CFL flickers - when switch is off. . .


I have a 14w Nvision brand compact fluorescent bulb on a three-way switch circuit in my stairway that pulses very weak light, from near the base of the discharge tube, about every second, when the switch is in the "off" position. Looks like a weak strobe light. I checked the "off" voltage across the empty socket - it was about 5v. One of the three way switches has a lighted toggle, for what it is worth. The lamp fixture is a can light, new, and seemingly properly wired but cannot tell if the body of the unit is grounded, as only the hot and neutral feed wires are visible on my side of the metal fixture reflector. All I can figure is the low voltage is charging a capacitor in the bulb base, and the capacitor periodically discharges its stored energy into the bulb. How can I trouble shoot (if this is necessary for safety) the source of the low voltage in the lamp socket? And is this in any way a fire danger? Thanks, Roger
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This item has no significant fire danger.
The biggest problem is "leakage current" through "cable capacitance" shortening the life expectancy of the "bulbs". That itemmay be as low as "speculative".
If the "bulbs" are UL-listed and used in a manner not other than is as directed, I woukld not worry much. Screw-base CFLs appear to me to be generally subject to UL by requiring integral ballasts. The category that UL has for these is "self-ballasted lamp", give or take a hyphen and a space or two.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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wrote:

Maybe you can have a weak party.

Because of the lighted toggle below, maybe you can skip the step below or save it for later.
Hmmm. You should measure with a meter with a needle. Everyone here says that digital meters give false readings because of induced voltages.
Or with enough connecting things, I think you can put an incandescent light in series with the socket and an ammeter. 110 watt lightbulb would be about an amp at 110 volts, so at 5 volts, it will be 1/20th (50 milliamps) or 1/22nd of an amp, if there is really 5 volts. You can calculate the actual voltage from that.

I think could well be significant.
We just had a thread about 3-way toggle with pilot ligths. But yours just has a lighted handle, right. With a regular bulb, the light is on when the switch is off, right, and vice versa?
And that probably uses a very small neon bulb. If it were an incandescnent bulb that was in the circuit, then measureing the voltage across the empty socket would give the full 110 volts. I have to think about this. How can it show only 5, just because it is neon. Go do that step I said you could skip. :) So we know what the voltage really is. Or do the step below and don't worry about why, just how to fix it.

Well, you could pull the 3-way out and replace it with a two way, or a 3-way with no light, or most simply, you could disconnect one of the two wires out of three that are connected when the switch is in the off position. Turn the fuse or breaker off and when the wires are separated, turn the fuse back on again.

I don't think so, but it may wear out your bulb more quickly. I guess it doesn't take any more electricity than the lighted swtich did in the first place. If that is the reason.
I have a CFL on a 3-way, but it's not a lighted switch.
I'm sure this will come up a lot as time goes on.

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mm wrote:

I'm beginning to think the Luddites* may have known what they were about. Stuff like what's being discussed on this thread says to me things are getting too damn complicated.... <G>
I get shivers when I think about all the electrons doing their things to keep my car engine running nowadays. When I first became a gearhead, all you had to know was that if you had "gas and fahr", the engine would probably run, and you could tell if those were there with just the senses the Good Lord gave you.
Last month I had to shell out a bundle for a valve job on daughter's V6 Olds. It felt like it was running fine, but it wouldn't pass inspection because the diagnostics said one cylinder was running "weak". A compression check showed it was off, but I was flabbergasted to dig in and learn that the computer could tell that because the weak cylinder caused the crankshaft's rotation to slow down a tiny bit during that cylinder's power stroke, 'cause it continuously monitored crankshaft angle throughout each revolution. Then I remembered the reason why they've had harmonic balancers on the ends of car engine crankshafts for years.
The exhaust valve in the affected cylinder, and it's seat also, had a single "ding" on their mating surfaces. The likely cause was a "plug and wire change" last year which was shortly followed by the engine running very rough rough because the stationary electrode fell right off the plug in that same cylinder. A new plug "fixed" the problem, but I'm feeling that little steel electrode bounced into the precicely wrong place and F'd up the valve and its seat.....Remaining unoticed until state inspection time rolled around almost a year later, when it was far too late to try and raise a stink over that defective spark plug.
The word "luck" in our family is too often spelled with just three letters, B-A-D. <G>
Jeff
* http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc_data/luddite.html
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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wrote:

How old is your home, I'm wondering if something wacky like you have switched neutrals.
later,
tom @ www.MeetANewFriend.com
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