please help, triping breaker

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  #1  
Old 02-12-03, 08:19 AM
double0bondo
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Question please help, triping breaker

Hello, I was wondering if someone may be able to assist me with some wiring problem i'm having?
About 10 months ago, I bought an outdoor lighted panel sign for my auto body shop, The day I got it, I installed the sign, but never wired it up, the light came prewired, and had what appears to be 12-2 w/grd lead coming out the side of it, the day i hung the sign, i ran an extention cord to it, just to test it to see what it looked like...It worked fine and then i said to my self, well, Ill run the wiring to it tomm, make a long story short, 10 months later, (3days ago), i finally decided to hook it up...lol anyhow, the sign has ONE ballast and 4 8' t-12 H.O. floruesent bulbs...i started at the breaker box and installed a new 20 amp single pole breaker, I ran 10-2 w/ground about 25 feet to the junction box, the junction box sits right next to the sign...from there, i tied into the pre-existing leads from the sign, just to clafiy, the ground, the black and the white wire are definitaly hooked up correctly...when i turned it on, it worked fine, i left it on for around and hour and a half, stood back and smiled a bit, then decided to shut it off(used the breaker) the next miorning(yesterday) i went to the shop and decided to turn it on...i fliped the breaker and the light didnt comeon....so i left it on and waited for around 10 minutes, still nothing...now its pretty cold here, around 20 degrees, so i decided while it was on, i would called the sign manufacturer and see if the bulbs would start this cold, they said "yes, they are cold weather bulbs and have tons of signs in this environment, told me they are sylvania ho cold temp bulbs", so i hung up and decided to look outside to see if they came on...NOTHING!!, i went to the breaker box, and it was tripped, thinking it was a fluke, i hit the breaker, and it just re-tripped immediaty...so, i left the breaker off, went to the junction box, unhooked the conections and turned the breacker back on...it stayed on and went to test voltage at the box....120ish volts...while the breaker was still on, i was at the junction box, i twisted, pulled and proted on the 10-2 i had installed to see if maybe they where cut and shorting out....nothing, the power stayed on and no probs there...so i procedd to the sign wiring itself, first, i checked continuity between the white wire and the black, there is continuity, then checked continuity between the white and the ground it had no continuity, and then check the continuity btween the black and ground, again, no continuity...then i went a step further to double check by checking both white and black wires to see if they had continuity between them and the metal sign housing, none exisited!! If im not mistaken, it seems there is no short withing the sign or the wiring!?!?!? if this is the case, what now?!!? why does it trip the breaker, is it the ballast, does a bad ballast trip a breaker or just make the light not work?? any insight would be greatly appreciated!!! thanks!!
 
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Old 02-12-03, 08:36 AM
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could moisture be a problem here??? this could cause a transient type trip.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 08:38 AM
double0bondo
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humm

mosisture?? i dont think so....the light seems very dry, its quite waterproof...
 
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Old 02-12-03, 08:47 AM
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bad ballast shouldnt trip the breaker, but hard to believe the ballast is bad already.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:06 AM
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open up fixture and check internal wiring, seems like you have a good handle on things, but if the breaker holds while dc'd from fixture and trips when connected to it, and youre sure there is no moisture problem in the wire run to the fixture, sounds like the problem is in the light fixture. good luck keep me posted
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:31 AM
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I agree with fatkid. Just in case others dont know or care, you will take the trim off of one end and slide the face out enough to work on it, if they are small or it is easy take a face right out. I wouldnt doubt that there may be a wiring problem within the sign. They get made from the best wiring to he worst, depending on who built it, and there are enough connections that something could be wrong or shorted? Has it got exposed wiring or enclosed? ( this indicates quality of construction) tested it for a day) Also, ideally you should have a switch at the sign to disconnect the power for service work. Also you have demonstrated the need for proper grounding as it might not have shorted well enough to trip the breaker.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:42 AM
Sparksone42
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It's possible that the ballast has gone bad!! If the primary winding in the ballast goes bad they almost always trip the breaker, unless there is a fuse installed just ahead of the ballast.

After checking all of the wiring, as you have been directed to do, the last chip is a bad ballast.

One word: trying to look for continuity when dealing with fluorescent lighting won't work. You have to remember that the ballast is a transformer. The only thing you can look for with a continuity test in these situations is an open winding in the ballast.

By all means please be cautious!! I thought I read you saying that you pulled on the 10/2 while it was energized, not a good idea. And please understand that the HO the manufacturer referred to mean HIGH OUTPUT, if you try to work on this sign while it's energized, it may be the last sign you see!!
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:46 AM
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Once you get it working you could scrounge up a timeclock and a photo cell so you program the running. Your sign can be a great tool of cheap outdoor advertising if you are near traffic. Remember its a tool. You can play and change the faces with the seasons, run specials,, add to this sign other options. Find an artist bud to help you do new faces. You could find a deal for new plastic,, when you wanted a new message, take it to the paint booth and get creative.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:47 AM
double0bondo
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ok

if there were a short within the light, wouldn't it have continuity between one or the other legs and the metal casing of the light? as if maybe on of the wires where touching or exposed to the case?? i also forgot to add, there is a switch attached to the light, it ofcorse breakes the black wire...and checks out fine...so, in conclusion, what im asking is if neither the white or black wire have continuity with the grounded case, nor with eachother with the switch off, doesnt that mean there isnt a wiring short?? sorry, this may seem elemenatry to u guys, but im just an autobody guy thanks for your insight
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:50 AM
double0bondo
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umm

Sparksone42

sorry, i was typing my last post when u posted urs, so i didnt read the part about continuity with floresent lighting...i guess i need to call an electrician to look at it......cha ching$$$$$$$ oh well,
 
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Old 02-12-03, 09:59 AM
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hey double o,
if you think the problem is a bad ballast, all you have to do is get a replacement and swap the bad one out. this is fairly easy and as long as you have the power off, and get the same type ballast the only $$$ you spend would be on the new ballast. you can probably get a replacement from a local electric supply .. i doubt HD or Lowes would have something like that.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 11:46 AM
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If the secondary wire was shorted it might not have continuty. Anyway, I think I have seen HO ballasts in Home Depot. It kind of suprised me and took note of it.
 
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Old 02-12-03, 12:28 PM
double0bondo
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well

i just had an electrician stop by, he told me pretty much the same thing i said, being there is no continuity between the 2 legs and the metal frame, that he doesnt know what it is.....so he told me to have a nice day and charged me 75 dollars to look at it, wish i thought to bring the vasiline today
 
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Old 02-12-03, 07:10 PM
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I think you have a short in the secondary of the sign wiring. Its probably enclosed wiring? There will be a bunch of wirenutted connections leading to the tombstones. You are going to have to look. You will have your chance,, remember ole sparky there, he will need 00bondo someday. Here I always try to help small business guys like bondo and the local mechanic. It pays wayyyy better than cash sometimes. But, talkin signs inspired me today and I decided to build 2 new ones. Just out of curiosity how big is the one you have? 4x8 or bigger?
 
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Old 02-12-03, 07:20 PM
double0bondo
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ok

well, thanks for all the help guys!!! after the guy left today, i took the sign down, what a job it was 7 out today and it weighs like 250lbs....anyhow, it WAS a mositure problem!!!! the first thing i noticed was rust dripping outta the ballast, so i took it off and it dumped out like a half a cup of water and rust the water must have frozen because the case was blown apart from the expanding ice!!! so much for the sign being waterproof!~! anyhow, they are sending me another ballast free of charge, and when it gets here, out comes the 100% silicon!!! boy, what a nightmare, cant wait untill its back up, oh yeah, anyone needs help or questions answered about bodywork, let me know, ill help whoever i can, thanks again guys!! Mike
 
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Old 02-13-03, 05:59 AM
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glad to see it turned out o.k. i cant believe that guy charged you even tho he couldn't find anything wrong. pretty messed up, but as sberry27 said he'll be needing your help some day.
 
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