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Mysterious Light Flashes

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Feb 24, 2001
DaveH said:
I measured 75vac leakage on the offending circuit (switches off).
In another 3-way circuit, ~20vac was measured, both with a high-
impedence (4.5Mohm) DMM. A non-3-way light fixture showed
very low leakage, less than a couple of volts. It will be interesting
to measure with an incandescent load in the circuit. I'll be in touch
with the electrical contractor.

So it appears some CFLs react differently to leakage than others;
not necessarily a defect.

The dimmable ones cost 2-4x what the regular ones do. Why
bother...I just have two lights in a room, one bright and another less
bright, and switch between them.

A few points on CFLs. They are great, I've been using them since 1989.
I gave one to a neighbour, who leaves her porch light on continuously
(something to do about not signalling whether you're home or away).
The 10,000 hr. bulb ran for about 2-1/2 years (20,500 hours) and saved
$80CDN...one bulb! It had not even burned out but was getting dimmer and
running a bit hot.

These things contain mercury. Some municipalities are just getting around
to figuring out how to deal with disposal. I have a few expired ones plus a
few duds, which are packed in a box awaiting some disposal process.

Here we can get an 11W/5000hr lamp for $1, no subsidies. For about
2x the price one can get a 15W/10,000hr lamp, which generates more light
and 1/2 the waste. Cheaper isn't always better.

They do save a heap. And they've likely got less mercury in them than regular flourescents do. I've had 3 years service out of the 20 or so in my house thus far. I had to replace the exterior ones with high efficiency halogen lamps after only 2 months though as the cold weather was causing them to not light very well at all. The halogens have now been going dusk to dawn on a photocell for almost 3 years too so they're a good alternate for cold areas.

Looking forward to the other leakage readings. Since your pulling the lamps you might want to see if there are any leakage readings with nothing installed.


Arte you sure the switches are not "lighted"?

They may not light up without proper ground and such, but still will leak voltage onto the line.


Jul 29, 2001
Ottawa, Ont.
trimmerj said:
Don't forget that the neutral is often switched in Knob and Tube wiring.
There is no knob'n'tube left energized. Otherwise, the insurance company would
not renew my policy.

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