My outdoor lights..scary?


  #1  
Old 05-31-06, 07:03 PM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 42
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
My outdoor lights..scary?

Heres what I did.. I installed 4 40w lamps hanging from posts in my yard. Each one is attached to a sealed junction box for weather proofing. I chopped up a heavy duty 3 wire (black,white,green) extension cord to run between each lamp,and connected each color to each,with only the greens from the cord attached together to run to the end of the grounded cord plug.The lamps grounded to the metal junction box. The lights work great..BUT why is it when I add a single pole switch before the plug,it blows the breaker? Also a 600w dimmer switch will not work either,breaker blows. How should I add the switch/dimmer? Or am I really doing something scary here...??? help anyone? THANKS!!!
 
  #2  
Old 05-31-06, 07:07 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,970
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You trip the breaker because you wired the switch wrong.

Before we get to the switch, remove the wire you used. It is the incorrect type of wire to use for this purpose.

Start at the beginning, and tell us the entire project. We will help you select the correct type of wire or cable.

Then we'll deal with the switch.
 
  #3  
Old 05-31-06, 10:28 PM
L
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: North of Boston, MA.
Posts: 2,112
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
PLEASE Head to the advice above !!!

The weather proof boxes are a nice touch but..........
Go back to the beginning. And the yard will look lovely...In time.
 
  #4  
Old 06-01-06, 07:42 AM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 42
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I have four metal lamp shades outside hanging from 8 ft posts.They are to resemble industrial lamp shades in my jungle themed backyard (been to Adventureland? Thats the look) Anyways I didn't know how/if I could make them low voltage.So I just connected them up with this heavy duty outdoor black extension cord,weather proofed the boxes,and at the plug end kept the same 3 pronged plug. Like I said they work great,and even when it's raining it doesn't short out,but I would like to switch them off or dim them. The wire has the right "look" to it as well, so I figured that being heavy duty I was okay. The plug end plugs into my garage through an open window.The only other item on that circuit is my central vac,which I rarely use (I use a regular vac!)

Is this enough info to get us rolling?

Thanks everyone.
 
  #5  
Old 06-01-06, 08:28 AM
5
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
Posts: 2,039
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Strictly speaking, if this is plugged in , it is portable and may not violate code. On the other hand, since it is in fact a permanent installation, and inspector could rule that it must be wired to code, which it is not.

But, let's deal with the switch. Where did you install the switch and what wires did you connect to it? If you can get this part right, then we can move on to whether you can install a dimmer. ( some would work and some not. NONE should blow the breaker.....you have it wire wrong). Note that most fluorescent bulbs cannot be dimmed.
 
  #6  
Old 06-01-06, 04:37 PM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 42
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hi there

I installed the switch just before the plug. I made the connections into a metal box,attaching the black wire from the extension cord to the top of the switch, the white wire to the bottom of it. The cords green wire continued past to the plug. Obviously I had to cut the black and white wires, twist them together with about 1/4" wire exposed to attach them to the switch. The plug then plugs into a GFI outlet..

For portability, not only is this running from a plug in cord,but the lamps themselves which are bolted to the electrical boxes actually hang from the posts on eye hooks,and can easily be removed.This way they can blow somewhat in the wind.
I hope my explanations can help someone figure out what I need to do here.I will start working on a diagram tonite that will hopefully make things clearer.


Lastly, in my mind this was nothing more than a fancy string of Xmas lights,instead of dozens of 10w bulbs,having 4 40w bulbs. I figured adding a switch would be easy and safe. But I'm guessing my wire (and wiring ) is wrong.

Thanks to everyone who is helping,this is a very important project to me,and I don't want to do anything dangerous!
 
  #7  
Old 06-01-06, 04:47 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,970
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You tripped the breaker because you connected the hot wire and the return wire, which is what I figured you had done.

In any switch setup, neutral wires do not get connected to basic (on/off non-lighted) toggle switches.

Unfortunately your mistake shows your lack of knowledge in electrical wiring, and underscores my feeling that you should not be attempting what you are doing, at least not yet anyway.

Electricity can and will kill people when they make mistakes.

Any decent book on electrical wiring would have told you how to wire in a simple toggle switch to control a receptacle. Why did you jump into this project without reading anything?

Please, at the very least, buy and read the book Wiring Simplified. It will tell you more than you need to know about wiring. It will tell you how to wire a switch, and it will tell you the proper wire and light sockets to use for your project.
 
  #8  
Old 06-01-06, 04:49 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: NE Wis / Paris France{ In France for now }
Posts: 4,807
Received 2 Votes on 2 Posts
I installed the switch just before the plug. I made the connections into a metal box,attaching the black wire from the extension cord to the top of the switch, the white wire to the bottom of it. The cords green wire continued past to the plug. Obviously I had to cut the black and white wires, twist them together with about 1/4" wire exposed to attach them to the switch. The plug then plugs into a GFI outlet..
woah woah wait a min for the switch you have to use black wire to one brass screw and other black wire to the other brass screw and white wires must be wirenutted together

if this box is metal then you have to make a pigtail and wirenutted all green / bare wire together

that the reason why you trip the breaker fast by miswireing

disconnet the power or cord plug and take the switch cover off and look at the switch again make sure you have one side of cord black wire at the brass screw and the other black wire at other brass screw

this is only way you can advoid the mess

Merci, Marc


dang racraft beat me on this one but i will agree with him with the safety wise here please read the book on electrical simpified or few other books it will expain very clear how to do this safety
 
  #9  
Old 06-01-06, 06:01 PM
M
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 42
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Racraft you are right. I had no business thaking this on with such little experience.

I have added new circuits before for baseboard heaters, done some other odd and ends around the house,but have never actually worked adding a basic switch...I'm surprised I didn't realize my error now,but rest assured it's back to the books for me before I tackle any electrical work. Excellent advice, and it's what I had hoped for by coming here..
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: