Q: House number sign with wires in it...

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My house has a house number sign on the wall next to the garage. I never knew it can light up at night until I recently opened it up and saw 2 bulb holders with 2 bulbs, and 2 wire nuts. The 2 bulbs are not working at this time but I am not sure if they are both bad or I need to connect the 2 wire nuts to some light sensor devices to enable the bulbs to light up at dusk. Can someone take a look and advise? The bulbs are 18V and 6W. I tried to look for them everywhere but they are really hard to find. Can I use a 110V, 6W bulb instead? The wire nuts have a black, a white, and 2 small low voltage cables connected to them. What are these for?
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Thanks Dennis
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*I'm thinking that someone tried to get it working by supplying low voltage through the telephone wires, but it was at one time a line voltage sign. I can't say what it will take to get it working without seeing where those wires go. Do you have any power there at all, low voltage or line voltage? Are there any switches nearby that you don't know what their function is?
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On Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:55:09 -0400, "John Grabowski"

That looks like a fire waiting to happen. Get an electrician to disconnect those wires from the source, and get yourself a solar powered LED light to apply next to your house number. Or be like most people, and let nighttime burgulars find your address with a flashlight. Whatever you do, DO NOT touch those wires unless you're a qualified electrician. Death from electrocution is very painful as well as permanent.
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On Tue, 23 Mar 2010 12:58:15 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com"

I have the same type sign - _low voltage bulbs_. They have never blown or failed (12 years). It is possible the wire nuts have corroded, so the connections need to be cleaned and reconnected with new wire nuts. Then try the bulbs again.
Check for a transformer inside the garage. Any markings on the black / white wires that indicate voltage?
Certainly, test the wires for voltage and be sure they are low voltage. A local electrical supply can get the bulbs for you?
I'm not an electrician, so take my advise with a grain of salt.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

They are a less than a dollar online. You need to try something other than a big box store, try going to a local lighting store.

Yes, but at only 18 volts it is going to be dim the point of being useless.
Jon
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wrote:

He doesn't even know if he has 18V, and since it never worked, who knows what's going on until he measures and finds out what is available, if anything.
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On Tue, 23 Mar 2010 18:36:20 -0700 (PDT), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

The OP did say his "bulbs are 18V and 6W". I take this as a clue the bulbs are low voltage. Am I wrong?
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wrote:

One time years ago I went to Home Depot to buy an uncommon halogen bulb to fit into a bench lamp,and the clerk too quickly told me they didn't carry that type. I spent some time looking over their stock(again and again),and found the bulb myself,it was not easy to find.
And now there are even more different types of halogen bulbs!
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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The OP should find someone with a voltmeter and see if there are any voltages present before doing anything else. Then come back here and tell us what he found and then we can provide meaningfull advice.
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If your neighbors have the same thing, ask them!
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On 3/23/2010 6:07 PM Bill spake thus:

Look, for chrissakes: it's a goddamn low-voltage house number fixture. The house I used to live in had one, as did every other house on the street (they were all built by the same developer). It runs on a small transformer, like a doorbell transformer. Stays on all day, bulb'll probably last for 8-10 years.
It ain't rocket science. Get a goddamn transformer and a replacement bulb or three.
--
You were wrong, and I'm man enough to admit it.

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On Tue, 23 Mar 2010 19:40:04 -0800, David Nebenzahl

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Come on Dave, try to be a little more pleasant.
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On 3/24/2010 1:52 PM hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net spake thus:

Well, in fairness, that exasperation was directed at those who responded to the poor OP, not the OP himeself. C'mon, people!
--
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Agree completely . This is either a troll .................. Or? But the way the original question is worded it might appear that the OP has no idea of the difference between low voltage, 18 volts and normal 110 volt wiring etc. And possibly not what a transformer is or how it works! Working properly two 18 watt bulbs will consume 36 watts per hour; plus a small power loss in the transformer. That's probably 40 watts or less, or about 960 watts per 24 hour day. Our electricity costs about ten cents per kilowatt hour, so on an annual basis our cost would be about $35. The OPs mileage may differ; at say 15 cents it'd be about $53, per year. Whether that would justify something operated by a light sensor to save approx one half to to two thirds of that cost could be assessed. But finally a word of warning; the fixture may not be designed or acceptable for mains voltage (it also may not be grounded for example) and any attempt to use normal elctric light bulbs might cause a hazard and or contravene insurance/electrical codes. By the way some low voltage transformers (front door chimes!) are not necessarily designed for continuous use; only for the very occasional 'ringing' at the front door. Have twice seen them burnt out when the front door 'bell push' stuck in the 'on' position. Be rather embarrassing to read a headline such as "House number causes house fire ......................... "! Definuitely recommend that unless the OP has a good electrical background not to go modifying it or the wiring.
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Oops; my error. Not 18 watts per bulb. Six watts per bulb!!! Two bulbs = 12 watts, 24 hours = 288 watts per day, 365 days x 0.288 = 105.12 k.watt hours. At ten cents = $10.50 at 15 cents about $15 per annum. Sorry bout that. Must wake up this morning!
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On Sun, 28 Mar 2010 05:24:25 -0700 (PDT), terry

No, they will consume 18 watts of power. They will consume 18watt-hours per hour and 960 watt-hours per 24 hour day.
The watt is the RATE of burning power - the WATT HOUR is the AMOUNT of power used.

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On Mar 28, 2:57pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Getting a bit off- base as a result of my basic error. Again sorry about that .............. The Op said they are six (6) watt bulbs (I incorrectly used 18 watts) and have corrected that.
But don't understand the above posting at all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Two separate and identical six watt bulbs will use electrcity at the rate of 12 watts per hour.
Two separate and say identical 18 watts bulbs will use electrical energy at twice the rate as one bulb. s an example ...
If I have a bedside lamp with say a single 40 watt bulb in it; when switched on it will use 40 watts. (i.e. 40 watt hours) OK?
If one simultaneously switches on another lamp also equipped with a 40 watt bulb it will also use 40 watts.
For total of consumption of 80 watts per hour. So twice 40 watts = 80, or twice 18 watts = 36, or twice 6 watts = 12 is the same principle.
Ignoring that expression "If there is a nit to be picked, some nit-wit will pick it", the following is I hope a now correct calculation using six (6) watt bulbs.
Six watts at 18 volts is one third of an amp. For two bulbs (12 watts) that's two thirds of one amp.
Assuming that a 110 to 18 volt transformer is not too inefficient and is rated for continuous service, the whole set up will/should consume about 14 watts to the primary 110 volt input side.
The continuous 14 watts per hour will (At an electricity rate of 10 cents per k.watt hour) will cost; Per Day about 3.4 cents Per Month about 1.00 dollar Per year about 12 dollars.
BTW Ref. the: " < No, they will consume 18 watts of power. They will consume

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On Sun, 28 Mar 2010 13:18:09 -0700 (PDT), terry

It's your terminology I'm calling into question. It is NOT 12 watts per hour. It is 12 watts, period. If the lamps drew 12 watts of POWER, the consume 12 watt-hours of (energy) electricity in an hour, and 36 watt hours in 3 hours. It is not watts per hour. In your last example the 2 40 watt bulbs dissipate 80 watts of power - whether for 15 seconds or 6 weeks. The ENERGY consumption is that number of watts times the amount of time - generally rated in watt hours - and kilowatt hours - although watt-seconds are also used.(also called a joule) A watt is a unit of power. A joule is a unit of energy, as is a watt-hour.

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A low voltage is sourced from a transformer somewhere, possibly your door bell.
Use a volt meter to check the voltage If you have something around 18 volts then all you need is new bulbs.
110 volt bulbs are not a replacement option, find the right bulbs. Look in the yellow pages under lighting or go to a real hardware store and have them get them for you. You can also google { bulb 18v 6w ) and find lots of place to buy, but local is probably better. These small bulbs then to last for many years even when run 24 hours a day. If you have 10 cent per kWh electricity running them 24/7 will run you about 44 cents a month.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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