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Old 06-30-2014, 12:19 PM   #1
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Default Fluorescent Lights Randomly Tripping

We have installed 11 rows of 8ft T8 flourescent fixtures with four 4ft lamps in each fixture on a job. Each row has 12 fixtures on it drawing approximately 11.5 amps per row. Each row is on a dedicated 20 amp circuit. The lights are controlled by a GE 12 pole lighting contactor. The same row has been randomly tripping for about 3 weeks. We have replaced the breaker and the individual module on the contactor for that row. Every row has the same amperage on it and no other rows are tripping. They stay on for anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days. We can reset the breaker and the contactor and all lights burn full bright until it trips again.
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Old 06-30-2014, 12:31 PM   #2
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Put an in line fuse holder right in the middle of the run with appropriate fast blow fuse. If breaker trips but fuse doesn't , then move it to the first quarter of the run of fixtures. Same deal, if breaker trips and fuse doesn't blow, move to each fixture at the start of the run, and one by one check fixtures till you find the bad ballast. This also may be a bad breaker, less likely but it does happen once in a great while. If returning to the job is a hassle just put individual fuse holders into each ballast with fuse rated for the ballast and lamps only. That way the fuse blows, one fixture goes dark, and you have the rest of the run working fine till you get there to fix the bad puppy. Divide and conquer.
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Old 06-30-2014, 08:58 PM   #3
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When does the breaker trip out ?
When first turned on ?
When turned off ?
anytime during the day ?
What type of breaker is it ?

Circuits like this are highly reactive because their are both inductive and capacitive components to the impedance.

So problems like this are not unusual.

If you have ruled out all the ballasts and capacitors by substitution,
Then you need to try a different type of breaker such as a "slow blow"
type, as the load can draw a large current at start up just like a motor would.
Have you taken this into account ?
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:10 PM   #4
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I'm thinking something got nicked going into one of the fixtures in that row and is intermittently shorting out. I'd open up all fixtures in that row and look for signs of an arc. How are they fed? If MC cable whips, I'd be checking that all the anti shorts got put in. I'd bet it's a human error problem, not a new ballast. Could be wrong, but that's just my opinion.
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Old 07-01-2014, 04:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legacyelectric View Post
I'm thinking something got nicked going into one of the fixtures in that row and is intermittently shorting out. I'd open up all fixtures in that row and look for signs of an arc. How are they fed? If MC cable whips, I'd be checking that all the anti shorts got put in. I'd bet it's a human error problem, not a new ballast. Could be wrong, but that's just my opinion.

Anti shorts are not required for mc cable. So this begs the question of ''checking all the antishorts got put in.'' I use em, but they are not required.....
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:12 AM   #6
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In addition to the above
Amp clamp on start up with min max amp clamp
Perform a Fall of Potential (FOP) test on the CB.
At this point the cost is climbing so this won't be that much more isolate and megger and a complete visual inspection.
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