Metal Halide Lighting Issues....HELP!

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Old 08-19-12, 04:57 PM
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Metal Halide Lighting Issues....HELP!

My home was built here in Florida in 2006 so it is fairly new.

I have a 155 gallon aquarium in my dining room and hanging above the aquarium is a Geisemann metal halide light fixture containing three 250w bulbs. (Cost me $1400.00)

Each light has it's own external ballast that weighs a TON. Each light has it's own plug.

The dining room is on it's own 15A circuit and has nothing running in the room except the three aforementioned lights, a 1400 gallon per hour water pump, and a small 40W heater to keep the water temp consistent.

Here is the issue....

I can plug the lights in one at a time waiting about 2 minutes between each one. I figure this 2 minutes lets each light achieve operating brightness and temperature. Once all three are plugged in, after literally 5 minutes, the circuit in the room blows.

Over and over again this will happen.

The ballasts do not hum and run very cool.

The bulbs do hum slightly but I would think this is normal for an HID light.

I find it difficult to believe 750W will trip a 15A breaker. I called the light manufacturer and inquired on how many amps this unit draws....

They explained 2.3A per light. That is only 6.9A for the entire fixture. This is WAY below the 15A breaker. Why would the light trip the breaker after running for 5 minutes. I would figure if it was an "overpowering" issue, the breaker would trip AS SOON as I attempt to power the unit ON.

Any ideas? Help please.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 05:07 PM
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It sounds like you have the circuit overloaded, what else is on this circuit? Have you checked the amperage draw at the panel yet? That would be my next step. When your home was wired, I can almost guarantee that any load calculations didn't include almost 7 amps for this outlet.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 05:18 PM
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Thanks Joe. No, I have not and do not have the tools to check the Amp draw at the box.

The only other items running in this room are a 1400 gallon per hour water pump and a small 40W heater to keep the water at constant temp.

So you are saying it is the outlet that is overloaded and not the circuit?

I am sorry, I am not an electrician by any means.....thanks again!
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:09 PM
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I find it odd that you have 750 watts of metal halides above a tank in Florida and have a heater. I'd expect you to have a decent sized chiller but a heater and especially a 40 watt in a 150 gallon tank??? That's just not right. Are you sure it's not a 300 or 400 watt heater? What brand is the heater and how long is the tube?

Do you have only the one pump you mentioned? No air pumps, powerheads, wavemaker, UV sterilizer or foam fractionation?
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:12 PM
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No, it's likely an overloaded circuit. By outlet I was referring to the ceiling box the fixture is obviously mounted on. There is probably something else on this circuit you aren't aware of. There is always the possibility of a bad breaker, but you would have to check the amperage draw at the panel to determine that. You might try turning the circuit off and checking the adjoining rooms to see if anything is no longer working.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:21 PM
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Ok, I get it now Joe. Do you know where I would find the wiring code's for Florida? I read somewhere that Florida homes were only allowed to use 12 gauge wire and 14 was no longer allowed. Not sure if replacing the 15A breaker with a 20 would be a possibility IF it is wired with 12G wire. I just tripped the breaker and the ONLY things in the house that went "off" were in that one room.

Aquarium pump, Aquarium heater, small 40 watt light bulb.


May think about replacing the 15A breaker. I think it may be tripping before it should for some reason.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:23 PM
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Each lights ballast should be drawing ~2.5 amps (source: http://www.e-conolight.com/pdf/Instr...AST%20DATA.PDF) so that is half the available circuit amps. right there. How many amps does the pump draw.

If the circuit use to work okay I would say the circuit breaker has weakened do to a high continuous load and needs to be replaced. If you don't want to buy an Amprobe. Swap the affected circuit to a different 15 amp breaker in the box. If the circuit holds you can be reasonably sure it is a bad breaker. I would though suggest running a dedicated 20 amp circuit for this.

So you are saying it is the outlet that is overloaded and not the circuit
The circuit is probably overloaded.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:25 PM
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Is it an AFCI breaker by chance?? Wondering if the pump motor plus the ballasts might be causing something that looks like an arc signature? I too am wondering about 750W of light in that size tank.. I have a spectral therapy lamp with 4x70w metal halide bulbs, and it's bright as hell. Do you really need that much light - especially given the amount of heat it generates?
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:25 PM
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Think I may have found the issue. Pilot Dane you are a brilliant man. The heater is a Finnex 500W. The pump is a Mag Drive 14. Had a UV but it was killing my coraline spores....had to get rid of it!!!
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:30 PM
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I think I may ditch the heater. Dont think I need one any longer. Was running eight 39W T5HO but my coral did not like this one bit. With about 5-6 watts per gallon, I am sure they will do much better. The fixture is about a foot off of the water surface so I dont think the water will get too hot.....I think it just may be the heater causing the issue...need to see what happens when I unplug it.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:47 PM
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Not sure if replacing the 15A breaker with a 20 would be a possibility IF it is wired with 12G wire.
Iff all of the wire in the circuit is 12AWG. If any of the circuit wiring is 14AWG, you're limited to 15A.

May think about replacing the 15A breaker. I think it may be tripping before it should for some reason.
Originally Posted by CasualJoe
There is always the possibility of a bad breaker, but you would have to check the amperage draw at the panel to determine that.
Originally Posted by ChadL
I... do not have the tools to check the Amp draw at the box.
To test the amperage draw at the panel, use a clamp-on ammeter. Just follow the directions and clamp it around the wire feeding off the breaker.

NOTE: This will require you to do work inside your main distribution panel while the panel is energized. If you are not comfortable doing that, call a licensed electrician to make this test.
 
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Old 08-19-12, 06:49 PM
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I think you've got it!
 
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Old 08-19-12, 09:12 PM
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I read somewhere that Florida homes were only allowed to use 12 gauge wire and 14 was no longer allowed.
Not likely. Florida is on the 2008 NEC cycle. Any amendments will have been done by your city, not state.

Source: National Electrical Code

More good reading: http://www.nema.org/Technical/FieldR...ort-No-IRC.pdf
 
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