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Author Topic: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns  (Read 419 times)

Jacob Boshears

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Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« on: October 26, 2020, 09:48:33 am »

This is my first time posting in here so forgive me if I do something wrong or make the post too long.

I am stumped. I recently started working for this small theater company that had just purchased an old car detailing shop and turned it into a black box theater. As you can imagine, the space is not equipped with a lighting system. So a grid has been installed and fixtures have been purchased, however, they are using my dimmer packs to run the lighting fixtures.

Here's where the issues begin. I'm one of those audio people that learned lighting through the years, however, all the light systems I've used have been installed and functioning before I work with them so I don't know a whole lot about the power side of dimmers. I know how to plug them in, address them, and all that jazz. I'm seeing an issue that I am stumped on. They had six 15 amp (120V) circuits installed for me to put 6 dimmer packs (Elation DP-415). When I plug a fixture into the dimmer packs and tell that particular address to turn on (no matter what intensity) the fixture's lamp immediately pops. I've tried with 575 W lamps, 750 W lamps, PAR64s, and they all do the same thing. What is happening?? Is something wired wrong in the breaker box?

To confuse me even more, this only happens on 3 of the 6 circuits. the other 3 seem to work fine. In fact, I have some old Leprecon LD-360 dimmer packs plugged in and working perfectly, but when I moved a dimmer pack that was JUST working to one of the problem circuits, it literally blew up the dimmer pack (smoke and everything). Can someone help me figure out what is happening, I'm tired of burning through lamps and building shows with only 3 lights.

Thanks
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2020, 10:19:20 am »

Start by metering all the outlets.  Check H-G,H-N, and G-N.  Iím betting youíve got improperly wired circuits.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2020, 01:03:49 pm »

Only 15 amp circuits installed for lighting?  Ugh. That's going to be annoying at some time in the future.

Anyway, it sounds as though something is wired seriously wrong here.  Have you measured the voltage at the outlets? The fact that plugging in the dimmer blew the dimmer tells me that the outlets are most likely wired incorrectly.

Get an electrician in immediately to fix the problem. Do not touch ANYTHING.  I'd probably go as far as to recommend a different electrician, as it's going to be hard to trust the one that put these in.  If you can screw up a simple 120v outlet, that's pretty scary.
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Brian Jojade

duane massey

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2020, 01:08:18 pm »

If the lamp fails the voltage is incorrect. Could be 177 or 220, and I have had this issue before with incompetent electricians.
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Duane Massey
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Art Welter

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2020, 01:53:50 pm »

What is happening?? Is something wired wrong in the breaker box?

To confuse me even more, this only happens on 3 of the 6 circuits.
Jacob,

Most likely the "electrician" swapped the neutral and one hot leg feeding a new six circuit breaker box, which would result in 3 circuits measuring 120v "hot" to "neutral", the other three 240v "hot" to "neutral", or 208v "hot" to "neutral" if two hot legs of a three phase service were used. Obviously, 208 or 240 volts will allow 120v lightso burn out  quickly, while not blowing the 6.3 amp 250v internal fuses in the DP-415...

As Eric posted, this would show up if the outlets had been tested with a meter.
Using a meter to test is much safer, less expensive and tiresome than using lights or dimmers ;^)

Art
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Jacob Boshears

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2020, 07:40:36 am »

Start by metering all the outlets.  Check H-G,H-N, and G-N.  Iím betting youíve got improperly wired circuits.

Thank you! I'm headed there today so I'll bring my meter and see what's going on!
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Jacob Boshears

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2020, 07:43:23 am »

Only 15 amp circuits installed for lighting?  Ugh. That's going to be annoying at some time in the future.

I know, I've already told them that if they want an appropriate amount of fixtures, they are going to need to get a bigger box (current one is only 125A max), or go all LED, but I doubt they have the money for that. Thanks!
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2020, 02:08:58 pm »

I know, I've already told them that if they want an appropriate amount of fixtures, they are going to need to get a bigger box (current one is only 125A max), or go all LED, but I doubt they have the money for that. Thanks!

The total power is another issue.  The 15 amp outlets are just annoying.  If you use 1K fixtures, that's one per circuit.  Had you put in 20 amp circuits, you could put 2 1Ks on a single circuit.  The cost difference to install 20 amp circuits instead of 15's would have been pennies.

Yes, with LEDs, it's less of an issue, as you can put more high output lights on a single circuit. Still, it's frustrating to find any outlet that's only 15 amps in any commercial setting.  I'm not sure if that would even be up to code in many places.
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Brian Jojade

Erik Jerde

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2020, 11:26:17 pm »

The total power is another issue.  The 15 amp outlets are just annoying.  If you use 1K fixtures, that's one per circuit.  Had you put in 20 amp circuits, you could put 2 1Ks on a single circuit.  The cost difference to install 20 amp circuits instead of 15's would have been pennies.

Yes, with LEDs, it's less of an issue, as you can put more high output lights on a single circuit. Still, it's frustrating to find any outlet that's only 15 amps in any commercial setting.  I'm not sure if that would even be up to code in many places.

Arenít 20s required in commercial work?  I though so but Iíve never bothered to check NEC because I just donít bother with 15s ever.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2020, 05:06:11 pm »

Arenít 20s required in commercial work?  I though so but Iíve never bothered to check NEC because I just donít bother with 15s ever.

NEC doen't require it, but many local codes do.
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Brian Jojade

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Dimmer Pack Issues, Wiring Concerns
¬ę Reply #9 on: October 31, 2020, 05:06:11 pm ¬Ľ


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