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.

Halogen Lamp Electronic Dimmable Transformer
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.