What in tarnation is this?

FoothillTom

Member
Jun 22, 2016
18
Livermore
weird2.jpgHi folks. Am spending the day trying to acquaint myself with my pool electrical systems. Could anybody offer up a good theory what I've got going on here? My specific question is about this waterproof box that is laying on the ground with 3 conduits going up to my main panel.

I know it's difficult to tell from the photo, but NONE of the wires go anywhere. They are just wire-nutted together in the main panel box as if somebody made the conscious effort to eliminate this thing, but too lazy to remove it.

I'm particularly curious as our pool lights stopped working about 7 months ago, shortly after an "electrician" did the electrical for a small cottage we built for our adult autistic son. One day prior to the lights going out, I saw the electrician in the pool box doing some work. At the time, I had no idea if that was standard procedure or what, but I have now come to realize the pool electrical is not even remotely involved with the cottage and the electrician was likely just messing about. At the time, he mumbled something about "cleaning up" the electrical in the pool control box. But I digress...

Is there any chance this gizmo is somehow involved with the lights? There are 3 conduits going to the box: one with standard 3 wires (white, blk, green) and another with 4 wires (white, blk, green, and RED), and a 3rd small conduit with what looks like a low voltage pair (red, blk). The strange thing is nothing was connected to anything. Just all 3 wires wrapped together and 4 wires wrapped together and the small 2 wrapped together in the box.

I'm happy to just remove it and eliminate non-sense, but I can't help but think this has some significance. Anybody have a theory?

Really trying to understand my crazy pool.
Tomweird.jpg
 
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Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Is there any chance this gizmo is somehow involved with the lights?
My gut tells me they may be related. I hope the "electrician" didn't take it upon himself to grab some easy electrical source wires for the shed project and leave your pool lights powerless. The white/black/green set could be source wires for the lights. I know my lights are 110V. The other circuit with the red would appear to be a 220V circuit, which would usually imply a pump nearby. If not the main pump, maybe there was an auxiliary pump around for a water feature of pressure cleaner? The only thing I can think of pool related to a low voltage wire would be an SWG, but I can't be certain on that one. Perhaps someone else can confirm.
 

Meadow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2016
477
Temecula, CA
Tom, if you are confident working with electrical wiring and equipped with a reliable Voltmeter then you can probably answer your own questions. Otherwise, I would leave it to the electrician.

But here's my take on the first photo. The blk and wht wires is definitely the 120VAC supply input to the stepdown transformer. The two yellow wires is the 24VAC secondary output of the transformer. The relay sitting right next to the x'former has a 24VAC coil rating but the dry contacts can be of anything from 24, 120 or 220VAC. Like what you said, it's difficult to tell from the photo. My wild guess suggested they supply the 24VAC power to your Jandy Actuators. If the actuators are working properly, disconnect the blk and yellow and see if the actuators move just to rule that out.

From my understanding, the pool light is either 12 VAC or 120 VAC. I would like to assume you have another dedicated junction box for your pool lights. Otherwise, a reliable DVM is your best friend.
 

FoothillTom

Member
Jun 22, 2016
18
Livermore
Hey guys, thanks for the responses. I probably wasn't very clear in my message (I'll work on that). I'm on a pretty steep learning curve trying to understand everything one should reasonably know about their pool equipment. If it helps, I'm really doing two things in parallel:

1. Trying to diagnose my non-working pool lights (but working spa light)
2. Trying to understand the god-awful rat's nest that is my pool electrical panel (hence the question about this gizmo)

So my question about this "gizmo" was really more of a "does anybody quickly recognize this thing", as I wasn't sure how standard this kind of thing is. It wasn't connected to any power source in the box, so my mind went to suspecting that it is somehow involved in my pool lighting.

But now I realize I really should just think on this and post more specific questions. But since you both were kind enough to respond, I can tell you this:

* The Jandy actuators are working and powered my Aqualink board
* "Everything else" seems to be in working order now. I've had a number of issues but I believe everything but the pool lights are now working
* I've been meticulously going through the electrical box, testing what breaker controls what, what relay does what, etc. and labeling everything along the way
* It is a mystery what that weather-proof-box-relay-transformer-gizmo does/did. I've been in this house 2 years and the P.O. never explained a thing to us
* I suspected it somehow was a transformer to the pool lights, but I don't even yet know if my lights are 120V, 12V, LED or otherwise.

I'll try to ask better questions going forward. Thanks!
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
It is a mystery what that weather-proof-box-relay-transformer-gizmo does/did. I've been in this house 2 years and the P.O. never explained a thing to us
I bet if you find a way to flip power on to it, your neighbor's microwave goes on & off. :grin: Sorry, it's late and I couldn't help it. Ha.

This is your thread, so ask all the questions you want, however you want. Post as much as you need to Tom, to include pics of anything else (before you reach your upload limit) and everyone here will jump in and try to help. It's what we do. :)
 

Meadow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2016
477
Temecula, CA
Tom, at some point that gizmo box was added on to control something in your pool. Are you saying that all the wires coming in and out of that box goes nowhere and just tied together? If this is true, I can only assume it was bypassed when the automation was installed.

The small red and black control wires must be connected to a remote switch or some sort. Thus when short or tied together, the 24V relay coil is energized and the dry contacts changed over. That is, if there is a constant 120VAC supply to the primary winding of the transformer. It is very important to trace the load side of the relay's dry contact. Only then you'll know what it is for. Unless, those wires didn't go anywhere but capped together. If that's the case, member ArizonaRob will be gladly to take it off your hands for his actuator retrofit project.

OTOH, the transformer inside the box is too small for the pool lights and I am very positive, the secondary output is 24 VAC. Not suitable for a 12VAC incandescent or LED pool lights.
Does your Spa and Pool lights have it's own manual switch or you control them via automation. If it's the latter, I can't help because I don't have an experience in automation, sorry!
 

Meadow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2016
477
Temecula, CA
Tom,
I keep forgetting to ask if you checked the pool light for blown bulb. Please note, doing so will require you to replace the gasket.
 

FoothillTom

Member
Jun 22, 2016
18
Livermore
Hey Meadow/Tex, thanks for sticking with me on this.

WRT "gizmo", yes the wires were all wire-nutted together inside the control box. Even the red/white low-voltage wires were wire-nutted together. Hard to believe somebody would take the time to do that and not just remove the gizmo entirely, which is why my mind went to the "electrician" and how it might relate to my non-working pool lights. But I appreciate the analysis on the gizmo and I'm ready to conclude it was originally controlling something cool, but no longer. Other than my lights, everything else is working. So, I've removed that entire gizmo just to clean house and have fewer mysteries inside the box.

Which brings me to my last mystery: the pool lights. Let me know if you think a separate thread would be useful, but I'll tell you the background here.

Pool and Spa lights, separately controlled from PCB (two different relays), share the same breaker. I believe they were LED (not sure yet on the voltage) because when we moved in, the lights were purple. The automation manual talks about changing colors, etc.

Anywho, both worked for 14 months. We built a cottage in the backyard about 8 months ago and the "electrician" was messing about in the pool control box one day. I wish I would have understood everything then, as I would have known there was no reason to be in there for the cottage. The cottage is energized from a 50Amp breaker from our house. Anywho...the pool lights literally stopped working the next time we tried them (could have been days), but the spa light works to this day.

There are two lights in the pool and I had trouble believing that both would just decide to give up the ghost on exactly the same day.

That said, I cannot say if the bulbs are good or not, but that's the investigation I was planning to get to this weekend, but life intruded and took me elsewhere. I am reasonably good with my multi-meter. I know which relay controls the Spa and Pool Light and I can verify that 120V is coming out of each relay when energized on the panel. I just realized today there are two "junction boxes" that rise up from the ground which I believe are involved with the lights. (All this is new to me).

I'll scour the site tonight, but do I need to get the lights up and out on the deck to check for bulb continuity? Getting my lights working is my next big chore, so I appreciate any wisdom on that. I'll verify if they're 120V, 12V, or whatever when I can get out there and pop the lid off the junction boxes. The working spa light should be my guiding light, so to speak.

Have a good night, fellas.
Tom
 

Meadow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2016
477
Temecula, CA
Sounds like a good plan but please be cautious. If I were you, inspecting the light bulb is the last thing I would do. It might be a good idea to order the fixture replacement gasket ahead of time. Water might leak inside and caused damage if gasket is not replaced. Leaving the fixtures sitting on the deck for a prolong period of time might have an adverse effect on the cable and the fixture itself.

Seems you have identified the power source for your pool lights, that’s good. All you have to do is probe the output of the relay to confirm if current is present. Then with the power off, perform the cable continuity test from the PCB to the junction box. For all you know, this might just be a case of loose wiring connections in the junction box.

Btw, please take pictures as you go along and I'm sure you'll get more help from others.
Good luck and keep us posted.
 

FoothillTom

Member
Jun 22, 2016
18
Livermore
Thanks Meadow. Looks like my next update won't be for a few days. Heading to Texas to visit my brother and I'll hit this when I get back. I really do appreciate your assistance. I'm crossing my fingers that night swimming will be back on the menu this summer.

Tom
 

Pool Clown

In The Industry
Sep 5, 2008
2,152
Silicon Valley, CA
Confession: I did not read any of the posts, so i may just be talking into my hat...

That looks like nothing more than an extra aux was added to the automation. 110 or 220V in and out, and the xformer is to run the relay (low voltage). The small wire may be run to a low current switch back up in the box. It could very well be to run your lights, especially since they quit right after someone was in there "cleaning up".
 

Owner/Builder

Well-known member
Jul 29, 2011
160
Las Vegas, Nevada
Its unlikely the electrician messed anything up, they usually know what they are doing. Also you stated the soa light works but both pool lights stopped at the same time. You also mentioned both pool lights on the same relay as each other but on a separate relay fron the spa light. The spa light works and both pool lights went out at the same time, so I can confiendently tell you that your issue is most likely a bad relay for the pool light, or the wiring. I am quite familiar with the Aqualink wiring and if you post a photo of the inside of your panel with the cover removed, I can help you if it's a wiring issue. For starters though, try manually turning on the pool lights. Do you hear the relay make a loud click? Turn on the spa light, did the relay sound the same? If you have a multi meter you can test to see if the relay is energized, but if you don't have a meter, you can look on the underside of the relay and you will see a plastic pin pop out. Turn the lights on and off a few times and see if its clicking and watch for the pin to move.
 

Owner/Builder

Well-known member
Jul 29, 2011
160
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you are comfortable with electrical work, you can also swap the wires from the pool light relay and spa light relay, then test the lights again. If the pool lights start working and the spa lights stop, then you know it's the relay. This is easy and can be done with a screwdriver, no multimeter needed. Take a before photo and label your wires to keep from getting confused. ALWAYS TURN POWER OFF FIRST
 

FoothillTom

Member
Jun 22, 2016
18
Livermore
Pool Lights are back on! Huzzah.

Hi folks, thanks to everyone who responded to my initially-ignorant but increasingly-educated posts about my pool electrical situation, particularly my problem with the non-working pool lights.

Going back down memory lane for a minute, recall that I'm a first-time pool owner and was (unfortunately) completely in the dark about how my pool equipment worked. Two pool lights and a single spa light were all working fine until we had some work done in our back yard (built a cottage). One day during that construction, the "electrician" was monkeying around inside the pool control box. I had no idea (at the time) that the pool electrical was in no way related to the electrical for the pool. Folks here have offered up some explanations why he would have been in there, but two things stuck out in my mind that day:

1. He had the cover off the panel and was re-wiring the various breakers
2. He declared the wiring "was a mess" and was "cleaning things up"

With no reason to suspect any of that was amiss, we just went along our merry way, only to discover that the pool lights were no longer working and the GFCI mounted to the control box (controlling various outdoor outlets) was tripping constantly. We suspected the "cleaning up" of the wiring and asked the general to have the electrician back to figure it all out.

Still ignorant, I sat with the guy while he poked around and he proclaimed that the pool lights were bad. He demonstrated how the breaker tripped when activating the relay from the PCB. He also had the cover off the junction box to the pool lights (I didn't understand that at the time) and said the only way he could solve our tripping breaker was to disconnect the lights. Since we always needed to use our backyard outlets, we decided to take the least of two evils and allowed him to disconnect the lights.

We were bummed of course and night swimming became more interesting but decided to never have that electrician back, mostly because we thought he was something of a quack and very defensive. In our new cottage, he had wired an under-sink "air switch" from the counter to an over sink light that one could only charitably describe as a "death trap". He had a two-ended male extension cord going from one hot outlet to a "dead" outlet to power the overhead light. If you made the mistake of unplugging the wrong end, you would be holding a live wire. And this is a place where an autistic adult is living and an increasingly older and dumber father might one day be repairing a clogged sink.. But I digress.

Anyway, fast forward to modern times and all the great help I've gotten here. I endeavored to learn the entire setup and labeled everything meticulously. During my adventures learning the PCB wiring, I found at least two mysteries in the PCB, including a hot wire that was exposed and could have easily shorted against the box itself and another gizmo I had posted about separately.

Armed with trusty multi-meter, I was able to determine all this and safely wire everything back up. I verified that the relay controlling the pool lights was activating by the PCB and I had 120V coming out of the relay.

And upon removing the lid from the junction box, I was able to verify 120V to the box, good continuity across the black/white wires to my two lights, and no evidence of a bad ground. I wired everything back up as it should have been and crossed fingers. Ouila! The pool lights came on and the spa! We're back in the chips.

I feel like a veil of stupidity has been lifted and I now understand how that big hole in my backyard works. This forum is amazing. Such kind and helpful people with good knowledge.

Thanks for everything!

Tom
 

Meadow

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2016
477
Temecula, CA
Yay,… glad you got your pool lights working again. :party:

While I do agree, electricians always know what they’re doing, there are some who intentionally break something hoping to get a call back for unrelated work to make more $. In my line of work, I have seen a lot of unscrupulous techs who does a lot of tricks and then slapped the unwary customers with unnecessary charges.

Honesty is the best policy! But that 10 cents glass fuse or resistor aint’ gonna buy me a cup coffee! Know what I mean? Oh and do you think your car mechanic is honest to you? Bottom line is, understanding how your own stuff works is priceless. ok enough rant...:whip: