Under cabinet lights system: burnt connector

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Old 11-22-15, 09:46 AM
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Under cabinet lights system: burnt connector

Can you please help with the following:
Visited some friends to help with their Under Cabinet Lights system not working.

They have a one wall switch (NOT a dimmer) handling many under cabinet lights. They have more than one transformer handling 1, 2 or 3 lights depending of the cabinet size and the desired lighting. They are all on the same circuit.

The problematic area is not at the end of the run, as I can see 2 NM cables connected to the Transformer (as per picture below).

Problem: For one section of the system, 3 lights are not lighting. I opened the metal box leading to the connections of the power cables connected to the transformer. Please see Picture , below.

You will notice a BURNT component, below and after the transformer:

1. Do you know what is the name of that component ?
2. What is the purpose of that component ?
3. Would you know why it burnt ?
4. What can be done to fix this ?
a. Can that component be bought and replace easily ?
or should the Transformer be replaced as well?
5. Troubleshoot tips ?

Visually, the component is made of white plastic, a rivet in the middle and it appears to be 4 tiny screws (2 screws above each wire). The burnt area is only on one of the wire/plastic, being the upper one in the picture (#1).

Label on Transformer:
Halogen Class 2 Power Supply
Model No: Cannot read it from picture
Input: AC 120v 50/60hz
Output: AC 12V 65W/MAX

This system is about 5 years old. Home built in 2010.

Appreciated,
Michel

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Old 11-22-15, 09:56 AM
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I have seen those type of connectors, and also have seen them burnt like that. IMO they are junk. They get like that because of a poor connection which creates heat, and thus the melting. Everything appears to be in good shape so I would suggest cutting the wire and removing the connector. Restrip the wire and splice them with some wirenuts.
 
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Old 11-22-15, 10:06 AM
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That is a terminal block that could be replaced with small wire nuts,were those small screws loose?if so that could be the cause of the failure or if there is to much load on the terminals.l would start by cutting the wires loose from that terminal block, cut back past the burned insulation and make the connection with wire nuts.
Also check the wattage of the lamps and compare that to the output rating of the transformer.
Geo
 
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Old 11-22-15, 02:23 PM
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Many thanks to both of you! To answer your question Geochurchi:

I didn't check the screws if they were loose, perhaps that was the problem. I will my tell, as they might want to check the others (Terminal Blocks), they have more transformers with the same setup (terminal blocks).

Wattage: they should be "ok" as they are using 4 lights x 10 watts/each = 40W and the output rating is 65W.

Questions:

1. Other than joining together 2 wires is the terminal block having other roles ?

2. When you say "or if there too much load on the terminals", other than using bulbs going over the maximum output, are they other "overloads" to worry about ?


Thanks.
MB
 

Last edited by papasmurf10; 11-22-15 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 11-22-15, 02:45 PM
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1. Other than joining together 2 wires is the terminal block having other roles ?
No.

other than using bulbs going over the maximum output, are they other "overloads" to worry about ?
No.

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Old 11-23-15, 09:38 AM
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Used 100s if no 1000s of those terminal strips and the only problem I ever had was people gorilla-torquing the clamping screws. The screws stripped and you ended up with a loose connection. No problem with the product, the problem was the loose nut with the screwdriver.
 
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Old 11-23-15, 04:48 PM
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Many thanks "ThisOldMan"..

1. That type of terminal block (AKA "choc block" from my google searches), would it be used in only specific applications ?

2. Can I use this type of terminal block to replace any Twist-on Wire applications, like an outlet, wall switch, dimmer switch, etc ??

3. The one I saw, at my friends place, for the Under Cabinet Lighting, had a hole in the middle used by a rivet, riveted to the back of the metal box. Is it a must to have them riveted or can they be simply hanging without being fastened ?

Appreciated,
Michel
 
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Old 11-23-15, 10:08 PM
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1. That type of terminal block (AKA "choc block" from my google searches), would it be used in only specific applications ?
Those are called two screw barrier strips. They are used for many applications. Usually they are used to splice multiconductor cables. The problem happens when they are used in high current connections and either too small a unit is used or the screws weren't tightened properly.

Euro style - two screw barrier strips - Molex

2. Can I use this type of terminal block to replace any Twist-on Wire applications, like an outlet, wall switch, dimmer switch, etc ??
Why would you ? You just saw them melt in those fixtures. Do you want that in YOUR wall ?

3. The one I saw, at my friends place, for the Under Cabinet Lighting, had a hole in the middle used by a rivet, riveted to the back of the metal box. Is it a must to have them riveted or can they be simply hanging without being fastened ?
They should be fastened if at all possible. The rivet can be easily drilled out and a self tapping screw can be used in its place.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 08:02 PM
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Thanks Pete, this is valuable information for me as I’m trying to understand a little more about electricity (products) and make good use of them and the most importantly not to ignore safety.

Below, answers to # 2:

Why would you ? You just saw them melt in those fixtures. Do you want that in YOUR wall ?
I would not want to discredit the product because I saw one burnt barrier amongst the full system. From what I’m reading, from this post and other searches, people are mixed about them, some love them, some hate them. It seems that the problem lies in the “installation” more than the vulnerability of the product. Personally, I sometimes find the Twist-On-Cap difficult (staying on when screwed) and of course I have little experience, so the screw barriers seems more appealing to me as screws might be doing a better job than the Twist-On-Cap. So to answer your question, I would not put one in my wall, not because I saw one melted but more because of my ignorance about them. My two cents worth.

Appreciated the info,
Michel
 
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Old 11-24-15, 08:52 PM
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An electrical connection made with a wirenut is a strong connection. Not to start a debate here but I find pre-twisting the wires and then using a wirenut makes for a good connection.

If you have a problem with the wire nut type connectors practice with scrap wire. Also... a good wire nut makes a big difference. Stay with a name brand company like Ideal or 3M.

I use pretty much only 3M connectors now.

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