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Question DetailsAsked on 3/18/2014

What's wrong with my track lighting?

Just bought a house with old could be 80's or 90's track lighting. Shortly after, 3 heads went out in a few days while the other two kept going fine. I fiddled with the heads, watched some youtube videos, and ended up ordering new halogen bulbs. Out of the three heads, none of them worked with the new bulbs. Thinking it was the fixtures, I ordered one new head (Nora Lighting 75 watt MR16 12 volt) for $54 to test. One of the new bulbs worked in the new fixture for one day, then that fixture failed the next day. Replaced the bulb, it worked for about a week, then failed again, and no new bulbs worked. I ordered two more fixtures. One of them burned through one bulb, then never worked again. The other is still working fine 3 weeks later on the original bulb. End result: 2 original fixtures still working fine, 1 new fixture with new bulb working fine from the get go, and 2 new fixtures burning out bulbs then failing. So, what's going on and is it reasonably fixable?

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Ahhhh - the light bulb comes on - but I didn't see the rabbit - it must have made it down the hole. Was I right about you upgrading the bulbs from a lower wattage, and that is when they started going out ?

I seriously doubt it is the track, from what you say and especially since the one head works fine at various places along the track. My guess - because these are apparently 110V track but 12V transformer INSIDE the head that mounts to the track, I would say it is the transformer overheating - a VERY common thing with modern electronics and cheap transformers from China. Commonly they have a thermal protector that cuts out when overheated, but overheating 2 or 3 times is normally fatal for them. I bet the transformers have fried, and that even the ones still working are smoked and probably have deformed plastic around them.

The unit is rated to 75W max, and the bulbs you have are 75W and of a design that provides little airflow around them (zero if you are using the glass cover plates for the heads) and has a lot of heat in the upper portion of it - in my opinion just another dumb design. I will give 10:1 odds there are not air holes in the top of the heads either - UL should ban that practice.

Personally, if it were all new I would return it all for my money back right off. Since the track and some heads are old and you are invested in them already, I would gather up receipts and eMail the manufacturer about the issue, and the number of heads that have gone out (old and new combined) and see what they say. I would suspect they will offer to at least send replacements if you send the receipts and bad heads. I would then return any unused bulbs for credit to wherever you got them, and get different bulbs. You will have to ask the manufacturer if the transformer circuitry can handle MR16 GU5.3 base LED bulbs - Amazon has them, if your heads can take them - will run a LOT cooler. Otherwise, 50 Watt Halogen bulbs should fit and might run cool enough to not overheat ?

With transformers in the heads, I would use LED bulbs if compatible with transformer and circuitry.

BTW - you did not say if you tried the "dead" bulbs in the "good" heads - my guess (do just a short test) is they will work, and the bulbs are not the problem at all - it is the transformers.

Your other option. and what I would do unless you are attached to this fixture or it is mounted to ceiling permanently and you do not know how to change it (or don't want to), so would cost about $125 for an electrician to come out: is to get what you can in refund from the manufacturer (or distributor, if they have good defect return policy), scrap the whole system, and save a LOT of money in the long run on energy costs by going to a 120V CFL or LED bulb system. Use LED if this is a short-term use system, or CFL only if one that will be on for many hours at a time - they burn out quick in frequent short use applications, but go seems like forever in long term use. I have one 60W (equivalent) GE CFL that I use as a nightlight but stays on 24/365 and has been on continuously for over 4 years without burning out. A number of identical ones we tried in applications where they were only on for a few minutes at a time went back under warranty after in a few months. If you are looking for a true "spot" light, then I recommend LED anyway, unless you don't like their "artificial" light.

Here is the info sheet on your unit, with company contact info at bottom:

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


If you have confirmed that the wiring is sound, it sounds like a case of the sockets and fixture outlets just burning up at a certain age.

Are you running, or did the previous owner, the correct wattage lightbulb? They are sensitive to over heating.

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions


Could be a case where the older fixtures have just gotten to the point that the high limit switch (if it has them) has gotten too sensitive. You did say that one of the ones giving problems was new though and it makes me think that they may not have been designed for halogen bulbs. They give off great light but run very hot and sometimes too hot for older fixtures, they can damage the wires going to the socket. To save energy you should try the LED bulbs. They are expensive but last a lot longer than any other bulb I know of and run way cooler.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Did you change to Halogen bulbs when you moved in ? Sounds to me like you are using Halogen bulbs or non-reflector bulbs or bulbs not rated for closed cans. Only fixtures rated for Halogen should use them - too hot. Most track lights are limited to non-reflector bulbs rated at or below about 60 watts, or Reflector bulbs rated at about 70 - 100 watts. Check the rating tag - usually on back of head, or maybe inside. I would bet the owner put in new bulbs for the house showing and sale, ,and may have put in ones the fixture is not rated for. Overheating can take out the bulb, or burn out the wiring in the fixture.

With so many going at one time, I bet it is the bulbs, especially as I don't remember ever seeing thermal cutouts on track lighting more than about 10 years old.

I would check out the track too with a flashlight - if bulbs were too high wattage, you may have partially melted part of the track - the "live" feed "wire" in it and the feed prongs on the head are just a thin metal strip, easily melted.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Thanks for the responses.

This is the fixture: .

And these are the bulbs: halogen bulbs.

The fixture is supposed to carry a halogen bulb, though perhaps an LED bulb would work.

Is there anything wrong with the fixture/bulb combo I am using here?

LCD - I don't see any issue with the track, since the 'good' head/bulb combo works at all places on the track.

Any other ideas?

Answered 6 years ago by kpk


Your link for the fixture itself did not come through - can you provide it again.

I went to the tech standards on the GU5.3 fixture your bulb fits into - it is rated to 50 watts, so my first guess is that bulb is getting too hot, and frying both bulbs and sockets. I bet you will see dark discoloration - brown and maybe even black, onthe ceramic bulb base and the socket in the ond that does not work any more.

Provide the fixture data and I will research further. I would not use these until this is resolved, as you might end up frying more bulbs and fixtures. Keep your receipts - sounds to me like the fixtures are Chinese junk that should not have been certified - an AWFUL lot of electrical and electronics stuff is being certified these days with undersized wiring and components, hence failures in days or weeks versus decades or never like it used to be.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


LCD, Here is the fixture link again:

Socket type is halogen GU5.3

I'm considering it's one of these conclusions, or maybe there's another:

- 2 new fixtures I received from vendor were faulty, the 3rd was fine

- I used the wrong bulb and burned out the fixture

- used the right bulb but bulbs were poor quality

- despite 'good' fixture/bulb working all up and down the track, there is some other issue with the track

- stop going down this particular rabbit hole and just replace entire track unit


Answered 6 years ago by kpk


Did you try to change to Halogen bulbs when you moved in ? Sounds to me like you are using non-reflector bulbs or bulbs not rated for closed cans. you can find more information about this problem in : دوربین مداربسته


Answered 4 years ago by nezarati

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