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I have two sets of track lighting on the same switch, and one of the tracks flashes at a low frequency at seemingly random times. Video of the behavior.

Some relevant details:

  • The two tracks are on different transformers. The transformer on the issue track has a 150W max. It is an electronic transformer.
  • The track with the issue has 2 50W halogen bulbs, but exhibits same behavior with 3 50W bulbs.
  • It doesn't appear to be related to high load from my condo unit, i.e. even if the AC / heat, washer / dryer, dishwasher, etc are all off, it can still happen.
  • The lights are on a 3-way switch with a dimmer, but I swapped out the dimmer for a regular switch and it exhibited the same behavior.
  • The voltage on the track when it's doing this oscillates between 0 and 1.5V. Normal output should be 11.5, but I'm reading closer to 10.5 during normal operation.

Any ideas?

  • 1
    Good video! I wonder if you have a circuit breaker box in common with other condos in your building? – Willk Apr 13 at 14:32
  • At the very least I have my own subpanel in my condo which has the track lights and a few other lights on it. I don't know what's going on "upstream", but ultimately all condos must be getting power from a shared main panel? Do you think there's a load on the circuit and a voltage drop coming into the transformer? – Keith Apr 13 at 14:38
  • Wonder if you can safely measure the power supply input voltage when this is happening. Especially if this happen around specific times like evening hours when the usage is high. Also does this happen with just one light as well? – Aelian Apr 14 at 1:07
  • For anyone in the future finding this, I contacted the manufacturer and they indicated the the electronic transformer was probably nearing end of life and should be replaced. I swapped it out for the same exact unit and the problem was solved. – Keith May 5 at 23:01
4

Because you have too much lighting load for the power supply (not transformer*) to cope with, so it is crowbar-ing.

Reduce load. This is a good time to think LED.


* "Transformer" is a proper term for a very specific thing, which this is not. Transformers are quite heavy and withstand short-term overload very well. This weighs 6.4 oz. for 150W, and fails instantly at 100W. They can call it an A-10 Warthog if they please, but it's actually a switching power supply. As such it has a protective circuit (crowbar) which is tripping for whatever reason (defective? Misapplied? Loads you don't know about?)

The RU mark is a good sign, but still it's only rated as an electronic component, it would need a UL mark to be legal for direct use in mains wiring.

  • I looked up crowbarring. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowbar_(circuit). If his lights are too much load, why is the flicker intermittent? – Willk Apr 13 at 22:54
  • 2
    @Willk At low levels of overload (barely overloaded), it's probably thermal. – Harper Apr 13 at 23:03
  • I'm not sure that these lights have a power supply besides the transformer which goes from 120v to 12v. It's a Bruck Enzis Track [1] with a Hatch Transformer [2]. [1] brucklighting.com/enzis-track-system.html [2] hatchlighting.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/… – Keith Apr 18 at 23:46
  • 1
    It weighs 6.4 oz. for 150W, it's no transformer. (That term refers to a very specific thing, which can handle large overloads, but is very heavy). They can call it an A-10 Warthog if they please, but it's actually a switching power supply; as such it has a protective circuit (crowbar) which is tripping for whatever reason (defective? Misapplied? Loads you don't know about?) The RU mark is a good sign, but still it's only rated as an electronic component, it would need a UL mark to be legal for direct use in mains wiring. – Harper Apr 18 at 23:56

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