Lighting & electrical, 50 Volts across 3 way switch ?

Old 02-16-13, 03:10 PM
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Lighting & electrical, 50 Volts across 3 way switch ?

Hi everyone , I am brand new to the forum, so Thanks in advance for any input on my situation. Its great to see sites like this one!

I had two flouresent fixtures go out at the same time, changed out bulbs,still no lights on.
I dissasembled and disconnected both fixtures to check incoming voltage, and
found about 50 volts coming out to the lights. Also after pulling the one of the 3 way switches I am showing the saame voltage across the switch.

I pulled the cover off of the main panel and have full line voltage at the breaker.

At this point I put a snap around amp meter around the incoming L1 ,L2, Neutral and Ground wires. This leads to my second question.
I came up with the following reads.
Ground wire shows 1 Amp
L1 showed 19 Amp
L2 showed 14.7
Neutral showed 3.3 Would this be a normal read ?
Should there be a difference between L1 and L2?
Is it normal to have a small current going out ground?
Also My analog meter is older, and may have some accuracy issues, but I do live on a small Island and we get alot of power flucuations as my initial voltage read at main panel was between 100 and 110 volts.

Thanks in advance for any and all input on this.
Old 02-16-13, 03:30 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Welcome to the forums!

It is a good thing you have an analog meter as they are not fooled by phantom voltage.

It is normal that your two lines are not balanced, and that your neutral is carrying the imbalance. If you take the difference between L1 and L2 you will find it is close to what the neutral is carrying. Which also brings us to the other issue: It is not normal that your ground wire to be carrying current. This should not happen except during a fault, and only for a very short period of time. Now if you take L2+N+G = 19, The same that is on L1. This current is likely not going out on the ground, but coming in from outside. This should be addressed but I am not 100% sure it is the cause of your light issue. Turn off circuit breakers one by one until the current stops. Then you know where to look for something leaking to ground.

Light issue:
You need to find out where you are loosing power. You should have around 120v from hot to ground, or hot to neutral. Start at the other 3 way switch and work back to the panel. And since you have the panel cover off, check that you have 120v at the branch circuit breaker for the lights.

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