Troubleshooting problem wiring power-->two fluorescent ballasts-->switch

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Old 11-19-13, 11:49 AM
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Troubleshooting problem wiring power-->two fluorescent light fixtures-->switch

I'm setting up a shop in my garage and wired up two fluorescent light fixtures (each having two fluorescent bulbs, 11W T5 bulbs (I think)). Due to the layout, I am having to run it in the configuration of power to light #1 to light #2 to switch. I've rewired my house so I am no stranger to this (though each circuit and situation is different).

Each light is working properly when I am running power to each one singly, but when I wire it as stated above, when I turn on the switch, each light turns on but at a VERY low level - the lights seem to come on only a little bit. I am at a loss for what the problem is...

I've tried to sketch out the wiring layout (see attached); hopefully this may help.

It shouldn't make a difference, but this is on a 15A circuit dedicated to an exterior receptable (GFCI in a weatherproof case). I'm running a 50' extension cord from this to a power bar I've mounted on my workbench, and I've plugged in the 14/2 wire into the power bar via a plug. This is a temporary solution; next summer I'm planning on replacing the extension cord with more permanent fixtures. There is no issue with all the cords etc. because each light when wired singly works fine. Help!

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Last edited by ray2047; 11-19-13 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Add poster's diagram.
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Old 11-19-13, 12:33 PM
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You have series wired and for the switch to be on the far end you would need 3-conductor cable between the lights. Can you move power in to the switch?
 

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Old 11-19-13, 02:16 PM
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Here is a similar circuit to yours. In this case three lights but just imagine it without the third light. Note diagram is compliant with NEC 2011 that requies a neutral at the switch even if not used.

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Old 11-19-13, 03:17 PM
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As ray2047 mentioned -- you've miswired the circuit by configuring it in a series arrangement.

If one of those bulbs quit then the circuit dies -- think of those in series Christmas lights.

The reason the lights are dim --- instead of each light getting 120 volts they are only getting 60 volts because of the series wiring.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 07:58 PM
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Thanks, (fellow) canuk! I think I get this. Will to play around with 14/3. Would it make a different if I instead wired it to switch first then to the lights, or would I still need 14/3? Cheers for now. BTW: where in Canada are you? I'm just east of Toronto.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:03 PM
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THanks so much for your reply, ray2047. It helps a lot - though I'd never before seen that sort of configuration using the neutral in that way.

Why do you ask re power directly in to the switch? Would that eliminate the need for 14/3 cable? I'm terribly unfamiliar with fluorescent wiring; it's clearly different than that for standard incandescent fixtures... :S Thanks!
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:09 PM
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BTW: NEC 2011 must be the US federal/state code. Different from Ontario - are you saying it's required for the neutral to be wired to the switch even if not used? I don't quite understand that...
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:50 PM
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It's required in new work to bring a neutral to the switch box in case it's needed for a future timer or dimmer. If you don't need it now..... just cap it off.
 
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Old 11-24-13, 08:51 PM
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The drawing Re neutral was NEC 2014. CEC may vary. Many types of electronic switches now require a neutral with the phasing out of incandescent lighting south of the border. With incandescents power for switches containing lights or electronics could be drawn though the bulbs. Not so for most newer type bulbs.

If the neutral isn't required where you are you can just use 2-conductor cable to the switch. If the power comes at the switch (or at the first light and the first light is wired to the switch) all 2-conductor cable can be used.

I'm terribly unfamiliar with fluorescent wiring;
Doesn't matter what type of light fixture the wiring is the same
 
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Old 11-24-13, 09:49 PM
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You don't need 14/3 but you can use it.
Here's 3 different methods you can wire things.
Notice in the third sketch the white wire ( in blue ) is used as a constant *hot* feed with a black marking --- tape or felt marker -- to indicate that wire is not a neutral. Also inspectors don't like to see it as the switched feed to the lights since techincally it's not allowed to be used as a switched feed.


BTW: where in Canada are you? I'm just east of Toronto.
I'm out West in the prairies --- Manitoba -- you know where it gets cold

BTW: NEC 2011 must be the US federal/state code. Different from Ontario - are you saying it's required for the neutral to be wired to the switch even if not used? I don't quite understand that...
Soon to be introduced in Canada but not required yet. AH --- Ontario might be different though but I kind of doubt it.
Besides with NEC if I understand correctly, it doesn't mean it phyiscally have to be there if the location meets the accessibility or raceway exceptions.
 
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