Recessed lights not working but have power


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Old 07-07-24, 07:35 AM
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Recessed lights not working but have power

I have eight recessed lights in my kitchen. Two switches, and the lights are alternated. Switch one controls 1,3,5,7 and switch two controls 2,4,6,8. Lights were installed 20 years ago. They are the Home Depot Commercial new construction cans. Both sets are switched with three-ways. On one side they are dimmers on the other side they are not. Until they stopped making incandescents, i used them—BR 65 watt. Now i use the HD LEDs BR 65 watt. Many years back, the dimming on switch one stopped working but it still turned on/off. It just doesnt dim. Actually it dims very little. If a dimmer goes from 100% to 0%… it now goes from 100% to 95%. But this happened a long time ago and aside from dimming, all was fine.

Now, switch one turns on light 1, but 3,5, and 7 dont light. Light 1 looks to be at full power. Using a meter, 3,5,7 all have power. Tested by touching the meter to the live point and the neutral where the bulb screws into ). I expected to not have power from 3 onwards.

what would cause this? It seems odd that the fixtures for these three particular lights are bad. And i have tried many bulbs, including using known good ones.
 

Last edited by rkoudelka; 07-07-24 at 08:01 AM.
  #2  
Old 07-07-24, 09:02 AM
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If you have power at light 1 but not at 3 then you have a bad connection at either light 1 or light 3. Remove the can housing to access the junction box above the ceiling and check the connections/voltage there.
 
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Old 07-07-24, 09:51 AM
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But light 3 (and 5 and 7) has 120v. Is that not strange?

actually if i move the bulbs around i do sometimes see 3, 5, 7 with a very faint light. Very faint, like lower than the dimmer ever went down to. Then I flip the switch off and back on and then no light at all.
 

Last edited by rkoudelka; 07-07-24 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 07-08-24, 05:10 AM
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Have your involved 1 and also the even bulbs in the bulb swaps?

Can you measure the voltage at a fixture when a bulb is installed? Perhaps by using foot long jumper wires with alligator clips at the ends, available through Amazon?

Have you measured voltage at different fixtures when all of the remaining fixtures still have the bulbs in them? Like voltage at 3 whdn 5 still has its bulb?

Some LED fixtures can contain electronics that can fail.
 
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Old 07-08-24, 06:04 AM
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Yes I did use the bulb from 1 but I didnt test 1 with a meter

i dont have the clips or any way to test with bulb in place. But i have removed 5/7 to test 3

as for testing one with bulbs in the others… not methodically, although i kept a bulb in 1 to know the switch was on

i get that the LEDs can have something internal, but this definitely “seems”’to be at the light as known good bulbs dont work
 
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Old 07-08-24, 02:48 PM
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Have you updated the dimmers to new LED-compatible ones? Not all old incandescent dimmers work well with LEDs.
 
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Old 07-08-24, 03:02 PM
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I havent. But both dimmers are the same. One works fine. The other doesnt dim, but turns the lights on/off and has been like that for years, even with the incandescents
 
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Old 07-08-24, 07:52 PM
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But light 3 (and 5 and 7) has 120v. Is that not strange?
Just to be clear: You removed the bulbs from 1, 3, 5, and 7. Measured with a multimeter at the socket between the tab in the middle of the socket and the screw shell on the outside edge of the socket and you read 120 volts. Correct?

IF the above is true then:
although i kept a bulb in 1 to know the switch was on
​​​​​​​Remove that one bulb. I suspect you are reading through the bulb and you have an open neutral.
 
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Old 07-09-24, 06:39 AM
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Ahhh, Yes that is how I used the meter.
But also correct in that bulb 1 was always screwed in when testing.
will meter it without #1 later
today

and if no bulb in #1 gives no power at 3/5/7, that would mean the issue is at the bulb 1 wiring.
 
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Old 07-09-24, 01:37 PM
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So ive had bulbs in and out in various configurations for a while.

now, put all bulbs in and…
light#7 goes on 100% but 1,3,5 slowly fade on. It takes about 20 seconds and they get to about 10% brightness.

then i swap bulbs from 1 and 7. #1 lights 100% and the others are now all 10%

It turns out that one bulb works anywhere, the others only light to 10%. The one bulb that works is an Econosmart. The ones that only go to 10% are LED brand (both from Home Depot)

but remember the switch with lights 2,4,6,8 works entirely. So, i take a bulb from 6 and put it in 5…. No good, 10%. Its an LED brand and works fine in the even numbers.

what in the world is going on?
 

Last edited by rkoudelka; 07-09-24 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 07-09-24, 04:47 PM
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New bulbs solved it.
 
 

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