Electrical Wiring in the Home/Garage Light


QUESTION: Will, I have a glass-enclosed lightbulb on the peak of my garage that goes on at dusk and off at dawn. Last week I noticed it was dim, then the next night it went out completely. The next day the lights in the garage wouldn't go on. The breaker in the garage and down in my basement both had to be reset, then the garage lights came on. I replaced the bulb outdoors with an LED 10=60 watt
bulb. The glass enclosure has marked "Max 32 watts" and the man in the store said it would be fine. Now I'm not so sure because it went on at dusk and stayed lit for 6 hours, then I heard a pop and looked outside and the light was off. Do you think it's the lightbulb doing this or something else? My garage was rewired a year & half ago and everything is fairly new and I've had no other problems til now.  Do I have the wrong kind of lightbulb? It said it's for indoor/outdoor, I'm not sure about the meaning of the 10=60 watt.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Andee   yes wrong bulb    if it were on a straight switch not a light sensing switch it would be fine,  most often the leds say T10 =60  most likely it means it uses 10 watts of power to produce the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb,    you didnt say what was in it before,      

NOW SOME PROBLEMS were happening before the new lightbulb   that could be the day night light fixture is failing or maybe the bulb that was in it failed in a manner that drew a lot of current and that caused the tripping of other things, on the same circuit

Those day night fixtures don't immediately come on with full voltage  in other words you dont see the light at night just POP ON AT FULL BRIGHT  it normally ramps up,    to full bright,


   FOR USE WITH STANDARD ON/OFF SWITCHES ONLY. Do not use with any type of dimmer, relay or other control circuit.
   Non-Weatherproof, Indoor use only unless contained within weatherproof housing or used in conjunction with weatherproofing products

Product Description

E27-x8W-T series is a tubular LED replacement bulb for traditional medium screw base lamps. Light output is comparable to 55~60 Watt incandescent bulbs. Consumes just 13 Watts of power using 168 LEDs. Available in Natural White or Warm White with a 360 beam pattern.
Standards and Certifications

CE FCC ROHS Compliant 2 Warranty
T10 LED Bulb
168 LED - 8 Watt

This may not be what you bought  but close,    the led is not going to work with the day night fixture, you need a straight or dimmable led,     for no more than it is at 32 watts  I would go find whatever incand buld with the right base as close to 32 watts and try it,   if it goes back to normal all is well, if not      then we have to assume the fixture it self is going bad  and causing the ruckus,        so kind of a chicken and egg thing,

But since a regular small bulb less than 32 watts is the cheapest route,  I would put it in just before dark and watch the operation      if it gives you fits  then replace the entire fixture,     if the fixture is found to be bad  you might get away  with a dimmable led    it will say dimmable   or a dimmmable dfl   but I would stick with just an indcand    less problems   and no power use to speak of,       

so try that with a low watt 245 27  32 incand  whatever you can find that fits  it might be a candalabra type buld but no matter light is light,

Again at close to dark  or you can block off the sensor with your finger first to see   if tgehe regular bulb comes on nicely      if so  all done,   if not with a less than 32 watt bulb  and it starts up with problems   new fixture    

Let me know how you get along and if we have to we will diagnose it further     

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: OK, Will, here's what I did.  I put a chandelier bulb in the fixture.  When I cover the sensor with tape, the light goes on.  So I waited til it got dark, but the light did not come on.  I went to the basement and looked at the electrical panel.  All the switches were facing to the left except the one for the garage, that was facing to the right. So I flipped it to the left and the light came on. The light stayed on all night and went out at 7:15 this morning.  Tonight I waited for the light to come on.  It didn't.  So I went back to the basement and again that switch was facing to the right, so I flipped it to the left and the light is on.  What do you think is happening and what should I do next?  Thanks again!

ANSWER: Andee,  so you have a subpanel in either the basement or garage,  the subpanel is the one that does NOT have the meter connected to it,  or the main panel,  it could be either location  but one is tied to the other,  and it is seeing a fault of some kind,  my guess is some kind of ground fault or the fixture is INTERMITTENT     the worst of all     because it seems to hold sometimes and sometimes not, but more often than not it does trip a breaker,  \

You put a low wattage bulb of some kind in it  below the 32 watt rating  I just know you did,  so the bulb is not the problem,      

Because their are two panels,   it could be one of the circuits is so border line that the small amount of current is enough to trip the breakers,   either one, but what a coincidence  that would be,    

That popping noise you heard,  early on,  I think you have something burnt or charred in that fixture and the carbon track is carrying the current,   to ground,      

Not a huge risk   but for now  can you keep the fixture off,     or does it turn off other things you need in basement or garage?

Just to be safe until we can get a current value of the circuit,  we need a clamp on amp meter to read the value of amps at the wire where the breakers trip and compare them to the value of the breaker on the switch arm,  by the way what are they  15 amp,    do they both say 15 ?

At least take the bulb out    if you can get to the main wiring at the fixture and can cap it off,  that would be better,     here is why     no bulb    but the eye is still saying turn on,   no load to turn on but it is still opening the switch  and letting voltage but no amperage be there,        so if something is real carboned up it could smoke again,  and it sounds like a pretty light not a light that you need to see with,         

It sounds older and probably really ornate or designed nice,    so maybe you want to salvage it,    other wise  after we find a clamp on amp meter,  ask around someone one has one,    and we will put in on the black wire at the breakers  and read the current     

Now we need to know that,   because two breakers are really unlikely to be weak and worn out,  so it is in the circuit somewhere,    either that light is just enough to pass 15 or whatever the rating is,     or something is going bad, and that was the first thing you noticed,    

So remove bulb    remove wiring at fixture and cap off,  should be like one black one white and one ground     remove all from fixture,     

Then we can try and bench test the fixture  or put a new light sensor in it but a visual inspection is needed,   along with the amount of current on the breaker circuit with this light,   so you have some work to do    to be safe we need to isolate that fixture  and inspect          so get that done as soon as you have time,   and we will try and salvage the fixture if you like it or it is old and valuable or just neat

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: OK, Will, it's me again with the garage light problem.  I had the whole light fixture replaced.  Brand new light fixture, much the same as the old one.  Says it takes up to a 100 Watt bulb, but I put in a 60 watt bulb. Covering the sensor with tape or finger, to cause darkness, the light comes on.  However, at night, no light and the breaker in the panel box in the basement is tripped.  What is the problem now?!  Thank you!


mismatch of type of bulb     check the fixture requirements


could be a weak breaker or other loads on the breaker putting it at the edge,    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozmN6GCSI6Q  video


If the bulb TYPE matches it might be too low for the fixture some do need the load to operate correctly   if so and all bulb to fixture is a match   the bulb is made for photo cell use    then we need to get an amperage reading on the circuit at the fixture and the breaker so we know what amps are being used   if very low amps are measured then the breaker is likely worn out,    

If you KNOW HOW  you can swap identical breakers and see if the problem stays with the breaker or the circuit but the best and more definite solution      get a test on the amps used in that circuit,    

it is so confusing these days with certain bulbs only working on straight on off switches or have to be marked as dimmable or useable on photo cells    the links above will   show some charts on what can and cannot be used and wattage is not always the solution       by just being lower,       it is how the bulb 'Starts"   then let me know how everything matches or maybe doesnt  
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Will Babbitt


Electrical issues of all types, wiring, control, appliances, components, specialty in Electric MOTOR or APPARATUS trouble shooting, electric motors, electrical problems, single phase, three phase, DC, capacitors, elevator MG-Sets, modifications, reverse engineering, VFD Drives, single to three phase convertors. Repair of most any electrical/mechanical/electronic apparatus, OEM, AC, DC, Industrial Applications, Three phase, single phase failure mode, determining the root cause of the equipment failure BEFORE failure repeats, Antique appliances, electric motors, fans, ceiling fans, base mount fans, poor equipment performance, Modifications, habitual failures, vibration, redesign, obsolete issues, collectible items restored, rewinding. Owner of EMR Repair Inc www.emrrepair.com More information on electric motors, under Engineering/Motors Ask about any electrical or mechanical problems in the home, office, or even at your work. B2B or business to business CONSULTING I can do but it would be a much more complex issue, that would require a significant amount of time. repair@mearservice.com from there we can discuss and begin work on about anything. Industrial electric motors, controls, troubleshooting, vibration, alignment, any type of industrial or commercial electric/electrcical equipment For the home owner, renter, apartment if you have odd things going on, describe to me, photos are normally very helpful, appliances, heating and air conditioning issues, light switches, installation, DIY PROJECTS FOR THOSE NOT EDUCATED IN ELECTRICAL, we can do some things, but for safety and sanity reasons, I may refer you to a local electrician, and help you find one, help you with pricing and even speak directly with anyone you hire if you have issues,


Over thirty years with a major repair and sales company, VP of Operations, and former owner of my own specialty repair shops, MEAR Services local to Kansas City Missouri EMR Repair Inc., located in Kansas City Missouri, 2014 sold both businesses to JCI Industries, Lee's Summit Missouri wbabbitt@jciind.com Evaluation and repair of electrical/mechanical apparatus. Electrical and mechanical repairs, trouble shooting including, vibration and balance issues. About.com provides this service, and the huge costs to provide help on about any subject. They provide the servers, the people to vet the experts, costs that would be the same as operating a good sized business, They should be appreciated for what they do, the huge costs and the great help they provide for free, Electric motor questions, can be answered here but there is a dedicated category that has other experts to help and add to a solution. Other common questions, are noises in the walls, breakers tripping, devices not starting or shutting down for no apparent reason, smoke alarms buzzing, thermostat change outs, or sizing wire or needing information for a new project, but anything can be resolved, anything, with enough effort and patience, DIY, with electrical is possible, but in most cases the use of a simple ohm meter or volt meter is needed, they can be purchased at any hardware store for a few bucks. If you have smoke, or smell smoke, don't be writing me, call 911 the Fire Department has no problem looking for smoke smells, better then spraying water on a blazing fire. DO NOT GET CAUGHT INVESTIGATING AND TRAPPED IN A BASEMENT LOOKING FOR A BLOWER FAILING< As to the tip jar, it is up to you, it is appreciated, every expert spends out of pocket that I know, we spend on IP time, computer wear, printing documents, books, and of course our time, but if we prevent a $400 service call, we did well,

Former IBEW, EASA, IEEE, UL, ..............


10 plus years, various Technical Schools, followed by Industrial College Credit and non Credit Courses, electronics courses, experience in most any electrical apparatus, electric motors and generators, AC OR DC, fractional to above 5000HP, other electrical apparatus, slip rings, sleeve [plain] bearings, lubrication, identification-no data plate, control components, service and sales. I have continued night schools for decades, the list is extensive. I have been in the business of repairing most anything with wires or mechanical parts for decades, I have some helpful hints and directions you won't have to dig up. Or hopefully not have to pay a huge service call invoice to find.

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