Questions about Amerlite fixture, LED bulb replacement and shorting/tripping

peter.bastian

Active member
Feb 28, 2009
38
College Station, Texas USA
I have an old(er) Amerlite pool light housing that I have put a standard LED PAT38 outdoor flood light into. The bulb is GE brand, 32W outdoor PAR38 bulb, one color (daylight), 3,000 lumens. It is plenty good for our 9,000 gal pool. It does what I want. Since it is LED and only 32W, it does not heat up like the typical 500W incandescent bulb (I have one of those). I have gotten good at reassembling the Amerlite fixture to be leak proof and tight.

Here is my problem: after a day or two of near continuous use, it shorts out/trips the circuit breaker. When I pull the fixture out of the pool, there is no water inside it. It is dry except for some condensation on the lens, which I attribute to moisture in the air trapped in the fixture (could be wrong here). After I remove the bulb from the socket, inspect the housing and put the bulb back in, and reassemble it, it comes on fine. No short. I have to add that I put some caulk around the housing where the wire comes out the back. I was having leak issues and suspected that maybe water was coming in from the back. There is a small mound of caulk around that wire now, and it is well sealed. Like I said, no pooled water of any kind in the housing after being submerged for a couple of days.

I am attaching a couple of pictures because I have some questions. In the picture on the left (w/o a bulb in the socket), there are two things I don't know what they are or how they play a role in the function of the unit:
1) The small springy wire that projects from the base and over the socket. With the bulb installed, this is simply pushed out of the way a bit, and leans against the bulb housing. What is that wire for?
2) That little brown thing at the top of the housing that protrudes from the back of the fixture about 1/2-in. It kind of looks like some rolled-up paper wrapping, or like the end of a cigarette. What is that thing for?

The picture on the right shows the LED installed in the fixture. I have reassembled the unit, and the light comes on again as expected.
 

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ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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1) The small springy wire that projects from the base and over the socket. With the bulb installed, this is simply pushed out of the way a bit, and leans against the bulb housing. What is that wire for?

From Pool and Spa Lighting - PoolAndSpa.com Info And Tips

Inside some fixtures you will find a bare coiled spring wire. This is non-electrical but is designed to break a circuit. Notice that without a bulb in place, the spring lays to one side of the fixture. Hold it up against the opposite side and screw in the new bulb. The spring lays on the bulb itself. If the bulb bursts when in use, the spring sweeps across the filament, cutting the electricity in the circuit. In this way, if water has gotten into the fixture,a live electrical circuit won't stay in contact with the water, ultimately electrocuting someone in the pool.
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
1,674
Sacramento
The small "little brown thing" is a temperature high-limit device that is there for safety. As you can see, when your light had an incandescent bulb it got incredibly hot internally. Too hot and they could burst. Unfortunately, your fixture is at "end of life." You can see how burned the socket is and the deterioration of the potting compound that was used to seal the socket and enclosure. It is very dangerous to put that light back into service. Your safest option is to have it replaced.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
35,318
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
The small "little brown thing" is a temperature high-limit device that is there for safety.

Can you describe how the temp high limit device trips?

While an LED bulb does not generate heat at the face of the bulb like an incandescent bulb it generates a lot of heat at its base where it has a transformer and electronics. Putting an LED bulb made for a lamp into a pool housing does not allow the base electronics to cool like it will in a lamp base. The LED bulb is not made to be in a pool light niche and I think it is overheating at its base and either the temp high limit device or the bulb internally is causing the OPs problems.
 

peter.bastian

Active member
Feb 28, 2009
38
College Station, Texas USA
Thanks @1poolman1 ... I did not mention in my original post that this Amerlite unit is at least 13 years old, and could be as old as 20+ years. Pool was put in in 1998, I think, and I have owned home since 2008 and have not replaced this fixture as long as I have owned the home. The more comments I get, and the more I think about it, the more I am just leaning to replacing the thing and in the process, creating a safer environment wrt electricity. The current electrical hookups only go from circuit breaker (20 amp) to a simple light switch and then to the fixture. There isn't even a GFCI between the fixture and the circuit breaker. For a long time, I had completely disconnected this thing for safety. But, now, we want the effect a light gives at night...it's nice to have that.

I'm not a fan of the incandescent 500W bulbs because of the heat they give off. And I thought I could use an off-the-shelf outdoor PAR38 flood light LED bulb to reduce the heat that is generated. I mean, as long as it is dry inside, what difference does it really make. Seems to me, it is way safer because you aren't creating that sealed-up simulation of heck on earth that the 500W bulb does. FWIW, I had this thing sitting on the pool deck for hours...turned on with the LED bulb in there, and after all that time, it wasn't even hot. Warm to the touch, I could pick it up and hold it, but not anywhere near hot. So, it certainly seems to me that this 32W LED bulb generates much much less heat vs a 500W incandescent, to the point where that paper heat sensor mentioned above would never come into play. I have to wonder what a new Amerlite fixture has for internals. Although the mechanical design may not have changed, I would wonder about the internals with respect to heat and electricity and safety, given it is 2021 and not 1998.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
35,318
Northern NJ
Pool Size
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Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
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So, it certainly seems to me that this 32W LED bulb generates much much less heat vs a 500W incandescent, to the point where that paper heat sensor mentioned above would never come into play.

The back of the light fixture has better cooling sitting on your deck then in the light niche.
 

peter.bastian

Active member
Feb 28, 2009
38
College Station, Texas USA
@ajw22 if I understand you correctly, that surprises me a bit. The pool water is better at carrying off thermal heat than air, no? Still, the whole thing is gonna get replaced. Per folks comments here, this thing is past EOL. I think I am left with, "Will it be ok to put an LEB bulb in a new Amerlite fixture there like I have done with the current fixture, vs. the super-hot incandescent?"
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
35,318
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
I think I am left with, "Will it be ok to put an LEB bulb in a new Amerlite fixture there like I have done with the current fixture, vs. the super-hot incandescent?"

I suggest you call Florida Sunseekers and ask them why you should use their light bulb versus the one you were using. As you can see it has a very different design.

pool-toner-white-led-110-115-120v-35w-bulb-6k-for-pentairr-amerliter-home-garden-lighting-light-bulbs-pool-tone-132162_2048x.jpg



From @flaled - Use checkout code TFP7 on the Florida Sunseeker website for 7% off, free USA shipping, and no sales tax, on any items.
 
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peter.bastian

Active member
Feb 28, 2009
38
College Station, Texas USA
I suggest you call Florida Sunseekers and ask them why you should use their light bulb versus the one you were using. As you can see it has a very different design.

pool-toner-white-led-110-115-120v-35w-bulb-6k-for-pentairr-amerliter-home-garden-lighting-light-bulbs-pool-tone-132162_2048x.jpg



From @flaled - Use checkout code TFP7 on the Florida Sunseeker website for 7% off, free USA shipping, and no sales tax, on any items.
Looks like a plan. Thanks.
 

1poolman1

In The Industry
Jul 14, 2014
1,674
Sacramento
Thanks @1poolman1 ... I did not mention in my original post that this Amerlite unit is at least 13 years old, and could be as old as 20+ years. Pool was put in in 1998, I think, and I have owned home since 2008 and have not replaced this fixture as long as I have owned the home. The more comments I get, and the more I think about it, the more I am just leaning to replacing the thing and in the process, creating a safer environment wrt electricity. The current electrical hookups only go from circuit breaker (20 amp) to a simple light switch and then to the fixture. There isn't even a GFCI between the fixture and the circuit breaker. For a long time, I had completely disconnected this thing for safety. But, now, we want the effect a light gives at night...it's nice to have that.

I'm not a fan of the incandescent 500W bulbs because of the heat they give off. And I thought I could use an off-the-shelf outdoor PAR38 flood light LED bulb to reduce the heat that is generated. I mean, as long as it is dry inside, what difference does it really make. Seems to me, it is way safer because you aren't creating that sealed-up simulation of heck on earth that the 500W bulb does. FWIW, I had this thing sitting on the pool deck for hours...turned on with the LED bulb in there, and after all that time, it wasn't even hot. Warm to the touch, I could pick it up and hold it, but not anywhere near hot. So, it certainly seems to me that this 32W LED bulb generates much much less heat vs a 500W incandescent, to the point where that paper heat sensor mentioned above would never come into play. I have to wonder what a new Amerlite fixture has for internals. Although the mechanical design may not have changed, I would wonder about the internals with respect to heat and electricity and safety, given it is 2021 and not 1998.
If you do not have a GFCI in the light circuit, turn the breaker off and DO NOT use the light. Most likely, for a pool built in 1998, there actually is one. Usually you will find a GFCI receptacle on the side of your panel and the light will be wired through that. Code says that is not the way it should be done, but I seldom see one done correctly. Since pools also require a "convenience outlet" that also has to be a GFCI, most builders just combined them.
 

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