Weird problem with outdoor electricity!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ravenlost, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    We use a different power company than our neighbors so this doesn't make any sense at all. Hubby and I were just standing on the porch when our barn light went out. The empty house next door has an outdoor security light and it went off at the EXACT same time our barn light went off. After a few minutes they both came on at THE SAME TIME. :shrug:

    Only thing I can figure is that someone snuck over and wired that light to our barn. Only problem is, there is no sign of this having taken place.

    Anyone got any idea how this could be happening?
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

    Messages:
    7,102
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Location:
    In beautiful downtown Sticks, near Belleview, Fl.
    Just because the power goes off at the same time is not a thing to be concerned with, most power company's are supplied by the same source, usually a much bigger company. Most power company's are little local concerns, supplied by much larger concerns. If the power to the grid goes away it is on a larger scale than is visibly present to you.
     

  3. justmyluk

    justmyluk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I agree with Moopups...But one way to find out for sure, is to cut the power to the barn light and see if the neighbors light goes out. This will tell you if you have a power thief...
     
  4. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    Wouldn't the lights in the house go off too? The only lights going on and off are the barn and the security light next door.

    I think we'll try cutting the power to the barn light off tonight and see what happens.
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

    Messages:
    7,102
    Joined:
    May 12, 2002
    Location:
    In beautiful downtown Sticks, near Belleview, Fl.
    OK, I was under the impression that all the lights went out, but seeing the clearer picture, yes it appears there is a connection. (Is this an offical pun, do I get points?).
     
  6. justmyluk

    justmyluk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Did you or a previous homeowner wire the lights to your barn? Maybe you are pulling power from your neighbor instead of the other way around (any things possible). Also... are both lights on a photocell (do they come on when it gets dark)? If so, was there a flash of light from a nearby thunderstorm or a passing car right before the lights went out? That could explain the timeing of what you saw.
     
  7. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    The house next door has been there for over 30 years. I don't know how long the security light has been there, but it was there before we built the barn. Our building contractor had the wiring done to the barn almost three years ago when we had it built. This is a recent problem...just in the last few months.

    The security light is on a photocell...our barn light isn't.

    The house next door has been empty for almost a year now. The realtor we bought our property from recently came into possession of the house next door (it used to be part of our farm many years ago).

    The only plausible explanation I can think of is that he had the power to the house turned off and ran a line to our power source (several hundred yards). However, I've seen no evidence of this happening and, if someone had been in our barn the nine dogs would have alerted us.

    I am definitely shutting off the power to the barn tonight and see if the security light ever comes on. I am also going to do some checking at the meter box, etc. and see if I can spot any sort of tampering.
     
  8. justmyluk

    justmyluk Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Keep us posted and let us know what you find out. You definitely have a mystery on your hands...
     
  9. morrowsmowers

    morrowsmowers Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,096
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2004
    Location:
    NJ
    Is your barn feed from the same mains out at the street as your barn? It could be they are on different sides of a three phase feed. Possibly your barn and the neighbors are on one leg and your house on another. If the power co. was working on lines somewhere they may have dropped a phase somewhere in the area causing what would be a small local power outage -- that would have caused them both to go out at exactly the same time.

    Ken in Glassboro, NJ :shrug:
     
  10. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    Well, I went out and shut off the power to the barn. The security light came on for a few minutes when it got dark and then went off.
     
  11. SmartAZ

    SmartAZ Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    What kind of light? Some lamps, especially street and other outdoor types, have a temperature sensor. Quite often a row of lights in a street or parking lot will all turn off and on at the same time with no connection at all.
     
  12. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Is the security light wired underground? If so, then you might want to call a locater service to come out and do a sweep around your barn. It's very easy to locate any underground wires. The locater service will paint the ground with orange paint to identify where the wires are. We use a service called "one call" that can locate electric wires, gas lines, water lines, phone lines, etc. They are nationwide and should be in your phone book. If they aren't in the book, pm me, I can probably get a contact number for you if you tell me the town you are near.

    We have a locater machine. If DH was in your area I'd have him stop by and do a sweep for you.

    edited to add: is there a chance that the security light might be your light that was on your property before the other house was built?
     
  13. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,154
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Do you hear weird noises at night, or see foggy looking images just between the dark and the daylight???? Do your dogs sometimes run in the house and shiver when you try to make them go outside?? Be very careful!!!!
     
  14. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    LOL...Uncle Will, hubby said last night it must be a ghost!

    These are the only two lights within a half mile and they aren't that close together. In fact, the one on the barn is on the opposite side of the barn from the security light. The security light is wired overhead. Our barn is wired underground. I did notice this morning that the box down on the ground where the wires come out of the ground has been knocked loose from the side of the barn. The horses could have done that, or someone could have tampered with it. I'm going to have hubby take a look at it tomorrow. The security light is on right now.
     
  15. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    5,482
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Is it possible that you are seeing a reflection of the security light off of a window or something at the barn where you were standing when it happened------making it look like they are going on and off together? Just a thought. Randy
     
  16. logbuilder

    logbuilder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,525
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2006
    Location:
    Safe distance from Seattle, WA
    Seems to be the only thing I would be concerned about is whether the light on the other property is using electricity thru my meter. I'd be flipping my main breaker off and looking at the meter. It should be stopped (wheel not moving). Do this first in the daytime when the other light is off. Then do it again one evening when the other light is on. Your meter should still be stopped. If not, you might have a problem. As long as it is not drawing from your meter, why would you care what they have in common farther upstream?
     
  17. KCM

    KCM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,133
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    If your neighbor's security light is activated by a sensor and your barn light isn't, then it hardly seems possible they are using your power source.

    A typical security light photocell will trigger an automatic switch that is located between the power supply and the bulb. It can only turn on/off a bulb that already has a live power supply available at the switch. When the photocell sensor in your neighbor's security light times out, it triggers this switch to disrupt the power supply to the bulb side of the switch and turns the security light off. However, the power is still very much live on the power supply side of the switch.
    For it to be possible for their security light to be using your power supply and still cause your barn light to switch on/off, the automatic switch activated by the photocell of their secirity light would have to be located between your power source and your barn light. In other words, the photocell-activated automatic switch would have to be on your side of the barn light.

    To solve the problem with your barn light, I'd suggest that you forget about your neighbor's security light for the moment. First try to figure out why your barn light keeps going off and on, since it isn't activated by a sensor that can turn it off or on. After you solve that problem, then if you're still so inclined you can go on to solve the coincidence of the neighbor's security light.
     
  18. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    I figure our barn light is going off and on because the ground box has been knocked loose. Going to have hubby look at it tomorrow. I did throw the breaker this afternoon, checked to see if the meter had stopped (it had) and the neighbor's light came on anyway. Obviously, they are NOT connected to the same power source. Also, our power source and their's is not from the same main lines. So, it's a mystery. Or perhaps, a multiple coincidence.
     
  19. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,110
    Joined:
    May 19, 2006
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada
    It sounds like yours is going on and off because of the loose box, and the security light is going on and off because of a motion sensor. The timing is probably either coincidental or related to gusts of wind or something.

    Anyway, it's been fun to track this thread as the investigation proceeded...
     
  20. hoofinitnorth

    hoofinitnorth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,606
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Location:
    Alaska
    If the two properties used to be one, it's possible you have a shared power source somewhere.