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Fused Light Socket


Mark P
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I can't remember seeing this before. A fuse in the light socket and then the wire runs to an outlet x4. My thought is that they put a fuse in the socket so when they overload the outlet with the TV/VCR, etc.. they would not have to go out to the garage to change the fuse.

I'm not sure what to say about it, other then "have a sparky evaluate...blah, blah, blah which is a cop out because I don't know what to say about it. Thoughts.

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How about something like:

"At __________ someone has jury-rigged this wiring to get around a problem instead of fixing the problem. If this circuit were properly sized it wouldn't ever be overloaded under an ordinary 120-volt load so there'd be no reason to fuse the circuit outside of the panel. Have a licensed electrician do whatever it takes to diagnose and fix the problem."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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What I'd want to report - "Some idiot apparently has tried to jerry-rig (sp?) parts of the home's electrical system and has done a piss-poor job. Have a licensed electrician who actually knows what the heck he's doing evaluate what the idiot tried to do and fix it."

What I would actually write in the report - "Non-professional electrical work was noted in the XXXXX presenting a possible hazard. Repair by a licensed and qualified electrician is recommended."

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Hi,

I think it's jury-rigged versus jerry-rigged and here's why.

The first time I heard the term as a young'n I asked my Dad what it meant. He pronounced it "jerry" and said it was a term G.I.'s began using after WWII. Dad said that during the war, GI's used to refer to the Germans as "jerry" and that there came a time when the U.S. tankers found that, in order not to outrun their supply lines, they needed to carry a certain amount of fuel with them. However, our army didn't equip our tanks with enough racks and cans to carry what we needed, so our tankers would pilfer the fuel cans off of the German cars, tanks and trucks and then use welders and scrap metal to rig up extra racks on their tanks so they could carry extra fuel - thus the name "Jerry-rigged."

I sounded plausible to me and that's how I used it for years. In fact, I'd thought back on that story during the first 24 hours of the ground offensive during Desert Storm when I found out just how true it could be. My platoon was escorting tanker trucks in and out of Iraq from S.A. behind the offensive. We - the convoys - had to drive flat out at speeds of well over 65 mph over the desert in order to catch up to the columns, get them fueled, get the tanker convoys safely back into Saudi, refill them, and then get back up into Iraq and catch up to the columns before they ran out of fuel. We would leap-frog miles and miles of support units that were also moving up and down the MSR's and we were alternating my platoon with one squad always escorting north, while one escorted south, while the third was at the refuel point in SA. Despite beating the crap out of ourselves and our vehicles to keep the fuelers behind the tanks, there were still a few units that ran too fast for too far, used up the tankers in their tail and ran out of fuel and had to sit there and wait for one of our convoys to catch up. If we'd ever driven like that in peacetime we would have been brought up on charges in a second. That wasn't half the craziness though; some of those tankers were military while some were civilian rigs driven by Bangladeshi drivers. Let me tell you something; there's nothing on the road anywhere in the world that's crazier than a Bangladeshi tanker truck driver.

Anyway, i digress; a few years ago, an attorney corrected me on it when I used it in a report and said it was spelled "jury-rigged." I didn't believe him so I looked it up in my Websters. I found "jerry-built" which is also an epithet or term of belittlement to describe something that's cheaply built, but it stated that it's "prob. reinforced by jury." When I looked up "jury-rigged" it said "rigged up for emergency or temporary use, which I think this more appropriately describes what something like this is. I still think the WWII story is a plausible origin; we still call them Jerry cans and not jury cans.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by AHIS

I can't remember seeing this before. A fuse in the light socket and then the wire runs to an outlet x4. My thought is that they put a fuse in the socket so when they overload the outlet with the TV/VCR, etc.. they would not have to go out to the garage to change the fuse.

I'm not sure what to say about it, other then "have a sparky evaluate...blah, blah, blah which is a cop out because I don't know what to say about it. Thoughts.

If the porcelain socket were wired conventionally, the fuse would blow as soon as you screwed it in because it would create a short. So, if that fuse isn't blown, the socket must be wired in such a way that anything screwed into it will be in series with the circuit.

If you were to remove that fuse and replace it with a light bulb, the bulb would get brighter and dimmer depending on what else you had plugged into the circuit. This installation is clearly the work of someone who doesn't understand the conventions of wiring a home.

If I had to call it either wrong or right, I'd say wrong and cite 410.23 which almost says that the screw shell of a lampholder should be connected to the grounded conductor:

410.23 Polarization of Luminaires. Luminaires shall be wired so that the screw shells of lampholders are connected to the same luminaire or circuit conductor or terminal. The grounded conductor, where connected to a screw-shell lampholder, shall be connected to the screw shell.

Failing that, I'd cite 110.3(B) and say that the socket wasn't installed in accordance with it's listing & labelling instructions.

If someone really wanted fuse protection at that 4-gang box, he could have installed a real fused disconnect.

Of course, the NM should be secured within 12" of the box.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

You guys are kidding, right?

Right?

That's a doorbell transformer attached to the porcelain keyless base. The power is fed from the receptacle TO the transformer, and then to the doorbell via the small gauge wires.

You're likely correct, but it makes little difference. If the wires stop off at the socket, it's still incorrectly wired. And, again, if they wanted fused protection of the transformer, they could have used a fuse holder at the box instead of a light fixture.

As for the exposed romex, adding it after construction doesn't excuse the need for it to be secured.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

You guys are kidding, right?

Right?

That's a doorbell transformer attached to the porcelain keyless base. The power is fed from the receptacle TO the transformer, and then to the doorbell via the small gauge wires. The Romex is only exposed because it was added after construction.

Yes, I saw the transformer but did not consider that the outlet was feeding the light socket. I was thinking the outlet was the end of the circuit. I should have pulled the fuse to see if it killed power to the outlet.

Anyway the report is gone and I said something about a goofy repair that needs to be corrected by a sparky.

Thanks all it is always an education around here. Man this I should get CE credits for hanging out in this joint. Thanks All!

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Jim--

They've been done around here that way for at least 40 years or so. I am so used to seeing them I always accepted that they are OK. Not that it necessarily means anything, but the AHJ's in the 6 cities or so that I regularly work in apparently don't (and haven't) made an issue of it. During all that time, that's a lot of different guys interpreting the code.

They are still done that way in brand new homes. In new homes, of course, the wiring is run thru the wall cavity.

With a porcelain Edison base fixture that accepts a fuse, what's the problem? Are they not listed for that use?

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Originally posted by msteger

What I'd want to report - "Some idiot apparently has tried to jerry-rig (sp?) parts of the home's electrical system and has done a piss-poor job. Have a licensed electrician who actually knows what the heck he's doing evaluate what the idiot tried to do and fix it."

What I would actually write in the report - "Non-professional electrical work was noted in the XXXXX presenting a possible hazard. Repair by a licensed and qualified electrician is recommended."

Do you really want to retreat into passive voice InspectorSpeak? "Non-professional electrical work?" "Possible hazard?" Just so you'll know, non-professional is a term that defines a person as someone who is not a professional. It doesn't apply to electrical work. Electrical work doesn't have a profession.

You might call a jackleg sparky a dabbler, a dilettante or a dumbazz, but he's not a non-professional. FYI, the correct term in this context, describing the work itself, would be "unprofessional."

IMHO, it's not a good idea to characterize defects with an invented hyphenated adjective. I'm not sold on "possible hazards," either. If it's a hazard, why not just say it's a hazard? Maybe it's just me, but these passive-voice invented words and phrases seem to weaken and soft-sell defects.

Why not just tell 'em that the thing's not right, and they need to get it fixed?

I know, I know. I'm being all picky. But words mean things. Fortunes are made and lost because people write what they think they mean, and their words end up meaning something else entirely. Like it or not, all HIs are professional writers.

WJ

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

Jim--

They've been done around here that way for at least 40 years or so. I am so used to seeing them I always accepted that they are OK. Not that it necessarily means anything, but the AHJ's in the 6 cities or so that I regularly work in apparently don't (and haven't) made an issue of it. During all that time, that's a lot of different guys interpreting the code.

They are still done that way in brand new homes. In new homes, of course, the wiring is run thru the wall cavity.

With a porcelain Edison base fixture that accepts a fuse, what's the problem? Are they not listed for that use?

Well, it's kind of odd. First, why would you want a fuse there in the first place? It's not like the transformer is going to be drawing so much amperage that it'll threaten the wiring and the fuse is of no use in protecting the transformer. So what purpose does the fuse serve? Around here, we just use a blank coverplate, knock out the hole in the center and mount the transformer on that. Why spend the extra $1.75 on a porcelain base?

Next, if you really wanted a fuse there, why not use a fuseholder that's designed for the purpose instead of cannibalizing a light fixture?

Next, now that you've put a fuse there, wouldn't it be a pain in the butt if it were to blow? It would cut power to the entire circuit. The homeowner would go to the panel, find no tripped breakers and scratch his head. How's he supposed to know that there's a fuse in such a strange location? Or do you have dedicated circuits for your doorbells?

Next, what happens when someone pulls the fuse and puts a light bulb there? It is a light fixture after all, and it wouldn't be unreasonable for someone to think, "Oh, I need some light here. I think I'll screw a light bulb into this here luminaire." When they do, and the light dims everytime something else on the same circuit is turned on, what are they to think? More strange, what are they to think when the light bulb blows and everything else on the circuit goes dead? (OK, I suppose if it were a dedicated circuit, that would answer those two questions.)

I'm also wondering how they get around the requirement in 410.23 requiring polarization of screw shells.

As for the listing, I don't know. I'm sure that I have one of those things in its box around here somewhere, but I can't find it right now. My guess is that they're listed to be used as light fixtures, not as fuse bases.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I guess I just don't get the point of doing this fuse thing?! The only reason that it makes sense to me, is that they are trying to limit the current to the device to a level less than the over current device's level at the panel. Arbitrary example: the pump is on a 20 amp circuit and they waned a 15 amp fuse to protect the pump. If the fuse at the pump and in the panel were the same, isn't this pointless. Or am I just missing something here?

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Oh, I need some light here. I think I'll screw a light bulb into this here luminaire." When they do, and the light dims everytime something else on the same circuit is turned on, what are they to think?

The light wouldn't dim, it would get brighter. Draw 6 watts through a hundred watt bulb and it'd be dim, draw 600 through a 100 watt bulb and it'd be bright... momentarily.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Oh, I need some light here. I think I'll screw a light bulb into this here luminaire." When they do, and the light dims everytime something else on the same circuit is turned on, what are they to think?

The light wouldn't dim, it would get brighter. Draw 6 watts through a hundred watt bulb and it'd be dim, draw 600 through a 100 watt bulb and it'd be bright... momentarily.

Ah, yes. Of course. In fact, the light bulb probably wouldn't glow at all until someone drew power from the circuit somewhere else.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I just asked my electrician about the practice of fusing the doorbell transformer this way. He was surprised that it seemed odd to anyone. He's got 30 years of "official" experience and his father and uncle were electricians. As I said in my earlier post, they've been done that way around here for about 40 years as near as I remember -- I guess about as long as there have been electric doorbells in wide use. Anyway, his sensible response was that it's to fuse the light gauge wire to the doorbell; to accomplish that they put a 3 amp fuse in the socket.

Putting a lightbulb in there wouldn't do anything except remove your fuse protection. I suspect that if anyone ever tried it they would realize that they couldn't make it light up and they would put the fuse back in.

The only other way I've seen a transformer mounted is on a metal cover plate on a J box with a plastic inline fuse wired in. That type is far less common around here.

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Originally posted by Home Pride

Originally posted by AHI in AR

I just asked my electrician about the practice of fusing the doorbell transformer this way. He was surprised that it seemed odd to anyone.

Rest assured, that set-up is not normal at all around here.

As they say, doing it "wrong" for 30 years doesn't make it right...

Dom.

Seems to me that maybe the "problem" is that it is not done that way in your neck of the woods. THAT doesn't automatically make it wrong. Nor does the fact that it has "always" been done that way around here necessarily make it right -- as I stated that in my earlier post.

So I'm not trying to defend the local practice; I'm trying to figure out why it's wrong. If someone can offer a reasonable explanation as to how it's a problem, I'm all ears. "We don't do it that way around here" doesn't count. The worst case scenario I can come up with is that someone would remove the Edison base fuse and replace it with a larger one. Fair enough, but that could also be done with an inline fuse also. And it's sure unlikely that they would borrow the 3 amp fuse to place it elsewhere...

The porcelain used as a fuse base is functionally no different from the porcelain single circuit fuse holders used in older homes.

Without an additional fuse, you have at least a 15 amp fuse/breaker protecting this 20 gauge or so wire. How is that better?

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Hi,

Well, whether you want to admit to it or not, you have been defending the practice. Your electrician has been doing it for 30 years; his father and also his uncle, and you see it commonly done? How many thousands of houses do you think those three men have wired in 30 years? Many thousands is my guess. That's why it seems to be commonly done where you are.

I've never seen it in any electricians manual and I'd bet nobody else has either. You have a practice that originated locally and spread among local electricians. Others have explained why it's not to code but you seem to have ignored what they've said by demanding that others show you where it is wrong. If you were arguing against it and an electrician said that it was fine, you'd probably demand to see a code or something which showed you that it was correct.

So, how about you show the rest of us where it's allright to do it. Show us something in an electricians manual of best practices or something like that that describes the practice, not just tell us how Billy-Bob the local electrician and his kin have been doing it for decades.

It's a luminaire, not a fuse holder. Show me the packaging for one of those where it's listed and labeled as a "fuse holder."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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A few more reasons why it is wrong:

Take a look at NEC 200.9. It says that a white wire (grounded) is to be attached to a white colored screw. Connecting the load side of the circuit to the screw shell base would be considered a hot conductor.[:-thumbd]

Also, take a look at the rating of a lamp socket. They are rated at 660 W. That is 5.5 A @ 120 V. If I was to be using a lamp socket for as a fuseholder with a 15 amp fuse installed like in the picture and "protecting" a branch circuit, I would be overloading the socket. If you look at a "buss door fuse holder" they are rated at 15 A. A fuseholder in a fused panelboard is rated 30 A (Edison Base)

Also, Show me in the code book where it says that I need to protect the doorbell transformer with a 3 A fuse. We have been installing them right into a KO in the panelboard itself, and pigtailing it to a 15 A circuit for many years.

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

Well, whether you want to admit to it or not, you have been defending the practice. Your electrician has been doing it for 30 years; his father and also his uncle, and you see it commonly done? How many thousands of houses do you think those three men have wired in 30 years? Many thousands is my guess. That's why it seems to be commonly done where you are.

I've never seen it in any electricians manual and I'd bet nobody else has either. You have a practice that originated locally and spread among local electricians. Others have explained why it's not to code but you seem to have ignored what they've said by demanding that others show you where it is wrong. If you were arguing against it and an electrician said that it was fine, you'd probably demand to see a code or something which showed you that it was correct.

So, how about you show the rest of us where it's allright to do it. Show us something in an electricians manual of best practices or something like that that describes the practice, not just tell us how Billy-Bob the local electrician and his kin have been doing it for decades.

It's a luminaire, not a fuse holder. Show me the packaging for one of those where it's listed and labeled as a "fuse holder."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Mike,

At the risk of stepping in "it" deeper, I'll offer this: First of all, I want to state that I am not "defending" the installation pictured. The way it's done locally varies from that shown in the photo significantly in that what I am describing is done from day one; it's not an add-on. In other words, no exposed unprotected or unsupported wires, etc.

I'm sure the electrician I spoke to would be flattered (and most surely amazed) to know that he and his "kin" influenced the hundreds if not thousands of electricians whose work I've seen in ten years of inspecting homes in a good 70 mile radius. (Somehow I assume you'd use the less colloquial term "relatives" instead of "kin" if describing someone in your area.)

I'm sure he'd be even more proud to learn that their influence somehow spread all the way to Illinois, where the original post was from. FTR, despite being from Arkansas, his name is not Billy-Bob, Jim-Bob, or Joe-Bob. It isn't a double name at all. It's not even the generic redneck single name, Bubba. The fact is that his name, quite simply, is Daniel. Those of us who know him well call him Danny.

There would be damned little to discuss on this forum if tradesmen, or homeowners, or generic repairmen (repairpersons?) from whatever region didn't do boneheaded things.

I can understand that if you are not used to seeing this it may seem strange. That doesn't mean that it's wrong, however. First of all, and just to be clear, as installed locally the fuseholder is at the end of a circuit. Nothing that is 120V is fed off of it except the transformer. The neutral goes straight thru to the transformer and the hot lead is fused via the porcelain base. Very simple. Functionally, it's a low amperage inline fuseholder in a porcelain base. It draws way less current than a lightbulb. Obviously, you won't see anything happen if you stick a bulb in the base.

So how else do you propose to protect the wiring from the transformer to the doorbell chime itself without this or something similar?

Mike, it seems that your position is that the code doesn't require protecting this small gauge wire. Maybe it doesn't; I don't know. But is it a bad idea? Admittedly, I don't have a copy of the code book. (Honestly, how many of you do?) But to be fair, NO version has ever stated all the things you CAN do that exceed minimum requirements. Right?

So let's assume that something occurs causing that wire to be hit with something well over 24V, or that a minor short occurs in the electromagnet in the chime itself. What would happen if it didn't have the 3A fuse? Obviously, burnt wiring is a possibility...a fire is another one. Maybe fusing this wire is not regularly done where you are, but does that make fusing it wrong? If so, I can't figure out why. Note that the transformer itself draws a tiny amount of current, and only has a 3A fuse. You're certainly not exceeding the capacity of the porcelain base with that.

Sure, you can stick the transformer to the outside of the breaker panel housing, but, again, I ask how the smaller gauge wiring is protected from an overcurrent situation downstream of the transformer that WOULD NOT TRIP a 15 or 20 amp breaker. Keep in mind that around here we normally place the panel boxes on the outside of the home. And before you chime in that that's a "wrong" practice, -- since you're used to seeing it inside -- ask yourself one question: If a fire starts in the box, where would I rather have it...inside or outside?

So if you are going to fuse the low voltage wire, just how is a porcelain base inferior to a plastic-bodied inline fuse holder?

The bottom line question I ask is simply "What can this hurt?"

You may not see it as necessary, but what does it harm?

Caution: Side rant follows:

You know, it's funny. I see a lot of posts on this forum (and others) where members lurk around without offering an opinion. They seem to be afraid to voice a dissenting opinion for fear of rocking the boat by challenging the powers that be, or perhaps demonstrating their ignorance. Sometimes there appear to be differences based on regional practices alone. In any case, some members only chime in on a really obvious question. Maybe this is one of those times; maybe not. If so, count me as one who will step right up and show my ignorance if I'm wrong. It's possible that I am one of the clueless ones on this issue. But I have a real hard time believing that my city and the surrounding areas that I work are the only places nationally where this is done. While not a large area on a national scale, it's large enough that I doubt the practice is only a local one. I don't have the census figures in front of me but the total population in those areas I work should approach 500,000. I certainly doubt you can write this practice off as being due to the effects of one family of electricians...of whatever duration.

If you think I'm out in left field on this, bring it on. I freely admit I could be wrong, and I'll just as freely admit it if I'm shown evidence -- not opinions -- that I am wrong. All I ask is that if you think I'm wrong, provide appropriate references to show why.

Oh yeah, add at least one home in Illinois, even if it was done after initial construction, and sloppily. The bottom line is that it's unlikely the practice exists here only.

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