Finding a transformer

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About 6 years ago, we had our kitchen remodelled. We wanted some undercounter lights included. The contractor proposed a low voltage set of lights. I said that I preferred 120 v since I hate humming transformers. He said OK and proceeded to do the job.
Fast forward to last summer. We had a nearby lightning strike that took out a lot of stuff - DVRs, various plug-in power supplies, a Davis weather station, a garage door opener, etc. All of that was repaired but a few months later, I noticed the seldomly used undercounter lights didn't work. I started looking for the cause and realized they were low voltage halogens rather than 120v. So basically, there is a transformer somewhere in the kitchen with a blown fuse or winding. I have resigned myself to having to remove some drywall or tile to repair the problem, but I really don't want to use the trial and error method to find the transformer. The lights are near a number of 120 v circuits, but instead of tapping into those circuits, they tied into the circuit for the island. The island has a cooktop and some outlets for portable appliances. All that stuff works. I suppose it is even possible that the transformer is in the island and they ran 12 volt wire under the floor and up the wall to get to the undercounter lights. That wouldn't be how I would do it, but who knows. Between having hardwood floor, a tile backsplash, and granite countertops, the repair won't be easy, but step one is finding the transformer. Any ideas how to find it without tearing apart half the kitchen?
Thanks, Pat
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Well, by code, things like this can't be in a place without access. If behind drywall, there should be an access panel, the operative word being "should".
"Wands" are pretty available/cheap now, where you connect a signal to the end halogen, and follow it through a headset of sorts, listening for the strength of an audible signal. Really a handy thing to have for sleuthing, altho I forgot the generic term for this particular strategy. Phone guys used to use this all the time, to find the right wire in wired bundles..
Bummer about the lightning.... consider surge suppression (I started a thread some time ago on DIY surge suppression, lots of info there), or mebbe even an isolation transformer for the whole house -- proly not cheap, tho.
So the contractor ig'd your wishes, eh? Can you find him to ask him where this thing might be?
--
EA



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> Thanks,
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On Sun, 30 May 2010 13:59:01 -0400, "Existential Angst"

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I think they're cheap to buy, HF might even have them -- they have $10 clamp-on ammeters. Radio Shack, HD have them, I think. $30??
I just don't know offhand what they're called -- signal tracers, wire tracers, mebbe.
--
EA



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On Sun, 30 May 2010 15:27:12 -0400, "Existential Angst"

OK. I'll look for one at HD or Lowe's.
To the other replies: Yes I have a multi-meter - 0 volts coming from the transformer. The bulbs are in parallel. The switch is good. Regarding the possibility of it being a switching power supply, I hadn't thought of that. It could be. If it is, the output filter cap must be shorted since it reads a few tenths of an ohm looking back into the wires from the switch.
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snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

<snip>
Sometimes they're called "fox and hounds" -- you hook up the fox and then use the hound to follow the wires; I think they're about 40 bucks at Lowe's.
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wrote:

tracker". It is a strange combination of really well thought out and poorly implemented. The supplied batteries were leaking in the package and the plastic parts don't fit well, but it works. You attach clip leads (or an RJ 11 or RJ 45 or coax connector) to the known end of the wire and then use the separate receiver to find the warbling signal. While I haven't found the transformer yet, I have a strong clue. As suggested by someone else, it may be in the space just above the cabinets. In this case, that places it in the attic above the kitchen. I definitely hear the signal up high on the wall. I can't bring myself to climb up there today since it is hot and dirty, but the next time I get the urge, I will see what I can find.
To those who suggested replacing the lights with florescents, it would be just as difficult to install a new circuit as it is to find and repair this one. I am normally a person who uses energy saving ideas, but in this case, the fixtures have been used for no more than one hour total in the past six years since they were installed. It took us months to notice they didn't work. So, there is no energy savings to be had. I just hate to have them installed but non-operational.
Pat
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On Sun, 30 May 2010 17:32:42 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Did you look in the basement under that part of the house? Transformer may be right under the counter. It's illegal to hide it in the wall. Or could it be under the counter? My bet is the basement, maybe even near the breaker panel. Look for small wires down there too.
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snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Harbor Freight is your friend. They have cheap Chinese ones for 20 bucks or so. Not pro-grade, of course, but good enough for something like this.
On the TV shows, they usually tuck the transformer above the cabinets, or in a nearby closet. Could even be in basement ceiling. They play similar games with doorbell transformers.
--
aem sends...

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On May 30, 2:38pm, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

"Wands" ROFL...
If you are referring to a toner and probe set that will run you about $80 to $100 dollars for the equipment AND you will need two 9v batteries to use it...
You would have to disconnect the line voltage AC from the circuit by shutting off the breaker at your panel... You can then open up a fixture to attach the toner set and trace the wiring using the probe...
Doubtful that you will be able to find one of these to rent, you can buy them at home depot or your local electrical supply house...
Are you sure that the fixtures themselves don't have transformers in them ?
~~ Evan
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Evan wrote:

Here's one for ~$60.00 (Amazon.com product link shortened) 1&pf_rd_i00FTADX0&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r    AC0WK5DCJF3ERGDPJJ
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As an add-on. Do you have a voltmeter to see if there is any voltage coming out of the hidden transformer to the beginning of the bulb string. Any chance the bulbs are in series and a failure of any one bulb would take out all of them?
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On 5/30/2010 3:23 PM, hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

called transformers are really electronic switching power supplies. That can be pretty small and hide easily ... maybe behind the switch? These are much more likely to be zapped by lightening.
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Two different sorts of signal tracers are being talked about. The cheaper sort assume a live 120 volt circuit. You plug the generator part into a live socket and trace the wiring with a probe. Excellent for find which circuit breaker is powering the circuit and for tracing wiring if it isn't too far away from the receiver probe. The other type of tracer is typically used with twisted pair phone wires that are unpowered. The battery operated generator is connected to a pair of wires and the receiver probe is used to fiqure out which wires are which in a bundle of wires.
On 5/30/2010 10:31 AM, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

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On May 30, 12:31pm, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Now would be the time to upgrade to T8 flourescent, they are 75% more efficent, and since kitchens are usualy to hot any way your kitchen will be alot cooler. An incandesant only outputs 4-6% of energy used as visable light the rest of those watts is heat, I went T8 years ago.
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On May 30, 12:31pm, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Plus that transformer is an energy waster to further lower LPW
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The most common place to install a low voltage transformer is on top of the cabinets if the space is accessible. Take a look.
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Had a similar situation recently and then found a 'hidden' (although legally mounted and wired by a 'proper' electrician) fuse, behind a removable bottom drawer and a metal cover!.
But had an idea before that; I have a shaver that when plugged in and but even running, makes clicks on a radio... my idea ..... although never used, was to hook up the shaver through an extension cord to the 'far end' of the dead circuit through some sort of temporary adapter.
Then follow the clicking wiring back, using a battery radio. Suggestion anyway.
Good luck.
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On 5/31/2010 12:41 PM, terry wrote:

On a dead circuit like the one the OP has, the AM radio trick works with either a commercially available tone generator or the cheap route, using a door buzzer muffled somehow, towel or container, with one wire coming off it to feed the RF noise into the light string so it can be traced with the pocket AM radio. I've traced many a wire inside a wall using this method. Oh yea, the buzzer can be powered by either a battery or doorbell transformer. It will make a lot of RF noise regardless.
TDD
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I've seen them down in the basement below the kitchen as well.
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