07 November 2008

Trouble with lighting.

Okay...so in one of the many high-end retail spaces in the resort/casino my employer is contracted with, there were some lighting issues. The electrical contractor who was originally involved with this retail space either wasn't returning calls or was just not a desirable choice for this problem...so anyway, I don't know how it came about but Snow grabbed me first thing in the morning to help him troubleshoot it. (We're talking about yesterday morning...I just got around to writing it today. I'll get to the fun of Tortoise Class tomorrow.)

The problem was this: in the Personal Shopping department of this retail space, there were wall sconces and alcove lighting that were, for reasons unknown, coming on and off seemingly at will. The lights were supposed be be controlled by computer but it wasn't working, and there were no signs of a switch or other outside means of control. The lights worked, originally, but recently began turning off in the middle of the day, and no one knew why. It didn't alter the shopping experience, as all the main lights were still operational, but nonetheless, if you pay for lights, you expect them to work.

Snow directed most of the troubleshooting; I don't have alot of experience with it and so it was ideal for me to be in on it. When we arrived, the troubled lights were on, and he told the department flat out that with the lights working, it's more difficult to troubleshoot but we went on with it anyway. Firstly, we checked voltage and amperage. As an LED low-voltage system, the voltage was a little higher than we liked, so we found the transformers in the accessways and adjusted the voltage. In reading it again, it seemed more appropriate. The burnt out lamps were removed, and the prongs on one broke so I had to work on getting that out...I used the leads to my voltage tester as a pair of chopsticks and that worked pretty well. :)

Two hours later, Snow found me and said the lights had just turned off. He wasn't exactly expecting that, but it wasn't a surprise. If everything seems as it should be, then troubleshooting doesn't always find the problem. So we returned, and again we checked voltage and amperage. Absolutely nothing. The j-boxes providing power to the transformers were also dead. We got a copy of the panel schedule with all the circuits for the Personal Shopping area and tried figuring it out from there. We checked the circuit breaker as was listed on the panel schedule, and the relays as well. Nothing seemed to affect it. It didn't make any sense at first, until we opened one of the j-boxes that feeds the transformer to check wiring, and found a panel designation and circuit breaker number...one that didn't match the panel schedule given to us, based on the as-builts.

After some searching, we found a small panel in a corner of a room--not an electrical room--partially obscured by clothing racks where the clothing alterations were done. It matched the panel designation of what we found written in the j-box, and the circuit breaker we were looking for was connected to a timeclock. Let me reiterate this, that the alcove lighting and wall sconces were supposed to be computer controlled, and not at all connected to any sort of time clock. There was a moment of excitement: the timeclock was several hours off schedule, indicating a recent power outage, and Snow set the timeclock to the proper time as I ran back into the problem area to check. The lights were on, indicating that the timeclock was what those lights were connected to. I reported the good news, and Snow went to find the director of operations for the retail space, so he could report that we found the issue and how the lights were to be controlled.

The director was not happy. Not remotely. In order to change it to computer control, it would take a lot of work, and so until work order is received we can't do anything. But in the meantime, Snow explained how to work the timeclock, and pressed the importance of resetting it after any power outage. We left looking absolutely golden, and it was awesome, and I was so happy to have seen the steps taken for troubleshooting it. I love when things work out.

No comments: