how can I replace the bulbs of a mounted outside security light?

Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

            I have an outside security light which no longer works.  Whenever I flip the inside light switch on, I do here a click like noise which was also noticed when it was working.  Given this information, I believe the switch itself is responding by supplying current to the outside security light which leads me to believe the bulbs likely need replaced.  The outside security light has a component which functions like a motion sensor and automatically turns on the lights whenever someone approaches close to the door.  At any rate, if someone could provide some shared thoughts, links, tips, or perhaps multimedia video clips for the maintenane of an outside security light system, it will be greatly appreciated.

             Thank you

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Victor IeneaElectronics and automation engineerCommented:
George, could you read the name, model, code, brand of your outside lamp (outside security light) and the motion sensor type?
That will help a lot to give the proper advice.

The click is most probably the noise of the relay, usually controlled by the motion sensor, which is trying to turn the lamp on by providing the AC power to it.
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hello and Good Afternoon

           This outside security light has been here for a few years.  It was installed by its previous owner and I do not have any documentation with it.  I did however go outside to record any information which might can be used to address this question.  Unfortunately, a manufacturer of this light could not be obtained.  There are two different numbers QH-150 and CL-020117 which might possibly be used to ID the unit.  It does not look very complicated because it only has two lights and a sensor located at the bottom between the left and right lights.  

           In closing, I am sorry for my inability to find additional information.  Hopefully, the codes provided will give a hint about the technical specifications of this outside security light.


Victor IeneaElectronics and automation engineerCommented:
From code point of view the lamps seems as in the up-left from next file:

Could you tell if the both lamps are somehow connected together, physically and the motion is separately as here:
or the  motion sensor is attached the the system as here:
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Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
does it look anything like this???

Victor IeneaElectronics and automation engineerCommented:
Your bulbs are: 150w t-3 base halogen bulb.
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

             As best as I can tell, the unit I have is like the one in the link  Are the bulbs fairly easy to remove and install new ones?

Victor IeneaElectronics and automation engineerCommented:
Hi George,
The answer is YES. You do not need a special qualification to replace those bulbs.
Basically it should be daylight outside, preferable no rain, then you must shut off the electricity, the circuit breaker for your circuit. As double measure, just make sure the indoor switch is also off, beside the circuit breaker, and nobody plays with it on/off. This is the most important part, for safety.
Then you need a screwdriver to open the screws for front frame/cover. It should be the top screw, because many times below are 2 hinges, but depends by your lamp model.
Then make sure the bulbs are not hot, in your case of course not first time, because they do not work, but later if you manage to make them work, they become hot very fast.
Then, after you open the front cover and you have access to the bulb, it would be advisable to wear some thin plastic/nylon gloves like these:
If you do not have, then use a new plastic bag.
The idea is to not touch directly with your hands the bulb. The grease and organic materials from your fingers/hands will remain on the bulb and will reduce its life time. In the past Philips and Osram used to deliver such glove together with a set of halogen bulbs.
It is important to use that also with the existing lamps, because you do not know yet if they are burnt or not.
You take them out and you have to examine them at daylight to see if the filament is interrupted (= bulb is burnt). Usually you can see that with the naked eyes.
If they are fine, then you have to put them back and there is another problem, most probably related with the motion sensor relay or the switch. But as you hear click-click, that is the relay moving the contacts and seems OK. In reality you know for good only if you measure the contacts of the relay with an multimeter, because are situations when you hear click-click but the contacts are bad. The bad situation is when due to a short-circuit/high current, the relay contacts do not move and you cannot hear any more click-click. When you have a bad relay, then the contacts are sticky/soldered. It seems your relay is fine.  As you describe the indoor switch seems also fine. Most probably the bulbs are gone.
If the lamps are burnt, then the best is to take them with you in your pocket and see directly at Wallmart the exactly replacement in terms of size/length. It is clear 150w t-3, but you must check their length, because it seems at that power there are different lengths.

How do you take the bulbs out of their holder?
The holder looks like:

It has pins at the sides.

And the bulb looks like:

It has a contact hole at the end.

What you have to do is just to push aside one and and then the bulbs comes out free at that end. The pins from holder are with springs, so you have to push them with the bulb.

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here some examples of the LED version  - they use much less power :

best repalce the whole system, not only the led light

viki2000 gave you a very comprehensive answer.  I would just add that you don't need fancy gloves to hold and install the bulb.  A square of paper kitchen towel will do the job just as easily.

I just replaced an old halogen light a few days ago.  It was 18 feet up underneath the eaves of my 2-storey house, and it involved climbing an extendible ladder.  Fortunately I had a handy window ledge half an arm's reach away to put the screwdrivers, screws, drill, etc.  Assuming your light is high up, you should only attempt this if you are comfortable working at heights and are fairly dexterous.

The front cover of this type of light with the glass pane in it flaps down when unscrewed at the top.  It will have a rubber seal on the light housing.  The front cover usually has to be lifted up a little on its hinge again before it seats flush onto the rubber and the screw lines up.

The most common problem, apart from a blown halogen bulb, is oxidised contacts for the bulb and occasionally water penetration into the main unit or the compartment containing the block connector where the incoming power cable connects to the light's internal wires.  You can usually only open the cover for the wiring connectors with the lamp disconnected from the wall bracket.  It is a very fiddly job getting the nuts and bolts back into place after removing the light unit from the wall mounting bracket because you have to support the light unit while locating the bolts and nuts.  That compartment should have a rubber seal, but sometimes there is space around the rubber grommet where the power cable goes in, and the exposed cable ends can oxidise when exposed to damp air.

Check inside the main light housing for any sign of water penetration.  If you find any, replace the whole light unit.  If it looks dry inside, remove the bulb and look at the spring-loaded contacts.  If they are oxidised, use a little piece of rolled-up wet and dry emery paper to buff off the oxidised residue before testing with a new bulb.

You should be able to see the maximum bulb wattage stamped onto the dimpled reflective metal inside the lamp housing.

nobus has made a good suggestion.  LED bulbs use only a fraction of the electricity that halogen bulbs do.  They are more expensive, but it doesn't take long to recoup the cost if the light comes on and goes off regularly at night.

Remember that infra-red motion sensors can take a while to get the sensitivity, angle, etc, just right so that it isn't triggered by cats or people walking in an adjacent property.  This can usually be done during the day by watching the red light as it triggers, but you will need access (ie. the ladder) to fiddle with the adjustments on the light until you get it set correctly.  A second person to test the detector is useful.
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hello and Good Evening Everyone,

            Thanks so much for the detailed and insightful feedback given in response to my question.  After careful consideration centering around safety protocol, I have decided to let an electrician take care of this concern in addition to the possible replacement of the switches.  Now, I am not exactly saying that I can not fix this problem by following the instructions given.  Time after time in the past I have been able to resolve rather technical issues by simply following the instructions given by EE experts  with more experience, knowledge, and skills as compared to that of my own.  
This situation is different though because of the higher risk of danger surrounding the fiddling involved with electrical wiring.  Given this circumstance, I would rather let someone of professional caliber handle this situation so I can live and fight another battle for another day.

              Thanks so much once again everyone for sharing your insights with me.   As always, I walked away knowing I acquired more knowledge about my concern no matter how big or small it may be.  

Thank you George.  I think you have probably made the right decision.

Although connecting a new light to existing wiring is actually a piece of cake if you have the right screwdriver, observe the polarity of the wires and connections, and make sure the bare wire ends are firmly secured, there are other considerations for an electrical device that is located outside.  Things will differ between my UK regulations and the American electrician's "code", but in general an outside light or socket should be wired through its own breaker/trip fuse of the correct rating and it should have a Residual Current Device (RCD) which bleeds off power very quickly when the device is grounded e.g. someone touches the bare wires or water leaks in and shorts it out.

The cable from the house to the light should have a loop left in it so that water cannot run along or down the cable into the compartment containing the connections, and the cable needs to be weatherproof.  The housing of a lamp with a halogen bulb gets very hot, so the light housing shouldn't be placed too close to flammable material, such as the soffit board if it is up under the eaves of the house.

Although your 110/120 volt 60 Hz mains supply is generally less dangerous than our UK 230/240 volt 50Hz supply, it can still stop your heart, burn your hand, and make you fly backwards off the ladder.

The main consideration is if something goes wrong with a self-installed electrical device and it causes a fire that affects your property and that of others.  You would be liable and insurance wouldn't cover you if it was fitted wrongly, or if this is one of the jobs that the state or country's electrical safety standards department determines to be a professional job.  There are some jobs that don't have to be professionally done, or inspected by a qualified electrician, but I suspect that outside lights may be one area that is a "pro" job.  Additionally, if you sell your house and a survey deems the fixture to be non-compliant, you would have to have it corrected before sale.
GMartinAuthor Commented:
Hello and Good Afternoon Everyone,

        Even though this post has been closed, I do want to take a moment and provide an update.  I did have an electrician come over about a week or so ago to test the connectors for the halogen bulbs using a non-contact voltage tester.  He did find that the on/off switch in addition to the internal conectors holding the halogen bulbs to be fine and producing voltage.  When he removed the defected halogen bulbs (one cracked and one blackened at one end), he gave those to me.  I went to Walmart and bought the exact halogen bulbs needed to replace the defected ones.  While the internal switch was turned off, I went and ahead and installed them in order to gain some degree of technical experience.  When installing the halogen bulbs, the electrician recommended to not touch them with the skin.   To adhere to this advise, I simply put on some latex gloves and installed the halogen bulbs.  Once installed, I simply resecured the cover on each light using a phillip heads screwdriver and turned the internal light switch back on.  

              Thanks again everyone for your insights shared to this post.

Thanks for the feedback George.  I'm glad you have the light working again and that you can now be confident that the wiring and switch are in good order.
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