well house warning light


Old 09-07-01, 12:12 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I posted this ques about a month ago; reply has disappeared from my system. At least I can't find it anymore. I apologize for repetition.

During the winter it is necessary to leave a light bulb burning in the top of our dug well, to keep the water from freezing. The light fixture is set on the underside of the well boards which cover the well; layers of old blankets and pillows are then put over the well boards to help keep the heat from the 200 watt light bulb in.

The problem is that you can't see this light from the outside, to make sure that it hasn't burned out. You have to lift the insulating layers in order to see if it's still on.

I'd like to wire a warning light that would go off or on when this bulb burns out.

I tried a series wiring (like real old Christmas tree string lights), but quickly discovered that this doesn't work unless the wattage of all the bulbs is the same. (I tried a 15 watt warning-light bulb.)

Someone on this forum suggested putting a light sensor in the well, but I didn't quite understand this suggestion since the only sensors I was familiar with were the ones set in light bulb fixtures. Someone else has told me that there are sensors that are freestanding.

I'd appreciate help with this or other ideas to solve this problem. I am not very knowledgeable so please give as much detail as possible, including source for light sensors (our local hardware store guy didn't know what I was talking about.)

Thank you.

Donna Walker
Upstate NY
Sponsored Links
Old 09-07-01, 02:58 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
You went the wrong way. Don't put a 15-watt bulb in series with this 200-watt bulb. Put a 1000-watt bulb in series. This way the bulk of the power will still be delivered to the 200-watt bulb. The 1000-watt bulb will burn very dimly, but at night you should be able to detect that it's on.

When you put a 15-watt bulb in series, the bulk of the power goes to the 15-watt bulb.

Another alternative is to get one of those switches with the sensor light on it and install that in-line.
Old 09-07-01, 04:25 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
The 1000 watt light bulb in series won't work. It reduces the voltage at the 200 watt bulb too much for that bulb to create the require heat. The approximate resistance of the 1000 watt lamp is 14 ohms and the 200 is 72 ohms. These lamps in series will limit the current to 1.39 amps. the voltage across the 200 watt lamp would only be 100.5 volts. At this voltage the watts used by this 200 watt lamp would only be 139 watts. Also the surface temperature of this lamp would be much lower than it would be if was getting its full 120 volts. I would not think the 200 watt bulb in series with the 1000 watt one would produce enough heat to provide the freeze protection. Also the voltage drop across the 1000 watt lamp would only be 19.5 volts. I don't think this would produce any glow in the filament of the 1000 watt lamp.
A photo control for outside light should work great for this application and should be easy to find.
Old 09-07-01, 06:33 AM
jn is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 226
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I don't know if you already bought or found something for your situation or not, but this was the first time I read this post and decided to throw in my opinion anyway.
I would consider using a run of cheap fibre optic cable. Simply mount one end of the fibre aiming towards the light and you can run the cable around the edge, around corners, whatever you want as far as you want...above ground, underground, to where ever you want. You can then look into the fibre on the other end and it will be brilliantly lit up if the light is on...since the light will be induced on the cable from 1 end to the other. You don't need any power...wont consume any power....and it requires no electronic knowledge of any kind. I use Thomas and Betts fibre optic cable here and it is very inexpensive. Some school buses used to use this kind of cable to detect whether or not their brake and tail lights worked or not.Hope this helps...Jeff
Old 09-09-01, 12:33 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thank you very much for your ideas and suggestions. I really appreciate it. I have to do something fairly soon because freezing weather will be here before long.

Thanks again.

Donna Walker
Old 09-09-01, 04:58 AM
Mike Swearingen's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Northeastern NC On The Albemarle Sound
Posts: 10,952
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts

I think that I posted this before somewhere, but you can do it the low-tech "country boy" way, too.
Cut a 2.5"-3" round or square hole in the wellhouse wall visible from your home. Caulk or cement in the bottom of a thick, clear soft drink or wine bottle.
You can see whether the well heat lamp is on night or day.
Fast, easy, inexpensive, and it works.
Good Luck! Mike
Old 09-10-01, 12:14 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Mike, I wish it was that easy. But the well is made of stone with cinder blocks and cement around the top. The well boards fit in a rough cement frame, which puts them even with the cement floor of the well house; all this is covered with layers of insulating blankets to keep the heat in during the winter. I can't see any way to drill through that stone and cement to allow the light from the bulb to show through.

But thanks very much for your idea. I am going to keep it in mind for other places around these buildings where it should be very helpful.

Thanks again.

Donna Walker

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

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