New light fixture gets very hot!

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Old 05-07-10, 06:23 AM
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New light fixture gets very hot!

I just replaced a dining room light fixture yesterday. It works fine, but the metal gets very hot to the touch after being on a few minutes and I can even smell an electrical burning smell.

As background, the prior fixture was a swag fixture whose electrical box was about a foot from where the old light hung. I hired someone to put a new electrical box a foot away from the old one so I could hang the new light directly down from the spot where I wanted it without using a swag chain.

I'm wondering if I did something wrong in the wiring or if there might be some other problem you can suggest. The only thing unusual is that the new fixture did not have black and white wires. Both wires were clear. The directions said to match the black with the clear "without tracer" and the white to the clear "with tracer." What that meant was not obvious to me, but one wire did have some printing on it, so I considered that to be the wire "with tracer."

I'm afraid the fixture could cause a fire as it is, so I will be leaving it off until I can get some help.

Any ideas?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 06:26 AM
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IS this the same light fixture? Are you using the same light bulbs in it?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 06:39 AM
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Could you please post a pic of the fixture? Did you use the correct size and type of bulbs?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 07:32 AM
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This is a brand new light fixture which uses 4 50W halogen bulbs which came with the new fixture. How do I post a picture?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 07:53 AM
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Here's a link to a picture of the fixture on Lowe's website. It's the third one from the left (brushed nickel finish):

Shop portfolio 4-light chandelier at Lowes.com
 
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Old 05-07-10, 08:23 AM
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What metal gets very hot? The metal just above the bulbs or the canopy at the ceiling?
hired someone to put a new electrical box a foot away from the old one so I could hang the new light directly down from the spot
How was this accomplished? Was the original cable to the box long enough to be moved or did additional cable have to be added? If cable was added how was it added?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 08:56 AM
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I did not check the canopy, so I don't know if it's getting hot. The bars above the four domes (over each light) get very hot. This seems odd to me since they are somewhat removed from the lights themselves.

I'm pretty sure the original cable was long enough to be moved. I actually had this same thing done in the kitchen at the same time. In the kitchen, the electrician said he had to put in a junction box and add wire but not in the dining room. I will confirm this with the electrician as soon as I can talk to him.

I did just talk to customer service for the light fixture company. They're telling me the light has a short and that I should exchange it for a different one. This is based mainly on the electrical smell issue. Does this sound reasonable? I want to make sure there isn't something else (and that I don't continue to have a problem after going through the effort to repeat all my work).

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 09:16 AM
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One other question: The customer service person also said that accidently mismatching the clear wires from the fixture to the wrong color (black or white) would cause absolutely no problem at all. Does that sound reasonable?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
One other question: The customer service person also said that accidently mismatching the clear wires from the fixture to the wrong color (black or white) would cause absolutely no problem at all. Does that sound reasonable?
This would be correct. The difference is that the screw shell for the bulb would now be the hot conductor instead of the neutral conductor. Functionally it would work and you would not see any difference. The issue is that there is a greater chance of shock while changing the bulb. Normally only the small tab at the bottom of the socket is hot.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 09:25 AM
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I think part of the issue is the heat is conducting thru the fixture and into the bars. I do not like that you say you have an electrical smell.

If there was a short in the fixture it should have tripped the breaker if the fixture is properly grounded.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 10:00 AM
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When installing the light, I connected the ground wire from the light to the green screw on the mounting bracket. However, when making my connections, I saw that the bare copper wire inside the electrical box was not connected to anything. Does that need to be connected to the box? If so, how? Could that be the reason a short would not have tripped the circuit breaker? Based on your advice, I want to make sure the fixture is grounded before I install another one.

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 10:01 AM
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Beause of the "electrical smell" I wonder if the fixture wire temperature rating is adequate for the light. Maybe it was when submitted to UL but the Chinese have a less the perfect record on using the correct materials and I'd be surprised if this wasn't manufactured in China.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 10:12 AM
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The ground not being connected might prevent a short but then you wouldn't have a short and a short wouldn't be the cause of your problem. As to should if be connected the answer is yes. Of course a short would trip the breaker or if the breaker failed in the closed posistion the wire would burn apart.
When installing the light, I connected the ground wire from the light to the green screw on the mounting bracket. However, when making my connections, I saw that the bare copper wire inside the electrical box was not connected to anything. Does that need to be connected to the box? If so, how? Could that be the reason a short would not have tripped the circuit breaker?
 
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Old 05-07-10, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Beause of the "electrical smell" I wonder if the fixture wire temperature rating is adequate for the light. Maybe it was when submitted to UL but the Chinese have a less the perfect record on using the correct materials and I'd be surprised if this wasn't manufactured in China.
The box/instructions showed no wiring restrictions. Also, since my house was built after 1990, I didn't think this would be an issue (based on what I find on the internet about this).
 
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Old 05-07-10, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
The ground not being connected might prevent a short but then you wouldn't have a short and a short wouldn't be the cause of your problem. As to should if be connected the answer is yes. Of course a short would trip the breaker or if the breaker failed in the closed posistion the wire would burn apart.
Not sure I follow your logic. My understanding from the topic moderator's reply was that it is possible that a short in the fixture could be causing my problem but that if there is a grounding problem (which apparently there is if the copper wire in the box has not been attached to the box), then the short would not have tripped the circuit breaker. So, before I replace the faulty fixture, I should make sure the ground connection is good.

So I guess I'm not clear on why you're saying I wouldn't have a short if the ground was connected. Or are you saying that maybe the whole problem has to do with the ground connection and not a short in the fixture itself?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 11:17 AM
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The bare ground would only need to connect to a metallic box. Youi do not ned to ground a plastic box. The bare should also connect to the ground wire from the fixture.

To clarify, without a ground, if a wire were to contact a metallic portion of the fixture the breaker will not trip. There is no return path for the short circuit. This could also make the fixture a shock hazard.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 11:28 AM
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The box/instructions showed no wiring restrictions. Also, since my house was built after 1990, I didn't think this would be an issue (based on what I find on the internet about this).
Not the house wiring the fixture wiring. Those clear insulation wires you mentioned. They are the fixture wires. The smell could be the heat from the bulb affecting them.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
The bare ground would only need to connect to a metallic box. Youi do not ned to ground a plastic box. The bare should also connect to the ground wire from the fixture.

To clarify, without a ground, if a wire were to contact a metallic portion of the fixture the breaker will not trip. There is no return path for the short circuit. This could also make the fixture a shock hazard.
So, to recap, here's my plan: (1) I will connect the bare copper wire to the metal box. (2) I will assume the new fixture has a short, so I will install a new replacement fixture.

When you say "The bare should also connect to the ground wire from the fixture," I'm assuming that connecting the fixture's ground wire to the green screw on the mounting bracket will take care of this. Is that correct?

Would it be a good idea between (1) and (2) above to test to see if the new fixture trips the breaker after I connect the copper wire to the box?

Please let me know if all this sounds good and thank you for your help.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 01:51 PM
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I would get a new fixture since the manufacturer suggested it but it is not over heating, if it is overheating, because of a short. Yes, you need to connect the ground wire.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
So, to recap, here's my plan: (1) I will connect the bare copper wire to the metal box.
Correct.

Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
(2) I will assume the new fixture has a short, so I will install a new replacement fixture.
I doubt it has a short but after you connect the ground wire you should find out.

Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
When you say "The bare should also connect to the ground wire from the fixture," I'm assuming that connecting the fixture's ground wire to the green screw on the mounting bracket will take care of this. Is that correct?
Yes and no. You need to connect the grounds together AND connect them to the the screw on the bracket AND connect them to the metal box if present. I like to attach one ground to the screw someplace in the middle of the wire and then connect the two (or more) wires together with a wirenut.

Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
Would it be a good idea between (1) and (2) above to test to see if the new fixture trips the breaker after I connect the copper wire to the box?
Yes. If it does trip the breaker, you have a short.

Just for a side note, Halogen lamps get VERY hot and what you are experiencing may be normal. The smell you get might just be oils from the manufacturing process.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Correct.



I doubt it has a short but after you connect the ground wire you should find out.



Yes and no. You need to connect the grounds together AND connect them to the the screw on the bracket AND connect them to the metal box if present. I like to attach one ground to the screw someplace in the middle of the wire and then connect the two (or more) wires together with a wirenut.



Yes. If it does trip the breaker, you have a short.

Just for a side note, Halogen lamps get VERY hot and what you are experiencing may be normal. The smell you get might just be oils from the manufacturing process.
I have an update. I realize now that the copper ground wire actually is already attached to the metal box. However, since I did not connect the two ground wires together, I can try that now. The ground wire from the light is attached to the screw on the bracket, so now I will attach the ends of these two wires together with a wirenut.

Is there any way I can determine positively that the fixture is properly grounded (after making your suggested changes)? If not, I feel like I'm taking a pretty big risk to keep a fixture that runs very hot (with the electrical smell) just because it doesn't trip the breaker. Believe me, I'd like to keep this one rather than put in a new one if I can be sure it's safe.

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-07-10, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kseawel View Post
Is there any way I can determine positively that the fixture is properly grounded (after making your suggested changes)? If not, I feel like I'm taking a pretty big risk to keep a fixture that runs very hot (with the electrical smell) just because it doesn't trip the breaker. Believe me, I'd like to keep this one rather than put in a new one if I can be sure it's safe.
Yes, but it will require a meter, length of wire, and maybe a helper.

Turn power to light AND outlet you will be using for testing in below instructions. Just for safety.
Set meter to Ohms. Any analog meter will do. Even a cheap ($10) one.
Put one lead of the meter in the grounded opening of an outlet. Touch the other to the metal of the fixture. If it is grounded the needle will swing. As you might figure your leads might too short and you will need a length of wire to bridge the gap. You might also be able to go to a metal plumbing pipe but it might not be grounded.

Just to throw a monkey wrench in to your plan: Just because the fixture is grounded does not mean it is 100% safe. It only means that if the fixture metal becomes energized that it will trip the breaker and prevent shock to people. There are other situations that cause fires. (poor connections, too much current, to high of lamp wattage) I would believe that if you do have an electrical smell, that the fixture not being grounded has nothing to do with it.
 
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Old 05-08-10, 12:16 PM
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Just curious, who is the fixture manufacturer?
 
 

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