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Old 10-04-2011, 08:30 AM   #1
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Default Test Metal Halide Bulb with Ohm Meter?

Got my first Metal Halide parking lot job coming up. I've never touched them before.

These lights come on automatically at night and I have not yet been able to locate a photo switch that controls this. I found a CPU based lighting timer that I'm looking into. Didn't want to start pushing buttons because it probably controls much more than the lights I'm concerned with.

In other words.... I don't know how to turn on these lights during the day.

I need to rent a scissor lift at about $250 per day to do this work which I estimate to take 4 hours. Bulbs are $20 and ballasts are $80.

I'd like to remove a bulb and test it. If it is good then I need to replace the ballast.

Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?

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Old 10-04-2011, 08:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimmer View Post
Got my first Metal Halide parking lot job coming up. I've never touched them before.

These lights come on automatically at night and I have not yet been able to locate a photo switch that controls this. I found a CPU based lighting timer that I'm looking into. Didn't want to start pushing buttons because it probably controls much more than the lights I'm concerned with.

In other words.... I don't know how to turn on these lights during the day.

I need to rent a scissor lift at about $250 per day to do this work which I estimate to take 4 hours. Bulbs are $20 and ballasts are $80.

I'd like to remove a bulb and test it. If it is good then I need to replace the ballast.

Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?
Get a gas lamp tester, Greenlee makes one, others too!

You will have to test the lamp, and the ballast, and the starter capacitor.

Most parking lot lighting is controlled by a timer, or photocell, probably through a lighting contactor.

Some have a bypass switch.

You may have to locate the breaker and lock it out.

Be Carefull!

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Old 10-04-2011, 09:04 AM   #3
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...Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?
I don't think so. A metal-halide is a type of HID lighting, which means it uses an electrical arc to produce light instead of a filament. If there's no arc, there's not gonna be any continuity.

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Old 10-04-2011, 10:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by swimmer View Post
Got my first Metal Halide parking lot job coming up. I've never touched them before.

These lights come on automatically at night and I have not yet been able to locate a photo switch that controls this. I found a CPU based lighting timer that I'm looking into. Didn't want to start pushing buttons because it probably controls much more than the lights I'm concerned with.

In other words.... I don't know how to turn on these lights during the day.

I need to rent a scissor lift at about $250 per day to do this work which I estimate to take 4 hours. Bulbs are $20 and ballasts are $80.

I'd like to remove a bulb and test it. If it is good then I need to replace the ballast.

Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?
A Metal halide lamp has an arc tube in a brand new lamp that arc tube will be clear or clean looking.

An old metal halide lamp the arc tube will be black,

most of the time but not all that arc tube will shatter at the end of life and sometimes the outer glass will shatter as well if that is the case you will need a heavy pair of needle nose pliers to to remove the base of the lamp.

When you start a metal halide lamp it will flicker wildly for a second or two then it will turn to a dark green/blue Glow as the arc stabilizes it will gradually get brighter and whiter over 5 minutes till it reaches full brightness at that point if you shut it off it will take as long as 15 minutes before it will restart again .

A metal halide ballast will last about two lamp cycles if the previous lamps were allowed to reach the end of life and they usually will be showing signs of aging at that point.

In that case just change the ballast as a kit don't get into changing just capacitors and such,,Just change the whole kit you will be better off.

Here is a link for more info.http://venturelighting.com/TechCente...TechIntro.html


http://www.ballastkit.com/media/data...leshooting.pdf

Last edited by HARRY304E; 10-04-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:26 AM   #5
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Sounds like you have a lighting control panel. It could be set up with a photocell somewhere. It's possibly a low voltage one; check the low voltage terminals inside the LCP and look for a 3-conductor low voltage cable or something, maybe trace it out and possibly find the photocell.

Another possibility is that it's pre-programmed with sunset and sunrise times based on your location, and it's going by that. You can configure it to turn on 30 minutes before sunset and turn off 30 minutes after sunrise, or whatever else you want to do.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:30 AM   #6
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Some lighting control panels also have a master switch. There's a few that went into the local community college campuses that have a rocker switch. "All on" and "all off" on either side with "auto" in the center. You have to be careful switching it back to auto because if you push too hard it shuts all the lights off

Also if you can find the parking lot circuits in the panel (probably at the highest available voltage) you can trace out which LCP relay(s) they're on and turn that individual relay on manually.
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:06 PM   #7
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Nope- an ohm meter is not a reliable way to test any sort of HID bulb. Nor am I overly impressed with the Greenlee gas lamp tester.

I am, however, impressed by the testers that screw into the socket, and tell you if the ballast is working.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:35 PM   #8
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Nope, an ohm meter will not work for this test.

The "cave man" way to do this, is to make sure that there is power to the ballast, replace lamp, if lamp does not come on in 5 minutes or so, replace the entire ballast kit.

WEAR GLOVES REMOVING THE OLD LAMPS. Often the lamps are corroded and difficult to remove- AND CAN BREAK EASILY AND CUT YOU. If a lamp breaks, remove power and claw the old lamp base out with some beefy needle nose, hopefully, without damaging the lamp holder.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:09 PM   #9
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Just replace the bulb if you're going to replace the ballast. Generally, if the ballast is gone, the bulb isn't far behind.

Don't be cheap. Stooge.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:46 PM   #10
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Just replace the bulb if you're going to replace the ballast. Generally, if the ballast is gone, the bulb isn't far behind.

Don't be cheap. Stooge.
So you replace the ballast with every bulb change then right ?
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by swimmer View Post
Got my first Metal Halide parking lot job coming up. I've never touched them before.

These lights come on automatically at night and I have not yet been able to locate a photo switch that controls this. I found a CPU based lighting timer that I'm looking into. Didn't want to start pushing buttons because it probably controls much more than the lights I'm concerned with.

In other words.... I don't know how to turn on these lights during the day.

I need to rent a scissor lift at about $250 per day to do this work which I estimate to take 4 hours. Bulbs are $20 and ballasts are $80.

I'd like to remove a bulb and test it. If it is good then I need to replace the ballast.

Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?
Plan to change all of the lamps. They are rated in average lumens and will all need to look the same. You will be doing the owner a favor. Make sure to write the date on the lamp and have a map of the parking lot and the maintenance record for each one. Leave it on the site in case you get hit by the train.
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimmer View Post
Got my first Metal Halide parking lot job coming up. I've never touched them before.

These lights come on automatically at night and I have not yet been able to locate a photo switch that controls this. I found a CPU based lighting timer that I'm looking into. Didn't want to start pushing buttons because it probably controls much more than the lights I'm concerned with.

In other words.... I don't know how to turn on these lights during the day.

I need to rent a scissor lift at about $250 per day to do this work which I estimate to take 4 hours. Bulbs are $20 and ballasts are $80.

I'd like to remove a bulb and test it. If it is good then I need to replace the ballast.

Can I test these metal halides with an ohm meter like an incandescent?



You need to get the power on those lights first, to see which ones don't work, change the lamps in those & if they still don't work, replace the ballast. This is the best way to go about it, as you will definatly know which ones to work on. Otherwise, you will be troubleshooting each one.

Then, as Jrannis stated, change all the lamps..............
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:45 AM   #13
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Got a Sharpie? Or, better yet, a paint marker?

I found it worthwhile to wriet the date of replacement on every bulb and ballast I instal. There are a few reasons for this....

The first is that it tells me if I've been to that specific fixture before. Next, it tells me if the stuff is lasting a reasonable amount of time.

As for 'automatically' doing things .... well, let's look at the economics of the job:

Depending on the specific fixture, a bulb might cost you $8 or $40. It really helps to know ahead of time exactly what parts you will need.

Ditto for the ballasts. They can run from $40 to $400.

Now, as for getting up there .... by the time it's all said and done, renting a lift will set you back $200.

Time ... time is an issue- especially accurately counting your time. Let me explain what I have found to be necessary:
I start off with an evening visit to the site. It's so much easier to identify problem fixtures. I wrap the pole with a band of tape to indicate which fixtures need work. This survey will take at least an hour out of my evening; it takes time to get there, and to return home.
If I know ahead of time the parts used by the fixtures - I maintain a file for my regular customers - I will start the day off at the parts house. I can return what I don't use.
I pick up the lift, go to the site, and get started. Transporting the lift, renting the lift, and the parts house visits will eat up two hours of the day.
Step #1 is covering the photoeye, or otherwise powering up the fixtures.

Once the lights have been powered up, I set up at one of the malfunctioning fixtures. I check for power at the base (never assume). I get up to the light and check the bulb. It's amazing how often the bulb has just come loose. I look at the date- is it an old bulb? I screw ballast tester into the socket and see if the socket is getting what it should.

If all is good, I replace the bulb. New or old, the base gets a smear of anti-seize or Noalox; this helps keep the base from getting stuck in the socket.

If all is not well, I replace the entire ballast / starter / igniter / capacitor assembly. No point in troubleshooting to the component level, when the replacement comes with all the pieces! If the old arrangement did not have a ballast disconnect fitting, I instal one at that time. (I really hate running back and forth to the panel to kill the power).

On to the next troubled fixture. The idea is to have to set up your lift as few times as possible, and to make as few trips up the pole as possible. Then you power it all up and check. Remove your tape from the photocell. Come back at night and double check.

All this checking may seem a bit OCD, but I often find things at night that I would miss during the day- such as the light cycling because of a reflection.

The last step is the next morning, where I return the lift at the crack of dawn. Or, if the night visit revealed additional problems, I rent it for another day.

I often wish I had a bucket truck. I do what I can to schedule all my lift work together; I'll often visit several customers on 'lift day,' and spread the cost of the rental around.

BTW ... a towable boom lift is the best way to get up there, followed by a regular boom. Scissor lifts are limited in parking lots, as the slightest slope will trigger the tilt alarms and safetys.
Lift rentals and deliveries? You can rent a trailer and tow a scissor lift, if your truck is at least a 3/4 ton. Even so, it can be a chore to get the lift back on the trailer. Booms have to be delivered- which costs you both time and money. A towable boom you can tow with nearly anything.

Last edited by renosteinke; 10-05-2011 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by erics37 View Post
Some lighting control panels also have a master switch. There's a few that went into the local community college campuses that have a rocker switch. "All on" and "all off" on either side with "auto" in the center. You have to be careful switching it back to auto because if you push too hard it shuts all the lights off

Also if you can find the parking lot circuits in the panel (probably at the highest available voltage) you can trace out which LCP relay(s) they're on and turn that individual relay on manually.

Making Progress! I downloaded the 148 page operating manual for the Lighting Control & Design GR1416 controller installed in the manager's office. While going through this, tech support returned my call and told me what button to press to turn on the lights. I don't even have to worry about the photo switch. From the manual and a post in on this thread, I also identified the master rocker switch which may do the same thing. I verified the correct breakers the other night so I can lock out.

Thanks for the heads up on the needle nose, gloves and rocker switch.

Any flash hazards with Metal Halide and approved electrical spray lube?
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:07 AM   #15
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Making Progress! I downloaded the 148 page operating manual for the Lighting Control & Design GR1416 controller installed in the manager's office. While going through this, tech support returned my call and told me what button to press to turn on the lights. I don't even have to worry about the photo switch. From the manual and a post in on this thread, I also identified the master rocker switch which may do the same thing. I verified the correct breakers the other night so I can lock out.

Thanks for the heads up on the needle nose, gloves and rocker switch.

Any flash hazards with Metal Halide and approved electrical spray lube?

Yes if you are working on them live.

There is a lamp socket type grease that you can use if you want but just don't crank the lamps in in fact once it feels tight back it out 1/8" of a turn so it wont seize in the socket.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:08 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by renosteinke View Post
Got a Sharpie? Or, better yet, a paint marker?

I found it worthwhile to wriet the date of replacement on every bulb and ballast I instal. There are a few reasons for this....

The first is that it tells me if I've been to that specific fixture before. Next, it tells me if the stuff is lasting a reasonable amount of time.

As for 'automatically' doing things .... well, let's look at the economics of the job:

Depending on the specific fixture, a bulb might cost you $8 or $40. It really helps to know ahead of time exactly what parts you will need.

Ditto for the ballasts. They can run from $40 to $400.

Now, as for getting up there .... by the time it's all said and done, renting a lift will set you back $200.

Time ... time is an issue- especially accurately counting your time. Let me explain what I have found to be necessary:
I start off with an evening visit to the site. It's so much easier to identify problem fixtures. I wrap the pole with a band of tape to indicate which fixtures need work. This survey will take at least an hour out of my evening; it takes time to get there, and to return home.
If I know ahead of time the parts used by the fixtures - I maintain a file for my regular customers - I will start the day off at the parts house. I can return what I don't use.
I pick up the lift, go to the site, and get started. Transporting the lift, renting the lift, and the parts house visits will eat up two hours of the day.
Step #1 is covering the photoeye, or otherwise powering up the fixtures.

Once the lights have been powered up, I set up at one of the malfunctioning fixtures. I check for power at the base (never assume). I get up to the light and check the bulb. It's amazing how often the bulb has just come loose. I look at the date- is it an old bulb? I screw ballast tester into the socket and see if the socket is getting what it should.

If all is good, I replace the bulb. New or old, the base gets a smear of anti-seize or Noalox; this helps keep the base from getting stuck in the socket.

If all is not well, I replace the entire ballast / starter / igniter / capacitor assembly. No point in troubleshooting to the component level, when the replacement comes with all the pieces! If the old arrangement did not have a ballast disconnect fitting, I instal one at that time. (I really hate running back and forth to the panel to kill the power).

On to the next troubled fixture. The idea is to have to set up your lift as few times as possible, and to make as few trips up the pole as possible. Then you power it all up and check. Remove your tape from the photocell. Come back at night and double check.

All this checking may seem a bit OCD, but I often find things at night that I would miss during the day- such as the light cycling because of a reflection.

The last step is the next morning, where I return the lift at the crack of dawn. Or, if the night visit revealed additional problems, I rent it for another day.

I often wish I had a bucket truck. I do what I can to schedule all my lift work together; I'll often visit several customers on 'lift day,' and spread the cost of the rental around.

BTW ... a towable boom lift is the best way to get up there, followed by a regular boom. Scissor lifts are limited in parking lots, as the slightest slope will trigger the tilt alarms and safetys.
Lift rentals and deliveries? You can rent a trailer and tow a scissor lift, if your truck is at least a 3/4 ton. Even so, it can be a chore to get the lift back on the trailer. Booms have to be delivered- which costs you both time and money. A towable boom you can tow with nearly anything.

Thanks much for this detailed procedure and advice.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:38 AM   #17
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Don't forget you will need a safety harness in just about any outdoor lift.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:08 PM   #18
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i would test for voltage, if voltage is present and the bulb does not turn on, i would replace the ballast and lamp. easy way to eliminate call backs and eating the cost of the rental lift. i have an old beha gas lamp tester but to me its more of a novelty than an actual tool
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:14 PM   #19
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HERE is another lamp tester like Oldtimer mentioned.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:07 PM   #20
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HERE is another lamp tester like Oldtimer mentioned.
I have seen this model at the supply house. I don't know how it compares to the Greenlee I have.
Mine is about 15 or so years old.
I have changed batteries in it a few times, thats all.

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