Friday, April 3, 2020

Halogen Lamp Electronic Dimmable Transformers Explained

Halogen bulbs have been around the market for a while. They offer bright light in compact units. Most halogen lighting is for specialty purposes: track lighting, under cabinet lighting, and security lights. Because they are not in most common applications, they seem to be a little more challenging to trouble shoot.

For this post, we will discuss the dimmable transformers used in halogen lighting. These are mostly found in under-cabinet applications. The transformer is used to convert the 110 Volt alternating current (the power supply to most North American home wiring) to a 12 volt direct current. The 12 volts applications carry fewer amps and allow smaller wires from bulb to bulb. These smaller wires are easier to manage and conceal in tight spaces.

48468 - Halogen Lamp Electronic Dimmable Transformer
To connect the transformer to the home power supply, connect the black and white wires to the house wires. Most house wires are also black and white. The black wire is the hot and the white wire is the neutral wire. If you are planning to plug this transformer into an outlet and connect it to a cord set (with plug), you will need to connect the black wire to the smooth cord that plugs into the thin blade of the outlet.


From the transformer, there is also a pair of red wires. They will carry the 12 volts to power the halogen bulbs. While the 12 volt DC current has a plus and minus side, the halogen bulbs to not have to tie to a certain side. (NOTE: If you are using this transformer to power 12 volt LED bulbs, you will need to keep the positive and negative sides consistent.) Also, remember the halogen bulbs must be rated for 12 volt circuit.


Most of these applications will have more than one bulb on the transformer, so you will need to keep the circuit organized where the + is on one side and the - is on the other.

Transformer -/+ bulb -/+ bulb -/+ bulb -/+ bulb -/+ bulb

Not: Transformer -/+ bulb -/+ bulb +/- bulb -/+ bulb -/+ bulb

With all the wires in place and transformer connected, you are ready to power the circuit and test the lamps. If you want to add a dimmer, that would be included at the wall switch or inline switch on the 110 volt side of the transformer.



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

How to Use Snap on Plugs and Outlets

Snap on or slide on plugs and outlets are a quick and easy way to add a plug or outlet to a lamp cord. They do not require any wire stripping, and connect the wires within minutes. With a few simple tips, you will be on your way to re-plugging all your lamps.

48514 - Leviton Brand Quick Attachment Plug

48525 - Gilbert Female End Connector

48555B - Brown Slide On Type Polarized Lamp Plug

These types of plugs are offered for SPT-1 or SPT-2 cord types. The first thing you will need to do is identify the type of cord your are trying to plug. Every cord is labeled with the type in small font on the cord itself. You are looking for lettering that appears like this.

Lamp Cord Marking with SPT-1 and SPT-2
Now that you have identified the cord type, select your corresponding plug or outlet style and color. The basic colors offered are black, white, brown, ivory, clear gold, and clear silver. These colors correspond with typical lamp cord colors.

With the cord identified and the corresponding snap plug acquired, you are ready to connect the two together. For the slide on plugs and outlets, remove the back part of the plug:



Notice the piercing blade in the outlet: one for each cord. The piercing blade corresponds to the prong on the plug and the polarity of the plug and wire. On the wire when you identified the SPT size, you will notice one wire is ribbed and the other wire is smooth. The smooth wire is the hot side and should align with the piercing blade for the thin prong on the plug. The end of the wire should be placed in the end of the plug and laid across the piercing blades.

The cap now slides over the plug and applies pressure on the piercing blades.


For snap on plugs, the procedure is similar. First, you will need to separate the interior of the plug from the shell. Spread the prong of the plug all the way apart.

Identify the smooth wire and corresponding piercing blade. These piercing blades are located inside the interior of the plug. Slide the cord in through the plug cap and then into the interior of the plug.



Push the plug prong together and push the interior back into the plug shell. The interior should sit completely back in the shell and be flush in the front.


Now you have it. While there are other types of plugs with screw terminals, the basics are the same: know the type of cord you are working with to make sure it is compatible, identify the smooth or hot wire and connect the hot side to the thin plug prong.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Light Care 101: How to Make Light Bulbs Last




By Ann Gapasin

Do you have to change light bulbs frequently?

Are your electric bills unusually high?

You may lack proper light bulb care!

3 Types of Light Bulb for Lamps

You’ve seen stacks of energy-efficient bulbs in hardware stores. If you’re the girl/boy scout type, you probably have some kept in the kitchen drawer in case of an emergency. But do you understand the kind of bulbs that you use? Do you know that there are other options out there?

Incandescent, compact fluorescent light (CFL), and halogen light bulbs are the most basic kinds available on the market these days. This article will walk you through each of them so you can make an informed decision as to which is the best bulb for you.

Incandescent Bulbs

This is the most traditional type, and almost all of us are familiar with it. Incandescent bulbs produce a warm glow that is ideal for creating a cozy mood or when highlighting color in a room. However, it is the least efficient and will have to be replaced more often than others.

Incandescent A19 Bulb


The high-temperature tungsten filament produces visible light with infrared waves.

Only 3% to 8% of the energy that they consume is transformed into visible light. The rest becomes heat.

       The average lifespan is only approximately 1,000 hours.
       Imposes challenges when it comes to recycling
       May cause eye strain
       Generally fragile: sensitive to voltage and temperature fluctuations and presence of water.

CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) Bulbs

CFLs are today’s superstar when it comes to lamp bulbs. They are the most energy-efficient and can be found in different shapes. These bulbs use much less electricity than incandescent and even last much longer. However, they incline to emanate cold light, similar to halogens. This makes CFLs more appropriate in shaded areas. Furthermore, they contain mercury, which means they must be handled with extreme caution.

Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL) Spiral Top

        Electrons triggered by mercury vapor releases UV.
        15% to 20% of energy is converted into visible light.
        CFLs tend to last at least ten times longer than incandescent.
        There is a possibility of mercury vapor leak, so special handling is required during disposal and recycling.
        CFLs are also vulnerable to voltage fluctuations
        You must wait for several minutes for its output to the peak.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED)

These deviate from the traditional way on how light bulbs work. LED does not have a filament. Instead, they pass current across a semiconductor to produce light. Because they do not have filaments that will slowly burn out, they require less replacement.

Edison Style Filament LED A19 Bulb


LEDs are considerably more efficient than incandescent and CFLs because their waste thermal radiation is much lower. Earlier varieties were criticized for taking too long to reach the peak output. But this aspect has been improved and newer types light up immediately.

        LEDs are electroluminescent.
        They convert 90% to 99% of energy into visible light.
        They can last for up to 60,000 hours or more.
        This type of light bulb is easier to recycle.
        Their robust structure allows them to withstand harsh conditions.

How to Take Care of Lamp Bulbs

Learning how to take care of your lamps not only prevents frequent trips to the hardware store, it is also an effective way to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and safety hazards.

Don’t Touch the Light Bulb While It Is Still Hot

Light bulbs produce heat. And the longer you leave them on, the hotter they become. Heat causes the metallic filament within the bulbs to become brittle. According to Sunrise Electrician, a trusted Tampa electrician, you are subjecting the thread to more vibrations when you move the lamp while it is still hot. A combination of heat and vibration will surely trim a hundred hours or so from your light bulb’s lifespan.

This precaution should also be applied during installation. A bulb installed in a mobile place will also become mobile.  This means that those bulbs installed in hanging pendants tend to have a shorter lifespan. Same goes with the lamp inside your fridge: it shakes every time you slam the door. For this kind of application, make sure to use bulbs with reinforced filaments.

Limit the Use of the On Button

If you’re leaving the room for only a brief period, it might be wiser just to leave the lights on. This is because every single time that you turn the switch on, you are subjecting the light bulbs to a blast of power. It takes faster than a blink of an eye for the current to reach the filament.

What does this mean? It means the filament’s temperature will rise from a cozy 70°F to 3000 70°F in less than a second. If you flip the switch too often, the filament will break in no time. One of the common symptoms of a filament problem is flickering lights.

But it is essential to know that flickering lights can also be caused by a more severe problem. The most common is an overloaded circuit. Electricians advise to call them during light bulb replacement so that they can check if there are other issues within your electrical system.

Let the Light Bulbs Run at Low Power

Running on low power is another secret of long-life incandescent bulbs. Power equates to heat, which means less power is less heat. And less heat is equivalent to less stress on your light bulb filament.

Common houses in the country run on 110. So if you use a bulb with a 130V rating, it will operate using a power that is 15% less than it is capable of handling.  You may also take advantage of dimmer switches. These devices lower the voltage that comes to the bulb, reducing their burden.


Keep in mind that the primary purpose of light bulb care is to save on resources. That being said: do you think it is more practical to extend the life of incandescent bulbs of your brass lamps by dimming and avoiding the switch button? Or is it time to move to more energy-efficient products?  Take to a licensed electrician on how to make your home safer and friendlier to the environment.

This article was written by Ann Gapasin. Thank you, Ann, for your contribution to this blog.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Touch Sensitive Lamp Switch

The good ole touch sensitive lamp is a really unique idea. The sensor turns the whole lamp into a switch. No need to clumsily fumble around with the cord or the side of the socket to look for that menacing switch. Que the infomercial clumsy reel.







I digress. The idea is really more scientific. According to Wikipedia "They act on the principle of body capacitance." And body capacitance?

Body capacitance is the physical property of the human body that has it act as a capacitor. Like any other electrically-conductive object, a human body can store electric charge if insulated.

Finally, my superpower is revealed! I can turn on a lamp with the touch of my finger. Now that is cool.

The uncool part is these switches have a tendency to stop working. Instead of sending the lamp to a landfill, simply replace the touch sensitive switch.



Now you are two superheros: Thor and Captain Planet.



Monday, May 20, 2019

Cracked Black Plastic Sockets Are An Easy Fix

Many lamps today are made with inexpensive components. Specifically, I mean the black plastic sockets used in most household table lamps. These sockets are brittle and easily chipped and cracked. If you are like me and often shop in the closeout section or the "imperfect" type of store, you will easily find these sockets cracked, chipped, and often missing on the lamps for sale. The good news is they are really easy to fix.


As this video demonstrates, there are 3 parts of the plastic socket: cap (bottom), shell (top), and the socket interior. The shell screws on to the cap and can be replaced in a few minutes.


Don't let those cracked, chipped or bent lamp parts keep you from getting the lamp you like.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

3 Way Keyless Socket Interior

A keyless socket interior or keyless socket is not a typical lamp socket. It doesn't have a switch function so the circuit control needs to be performed by another mechanism. The keyless socket is the true "lamp holder" with no other purpose. Keyless sockets are ideal for pendant lamps (use a switch on the wall) or chandeliers (one switch controls all the lights) and some cluster lamps.

48204 - Leviton Brand Short Keyless Medium Base Socket Interior

40204G - Leviton Brand, Keyless Socket

40266 - Leviton Brand Keyless Plastic Medium Base Bakelite Socket

The more complicated keyless socket is a 3-way socket. Designed for 3-way bulbs, the 3-way socket has the extra contact point on the base of the socket. 3-way bulbs have a low, medium, and high setting from having 2 sets of filaments.

On-Off PushThru Socket Interior

On/Off Turn Knob Socket Interior

3-Way Turn Knob Socket Interior


48220i - 3-Way Keyless Socket Interoir
For the 3-way socket to work with the 3-way bulb, you will need a 3-way switch and wire it in the correct order. Our 40402 switches are 2 circuit and will work with a 3-way interior.

40402N - 3-Way 2 Circuit Nickel Rotary Switch
Here is a wiring diagram to make it work:

The switch has 4 positions and the socket has 3 screw terminals. As the diagram shows, the smooth lamp cord wire connects to the black wire of the switch. The ribbed lamp cord connects to the nickel screw terminal on the socket. The red wire is the first circuit to turn on so it connects to the brass plated screw terminal and the blue wire connects to the black screw terminal. In the 4th position of the switch, both red and blue wires are on the closed circuit and the 3-way bulb has both filaments lit.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

6 Arm Chandelier With Cluster Gets Rewired

A customer brought in this chandelier the other day and asked to have it rewired. After looking at the sockets and wiring, we agreed this chandelier needed new wires, sockets, and candle covers.


As usual for any repair, we want to look at the whole project and make a list of required items. Too many trips to the hardware store can discourage from future projects. The lamp parts we need for this project are:

6 - Adjustable Keyless Fixture Sockets
Adjustable Keyless Candelabra


6 - White Paper Candle Covers
Flat White Smooth Plain Paper Board Candle Cover


2 - Wire Nuts or Wire Connectors
Wire Nuts


40 - 45 foot of Clear Silver SPT-1 Lamp Wire

Here you can choose the value option of a spool:

Or you can get 4 of the 12 foot Cord Sets with Clear Silver SPT-1 and Cut them to size:

With all the lamp parts ready, we will begin the repair. First, we will hang the lamp for access and remove the excess chain and other parts that are just in the way.





Next, we unscrew the bottom cluster cap from the cluster body.



Now we can move this project to the table top and begin to remove the body pieces off the column of the chandelier. The top loop unscrews from the threaded rod. Since we are rewiring this fixture, we cut the cord at the top of the column so when the parts are removed, they do not have to go through excess wire.






The rest of the column pieces slip off the threaded rod. Remember to take a picture or keep the parts in the right order for reassembly. The final piece sets just on top of the cluster.








Next, we will focus on rewiring 1 arm at a time. With 6 arms, each one is wired the same way. We remove any existing wire nuts, connectors, or in this case: tape. The old candle covers slip off the old fixture sockets. Cut the wires or unscrew the screw terminals on the socket and disconnect the wire. Unscrew the socket from the threaded rod in the dish or bobesche of the chandelier. Repeat for the other chandelier arms.








Pull the old wires out of the chandelier arms. If the arms are narrow or have complex bends, you can attach the new cord to the old cord. Then when you pull the old wire out, the new wire pulls in behind it. We have discussed this technique in other post of the blog. For this chandelier, the arms are straight and short. Each arm is wired with about 5 inches slack on the socket end and in the cluster.







The new fixture socket screws on the thread of the arm. The wire is striped about 1/2 inch and connected to the screw terminal. The wire look similar, but there is a thin rib on one wire and the other wire is smooth. Typically in house wires there is a hot wire and a neutral wire. For lighting we want to wire the hot to hot so most often the smooth wire is designated for the hot side or the black house wire.

For chandelier sockets, connect the smooth wire to the brass screw terminal. Connect the ribbed wire to the nickle screw terminal. Make sure each socket is wired the same. Replace the wire from the column or body of the chandelier making sure you leave plenty of length for the chain or any drop length. In the cluster connect the smooth wires together with the smooth wire to the canopy and the ribbed wires are all connected together.





The column pieces are slipped back over the center rod of the chandelier. Refer to the photo you took earlier before the lamp was disassembled. The top loop screws back on the threaded rod.







Reconnect the chain to the top loop of the column.







Hang the chandelier up and reconnect the bottom part of the cluster.





Slip paper insulators and the candle covers over the fixture sockets.







This chandelier is ready for some bulbs and power.


With new wires, sockets, and insulators, this chandelier is ready for use.

Total Cost < $ 50 Total Time < 1.5 Hours