Track light troubleshooting - bad transformer?

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Old 01-13-20, 10:51 AM
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Track light troubleshooting - bad transformer?

We have track lights that came with the house when it was built in the year 2000. There are 2 tracks in the bonus room, each on its own wall switch (not a dimmer).

Track A has always worked fine, but Track B (on the other side of the room) would occasionally power on but never reliably stay on. Both bulbs on Track B always turn on and off at the same time. We ended up never using Track B for the past 10 years.

This month I decided to finally fix Track B. It's a monorail-type track made by a company called Prima. I got on a ladder and tightened the allen key set screws around the mounts and generally fiddled a bit with the track. I was able to get the track to work for the past month reliably.

Then one day I switched on the wall switch, heard a 5 second buzz coming from above the ceiling, then the track went dead. This time for good. No fiddling would bring it back.

Tracing back the power lines into the ceiling I found that each track has its own transformer up in the attic. Each transformer is labeled Tech Lighting AT300T Input 120VAC 60Hz, Output 12 VAC, 300w max, 25 amp max.

My question for you is how would approach troubleshooting next? It seems like replacing the transformer has a high chance of success, but I'd like a second opinion before spending the $200-250 for a new one. Thank you in advance!!

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Last edited by PJmax; 01-14-20 at 08:28 PM. Reason: resized pictures
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Old 01-13-20, 12:02 PM
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I would measure the voltage output of the transformer.
Then measure the voltage input to the transformer.
 
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Old 01-13-20, 12:38 PM
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I would be tempted to replace the transformer just to go with something more energy efficient. While you're at it you could look at LED bulbs for your fixtures and you might be able to power the whole track from something as small as a wall wort power supply.
 
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Old 01-13-20, 12:45 PM
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@Joed, thanks, I will try that as a next step and report back.

@Pilot Dane. That's probably beyond my skill set but I will consider it!
 
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Old 01-14-20, 08:33 PM
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Energy efficient is right. WOW...... 300 watt transformers. You could run both tracks off one of those monsters. If it turns out the transformer is bad..... you only need a replacement equivalent to the wattage of the lamps you use.

I've worked on a lot of those tracks. They can be hair pulling. I added an arrow to your one picture. That is typically where the problem is.

By energy efficient...... it looks like you are using 50w lamps. That's a 100w of power. You could replace them with LED bulbs that put out the same light at 1/4 of the power or less.
 
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Old 01-14-20, 10:20 PM
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Thank you PJmax!

I was planning to go back up to the attic tonight to test voltage in / out, but my wife talked me out of it. Because of my lack of experience we better play it safe and get an electrician handle it.

Thanks for adding the red arrow. Those are the set screws I fussed with to get the track to work for a month. I tightened and tweaked those screws and it was a wonderful albeit temporary fix. Ever since I heard that buzzing sound (presumably coming from the transformer), no amount of fiddling with the screws will get the track to turn back on.

In order to prevent having an electrician come out twice, I'm considering buying a new transformer prior to having an electrician come troubleshoot. If he determines the transformer is the culprit, I'll have one ready for him to swap out. What do you guys think of that plan?
 
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Old 01-15-20, 05:53 AM
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Having a replacement power supply on hand is a good idea. Since you are having an electrician come out I would have him replace the power supply regardless. A modern electronic one will be much more efficient than an old transformer style. Just make sure you get one that outputs 12 VAC and not 12 VDC.
 
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Old Yesterday, 04:13 PM
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@PilotDane, that is great advice, thank you. I did a search for 12 VAC power supplies and the options were overwhelming. I really can't tell which one is suitable.

Would you mind pointing me in the right direction for a suitable unit?


If it matters, let's assume I'm replacing the bulbs with LED ones.
Thank you in advance!
 
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Old Yesterday, 08:32 PM
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Check and see if your replacement LED bulbs require AC or DC.
What wattage do they require ?

A typical LED bulb may require 10 watts so that three will use 30 watts. In the link below is a 60w model and they have larger. I choose the style in the link since you need a supply that can be hardwired to romex.

WAC 12vAC drivers

 
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