Had to build up the areas installed to provide adequate drainage. No problems since. Hope this helps

Lite4
11-27-2009, 07:12 PM
Tim - I think the primary fuse needs to be increased. Look at article 450 table 450.3 (B). You need to be 125% on the over current protection so if the transformer is 1800w that's 15 amp. 125% = 18.75amps. Do not excel 20amps.

John

I put in 20 amp slow blow fuses. My primary load metered in the mid 12s but yet the fuses still blew.

Lite4
11-27-2009, 07:14 PM
I had a recent job have similar problems. Found that the Apollo lights that I used would fill up with water during heavy rains and cause the fuse to blow. The property had heavy clay soil and did not allow drainage. Had to build up the areas installed to provide adequate drainage. No problems since. Hope this helps

Hi Cody, none of my secondary fuses have blown and I am losing them in wet and dry weather both, so I don't really think the problem is on the secondary side of things.

RLI Electric
11-28-2009, 07:22 AM
How about wicking? When under load the lamps can pull water in to the fixture. Is it possible something like that can happen at the transformer? I am assuming that the breaker was changed. What manufacturer of electrical panel and breaker is it?

Lite4
11-28-2009, 01:12 PM
How about wicking? When under load the lamps can pull water in to the fixture. Is it possible something like that can happen at the transformer? I am assuming that the breaker was changed. What manufacturer of electrical panel and breaker is it?

Yeah, I changed the breaker too. I believe it is a GE panel on one entryway and a cutler hammer on the other one. It is bone dry inside the tranx.

RLI Electric
11-28-2009, 01:37 PM
Is the circuit tied into a gfci breaker, outlet or hardwired and gfci protected?

Infinity Landscapes, Inc
11-28-2009, 05:33 PM
you said street lights are on the same panel? maybe have your nightlighting shut off before or after the street lighting does. If they are both dusk to dawn and shutting off at the same time could be a mass surge. And you said there were surge protectors. do you have that paper that shows you how the fuse blows to identify the type of short. I'm sure you do. I know 2 gfci in line will cause problems as well. Just my 2 cents. good luck

Lite4
11-28-2009, 07:15 PM
Is the circuit tied into a gfci breaker, outlet or hardwired and gfci protected?

The circuit is hardwired into the panel. The breaker is not a GFCI breaker.

Lite4
11-28-2009, 07:21 PM
Went out tonight to baby sit the transformers. I checked them both and both glass fuses had shattered inside the transformers. I had to pick the glass pieces out and put in new fuses. I am out of ideas and starting to regret using these 24 volt transformers. They had 12volt nightscape transformers here before and they never had this problem for the 8 years they were installed here.

RLI Electric
11-28-2009, 08:27 PM
Sorry Tim, I am out of ideas and about 1000 miles away. I wish I could zip on over to help out. These are frustrating but interesting at the same time. I know you don't want to hear that and I don't mean it to sound so irritating. Do let us know if you find out what is going on. I have absolutely no experience with the 24 volt systems and therefore can't give an opinion one way or another. Actually, I am not familiar with the transformers by Unique at all. I am sure they are a fine piece of equipment. GE panels on the other hand although I do use them due to convenience, I am not as happy with those as I would be with other products.

emby
11-28-2009, 11:48 PM
Hi Tim,

Have not been on for awhile and just read this thread. Sounds pretty frustrating....I do have a couple of questions. What is the purpose of the primary fuse in the landscape transformer? I would say its to protect the cores of the transformers. By all the troubleshooting you have done it sounds as though you have eliminated any issues before and after the transformer. I would focus on the transformer as this to me is clearly an in rush issue.
The only thing that has changed is time and your outside temperature and moisture exposure.
Has Unique recently made any changes of suppliers for the parts that they require for the transformers? Are the glass fuses supplied by them or did you have your electricians pick them up at the wholesaler. You must have some really high ampacity happening or a very big temperature change in order to have the glass shatter on the fuses.
What causes high ampacity...well loose connections anywhere inside the transformer that includes the connections within the core itself. With the warming and cooling the copper windings will expand and contract and this could be producing the high ampacity which will trigger the primary to blow. Just thinking out loud here but something new to look at in trying to resolve your problem. I will be back on this site over the next couple of nights..let me know what you think or find out.

Ken

David Gretzmier
11-29-2009, 12:23 AM
just a thought- but I have fuses blown on Christmas light stuff all the time. GFCI's tripped, breakers popped. It seems as though this is not a tansformer problem, as you have replaced those, and not a breaker or wiring from panel to the trans problem, as you have replaced those. That leaves your low voltage wire and lights.

The only thing I can think of is someone may have planted some flowers or shrubs or something and may have put a shovel gash in your wires somewhere. you have to start unhooking your low voltage wires one at a time and see which one or ones keep you from blowing fuses.

It may not make sense, but I have discovered in Christmas lights, there are shorts everywhere and just keep unplugging things one at a time or trying things until the problem stops presenting itself. if that unplugged wire or this unplugged wire does not fix the problem, it is not the problem.

good luck.

Pro-Scapes
11-29-2009, 09:20 AM
Here is a tought. If Unique had bad stock because of manufacturing error and you replaced the transformer and the new ones contained the same error ? If you have some smaller 24v boxes laying around try swapping them in as a trial if that is feesible.

Does sound to me like inrush. If all of your amps for the secondary are on target and your not popping fuses there then your secondary is probably fine.

This is only happening at start up ? If you can get them to come on then all is well ? When you check your amps make sure you check both the commons AND the V taps with multiple meters. Make sure everything lines up.

Then I would remove HALF my secondary blade fuses... cycle the trans on and off a few times leaving a 30 second to 1 minute gap between cycles to help eliminate inrush. Problem still there ? What about with the second half ?

The H force gets real big. Leaves alot of room for headaches. Since I have gone to multiple smaller transformer set ups I have eliminated alot of issues we had such as this. Big problems when we ran alot of MDL 1200w units with things tripping and GFCI's popping.

Lite4
11-29-2009, 09:50 PM
just a thought- but I have fuses blown on Christmas light stuff all the time. GFCI's tripped, breakers popped. It seems as though this is not a tansformer problem, as you have replaced those, and not a breaker or wiring from panel to the trans problem, as you have replaced those. That leaves your low voltage wire and lights.

The only thing I can think of is someone may have planted some flowers or shrubs or something and may have put a shovel gash in your wires somewhere. you have to start unhooking your low voltage wires one at a time and see which one or ones keep you from blowing fuses.

It may not make sense, but I have discovered in Christmas lights, there are shorts everywhere and just keep unplugging things one at a time or trying things until the problem stops presenting itself. if that unplugged wire or this unplugged wire does not fix the problem, it is not the problem.

good luck.


David, there can't be any shorts on the secondary side with the lights and cable:
1. It would have shown up as an increased amp reading on my meter
2. It would have blown the secondary, in-line fuse on that run before hitting the primary. I have not had any of the secondary fuses blow and the amp readings on all my secondary runs are good.

Lite4
11-29-2009, 09:57 PM
Here is a tought. If Unique had bad stock because of manufacturing error and you replaced the transformer and the new ones contained the same error ? If you have some smaller 24v boxes laying around try swapping them in as a trial if that is feesible.

Does sound to me like inrush. If all of your amps for the secondary are on target and your not popping fuses there then your secondary is probably fine.

This is only happening at start up ? If you can get them to come on then all is well ? When you check your amps make sure you check both the commons AND the V taps with multiple meters. Make sure everything lines up.

Then I would remove HALF my secondary blade fuses... cycle the trans on and off a few times leaving a 30 second to 1 minute gap between cycles to help eliminate inrush. Problem still there ? What about with the second half ?

The H force gets real big. Leaves alot of room for headaches. Since I have gone to multiple smaller transformer set ups I have eliminated alot of issues we had such as this. Big problems when we ran alot of MDL 1200w units with things tripping and GFCI's popping.

Billy, yeah we thought it was an inrush problem at the beginning but added new breakers, 50' of romex and full panel surge protection, so that should have taken care of those issues I would think.

My next step is to go with multiple smaller transformers, I dont' know what difference it will make but I am out of any other ideas. My credibility with the HOA and property management company is shot from all the times they have had to call me about the lights being out. Hopefully I can get this figuired out this week.

pihta
11-30-2009, 04:47 AM
Tim, if its not problem on the low-side, and panel is okay so this is somethere between. What else can cause tripping on the high side of the transformer? I mean - what is placed on the 'wire' from high side? Fuse and photo-cell.
So - check if fuse have good connection, we have one issue there was bad contacts in the fuse holder and it burned out. I remember that you chahged transformers but may be this an issue for whole serie or components.
Second - may be bad photocell with sort of bad contacts causing fuse blow.

JoeyD
11-30-2009, 11:56 AM
still stumped myself Tim. I am going to check in with Chip and find out what they found after testing the returned units? See if we can duplicate the problem here?

Lite4
11-30-2009, 03:49 PM
Thanks for the phone call Nate. I know the problem is not in the transformers (so everyone here don't get the wrong idea about Unique transformers- They are still the best!) At this point there is no question it has to be a problem in the main power supply. Doing some more diagnostics and trying some different things. I will keep everyone interested updated on my findings.

emby
11-30-2009, 05:09 PM
I will be interested in hearing what the culprit was.....Idec Icecube?

Pro-Scapes
11-30-2009, 06:09 PM
If the problem was in the primary BEFORE the trans you would be popping the circuit breaker and not the fuse inside the trans. The photocell is before the core obviously but Joey... is it wired before or after the primary fuse ?

What about Voltage getting to ground ? Couldnt this cause this scenario ? Your secondary fuses are on the commons not the voltage side. I still think the problem is in the trans. Unique does make a solid trans and I am in no way downing them but every manu has some issues on occasion.

I would almost bet that if you had 2 smaller 840w units in there on seperate 20a breakers you wouldnt have a lick of problems.

JoeyD
11-30-2009, 06:35 PM
2 Units worked for 3 months with no problems. Then one day around Halloween both units start having the same issue. 2 other units are sent to Tim and both are having the same issue right off the bat. Tim is going to take one of these units and go wire it up on another panel or circuit off this power supply. We can almost guarantee it is not a TF problem or else all the other H-Forces that have been sold would be having the same issue unless of course we just happened to build Tim 4 at different times with the same issue? LOL We have built them all the same with the exception of the first couple that we made a small change on which was way before Tim was shipped his first H-Force.

We are working with Tim to reseolve the issue but we believe that whatever has been done since Halloween on the primary power side is what is causing our problems and Tim agrees. A loose Nuetral or something could be the culprit. We were all thinking this was an in rush problem but Tim will tell you that he can get the units to run fine during the day, but at Night is when something occurs and it doesnt always occur right upon firing, the units may be running before the fuse goes. We will get it figured out and report the findings and once we get back the origonal 2 units we will test them and crack them open to inspect.

If it is a TF issue then we will be sure to correct it but we have logiclly ruled out all potential areas of causing this.

emby
11-30-2009, 08:59 PM
As it is fun trying to help with troubleshooting and I always love troubleshooting I mean in no way to offend or point at any manufacturers products in a negative way. Troubleshooting is awsome because once the problem is resolved everybody learns something. My intention was to suggest looking there, as it could of have been a loose connection causing the high ampacity.
I was taught to follow the power and check every connection on that circuit which includes the hot,return and devices.
Back in one of Tims post he mentioned that the electricians installed an Arc Fault circuit breaker? If so this surely would have tripped if the neautral was the cause.
Once again sorry if I offended anybody as this was not my intention at all...just trying to help a guy that was clearly frustrated.

Ken

RLI Electric
11-30-2009, 09:13 PM
Arc Fault breaker? I missed that way back in the thread. Is the neutral touching the ground? That is a fun one to troubleshoot if you never seen it before. Hi res short on neutral to ground will drive you insane. Who would ever look for that to be culprit? Worth a shot or the loose neutral. I did try to call Intermatic about the loose neutral but couldn't get through due to high call volume. Then had to get the kids from school.

sprinkler guy
12-01-2009, 12:49 AM
Tim,

A couple of years ago I installed a sprinkler controller and transformer at a school. Lights were for an entryway sign that advertised the upcoming registration for the coming year (private school). Anyway, it worked fine for a couple of months, then I get a call that the controller is blank, won't reset, and the lights no longer come on or off. Went to the site and after some working with the in-house maintenance guy, found out that the outlet they designated for my new controller and trans. happened to be on the same circuit as the parking lot lights. They hadn't been running for the summer, but when the timer kicked on it completed the 240 circuit!! Not sure if something like this can be happening to you, but thought I would throw it out there.

Lite4
12-01-2009, 06:16 AM
Tim,

A couple of years ago I installed a sprinkler controller and transformer at a school. Lights were for an entryway sign that advertised the upcoming registration for the coming year (private school). Anyway, it worked fine for a couple of months, then I get a call that the controller is blank, won't reset, and the lights no longer come on or off. Went to the site and after some working with the in-house maintenance guy, found out that the outlet they designated for my new controller and trans. happened to be on the same circuit as the parking lot lights. They hadn't been running for the summer, but when the timer kicked on it completed the 240 circuit!! Not sure if something like this can be happening to you, but thought I would throw it out there.

No, the street lights here have been on since the first day of operation. Today I am going to switch the breakers to different phases on the panel and double check all the neutrals and hots in the panel to ensure they are super tight. Also replacing photocells with timers so I can see exactly when the surges are happening to hopefully isolate some power issues. On a side note, about a quarter mile down the street I noticed some underground utility work going on (as in adding new services) Looks as though they could be added some new underground electrical, gas or fiber. Not sure which yet, but going to find out. My problems began about the same time they started their project.

Pro-Scapes
12-01-2009, 09:17 AM
Tim now that you mention that I will say I had alot of bad bad voltage spikes when I installed a system in a new subdivision when they were adding more to the main lines (new transformers and houses)

RLI Electric
12-01-2009, 02:44 PM
Tim, just for giggles call the power company and have them do the Beast of Burden test on it. I don't know if that is what they call it in Indiana but I think it's a neutral. I don't know if the surge protector will stop that from causing havic on the equipment. That is what I wanted to ask Intermatic. If the voltage swings and you get say 150 volts on A and 90volts on B, you would still be under 240 volts and maybe that is why it gets through the surge protector and manages to blow out fuses. Just a guess.

Pro-Scapes
12-01-2009, 03:26 PM
I just checked a house 2 weeks ago thats running at 141v at my outlet. Claims he is having no problem with stuff inside. I still at 11.8 at the lamps becuase thats how the system was set up but it ate 3 timers.

Lite4
12-01-2009, 09:07 PM
We checked neutrals- all tight.* Primary voltage at the breaker is 122 on one and 123 on the other.* I checked the fuses tonight before dark and both were blown so, they either blew sometime in the night or during the day.* We took the photocells offline and placed timers in the units to check if they are blowing during the night or during the day sometime.* I am calling the power company tomorrow to see if they have some meters they can place on the panels to record spikes in voltage or amperage.* The investigation is ongoing........

jshimmin
12-02-2009, 07:04 AM
I think you will be looking more for a "Brown out " condition. As the voltage drops, current draw will be increased initially on the transformer to maintain the output. The transformer is basically a linear power source. A simple clamp on current meter set to show max current may show what's happening as well.

When everything is working, what is the peak current when the system is first energized after being off for a while?

thomkirby
12-02-2009, 02:38 PM
Firefly,
This sounds too weird to be happening to independent systems so I find it logical that your equipment is not buggy. You need to find out the time 'when it blows' as this might be critical. Can you somehow tie in a mechanical timer to the power? That way when the power blows the fuses the mechical time is thus frozen (something a digital timer cannot do). After Halloween we switched to back to normal time which should have no impact. Gremlins maybe, yes.

The Lighting Geek
12-02-2009, 05:17 PM
Tim, how about putting a watt metering device inline that tracks the use by time of day and maybe you will find a spike or another anomaly. I have had some remote sites with intermittent spike/fluctuations in the the line voltage due to other demands elsewhere on site. Usually that causes lamp burnout though, not the symptoms you are experiencing. It would be interesting to see if a history through a 24 or 48 hour period would revel something.

Lite4
12-02-2009, 08:08 PM
I put timers on them last night and one entry blew a primary at 3 A.M. The other one held for the night. I have an appointment set up for next tuesday afternoon to meet with an electrical engineer that represents the power company. I will see if he can put some kind or device on the meter to record any odd current fluctuations.

Eden Lights
12-03-2009, 12:41 AM
This is not going to be a popular answer, but some times when you have alot of new products coupled with new enviroments, you have to punt, don't keep wasting your time and allowing potential negative impact on your business. If all your checks are accurate, CHANGE the transformers to a resettable breaker style transformer and report back to us. While Unique makes some great transformers, sometimes certain products have demons in a harsh electrical enviroment. Replace one of them with a Vista or a FX unit, if it doesn't work I will pay for the transformer and the shipping to me. While it was NOT with Unique products, I have already been down this road before. While your mileage may vary, my standard of acceptacle power supply was must different than my inspecting EC from our power company. I was told to either have my client pay for his own dedicated transformer or live with it. I punted and life is good. Good Luck

Lite4
12-06-2009, 08:47 PM
I unplugged the photocells and put everything on timers so I could see when everything was blowing. We blew one the first night at 3 am but since then they have been going fine for 4 nights straight. Either the power situation has changed or they like running better with timers. Who knows?

RLI Electric
12-06-2009, 08:51 PM
Is the power company still down the street or did they finish up?

Lite4
12-07-2009, 09:38 AM
Is the power company still down the street or did they finish up?

They are still setting up street lights. Meeting with their engineer tomorrow.

emby
12-09-2009, 12:08 PM
Hey Tim,
Just wondering if you have resolved the situation? Did you meet with the power companies engr.?

Ken

Lite4
12-09-2009, 01:44 PM
yeah, met with the engineer. They are going to put some recording device on their meters to see what they can record. So far 6 days straight without incident since changing over to the timers on the transformers. I don't know if this is a coincidence or the fact that they are almost finished up the street.

wbaptist
12-09-2009, 03:03 PM
I unplugged the photocells and put everything on timers so I could see when everything was blowing. We blew one the first night at 3 am but since then they have been going fine for 4 nights straight. Either the power situation has changed or they like running better with timers. Who knows?


Tim,

I dont think you removing the photocell fixed the problem because it did blow at 3am with the timer. Please keep us informed on what is happening with these units.

By the way we loaded and have been running for 24 hours without issue. I will be adding a Photocell to the testing today to see if that changes things.

Thanks,
Rusty Baptist
Unique Lighting Systems

Lite4
12-09-2009, 04:41 PM
You bet I will keep you up to date. My tech is on his way out there right now to check them for tonight. I will report back on it when I hear from him.

I also agree that the photocells probably have nothing to do with it since we did lose it once with a timer. Perhaps something has changed in the main power supply recently. We will be monitoring.

JoeyD
12-09-2009, 05:14 PM
Glad its atleast holding now Tim. What a PITA! LOL Do keep us posted. We are all watching closely to make sure we get this thing dialed in with you.

Lite4
12-09-2009, 08:02 PM
night 7. No blown fuses. Transformers are operating normally tonight.

Eden Lights
12-10-2009, 12:07 AM
On the H transformer, where is the thermister located? @ 120V windings supply to protect the transformer primary fuse, the supplying GFI, and or panel breaker, or is it after the transformer primary fuse, thus only protecting GFI, and panel breaker?

JoeyD
12-10-2009, 11:27 AM
I am going to get with Rusty to confirm this Eddie, but I believe like our outher units the Thermister is before the Primary Fuse to protect everything. Otherwise the in rush would be blowing the fuses up. Even on a fully loaded 1120 it could strike to 18+ amps upon firing thus the importance of having a thermister in place. I will verify, I could be wrong. I do know on the H-Force in addition to the thermister and due to the higher loads we have an ice cube styled relay to obsorb the amperage so that it does not pass through the timers or control modules.

Lite4
12-10-2009, 08:38 PM
Joey, Speaking of protecting photocells. On the first units I put in I had 2 photocells fry after about a month and a half on both units. They were direct wire intermatics. I swapped them out with the plug and play ones. I am sure they fried because they weren't protected by the relay first. I should have thought of that.

wbaptist
12-11-2009, 07:05 PM
The larger units pull 12.5 to 15.31 amps and the Pc's and timers will not handle that. So we added a relay to limit the current flowing through the switching modules. The H-force is our only transformer with a seperate primary loop for testing amperage. There is less than 1 amps flowing through the switching modules in the H-force.

emby
12-11-2009, 08:07 PM
Hi Rusty,

Just wondering if this is a different relay than what I have seen. Does the relay not have a coil which is energized and then switches the contacts closed to allow the flow of electricity or this a different type of relay? How does your relay limit the current running through without a thermister?
What is the coil on the relay energized from?
Sorry for all the questions but I have and will never have the opertunity to look at one of these because of my location but I am still interested in learning the schematics of things. Thanks.

Ken

Lite4
12-16-2009, 04:24 PM
Joey/Rusty

Over 2 weeks now without incident on the transformers. It looks like the power up the road has been re-energized so maybe this has something to do with going back to normal. Still stumped but happy not to be replacing fuses nightly. You guys have been great to work with while I have been dealing with this fiasco. Thanks very much to Nate, Joey, Rusty and all of you at Unique for standing behind your products so very well.

JoeyD
12-16-2009, 04:36 PM
That is awesome to hear Tim! Glad we could all help and even more glad you are in good standing with the customer. I would be lieing if I said we werent a little worried, thinking what could possibly be wrong to cause this? But logic prevailed...lol Keep up the great work, we are thrilled to have you as a customer. At times we are forced to work with some difficult situations and some customers in your position wouldnt have been as trusting with us in working through this. Thank you for believing in the product as much as we do.