Opinions needed: Fixing a light fixture

Yeah, I know…not mCu, but this is “off topic” after all. Hoping to pick the brains of some of the smart folks here.

I’ve got two Wireless overhead light fixtures that came with my Wayne-Dalton iDrive garage door openers. The wireless communication and relays are working fine, but the center terminal on both units had gotten crufty from arcing due to the terminals being too far recessed into the fixture, and eventually both stopped working (light wouldn’t turn on, though I verified that the terminals were still outputting 120v when turned on).

I was able to get one of the fixtures working by cleaning up the terminals with a dremel and a grinding wheel, but the other stubbornly refuses to work. Unfortunately, I think the center terminal is far enough in that it will not make contact.

EDIT - to be clear, unlike many less expensive fixtures, it’s not possible on this fixture to simply bend or lift the center contact up…I tried, and it seems to be connected to the base. Poor design, IMO. END EDIT

[em]So here’s what I need an opinion on[/em]. If I pop a small washer into the bottom of the socket, between the terminal and the bulb, it works fine. The obvious concern, however, is whether or not this is likely to be a fire hazard. Clearly, there’s going to be some amount of resistance introduced by having another piece of metal in the circuit. The question is whether the additional resistance is large enough to be concerned about.

The other option that I thought about is the possibility of building up the center terminal with conductive epoxy, but I think that carries a similar concern in terms of additional resistance.

The default answer, it seems to me, is not to risk it unless I can know with confidence that it won’t cause problems. As I’m sure many of you would be quick to point out, mains are nothing to screw around with.

I just hate to give up on a $100 light fixture that’s only fractions of an inch away from working, particularly since it’s no longer made, and there don’t seem to be a whole lot fo places that still have any in stock.

Any opinions or additional suggestions for safely making the connection would be welcome.

@ devhammer - How adding some solder to that spot?? Oh I should add to watch out for dissimilar metals.

Any concern with the solder melting if resistance builds up? I was actually considering solder as an option, just wasn’t sure how likely melting might be

Good tip on the dissimilar metals, I know that aluminum and copper don’t play nicely together. Wasn’t sure about other metals, though.

@ devhammer - If it does melt it would act like a fuse and open up. Nice built-in safety feature.

Good point. Do you think it makes any difference that the fixture mounts inverted? Just wondering about any likelihood of a short if the solder were to melt. If that happened, it’d likely trip a breaker, but again, my aim is to do the right thing for safety, not just jury rig it. :slight_smile:

I do not think it should be a problem. A normal light bulb is soldered to its screw terminal.

If a washer or penny in the bottom works and your certain there’s no chance of it shorting then I’d go with it. I’m certainly no EE but I don’t think the resistance added by that short a distance is anything to even consider. How would that be any different than running a 1/8" longer extension cord? :wink:

Good point, but it just feels janky. :wink:

Ended up soldering the one that wasn’t working, and it seems to be doing fine once reinstalled. Then, naturally, the other one (the one that I’d just cleaned up the terminals, but not soldered) stopped working. So I’ve got the iron heating up again to do that one. Plenty of flux.

Really burns my rear that a light fixture that costs as much as these do is so poorly designed that something so simple stops them working. Grr!

Should probably also throw a big old Mythbusters-style disclaimer on this thread:


OK. Thanks for the suggestion. Now have two working light fixtures. I’m going to make a point of checking them every week or so for a while to check for any arcing or melting. But they’re working which is a big improvement. :slight_smile:

@ devhammer - There should not be any arcing as by adding solder it should close up the gap. :slight_smile:

That’s certainly what I’m hoping for…so far, so good.

Funny thing is, this was my second lighting repair of the day. The first was fixing our coach light out front, which had gotten the socket full of bugs and water, a nasty mix that tripped a GFCI outlet upstream from the light (don’t ask…I don’t want to know WHAT they were thinking when they wired this house. This one circuit starts from a GFCI outlet in the basement, then runs upstairs to the outlet in the main level bathroom, also includes an outdoor outlet next to the front door, and then wends its way to the garage, and from there out to the coach light. I didn’t figure it out until I went to replace the bulb in the coach light and saw the water. Then I understood why the GFCI refused to reset.

And to make it all the more absurd, after getting the coach light and both garage fixtures working again, I went to turn on the back porch light…and the light bulb blew out.


@ devhammer - Wow busy day repairing / replacing lights.

Sounds like really crappy wiring.

My 2 cents. Throw out the arcing fixture, call in a master electrician to give the house a once over.

I agree with Dr9. If your house burns down, your insurance company is going to go over it with a fine-toothed comb, and when they find your “augmentation”, they’re not going to be eager to pay your claim…

Don’t forget to clear your browser cache. We don’t want them finding their way back to the source :wink:

@ ianlee74 - lol

Hooking things up to mains is risky and dangerous, and that’s why there’s such a thing as an electrical code. If you don’t meet code, and things go wrong, then you’re often on your own.

Good points, and appreciated. Will take it all into account.

Any recommendations in terms of a replacement? I’m reluctant to give up the convenience of getting the lights to come on automatically with the garage door without a suitable replacement.

I just did a brief look at connecting Homelink and Insteon, but I’m not seeing any Insteon products that would be a direct replacement for the fixture in question, this guy:


And for folks wondering why this is an issue, since most garage door openers have lights integrated in the motor assembly, my garage door opener is actually mounted entirely above the door opening, with the exception of the tracks. This image is a similar model, but same basic idea:

So Wayne-Dalton, the manufacturer, also included the wireless light fixtures above as part of the kit, and none of it is being manufactured anymore.

So any recommendations for something that might give me the equivalent functionality (i.e. - garage lights turn on when I get home, either wirelessly or by motion sensor, either works) would be welcome.

I’m all for taking the safest route possible, as I’m much more concerned with the safety of my family than anything else.