Troubleshooting

Mains Voltage Lights

  • These lights are generally described as 230-volt lights. The mains voltage in the UK although referred to as 240 volts (±6%) by most people was ‘harmonised’ according to a European directive and is gradually being referred to as 230 volts (±10%) in line with the rest of EEC.
  • There are a number of chains of bulbs in most light sets with each bulb in a chain dependent on the other bulbs in that chain, e.g.
    • Chains with 80 bulbs usually consist of 4 chains of 20 bulbs;
    • Chains with 120 bulbs usually consist of 3 chains of 40 bulbs;
    • Chains with 140 bulbs usually consist of 4 chains of 35 bulbs;
    • Chains with 200 bulbs usually consist of 4 chains of 50 bulbs;
  • The instructions explain that bulbs should be checked and replaced (if necessary) if the light set fails.
  • If the fuse in the plug fails, the lights will not work.
  • In the case of Multi-action or chaser lights, it is important to treat the buttons or dial on the control box with care, as a fault in the control box may interrupt power to one or more of the chains of bulbs and/or the music may cease, if the light set is musical.
  • If the light set has fuse bulbs and a fuse bulbs fails, all the other bulbs in that particular chain will be extinguished. If ALL fuse bulbs fail, ALL bulbs will be extinguished but only the fuse bulbs need to be replaced.
  • If a normal bulb is not pushed (or screwed) firmly into its bulbholder with the wire terminals positioned correctly, the circuit will not be complete and all the other bulbs in that particular chain will be extinguished.

In general, the following is all that should be required, from one Season to the next:

  1. Confirm that there is power as far as the first (fuse) bulb(s) in the light set. (a circuit tester or light/bulb tester may be required for this)
  2. Confirm that all bulbs are in working order (use a light/bulb tester or try bulbs in the bulbholder of a working bulb)
  3. If the light set has miniature push-in bulbs, confirm that the 2 little wires at the base of each bulb are complete and positioned at each side of the bulb base.
  4. If the light set has screw-in bulbs, confirm that each bulb has no sign of dirt or corrosion.

REMEMBER – if part of a light set (a chain of bulbs) is not lit, the problem is invariably ONE FUSE bulb that has failed or ONE bulb not positioned correctly.

Safety Extra Low Voltage Lights

  • These lights are generally described as Low Voltage or SELV lights and are generally powered by an AC adapter or Transformer. The input voltage will be referred to as 230 Volts as with the rest of EEC and the output voltage will generally vary between 6 volts and 36 volts.
  • There are a number of chains of bulbs in most light sets with each bulb in a chain dependent on the other bulbs in that chain, e.g.
    • Chains with 40 bulbs usually consist of 4 chains of 10 bulbs; (may also
    • Chains with 80 bulbs usually consist of 8 chains of 10 bulbs (be half the No
    • Chains with 160 bulbs usually consist of 16 chains of 10 bulbs (of chains of 20 bulbs)
  • The instructions explain that bulbs should be checked and replaced (if necessary) if the light set fails.
  • The Transformer/Adaptor will generally become warm during operation.
  • If the Adapter fails, the lights will not work.
  • In the case of Multi-action or chaser lights, It is important to treat the buttons or dial on the control box with care as a fault in the control box may interrupt power to one or more of the chains of bulbs and/or the music may cease, if the light set is musical.
  • If a bulb fails, all the other bulbs in that particular chain will USUALLY be extinguished. If the light set has flasher bulbs and a flasher bulb fails, all the other bulbs in the chain controlled by the flasher bulb will be extinguished but only the flasher bulb(s) need be replaced.
  • If a normal bulb is not pushed (or screwed) firmly into its bulbholder with the wire terminals positioned correctly, the circuit will not be complete and all the other bulbs in that particular chain will be extinguished.

In general, the following is all that should be required, from one Season to the next:

  1. Confirm that there is power as far as the first bulb(s) in the light set. (a circuit tester or light/bulb tester may be required for this)
  2. Confirm that all bulbs are in working order (use a light/bulb tester or try bulbs in the bulbholder of a working bulb)
  3. If the light set has miniature push-in bulbs, confirm that the two little wires at the base of each bulb are complete and positioned at each side of the bulb base.
  4. If the light set has screw-in bulbs, confirm that each bulb has no sign of dirt or corrosion.
  5. Confirm that all bulbs are pushed (or screwed) firmly into the bulbholders.

REMEMBER – if part of a light set (a chain of bulbs) is not lit, the problem is invariably ONE or TWO bulbs that have failed or ONE or TWO bulbs not positioned correctly.

Locating the ‘culprit’

i.e. the failed bulb or bulbholder responsible for a chain not working

  • The chances of a visit to or by and electrician being economically viable, with the current price of lighting chains, are very unlikely. The purchase of a light tester or multi-tester, which enables lighting chains to be checked without the need of touching bare wires or connectors, is therefore a worthwhile investment.
  • Some of these devices resemble Christmas characters. Some are similar to small electrician’s test screwdrivers, which also detect leaking microwave radiation.
  • In either case, it is possible to determine whether there is electrical current present anywhere in a wire, by merely touching the insulation with one end of the device. A small bulb or LED will generally glow when a current is present and will extinguish when there is a break in the circuit. With one of these devices, follow these steps:
  1. Touch the insulation of the wire between the power source (plug or adaptor) and the first bulb (or controller, in the case of multi-function lights).
  2. If the LED in the device glows, move to the wire between the first failed bulb and the next one in that chain (generally the next failed bulb and/or the next bulb of the same colour).
  3. If the LED in the device glows, move to the wire between the next failed bulb and the next one along that chain and continue in this way, to the last bulb in the chain that is extinguished.
  4. Wherever the LED is extinguished (DOES NOT GLOW), the bulb or bulbholder to the left or right of that position, is the culprit.
  5. You will need to determine whether the bulb has failed or the bulb is not seated correctly in the bulbholder, by checking the condition/base/fit of the bulb and readjusting or replacing the bulb as necessary.
  6. This ‘trial and error’ method may seem to be tedious at times but if lighting chains are checked before being hung and before being stored away, there is every possibility that lighting chains can provide many years of enjoyment by keeping:
    1. a small stock of spare bulbs (marked clearly) or
    2. spare light sets, if a replacement light set is cheaper than a small stock of spare bulbs and
    3. a light-testing device

Candlebridge / Candle-arch Lights

These lights are generally described as 230-volt Candlebridge lights. The mains voltage in the UK although referred to as 240 volts (+-6%) by most people was ‘harmonised’ according to a European directive and is gradually being referred to as 230 volts (+-10%) in line with the rest of EEC.
These products generally comprise between 3 and 10 bulbs in a plastic or wooden frame. Each bulb is dependent on the other bulbs to complete the circuit.
Most Candlebridges use screw-in bulbs connected in series, i.e. a chain. The voltage of each bulb is approx. 230 volts divided by the number of bulbs in the chain.
Some Candlebridges use Flickering bulbs. The voltage is generally 230 volts as they are connected in parallel not in series. Flickering bulbs therefore, cannot generally be used in Candlebridges that have been designed for ‘normal bulbs.
In the case of Multi-action or chaser lights, It is important to treat the buttons or dial on the control box with care as a fault in the control box may interrupt power to one or more of the chains of bulbs and/or the music may cease, if the light set is musical.
The instructions explain that bulbs should be checked and replaced (if necessary) if the light set fails.
If any bulb fails, the rest of the bulbs will extinguish.
If a normal bulb is not screwed (or pushed) firmly into its bulbholder with the terminals positioned correctly, the circuit will not be complete and all the other bulbs will be extinguished.

In general, the following is all that should be required, from one Season to the next:

  1. Confirm that there is power as far as the first bulb(s) in the Candlebridge, a circuit tester or light/bulb tester may be required for this)
  2. Confirm that all bulbs are in working order (use a light/bulb tester or try bulbs in the bulbholder of a working bulb)
  3. Confirm that each bulb has no sign of dirt or corrosion on the screw fitting.
  4. Confirm that all bulbs are screwed (or pushed) firmly into the bulbholders.

Safety Extra Low Voltage versions of candlebridge Lights have recently been introduced, which are the same in every respect as Mains Voltage versions but are powered by an AC transformer or adaptor.

  • READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PACKAGING CAREFULLY.
  • Keep the packaging for future reference.
  • Ensure that lights are sited where installation and removal can be undertaken without risk of injury.
  • Ensure that cables are sited where they will not become damaged or present a tripping hazard.
  • Do not overload sockets
  • If you have to use multi-plug adaptors, ensure that they are of an approved type.
  • Ensure that plugs and adaptors are fitted with the correct fuse.
  • Indoor lights are generally not suitable for outdoors.
  • Only use lights specifically designed for the purpose intended.
  • If in any doubt, consult a suitably qualified electrician
  • Do not allow plastic parts of the light set to come in direct contact with lit bulbs or any form of extreme heat. Although the plastic is unlikely to burn, the insulation may be damaged.
  • Ensure that there is a working bulb in every bulbholder.
  • Ensure that the bulbs are the correct voltage and wattage.
  • Many Light Sets will continue to work when some of the bulbs have failed. Failed bulbs should always be replaced as soon as possible, however.
  • Always switch off and unplug lights before going to bed or leaving the house for an extended period.
  • Always switch off the power to mains-operated light sets before attempting to replace a bulb.

If the light set is mains operated and uses a 3-pin mains plug then:

    1. NEVER make any modifications to the light set by attempting to join light sets together or change the number of bulbs in the light set.
    2. NEVER attempt to replace failed bulbs without switching off the light set first.
    3. If the light set uses Brown and Blue (or Red and Black) wiring, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that the Brown (or Red) wire is connected to the Live terminal and the Blue (or Black) wire is connected to the neutral terminal. If in any doubt, contact a suitably qualified electrician. If there are, only two wires DO NOT connect a wire to the earth Terminal.
    4. If the Light Sets uses green wire to enable the wiring to be camouflaged by the Christmas tree foliage. This means that either wire can be connected to the Live terminal and the other wire to the Neutral Terminal. If there are only two wires DO NOT connect a wire to the earth Terminal.
    5. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to ensure that the Mains Plug, wiring and bulbholders do not show and signs of deterioration. If there are any splits or breaks in the wiring or bulbholders, DISPOSE OF THE LIGHT SET. If the plug is damaged in any way and it is a normal re-wirable plug, i.e. with 1 or more screws to enable the plug to be opened, replace with a new mains plug

If the light set is operated by a transformer or adaptor then:

  1. NEVER attempt to connect the light set directly to the mains supply without the transformer.
  2. The transformer MAY become quite warm during normal operation and may emit a slight buzzing noise. If it becomes too hot to handle however, it is probably overloaded and should be switched off
  3. If the Transformer is fixed permanently to the light set, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to ensure that there are no signs of deterioration or damage to the casing or wiring. If there are any splits or breaks, DISPOSE OF THE LIGHT SET.
  4. If the light set plugs into the Transformer and the casing is damaged in any way, the Transformer should be replaced.
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